Previously on Price of Peace:
“Sirius! Addie!” Hermione’s voice called through the door. “You’ve got to come and see this!”
Sirius sighed. “What’s wrong, Hermione?”
“Nothing!” Hermione responded. “But another book just appeared!”
Even as Hermione returned from the door, no one had yet picked up the new book. It had appeared like the others, forming in a flash of light, without a letter or warning.
The front cover was blank, but for the words Defying the Enemy.
“We should have seen it coming, really.” Neville remarked, as Addie and Sirius rejoined them.
“Why’s that, Nev?” Harry asked.
“Because the last note said they were sending the ‘books’ they wrote themselves.” Neville reminded him. “Not the ‘book’.”
Addie sighed. “I read the bloody thing – how did I forget that?”
Sirius chuckled fondly. “Not your fault, Ads – we’ve all been a little distracted lately.
Hermione reached out, and picked up the book, turning it over. “There’s no summary.” She said nervously. “Anyone want to read first?”
No one answered, looking around at each other.
Suddenly the book shivered in Hermione’s hands, so violently that she dropped it, but it didn’t fall to the floor.
Instead, it floated where it was, opening to the first page, and, to everyone’s surprise, began to speak in a female voice.
“Hello. My name is Meredith. You don’t know me – at least not yet, but they asked me to read this book aloud so they could place my voice in it. As this is a pre-recording, I cannot answer any questions you may have, but this way, you don’t need to read anything that may be distressing.”
“Like the last books weren’t.” Lily muttered.
“And, yes, I realise the last books were distressing as well. But you did have reassurance, from your friends from the future. This time, you don’t. I would suggest you choose one person, or one person per chapter, to be in charge of the book. Tap the book with your wand once to pause the reading, for those discussions you’re so fond of having, and tap it again to restart it. When this message has finished, you will need to restart the reading.”
The voice, soft and comforting, fell silent.
“I’m not sure whether to be relieved that we don’t need to read, or worried that they think it’s necessary that we don’t.” Jen whispered.
Remus kissed her forehead. “We’ll be alright, love. It’s only words at the moment.”
“I’ll look after it first.” Hermione offered, as everyone settled down again. “Ready?” At the various affirmative noises, she tapped the book and the page turned.
Chapter One – Summertime
Life in Number Twelve Grimmauld Place was both exciting and excruciatingly boring.
Hermione chuckled. “Yeah, that about sums it up.”
Various members of the Order were in and out at all hours of the day, and most of them were happy to stay for a cup of tea and a chat, in which they patiently answered most questions Hermione fired at them. She learned more about the different job options after Hogwarts during those brief visits than she ever would during her upcoming careers consultation towards the end of her fifth year.
Harry looked faintly alarmed. “What careers consultation?”
“You have a discussion with your Head of House before your OWLs.” Fred explained. “It helps you decide what subjects to take for NEWTs.”
On the flip side, the cleaning and pest control efforts, which Hermione had expected to be over within maybe a week, were, by the middle of July, still in full swing.
Hermione raised her eyebrows. “This is the past still.”
“Well, that’s good.” Lily said. “No nasty surprises just yet.”
It was at this point that the Weasleys were due to arrive, so that Mrs Weasley could help them wage war against their headquarters.
Sirius snorted. “And it is a war. It’d be helpful if she let us use weapons.”
Part of Hermione was looking forward to this, since she loved spending time with the Weasleys, and although she’d been able to visit them at The Burrow, she felt a little guilty about leaving Sirius alone in Grimmauld Place, with only his bad memories for company.
Sirius sighed. “Don’t worry about me, Hermione, I’ll be fine.”
“That was only one of the reasons.” Hermione said. “You know what Mrs Weasley’s like.”
Remus was away as often as he was around, and, now the school term was over and Harry was safely back with the Dursleys …
Lily snorted. “Safe. As if.”
… safety being a relative term in her opinion – Mandy and Arabella were already on a mission for the Order, sounding out foreign wizards and British ex-pats in Europe, while Mandy spoke to her counterparts in the different Ministries about the European Quidditch cup, which was due to take place in Germany the following summer.
Mandy smiled. “As much as I wish we were still in the country, that sounds like fun.”
As such, Sirius and Hermione were often the only people in the house, which was doing nothing positive for Sirius’s general state of mind.
Addie made a small noise of concern, and Sirius grinned at her. “Relax, I’m fine.”
Plus, she would have preferred it if these visits weren’t punctuated by Mrs Weasley’s pointed questions about whether she was eating enough, whether the house was safe, and was it entirely proper for a young lady to be living in those circumstances?
Lily rolled her eyes. “What does she think Sirius is going to do?”
“I dread to think.” Hermione muttered.
“Told you.” Sirius sighed. “She doesn’t trust me in the slightest.”
“If I didn’t know any better,” Sirius had said, when she’d voiced this to him after her first visit, “I’d say she doesn’t trust me.”
“Stop repeating yourself.” Jen said with a smirk.
Hermione had stifled both a laugh and a grimace at what he was implying Mrs Weasley was implying, and had changed the subject rapidly.
She could have explained to Mrs Weasley about her mother, of course …
“You don’t owe her an explanation.” Addie said with a frown. “It’s really none of her business.”
… but the story had been difficult enough to tell Harry, Ron and Ginny, and Hermione didn’t entirely understand it herself yet.
Besides, the real reason for her visits to The Burrow had been accomplished during the very first, when she and Ginny had slipped away to the orchard, released the little beetle from the jar that Ginny had been keeping under lock and key, and watched with some satisfaction as she turned back into Rita Skeeter.
David shook her head. “I can’t believe you blackmailed her. And I can’t believe I approve.”
Hermione had listened to her ranting with a smirk, before turning to Ginny. “Do you know, Gin, I looked up the Animagus Registry in third year for my Transfiguration homework?”
Ginny had chuckled. “That doesn’t surprise me, Hermione – is that how you knew Miss Skeeter was an Animagus?”
“Actually, no – she wasn’t on the list.” Hermione had turned back to Rita with a smirk of savage triumph on her face.
Addie smirked. “Got her.”
“I’m sure the Ministry would love to know how she’s been getting all her information …”
Rita’s protests stopped as abruptly as the colour drained from her face. “What do you want?”
Hermione shrugged. “Nothing much. I just want you to keep your Quick-Quotes Quill to yourself for a year.
“What about when the year’s up?” Remus asked.
Hermione shrugged. “I’d still be keeping an eye on her. Telling her to never write again seemed a bit harsh.”
See if you can’t break your habit of telling lies.”
“I didn’t write anything that wasn’t the truth!” Rita shrieked.
“The hell she didn’t.” Lily muttered.
Hermione winced at the sound. “Really? So even now someone has confessed to entering Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire, you’re still standing by your statement that Harry told you he did it himself?”
“I’m surprised the Ministry allowed that to get out.” Regulus remarked.
“They didn’t.” Fred scowled. “I’m still surprised they didn’t try to pin Cedric’s murder on Harry.”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “I was counting on her not knowing that actually.”
Rita’s mouth opened and closed, unable to form a response.
“And that little point in the article about Hagrid – about one of the students receiving a bad bite from a Flobberworm, which don’t even have teeth?” Ginny added pointedly.
“That’s a better example.” David said.
“And of course that lovely article that implied I was using love potions on my best friend.” Hermione’s smirk fell, and she could feel her own Animagus form rising inside her.
Addie reached over to squeeze her hand. “Just be careful with that.” She cautioned. “You’d be surprised how loud they can be sometimes.”
She took a deep breath, forcing it down again. “Do you know how much hate mail I received for that? Do you even think about the effect your stories have on people?”
“No.” Several people answered.
Rita seemed to find her voice, but Hermione held up a hand. “One year.” She repeated, before flicking her hand imperiously. “You can go.”
Ginny giggled. “It was imperious as well. You sounded a bit like Draco when he’s acting all up himself.”
The use of his first name so casually did not escape anyone’s notice, but Draco beat them to it with a smirk. “Well, at least she has taste.”
With that … discussion out of the way, Hermione had been perfectly content to wait for the Weasleys’ arrival.
The only downside, however, was that once they were there, her own use of magic would have to stop. And she had a feeling that the war with the house would get a lot harder.
“Just a bit.” Sirius grumbled. “She won’t let us use magic either.”
“First of all, ‘let you’?” Jen asked. “You’re adults. Second of all, why not? We’re witches and wizards.”
“Mum says it’s a good idea not to get dependent on magic because it makes us grateful for what we have.” Fred explained.
“Alright, I’ll give her that.” Jen conceded. “But I’d count that as … I don’t know – making you wash up without magic, or clean your room without magic, but to make you tackle a house like that the Muggle way … it’s a miracle you’re still alive.”
“And,” Sirius added, “I know I’m an adult, but it’s far less hassle to actually do it than argue.”
Hermione waited in the drawing room, watching carefully out of the windows. She kept as still as possible, not wanting to disturb the doxys …
“Is it safe for her to be that close to them?” Lily asked.
“As long as she stays still, she should be fine.” James assured her.
… that had made their nests in the long grey fabric …
“Grey?” Regulus repeated. “Those curtains are white.”
“Not anymore.” Sirius muttered.
(Sirius had assured her that it was once white, but she couldn’t even imagine a lighter shade of grey at the moment).
A flash of red from the corner of her eye caught her attention, and she looked down to see a flock of redheads standing in the square.
She turned and hurried from the room – in no mood to deal with Mrs Black when the doorbell rang – only to stop abruptly to keep from running over a house elf.
Jen and Sirius both groaned.
Despite her soft spot for house elves, even Hermione had to admit that Kreacher was distinctly unlovable.
“Ha!” Fred shouted, pointing an accusatory finger at Hermione. “I knew it!”
Hermione rolled her eyes, preferring not to grace him with a response.
He did no cleaning, preferring to find loopholes in every order Sirius gave him and to impede their task to the best of his ability.
More than once, Hermione had suggested Sirius free him – she knew what Kady had said about house elf magic relying on having a master and a family to serve, but she honestly believed that in this case, all parties would be better off. Unfortunately, Kreacher knew too much now about the Order, and freeing him would put everyone in danger.
“That’s true.” Narcissa sighed. “He’d most likely come to me. Or, Merlin forbid, Bellatrix in Azkaban.”
Most frustrating of all, he had a habit of muttering insults under his breath – Hermione had yet to determine whether he thought they couldn’t hear him and was taking the opportunity to let his feelings out, or he knew they could hear him and didn’t care.
“I think it’s a bit of both.” Sirius admitted.
“Miss Granger,” he greeted, before adding under his breath, “The Mudblood wandering around as though she has every right to be in this house – oh, if my mistress knew, she …”
“I’m surprised you haven’t forbidden that word.” Regulus commented.
Sirius frowned. “I thought I had.”
Hermione thought back. “No. You told him not to let you hear him. You were upstairs.”
“Good morning, Kreacher.” Hermione greeted brightly, stepping over him. She had found the best way to deal with Kreacher, as with his late Mistress, was to talk to them as politely and as brightly as possible – not only did it throw them off, it made her feel like the better person.
Hermione took a moment to ponder whether she could use that phrase in Kreacher’s case, before throwing it off, and opening the front door, just as Mrs Weasley was about to ring the bell.
Fred rolled his eyes. “Did Mum know about the painting?”
“She knew.” Sirius sighed. “Hadn’t met her yet – I think she thought I was exaggerating.”
“Ssh!” She hissed. “Don’t say anything, come down to the kitchen, quickly.”
Mrs Weasley, looking very put out, opened her mouth to say something, but Hermione shook her head frantically, waved them inside, and ushered them down the hall and into the kitchen. Mrs Weasley hadn’t met Mrs Black yet, and she wanted to delay that meeting for as long as possible.
“Smart move.” Fred agreed with a shudder.
“I wonder who’d win in a shouting match.” Ginny remarked thoughtfully.
“Sorry about that,” she said with a wry smile, once the door was safely closed behind them, “Sirius’s mother has a portrait in the Entrance Hall and the slightest sound sets her off.”
“Is it that bad?” Ron asked.
Hermione thought for a second, pouring a mug of tea. “You remember that Howler you got in second year?”
Ginny, Ron and the twins flinched, and their mother looked momentarily satisfied.
Lily shook her head, frowning. “No scolding should make children flinch three years after the event.”
“It’s worse than that.” Hermione finished. “She’s twice as loud and has a rather … interesting vocabulary.”
Addie chuckled. “Oh, Hermione. You have such a way with words.”
“Well,” Mrs Weasley said finally, “it’s a good thing you kept us from speaking up there in any case. How are you, Hermione, dear?”
It was only as Mrs Weasley hugged her that Hermione realised that there weren’t enough people in the kitchen.
Ginny let out an angry noise, but her eyes were sad.
“How many were supposed to be there?” Lily asked worriedly.
“Mr Weasley was working and Charlie had gone back to Romania.” Hermione answered. “So seven.”
Even taking into account Mr Weasley’s work hours, and Charlie’s return to Romania, it was Bill who greeted her next, whilst Percy was nowhere to be found.
“Working as well?” Jen asked.
“Not exactly.” Fred growled.
“I’m fine, thank you.” Hermione answered mechanically, as Bill released her from his hug. “It might just be me, but … Don’t even think about it.” She snapped, turning her attention to the twins, who’d been about to slip something into her tea.
“What was that going to do?” Hermione asked, trying to divert Fred’s mind.
Fred cracked a grin. “That’d be telling, Mya.”
“Who us?” Fred asked innocently, hiding whatever it was behind his back.
“Mya, you wound us.” George added, putting a hand on his heart in mock-hurt.
Lily shook her head with a chuckle. “It’s James and Sirius all over again.”
“You make that sound like a bad thing.” James said.
Hermione narrowed her eyes and they both dropped their gaze to the floor.
“Sorry.” They muttered in not-quite unison.
Bill chuckled. “Nice one, Princess. But I still wouldn’t drink that tea.”
“We really hadn’t added anything.” Fred insisted.
“Didn’t intend on it.” Hermione started to dump the tea into the sink, but the name he’d used gave her pause. “Princess?”
“Oh, the twins and Ron and Ginny told me and Charlie so much about you.” Bill explained with a smirk. “I can’t think who started using the name first.”
“Think it was us actually.” Fred admitted with a grin. “Knew it’d embarrass you.”
Harry tugged her closer as she blushed. “Suits you.” He whispered, kissing her cheek.
“It’s a conspiracy.” She said seriously. “You’re all out to get me.”
“You’re the Gryffindor Princess.” Ginny explained with a smile. “Even if you don’t think you are.”
Hermione cleared her throat, trying to will the blush away from her cheeks. “Tea anyone?”
There was a round of agreement, and Hermione retrieved some more mugs, pouring herself another mug as she did so.
“Did Percy get a new job?” She asked, glancing up again. “I thought …” She trailed off, as Mrs Weasley let out a choked sob, and abandoned the teapot to Ginny in favour of hurrying over to her. “Mrs Weasley, what happened?”
“Oh, Hermione, it’s terrible!” Mrs Weasley cried. “Simply awful!”
Lily gasped. “There hasn’t been an attack, has there?!”
“No, nothing like that.” Fred assured her darkly.
Hermione patted the woman on the shoulder and handed her a tissue, looking up for some explanation.
“A couple of days ago,” Fred began, his face like thunder, “Percy came home and told us he’d been promoted. Junior Assistant to the Minister of Magic.”
David raised an eyebrow. “That’s impressive.”
“A little too impressive.” Regulus agreed. “Nothing against your brother – I’m sure he’s capable, but given the timing …”
“No, that’s exactly what we all thought.” Ginny agreed sadly.
Hermione raised an eyebrow. Not only had Fudge apparently made no secret of how he felt about the Weasleys, there was also that small fact of how Percy’s last employment had ended. “So he fails to notice his boss is under the Imperius Curse, and in response, they promote him?
David grimaced. “Well, you can’t entirely blame Percy for that. There would have been more experienced members of the department who failed to notice that Crouch had been cursed.”
I mean that’s a really impressive position for someone only a year out of Hogwarts …” she trailed off. “Too impressive. Fudge wants to use him to spy on the family, doesn’t he?”
George nodded darkly. “That’s what Dad said. Told Percy as much as well.”
“Oh, that’s not good.” Jen groaned. “Poor kid.”
“Dad’s right!” Fred argued.
“I didn’t say he wasn’t.” Jen said. “But that doesn’t mean it won’t hurt. He comes home and tells you he’s got an amazing job, and is told the only reason is so his boss can spy on the family?”
Fred shifted uncomfortably. “I hadn’t thought of it from that angle.”
Hermione closed her eyes. She could only imagine how Percy – with his unshakable faith in authority and his high ambitions – would have taken that. “And it didn’t go down well.”
“Like a Quidditch player without a broom.” Ron confirmed. “There was a row – I’ve never heard Dad shout like that. Anyway, to cut a long story short …” he flashed a hand signal that told her he’d give her the details later, out of his mother’s earshot “… Percy’s left.”
“Left?” Lily repeated, sounding startled.
Fred shook his head. “It was awful.”
Mrs Weasley began sobbing again and Hermione left her side, retrieved the bottle of firewhiskey from under the sink that Sirius didn’t know she knew about …
Addie raised an eyebrow. “Why is there firewhiskey under the sink?”
“Where else do you keep it?” Sirius asked.
“Not under the sink.” Addie answered.
“Look, Addie, I’m going mad in that house.” Sirius said with a sigh.
Addie rolled her eyes. “Firewhiskey is not a healthy way to deal with things.”
“Well, it’s either that, or I take Bessie out for a fly.” Sirius said flatly.
Addie raised an eyebrow. “You got her back?”
“No.” Sirius admitted. “And now you see my dilemma.”
… and added a shot to one of the untouched mugs of tea, before pushing it into the older woman’s hand. “Here.”
“Thank you, dear.” Mrs Weasley choked out, taking a gulp. “I just … I can’t believe he’s gone.”
“Percy believes the Prophet.” Ginny added.
Harry groaned. Hermione had told him all about what the Prophet had been saying when she had caught him up.
Hermione groaned. So far, Rita had kept her end of the deal and kept her mouth shut, but it didn’t matter. The Daily Prophet had more than enough to work from. It hadn’t come out and told everyone what Harry’s version of events was, but it had implied that there was one, slipping him in to completely unrelated stories like a standing joke, intent on tearing down his credibility and making him look like nothing more than an attention-seeking brat.
Lily was physically shaking with fury.
“And no one’s taken them to task over this?!” David demanded.
“Who?” Sirius asked with a sigh. “Remus isn’t their favourite person, Dumbledore’s got ‘bigger things to worry about’, and I can hardly walk into the office, can I?”
“I can handle it.” Harry said softly, although his eyes were flashing with anger as well.
“I have no doubt about that, Harry.” James said, somehow keeping the anger in his voice from sounding as though it was aimed at his son. “But you shouldn’t have to.”
Hermione was furious – and she wasn’t the only one. Lily had spent at least an hour the other evening, ranting about the injustice of it all, and what she’d like to do to the people who were saying such things about her son.
A smirk touched Lily’s face. “Any good ideas?”
“Several.” Hermione confirmed. “Unfortunately, I don’t think any of them were anatomically possible.”
Of course, that wasn’t the only injustice of the situation – Dumbledore had informed them all, very gravely, that it simply wasn’t safe for Harry to receive mail in case it got intercepted.
“Well, that’s not entirely a lie.” Jen conceded. “But there are other ways to get a letter to someone, other than by owl mail. Deliver it by hand, for a start.”
“Of course!” Hermione groaned. “There were Order members keeping an eye on the house! Tonks would have delivered for us!”
“Except Harry wasn’t supposed to know they were there.” Sirius reminded her.
“Why?” Harry asked, before James could. “It would’ve been nice to talk to someone for once.”
“I don’t know.” Sirius admitted.
Hermione had guessed that it was the Ministry Dumbledore was worried about, more than Voldemort – from what she had gathered from the hints Sirius had been not-so-accidentally dropping, they knew no more than he did.
David raised an eyebrow. “Should you really have been letting her know what was going on?”
“Probably not.” Sirius admitted. “But unlike Molly, I don’t think encouraging them to bury their heads in the sand is going to help anyone.”
So she had put very little of substance in her letters, something she knew would be annoying Harry greatly. She’d sent one or two letters by Muggle post as well, with a lot more information in them, but Harry hadn’t even hinted in his letters that he received them …
“I hadn’t.” Harry confirmed.
… and she could only assume that his aunt and uncle had intercepted them.
Lily hissed. “Why those …”
“No.” Harry interrupted, frowning. “They get me to get the post every morning. I’d have seen a letter for me.”
Or there’s a mail ward that’s stopping them. She thought darkly, realising that the kitchen had gone quiet.
“That’s more likely.” James agreed. “But why? Owl post, I can understand, you don’t know what Death Eaters could send by post, but none of them would know how to send post the Muggle way.”
“Plus, Harry got a letter from the Weasleys the Muggle way the summer before.” Lily reminded him. “So it must be new.”
“Maybe he’s counting on me being angry with everyone.” Harry suggested. “I get angry, I start pulling away from them …”
“You’re easier to manipulate.” Lily sighed. “And if you hadn’t had Jess, you’d be more inclined to believe that they were pulling away from you and jump before you were pushed.”
Assuming they were waiting for her response, she patted Mrs Weasley on the shoulder. “It’ll be alright, Mrs Weasley – sooner or later, everyone’s going to realise that we’re telling the truth, and he’ll come home again.”
“I hope so.” Ginny said under her breath. As angry as she was with Percy, she also missed him terribly.
“I hope you’re right, dear.” Mrs Weasley mopped at her eyes, and Hermione returned the firewhiskey to its hiding place, just as the door to the kitchen opened again.
“Hermione, have you seen Kreacher?” Sirius called, descending the stairs. “I’m a little worried he’s … Oh, hello.”
“Hi, Sirius.” Ron and Ginny greeted in not-quite unison, as Mrs Weasley nodded stiffly.
“Worried he’s?” Hermione prompted.
“There’s an old necklace that used to be in my mother’s room.” Sirius explained, shaking Ron and Ginny’s hands. “I don’t particularly want the thing, but I’m a little worried it might be cursed and if he’s … er, hidden it.”
“Found it later.” Sirius assured the four Blacks in the room, all of whom looked worried. “It’s nice and safe.”
“Well, he didn’t have anything on him in the drawing room earlier.” Hermione assured him with a smile. “Oh, Sirius, this is Fred and George Weasley. Don’t bother trying to figure out which is which.”
Sirius shook hands with the only Weasleys (aside from Percy and Charlie) he hadn’t yet met. “Nice to meet you. Hermione said you were planning on opening a joke shop.”
Hermione shook her head. “Were you trying to rile her up?”
“No, just trying to give them a boost of confidence.” Sirius answered. “You’d also told me about Molly’s feelings about it. It’s never fun when your parents don’t believe in you.”
“Dad believes.” Fred insisted. “He just … won’t say anything to keep Mum quiet.”
The twins grinned. “That we are.”
“You will not.” Mrs Weasley snapped, getting up from her chair. “It’s a ridiculous idea and you’d do well to shake the notion once and for all.”
“Molly,” Sirius said carefully, “from what I’ve heard, these two have a real flair for business, and they’ve got the potential to do really well.”
“You really do.” David agreed.
Mrs Weasley swelled and Hermione, sensing trouble, set her tea down. “Come on.” She said, pushing Fred and George towards the stairs, and seizing Ron and Ginny’s hands. “Move it.”
They hurried up the stairs, and reached the hallway just as Mrs Weasley’s voice rose in indignation. The curtains fluttered, Hermione closed her eyes, and then a second voice had joined in.
“Did she?” Sirius asked. “I couldn’t hear her.”
“Just remember it’s your house.” David advised. “She’s there at your invitation.”
“At Dumbledore’s invitation.” Sirius corrected. “There’s not much I can do. No offence,” he added to Ginny and Fred. “You two, and your brothers, are perfectly welcome, any time. But Molly and I stuck in the same house is not a good situation.”
“Yeah, we’d noticed.” Fred said, grinning.
“FILTH! SCUM! HOW DARE YOU …?!”
“Oh, shut up!” Hermione yelled, grasping one of the curtains.
Hermione sighed. “I didn’t have the energy.”
“Fred, shut the door; George, give me a hand.”
With both of them tugging at the curtains, they managed to cover the portrait again. Hermione gave the drapes a disdainful look, and headed up the stairs, the four Weasleys in close pursuit.
“Well, that was interesting.” Ginny remarked in a low voice, looking shocked. Her eyes travelled over the dismal decorations. “I thought you’d been cleaning.”
Sirius snorted. “There’s a difference between cleaning and redecorating. We have to disinfect the place before we can redecorate – not that redecorating would make much of a difference.”
“Didn’t you say that about the flat?” Addie asked innocently.
Sirius rolled his eyes. “Well, if you want, sweetheart, have at it. But it won’t make any difference.”
“We have.” Hermione sighed. “You want to see what it used to look like.”
“This is clean?” Ron asked bluntly.
Hermione shrugged. “Well, cleaner.”
“How did you know Mum would start yelling?” Fred asked, almost in awe. “She never yells at people like that, unless she’s related to them.”
Hermione sighed. “Sirius and Mrs Weasley don’t really get along.”
“She believes he’s innocent though, right?” Ron asked with a frown. “When we got back for summer, she wouldn’t leave me alone for days, going on and on about Scabbers being Pettigrew and …” He trailed off.
“She never said that in front of Percy, did she?” Jen asked worriedly.
Ginny shook her head. “He was never home, trying to make amends at work, and then the fall-out happened.”
“No, she believes it.” Hermione grimaced. “She just doesn’t like him. I think it’s got something to do with Harry.”
James raised an eyebrow. “How?”
“Harry?” Ginny repeated. “How?”
“Well, your mum’s very fond of Harry.” Hermione said slowly. “She’s practically adopted him, but at the same time, Sirius is his godfather, which makes him Harry’s legal guardian.
“Yes, it does.” James agreed.
I don’t know all the details, but I do know that Dumbledore’s given the Order strict … well, orders about what Harry can and cannot be told.
“Hold on!” Lily interrupted. “It’s got nothing to do with Dumbledore what Harry is or isn’t told! That’s Sirius’s decision to make!”
Apparently, they’re not allowed to tell him more than he ‘needs to know’.”
“Well, I’d say that’s reasonable.” James said, trying to calm Lily down. “In fact, I’d say that’s logical. And it does leave it up to Sirius to decide what Harry ‘needs to know’.”
“Except if Mum had her way, we wouldn’t tell him anything because “the poor dear, he’s been through so much, he doesn’t need any more on his plate.”” Fred concluded, finishing in a passable imitation of Molly Weasley.
“It was quite accurate.” Ginny remarked.
James shook his head. “Fred, Ginny, I don’t mean any disrespect to your mother, but she does know it’s none of her business, right?”
“She means well.” Sirius said with a sigh. “Much as it pains me to say it.”
“And Sirius will tell Harry quite a lot given half the chance.” Ginny added. “Because he knows that Harry has a knack of attracting trouble, and if he doesn’t know what’s happening, he can’t fight it.”
James nodded approvingly. “And that’s exactly what Lily and I would do.”
“I know.” Sirius said with a small smile. “That’s part of the reason I’m doing it.”
“Exactly.” Hermione nodded.
“That’s stupid.” George said finally, having been uncharacteristically quiet. “This is Sirius’s house. Not ours. Mum’s always going on about courtesy when other people open their homes to you.”
Jen snorted. “Something tells me you four will be expected to show it.”
“We are.” Ginny muttered. “Don’t get me wrong, I think we have …”
“You have.” Sirius assured her. “It’s light-hearted banter she complains about, but it’s not because she thinks you’re showing any disrespect. She thinks I’m being a bad influence.”
Hermione snorted. “Well, she’ll expect it from you four, I’m sure, but from what I’ve heard …” she trailed off, unwilling to voice the rest of her sentence.
“Besides,” George continued, “like you said, Sirius is Harry’s legal guardian, not her, not Dumbledore. He’s the only person who can make that decision.”
“Yeah.” Hermione agreed quietly, her eyes straying to the wand at her ankle, hidden in the swirl of her robes. “The only one.”
“But he shouldn’t be.” Jen sighed, as ‘Meredith’ paused without prompting. “Is that the end of the chapter?”
Hermione checked the book, but the reading continued before she could answer.
Hermione was confused.
“Guess not.” Jen answered softly.
“What was confusing you?” Sirius asked.
Hermione frowned slightly. “I’m not sure.”
The last thing she remembered was falling asleep, having been chatting to Ginny for at least an hour.
“Oh no.” Hermione whispered. “I know what this is.”
“What?” Lily asked.
Hermione closed her eyes. “Remember I told you the Memory Charm broke …”
“Oh Merlin, no.” Lily whimpered, as James pulled her and Harry closer again. “Can we skip it?”
“I don’t think so.” Hermione said grimly. “Just remember that you’re both alive.”
The two girls were sharing a room, since there weren’t many bedrooms that were safe to inhabit. The twins had taken one, Mr and Mrs Weasley another, and Ron a third, on the second floor, which was the same room Harry, if he ever managed to get there, would take as well.
“Sorry about that.” Sirius said. “Neither of you should need to share a room at your own home.”
Harry grinned. “It’s fine, Padfoot. It’s not like Ron and I don’t get along.”
“Besides, you always share with me when you stay over.” James pointed out. “And it’s not like we don’t have the room.”
Bill had a flat in London, where he was staying to be closer to the bank – although part of that decision, Ginny had told her, giggling, was to do with a certain Triwizard champion who had just started work at Gringotts as well, and who Mrs Weasley didn’t approve of one bit.
“Why not?” Mandy asked curiously.
Fred and Ginny looked at each other. “I’m … not sure.” Fred admitted. “She’s never really met Fleur. I’m guessing it’s the part-Veela thing.”
Jen scowled. “Out of interest, how did she respond to Remus?”
“Not badly.” Ginny assured her. “Although that may have been an internal reaction. She’s never shown him any prejudice that I can see.”
“No, she hasn’t.” Sirius agreed.
“As for Fleur,” Ginny sighed, “part-Veela, French, wants to work in Gringotts, which is hardly an ‘appropriate choice of work for a witch’, and doesn’t think that Bill should get a nice safe job at the Ministry.”
“In other words, foreign and doesn’t want to be a house-wife.” Jen concluded dryly.
Fred shrugged. “Or she doesn’t want to lose her baby boy.”
Lily rolled her eyes. “Surely if she loves him and he loves her, it shouldn’t matter. Besides, they’re just dating – it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to get married.”
She hadn’t woken up, however, in her bedroom at Grimmauld Place.
For a second, she thought that maybe someone was having a nightmare; that she had once more been pulled into their dreams, but that had been different.
Viewing Sirius’s nightmare had been like watching a film; she wasn’t really there. But here, lying on a sofa, she was very aware of her body … although it seemed smaller than it had been when she had fallen asleep.
“So you’re literally reliving it.” Addie concluded.
“Not quite.” Hermione whispered. “If I was literally reliving it, I wouldn’t know what was going to happen. I knew everything. I was aware of exactly what was going to happen.”
Addie reached out to her, and Hermione moved between her and Sirius taking the book with her.
A woman was smiling softly at her, a woman she knew, although the hand on her shoulder assured her that Lily Potter was very much solid in this room. “Come on, sweetheart, let’s get you to bed.”
Hermione blinked. “Bed?” She asked, her voice coming out very childlike.
“That’s right, sweetheart.” Lily said. “Can you be a big girl and walk so I can carry Harry?”
Harry? But Harry was fourteen, nearly fifteen – how was Lily supposed to carry him?
“Hadn’t quite cottoned on yet then?” Fred asked, trying to lighten the mood.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “Can you blame me?”
“You could levitate one of them.” A male voice suggested, and Hermione sat up, to see James Potter lounging on the sofa.
Lily gave him a weary look, as though they’d had this conversation before.
“Probably have.” Lily remarked. “I don’t like the idea of levitating children, James – I’d be worried they’d fall.”
“For the last time, James …”
Apparently, they had.
“… I don’t like the idea of levitating the children. Not this young.”
Jen sniggered. “Reassuring to know you don’t change, Jade.”
Young? The word reverberated through Hermione’s brain and with a thrill of horror, she realised that this wasn’t real, nor was it a dream.
It was a memory and the glowing Halloween pumpkin on the mantelpiece told her exactly what day it was.
Hermione tried to open her mouth, to warn James and Lily that they weren’t safe …
“Full points for effort.” Lily murmured, clinging to Harry and James.
… but nothing happened – she was trapped in her own body, forced to relive the events of that night in stunning clarity.
I guess the Memory Charm broke.
Lily helped Hermione down and moved over to Harry. “Perfect timing.” She remarked with a smile.
Hermione looked over to see baby Harry opening those familiar green eyes.
Sirius smiled slightly. “Would have been perfect timing as well. If you woke Harry during a nap, you could never get him back to sleep again. And he was such a light sleeper that you couldn’t just move him.”
“Mama?” He asked sleepily.
A couple of the girls cooed over the baby, but didn’t comment.
“Mummy’s here, pumpkin.” Lily soothed, picking him up. “Time for bed.”
Harry rested his head on Lily’s shoulder, blinking sleepily at Hermione, who gazed up at him as she took Lily’s hand, thinking how strange it was to see unmarked, unblemished skin where his scar would soon be.
Harry rubbed his forehead subconsciously, unaware he was doing it until Lily caught his hand and pressed a kiss to the scar.
She trotted along at Lily’s side until they reached the bottom of the stairs, where James bent and kissed his wife. “You take the kids to bed, sweetheart. I’m just going to check the wards.”
“James, I don’t feel comfortable with this.” Lily said lowly, despite her nod.
“We’ve heard this before.” James remarked.
“Don’t complain.” Lily muttered. “I’d rather hear this again than what’s coming next.”
James frowned. “Alright. Well, do you want to check the wards while I put the kids to bed?”
Lily chuckled. “No! I meant the whole ‘Secret Keeper’ thing.”
“Lily, I trust Peter …” James began.
“I do too, James.” Lily insisted. “Don’t think I don’t. But … he wasn’t exactly acting like himself when we cast the charm, was he? Plus … he said something to me just before Dumbledore arrived … he said, “Dumbledore’s explained the dangers, right?” I assumed he meant the dangers of switching Secret Keeper – you know it can carry a risk if it’s not done right, it could have left us unprotected for a whole 24 hours – but what if that wasn’t what he meant, what if something …?”
“Lily …” James cut her off mid-flow, pressing a finger to her lips. “Would you just calm down, alright? Dumbledore would have told us if it was anything else, and Peter was probably a bit nervous.”
Hermione watched the two closely. If she had to relive this night, she might as well try to get something out of it …
“Brave girl.” David said softly. “That must’ve been hard.”
… but they’d said nothing that she hadn’t already heard.
Lily looked down at her and smiled softly. “I just felt so much better when Sirius was the Secret Keeper. I know it was dangerous, but …”
“Well, I think the switch is a good idea, but if it makes you feel better, sweetheart, we’ll talk to Albus about switching back first thing tomorrow morning. Alright?”
“You’re humouring me.” Lily accused, with no heat. “But that would make me feel better.”
“Alright.” James kissed her. “I’ll see you upstairs.” He kissed Harry’s forehead. “Night, Harry. I love you.”
James breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank Merlin.”
“James?” Lily asked softly.
“I was worried …” James broke off, and shook his head. “Never mind.”
“No, go on.” Lily prompted. “Worried about what.”
James lowered his voice so that only she and Harry could hear him. “I was worried that I hadn’t said that. That maybe I’d decided to wait until after I’d checked the wards to say good night. I’m just glad I did, before … before.”
“Ni’ Daddy.” Harry murmured tiredly. “’Ove ‘oo.”
James knelt down and hugged Hermione as well. “Goodnight, Hermione.”
Hermione hugged him tightly – maybe if she didn’t let go, they’d know something was wrong – but she still wasn’t in control and she found herself releasing him. “Night, P’ongs.” Her mouth didn’t seem to want to form words properly, but apparently that was normal …
“It was.” Sirius said, stroking her hair.
… because James chuckled quietly and straightened up.
Her thumb found its way to her mouth, a comforting movement she’d grown out of years ago – or, rather, been forced to grow out of years ago …
Addie shook her head. “Thumb-sucking might be bad for you, but it’s nothing to force a child to stop doing.”
… and Lily took her hand and began helping her up the stairs.
It was slow-going, and they were barely halfway up, when James ran back to them. “Lily, take Harry and go! It’s him!”
His voice was calm, as Hermione had heard in her memories before, but as Lily spun around to face him, his face was anything but.
“He looked terrified.” Hermione whispered, taking a steadying breath as Sirius and Addie engulfed her in a hug.
She found herself grateful that she couldn’t sense emotions in these memories, because that would not be a fun experience.
“No, I wouldn’t imagine it would be.” Addie remarked.
“GO!” James told her urgently. “Run! I’ll hold him off.”
Lily bent down, scooped Hermione into her arms, and hurried up the stairs. Looking over her shoulder, Hermione saw the front door shatter inwards with a shower of splinters.
“Looks like we’ve got quite the repairs to come back to.” James joked weakly.
“James …” Lily began, but caught sight of the emotion in his eyes and stopped.
Hermione closed her eyes, as James swung his wand up, and the first spell flew. She didn’t see if it hit its mark, burying her face in Lily’s shoulder; this was one duel she didn’t want to watch.
“Thank Merlin.” David stated shakily, his hand gripping James’s shoulder. Across the room, Alice clung to Neville, staring at her pseudo-brother in horror.
Lily darted into the nursery and turned sharply on the spot in a motion Hermione had learned to associate with disapparition, having watched Order members leave from the window enough times, but nothing happened.
“Even if Voldemort wasn’t there, that wouldn’t have worked.” Sirius said with a sigh. “There were anti-apparition wards on the house.”
“But they were still our wards, right?” Lily asked. “I’d have been able to tell, which would mean that … that he hadn’t torn down the wards; they’d been lifted for him.”
Opening her eyes again, Hermione lifted her head to see Lily’s face, and she almost cried at the look in her eyes. With that one movement, Lily had proved that their protections held, and that only the Fidelius Charm had failed, ascertaining that Peter was either dead or a traitor – neither option, she felt sure, one that Lily wanted to consider.
“Is it callous that I’d rather think the first?” Lily asked.
“No.” Mandy whispered, resting her head on Arabella’s shoulder. “It’s not.”
Lily carried the two over to the fireplace, picking up a stone from the mantelpiece and holding it tightly. “Padfoot’s Place.”
“Portkey?” James asked.
Sirius nodded grimly. “Voldemort must have set up wards when he approached.”
“And we didn’t notice?!” James demanded.
“Why would you?” Sirius asked. “You don’t have ward-sight, James – there was nothing you could have done.”
“The hell there wasn’t!” James protested. “This is my family and …”
“You did all you could, James.” Lily interrupted. “You fought him. You tried to let us get away.”
Her voice wavered ever so slightly and, when nothing happened again, Hermione felt her breathing begin to quicken as panic set in.
Voldemort had apparently taken the time as he approached to cut off every escape route. Harry began to whimper, and Hermione felt her own sobs begin to rise up, as Lily’s fear flooded through her and into them.
Lily turned to the fireplace now, starting a fire with a murmured incantation, not bothering with a wand.
“I can do wandless magic?” Lily asked, surprised.
“No.” Sirius admitted. “That fireplace was like the lights – it didn’t need a wand.”
A handful of floo powder was thrown into it, but the flames died away immediately …
“He must have had someone in the Department of Magical Transport.” David said grimly.
… and Lily turned away, making for a cupboard in the corner of the room.
The door was flung open, but Lily turned away. Her heart was racing, Hermione could feel it, and her panic was palpable in the air, but her voice was casual and now unwavering. “Harry, Daddy’s left the broom in the kitchen again.”
James buried his face in his hands with a groan, and Lily shot a panicked look at Hermione, who tapped the book with her wand and fought her way out of Sirius and Addie’s arms, kneeling in front of the small family.
“James?” She said softly, to no response. “Prongs,” she repeated, more firmly, “look at me.”
Reluctantly, James lifted his head and did as he was told.
“It was not your fault.” Hermione said firmly. “If anything, it’s my fault. I think I’d just arrived when you came back from taking Harry flying and I was really upset – Lily needed your help.”
“Don’t be silly.” James said shakily. “It’s not your fault I left the broom down there.”
“And it’s not your fault what happened next.” Hermione said with a sigh. “Look, Lily didn’t mean it like that – she was saying it to try to calm us down, to make us think there was nothing wrong. Even if the broom had been there, we’d never have got away in time.”
Leaving him to Harry and Lily, she returned to her seat and restarted the book.
There was no heat to her voice, no blame, and Hermione knew that her words were for the sole purpose of calming the two children in her arms.
James relaxed a little, but not by much.
Her calmness didn’t last long, however, because at that moment, there was an echoing bang from downstairs, and the hallway lit up with an eerie green light.
Lily screamed …
Lily buried her face in James’s neck, tears springing to her eyes. “We would never have made it.” She murmured. “He’d have killed all three of us.”
… but Hermione forced herself to listen closely, arming herself with one more nugget of evidence for James and Lily’s continued existence.
Sure enough, the light was followed by silence downstairs; no further noise, no further light, and, more importantly, no thud of a body hitting the floor.
James shook his head. “I’m sorry, Lils.” He whispered. “Holding him off was all I could do, and I failed.”
“James …” Lily squeezed him tightly, unable to verbalise everything that was running through her head.
“You did all you could, Dad.” Harry insisted. “You did.”
Slow footsteps prompted Lily to drop Harry and Hermione into the crib and place herself in front of it, plunging her hand into her robes for her wand.
Hermione could have pinpointed the exact moment when Lily realised that she didn’t have it, just by watching her body language.
Lily let out a choked sob. “You did more than I could. Oh, Merlin, why didn’t I have it?”
“Both of you stop it.” Addie said sharply. “It’s not your fault. I think we all know whose fault it is.”
She stiffened, moving back to lean against the bars of the crib, turning her head just enough that her words reached them. “Hermione, darling, I am so sorry. Harry, I love you. I love you so much, pumpkin. Just close your eyes and go to sleep.”
Lily was shaking her head in disbelief, even though Hermione had explained her reasoning.
She rocked the crib gently, and Hermione saw Harry yawn across from her, his hand curling around the embroidered blanket that lay beside him. “Go to sleep, Harry. And Mummy and Daddy will be there when you wake up.”
“Oh God …” Releasing James, Lily threw her arms around Harry instead, tears streaming from her eyes. “I can’t believe I did that.”
“Mum, Addie told you why.” Harry said shakily.
Her voice broke on the last word and Hermione suddenly understood – Lily knew she couldn’t hope to protect them without a wand, and she didn’t want either of them awake or alert when it happened.
“You were protecting them as best you could.” Addie said, her tone softening.
“Hermione, close your eyes.” Lily whispered frantically. “Close your eyes, please!”
Hermione couldn’t help doing as she was told …
“Thank Merlin.” Sirius breathed into Hermione’s hair.
… even as a cold voice said, “Mrs Potter … it’s been too long.”
“Stay away from them.” James hissed, holding Lily and Harry tightly.
“Get out of my house.” Lily hissed, venom dripping from every word.
“You tell him, Lils.” Jen said through gritted teeth.
“My dear girl, you are in no position to be making any demands.”
Voldemort must have done something, lifted his wand maybe, because Lily’s calm exterior finally cracked. “Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!”
“Stand aside, you silly girl! Stand aside now!”
“Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead …”
“This is my last warning …”
“Not Harry! Please … have mercy … have mercy … Not Harry! Not Harry! Please … I’ll do anything …”
“Stand aside! Stand aside, girl!”
Lily was shaking with tears now, and Hermione hastily tapped the book to stop the reading. “Why … Why would he try to spare me?” She asked shakily. “I’m nothing to him!”
“I don’t know.” James whispered into her hair. “I don’t know.”
“Does anyone know?” Narcissa asked, gripping Draco’s hand.
Hermione looked at Sirius, who shook his head, his face pale. “No idea.”
“Lily?” Hermione asked softly. “Are you …?”
“I’m fine.” Lily said, wiping her eyes. “Let’s just get it over with.”
Hermione opened her eyes just a little, in time to see Lily turn to look at them. Harry’s eyes were wide open, and Lily met them, mouthing four words. Be safe. Be strong.
Lily choked back another sob, pressing a kiss to Harry’s head.
Green light enveloped her, though Hermione had heard no curse, and she vanished from before them.
James buried his face in Lily’s hair, breathing in her scent, reassuring himself that she was alright.
Hermione’s eyes were fully open now, and she shrank back as Voldemort approached the crib. Harry was crying, startled by the sudden disappearance of his mother, and Voldemort paid her no heed, focussed on the screaming child in front of her.
“Probably saved your life.” Regulus remarked frowning. “I don’t think Lily’s sacrifice would have protected you as well.”
“Thanks for that.” Sirius muttered, tightening his grip on Hermione.
Harry had described Voldemort in his first year, but that had been a wraith-like being on the back of someone’s head, and did nothing to prepare her for the monster that stood before her.
He raised his wand, aimed it very deliberately at Harry’s face, and chanted the curse that had taken so many other lives before their time.
David closed his eyes, muttering a curse under his breath. He had known what his grandson survived, but to hear it was something else.
The green light shot towards Harry, and the room around them seemed to explode into a chaos of dust, and noise, and debris.
The crib rocked and overturned, trapping Hermione and Harry beneath it, probably saving their lives as the ceiling caved in.
“Thank Merlin.” Lily whispered, over and over again.
Hermione couldn’t see where Voldemort had gone or what had happened to him, her focus was fixed on Harry, who was lying not feet away from her, bleeding and unmoving.
“It knocked him out?” James asked hoarsely.
“Understandable, really.” Addie remarked. “The spell packs quite a punch.”
“That was Ginny.” Hermione explained weakly. “Trying to wake me up.”
Her own screams and cries echoed in her ears, as she begged for someone to hear her, to help them.
A loud rumbling sounded from outside …
“Bessie.” Sirius and Addie chorused.
… and her sobs quietened as footsteps sounded from downstairs.
There was a muttered curse, and a reassuringly familiar voice called out, “James! It’s Padfoot – answer me, mate!”
Her own scream jolted her awake …
“Did I actually scream?” Hermione asked.
“No.” Ginny answered, pale beneath her freckles. “You just woke up.”
… and she bolted upright, nearly colliding with Ginny, who was bent over her, calling her name.
“Thank Merlin.” Lily repeated, running a hand through her hair. “It’s over.”
“Not yet.” James said darkly. “But we’ll get there.”
“Hermione, dear, whatever’s the matter?!” Mrs Weasley asked from the doorway.
“Oh, I thought I’d throw a party.” Hermione said breezily. “Why? Is this not the time?”
Fred snorted. “I know. I thought it was obvious what was wrong.”
Still gasping for air, Hermione looked up, seeing Fred, George and Ron standing with their mother, equal concern on their faces, and behind them …
Hermione had moved before anyone had realised; throwing off the bedcovers, she darted across the room, past Mrs Weasley’s outstretched arms and assuming smile …
“It was rather presumptuous of her.” Ginny remarked. “But I suppose she wasn’t expecting you to be that close to Sirius.”
… and into Sirius’s arms, which closed around her comfortingly.
“Hermione!” Mrs Weasley protested, sounding scandalised.
Addie rolled her eyes. “Honestly, what did she think was happening?”
“I’ve never asked.” Hermione said frankly. “And I don’t want to think about it.”
“Mum …” Ginny sighed, standing up, but Hermione paid no attention to either of them.
“I remembered.” She whispered into Sirius’s shoulder, despite knowing he probably couldn’t hear her.
“I could.” Sirius confirmed, kissing her forehead.
“I remembered them … Prongs and Aunt Lily – they d-disappeared …” Her old names for them came easily to her lips, as though part of her mind was still two years old.
“It probably was.” Regulus said. “It’s not uncommon after nightmares.”
“Harry wasn’t moving …”
“It’s alright, Kitten.” Sirius murmured, kissing her head. “It’s okay. That was years ago. You need to finish waking up, a chuisle.”
Addie frowned. “Where did you learn that?”
“No idea.” Sirius answered, looking equally confused. “What is it?”
“Irish.” Addie explained. “It means sweetheart, more or less, but I’ve never spoken it around you.”
“Not yet.” Addie corrected. “You will. Although your pronunciation was always awful.”
Sirius smirked. “Is é sin toisc labhairt leat Gaeilge an-te.” He said, causing Addie to turn slightly pink, and her past counterpart to choke on air.
“You were messing with me.” Addie realised. “You never had a problem, did you?”
“No.” Sirius answered with a chuckle. “Just enjoyed riling you up.”
“What did he say?” Jen asked, intrigued.
“Nothing that should be repeated in public.” Addie said hastily.
“It wasn’t that bad.” Addie argued.
“Nothing that should be repeated in front of your daughter.” Addie amended.
Addie glanced at Hermione. “Fair enough.”
The unfamiliar word gave Hermione something else to focus on. “What language is that?”
“Irish.” Sirius answered, somehow guiding her around Mrs Weasley so he could sit down on her bed, never releasing her.
“I didn’t know you spoke Irish.” Hermione remarked, feeling her breathing begin to return to a regular pattern.
“I don’t, really.” Sirius admitted. “Addie’s family was Irish … she taught me a little.”
“Sounded like more than a little.” James remarked.
“Well, she didn’t teach me anything I could really use.” Sirius said with a grin, causing Addie to smack him on the arm.
Later, in the light of day and with her mind back in some semblance of order, Hermione would realise that she should have been able to guess that – ‘McKinnon’ was, after all, either a Scottish or an Irish name.
“Obviously.” Hermione muttered.
“What does it mean?” Hermione asked, shifting her head to his shoulder.
“Sweetheart, I think.” Sirius said thoughtfully. “At least, that’s how Addie used it, but she did say that the literal translation was …”
“What is the literal translation?” Hermione asked.
“Pulse.” Addie answered. “It’s part of a longer phrase – a chuisle mo chroi, which means ‘the pulse of my heart’. The longer phrase is more commonly used in a romantic state, but a chuisle can be used in any number of contexts.”
“Alright, that’s quite enough!” Mrs Weasley snapped, hands on her hips. “Hermione Granger, I’m surprised at you!”
Lily grimaced. “She really needs to stop jumping to conclusions.”
“If it was anyone else, she wouldn’t.” Sirius muttered.
Hermione blinked, startled, too tired and too emotionally wound to catch up with Mrs Weasley’s train of mind. Not bothering to attempt to figure it out, she closed her eyes again. “Daddy, what does she mean?”
“That’s what triggered your Memory Charm to start undoing, isn’t it?” James asked.
Sirius nodded silently.
Like her names for James and Lily, her childhood address for him slipped out as though she still called him that every day.
“I don’t know what she’s implying, Kitten.” Sirius said softly, his smile audible in his voice.
“I never thought you’d call me that again.” He whispered into Hermione’s hair.
“But it might help if I explained that whenever your father hurt your mum, she used to drop you off with me, and that I love you like a daughter.”
Hermione opened her eyes again, to see Mrs Weasley opening and closing her mouth, apparently in shock.
“That’s what I was trying to tell you, Mum.” Ginny sighed. “Hermione’s mum’s a witch. The Potters were babysitting her that Halloween, and her mum put a Memory Charm on her. I think it just broke. Even if she didn’t have that connection to Sirius, he was the first person to arrive at the house after …” She broke off.
“Therefore it makes sense that she’d go to him for comfort.” Regulus finished.
Mrs Weasley moved to sit on Hermione’s other side, rubbing her arm comfortingly. “I’m sorry.” She said finally, to the opposite wall. “I jumped to conclusions.”
“Quite alright, Molly.” Sirius assured her. “No one can be expected to think too clearly at half past two in the morning.”
“You really think that’s the only reason?” Addie asked.
“No.” Sirius admitted. “But the war’s going to be hard enough without the Order at each other’s throats.”
His casual mention of the time caused Mrs Weasley to look up at her children. “Back to bed, all of you.”
The boys all looked as though they’d argue …
“We were worried about you.” Fred said.
Hermione smiled weakly at him. “I was fine.”
… but Ginny gave them a sharp look and, combined with their mother’s glare, it caused them to turn on their heel and retreat to their bedrooms.
“Will you be alright, Hermione, dear?” Mrs Weasley asked gently.
“I’ll be fine.” Hermione assured her, catching her hand and squeezing softly. “It was a nightmare. That’s all.”
“One hell of a nightmare.” Lily muttered.
Mrs Weasley still looked worried, but patted Hermione’s cheek and left the room, bidding them goodnight.
“I didn’t mean to wake the whole house.” Hermione said, sitting up.
“Don’t be silly.” Lily said, smiling sadly. “You can’t help nightmares.”
“Oh, don’t be silly, Hermione.” Ginny sighed, climbing back into bed. “How many times have I woken you up with nightmares?”
“Too many to count.” Hermione answered.
Fred frowned slightly. “I still don’t like that you didn’t come to us, Gin. I understand why though.” He added, before she could say anything.
Hermione chuckled, slipping back under her own covers. “True.”
Sirius stood up as well, hovering beside her. “Will you be alright?”
Addie smiled fondly at him. “You’re overprotective.”
Hermione smiled softly, extending a hand to him. “I’ll be fine.” She repeated.
Sirius leaned down and kissed her forehead. “They’re alright.” He whispered. “Harry’s alright. We’ll get them back.”
Hermione took a deep breath and let it out slowly; the tension that remained in her body flowed with it. “Thanks, Padfoot. I love you.”
It was the first time she’d voiced it, but the words were as true as they had been fourteen years ago.
Sirius squeezed her hand. “I love you too, Kitten.”
Sirius pressed a kiss to her forehead.
“It’s not fair!”
“What’s not fair?” Lily asked, bewildered.
Hermione frowned. “I … don’t know. Must be a new section, but … it’s probably Ron.”
Hermione sighed, massaging her temples. Three weeks had passed since her nightmare …
“And my nightmare was a week ago.” Hermione said softly. “We’re into the future.”
… Mrs Weasley seemed to have come to terms with everything, Harry’s letters were getting more and more frustrated …
Harry snorted. “I’m not surprised.”
… the house was still trying eat them alive every time they opened a new door …
“Surely that’s an exaggeration.” Narcissa said softly.
Sirius shook his head. “No, definitely not.”
… and Ron still hadn’t grasped how things worked.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “How hard is it to understand? The adults are in the Order of the Phoenix, we aren’t.”
Fred cleared his throat. “Forge and I aren’t in the Order.”
“Because you haven’t left school.” Sirius reminded him mildly. “That was the same when I was younger as well.”
“We should know what’s going on!”
“Yes, Ron, we should, but that doesn’t change the fact that we don’t.” Hermione snapped. “And if Sirius won’t tell me …
“I tell you things!” Sirius protested.
“Nothing important.” Hermione refuted.
“I don’t have a death wish.” Sirius conceded. “But I do tell you things.”
… there’s no way in hell you’ll convince your mother to tell you.”
Fred and Ginny laughed. “I think that might be an understatement.”
“But we should!” Ron moaned.
Hermione and Ginny exchanged a weary glance, and the latter shrugged, reclining on her bed, allowing Hermione to handle her brother.
“Thanks.” Hermione muttered.
The three were sitting in Hermione and Ginny’s room, while the Order of the Phoenix had a meeting in the kitchen, and Ron complained about not being allowed to sit in on the meetings.
Hermione loved her best friend, really she did, but if he didn’t shut up, she was going to make what she did to Draco in third year look like a pat on the cheek.
Draco winced. “Then Ron might want to shut up, because that hurt.”
Ginny raised an eyebrow. “You just called him Ron.”
“I’ve been calling Harry and Hermione by their names.” Draco pointed out.
“Yeah, but they’re here.” Ginny said, frowning slightly.
Draco shrugged. “Well, there are four Weasleys; it gets confusing.”
At that moment, there was a double crack and the twins were suddenly standing in the middle of the room.
Used to their constantly apparating every few feet by now, Hermione just raised an eyebrow. “Was it that much bother just to walk?”
“Yes.” Fred, James and Sirius said in unison.
“When do you get your apparition licences?” Hermione asked curiously. “Because you don’t come of age until eighteen – did that change at the same time?”
“I guess so.” David confirmed. “This lot won’t get theirs until next year.”
“Did I get mine?” Addie asked.
“No.” Sirius answered, as Addie said, “Yes.”
They looked at each other for a second, before Sirius closed his eyes. “Azkaban?” He asked wearily.
Addie touched his hand gently. “I don’t think so. More a technicality. I passed my test on the last day of the spring term, but I never actually got my licence. Dad was going to take me into the Ministry the day after …” She broke off, and Hermione tapped the book again.
“Well, of course, Mya.” Fred smirked, holding a long, fleshy instrument.
James raised an eyebrow. “And what might that be?”
“Extendable Ears.” Fred said cheerfully. “Mya, I don’t suppose you’ve …”
“No.” Hermione said flatly. “I have a lot in that bag, but not an Ear.”
Fred shrugged. “They’re an eavesdropping device.”
“Don’t let Mum catch you with those.” Ron warned. “I didn’t think you had any left.”
George scowled, obviously still furious with their mother for destroying their hard work.
“She destroyed them?!” Fred gasped. “I know we shouldn’t have been listening in on the meetings, but a bloody Imperturbable Charm would have stopped them!”
“Sorry, Fred.” Hermione said softly.
“Does she have any idea how much work went into those?” Fred groaned. “We’re never going to get the shop off the ground if she keeps destroying our merchandise.”
Sirius frowned. “I can probably seal off one of the rooms if you want to use it for storage.”
“Thanks Padfoot.” Fred said, grinning weakly. “Just can’t believe she’d do that.”
“We’ve still got a few, no thanks to her.”
“They won’t work anyway.” Hermione said, leaning back against her bed. “Padfoot told me they were going to put an Imperturbable Charm up – whatever this meeting’s about, it must be really important.”
A hand seized each of hers and she let out a surprised squeak as Fred and George hauled her to her feet.
Harry frowned. “What’s that about?”
Hermione made a small noise of understanding. “Marauders. I said Padfoot. Looks like they’re finally catching on.”
“What the …?”
“You know who the Marauders are?!” Fred demanded, looking more serious than she’d ever seen him. “We gave Harry the Map and everything!”
“Why didn’t you tell us?” George asked, less heatedly, but just as put out. “Who are they?”
“Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, Sirius Black and James Potter.” Hermione listed quickly.
“You don’t mess with the twins when they’re serious.” Hermione said, grinning.
“Don’t do it.” Both Addies said in unison.
“Respectively. So, technically, you returned the Map.”
“And technically,” Ginny added, “they’re not the only Marauders.”
“Thank you.” Lily said huffily.
Hermione chuckled. “That’s usually my line.”
“There were others?” Fred asked eagerly, releasing her hand.
Hermione sat down again, smirking up at them. “Of course. There were the girls too – by all accounts, they’re the reason the school’s still standing.
“We are.” Jen said with certainty.
“Then thank Merlin you’re around.” David said.
Speaking of the girls, do Angelina and Alicia know what you’re planning with the joke shop?”
Fred frowned. “Why are you asking?”
“Because you love them more than you let on.” Hermione said matter-of-factly. “And it’s your future and they have the right to be involved.”
“They know what we want to do.” George said. “Whether they know we have the means to do it …”
Hermione smiled. “Maybe you should tell them. They’re smart girls – they might even be willing to help.”
“That too.” Hermione agreed.
The twins exchanged a look, holding a silent conversation, but before they could agree, Lily appeared in front of Hermione …
Lily breathed a sigh of relief. “At least we know I’m alive in two weeks’ time.”
… who let out another startled squeak.
“Lily!” Hermione protested, one hand on her heart. “Don’t do that!”
Lily chuckled. “Sorry, Hermione.”
“Lily?” Fred and George repeated in unison.
Hermione spared Ginny a nod to confirm that she could fill them in, the rest of her attention focussed on Lily, who was on the verge of hysterics.
Any laughter instantly vanished from the room, and the colour drained from Lily’s face. “No …” She whispered. “What’s happened?”
“Oh, Hermione!” Lily cried. “You’re not going to believe what just happened!”
“It can’t be you and James.” Jen said softly.
“Why do you say that?” James asked, more harshly then she’d intended.
“Because what’s Hermione going to do?” Jen asked practically. “If it was you two, it would have to be your … deaths, and Lily wouldn’t waste time; she’d just deliver a final message. Besides, if I know Lily, she’s sticking with Harry.”
“That’s even worse.” Lily whispered, tightening her grip on Harry. “What if …?”
“Mum,” Harry said softly, “I’m right here.”
“But this is the future.” James said quietly.
“Then let’s stop speculating and find out.” Addie said, glancing at Hermione, who restarted the book.
It was pure fluke that led Jessica Brown to her front garden that evening.
“Definitely me then.” Harry murmured, rubbing Lily’s back soothingly.
Her hanging baskets were starting to droop so, once she’d finished her dinner, she filled up a watering can and stepped outside to remedy that.
She was distracted from her task, however, when she spotted Harry and Dudley moving down the road towards her, accompanied by Mrs Figg.
Lily relaxed a little. “That can’t be too bad. Unless they all get attacked.”
“Lily,” James said, picking up a small vial from the coffee table, “take a Calming Draft. You need one.”
Jess knew that Harry suspected that Mrs Figg was a relative of his mother’s friend, Arabella, but since neither was certain, they hadn’t said anything to her.
What concerned Jess most about the picture was that Harry seemed to be half-carrying Dudley home.
“Sounds like an attack’s already happened.” Regulus said, frowning. “They’re all alive,” he added hastily, when James glared at him.
Concern gripped at her heart and she resolutely pushed it aside before it could morph into fear. Dudley’s ‘gang’ terrorised the neighbourhood and, with Dudley himself being a ‘Junior Boxing Champion’ – as his father was too fond of telling everyone – no one was stupid enough to mess with them.
“Which means it’s not Muggle.” Mandy whispered.
One of them probably got their hands on some beer or something. She set the watering can down on her front step and wiped her hands dry on her jeans. Although you wouldn’t think someone so big was such a light …
Her thought process ground to a halt as she reached the end of her drive, and she realised that Harry’s wand – usually tucked into his back pocket – was in his hand.
“Definitely magical.” Arabella confirmed, biting her lip.
“Harry!” Jess called, running towards them. “Harry, what happened?!”
Lily screamed, and Harry winced. “Mum, that was my ear.”
“But, Harry …”
“Mum, I’m obviously alright.” Harry said calmly. “It’s Dudley you want to be worrying about if I’m half-carrying him.”
Harry gasped out, straining under Dudley’s weight. “Two of them.”
“What the hell are Dementors doing in Privet Drive?” Hermione asked.
“You think Voldemort sent them?” Ginny asked.
Sirius frowned. “Unlikely. But someone did. Even if they’ve abandoned the Ministry, Voldemort won’t want to tip his hand yet.”
“So much for blood wards.” James muttered, gripping Harry’s shoulder.
“Harry …” Mrs Figg began.
“She knows.” Harry managed to reassure her. “Cast my Patronus. Drove them away.
Lily breathed a sigh of relief. “At least they’re both alright.”
“But Harry’s done magic.” Regulus said, frowning.
“Well, of course he did magic.” Sirius said, rolling his eyes. “What was he supposed to do? Let the Dementors suck his soul out?”
“He’s underage.” Regulus reminded his brother. “And don’t say there’s a ‘reasonable restriction’, because with the way the Ministry’s been acting, I don’t think it’ll help.”
“They won’t expel me, will they?” Harry asked.
“They can’t.” Sirius said immediately. “You’re entitled to a hearing first.”
“Yeah, because that’ll be fair.” Fred snorted.
“Sirius …” James began.
“I’ll think of something.” Sirius said firmly. “I will. It’ll be okay, Pronglet. Remember this hasn’t happened yet.”
Dudley’s … not taking it well.”
For once, Jess felt nothing but sympathy for Harry’s cousin – she wouldn’t wish the creatures Harry had described after his third year on anyone.
“Well, I had better go and await instruction.” Mrs Figg said.
Narcissa frowned. “No offence, but what’s she going to do?”
Arabella shrugged. “Let Order members through the floo maybe? I’m sure her fireplace will still be hooked up.”
“Can you get him inside, Harry?”
“I’ve got it.” Harry said, managing a weak smile. “Thanks, Mrs Figg.”
“You’re welcome. Jessica.” Mrs Figg acknowledged her with a smile, and Jess raised a hand in farewell as the old woman set off down the road, her carpet bag swinging wildly.
Harry chuckled. “I bet she was still in her slippers as well.”
“Probably.” Arabella agreed, smiling. “Gran does love her slippers.”
“Harry …” Jess said softly. “Do you want me to come inside to talk to your aunt and uncle?”
Harry shook his head. “No offence, Jess, but you’d probably make things worse.”
Jess pulled a face, but didn’t begrudge him his point. “Alright …” she said reluctantly. “I’ll talk to you from the usual spot then.”
“Usual spot?” Lily asked.
“Her back bedroom is directly next to mine.” Harry explained. “We lean out of the window and talk there.”
Harry nodded, heaved Dudley better on to his shoulder, and dragged him up the driveway of Number Four. Jess watched them go, remembering Harry’s stories about his parents from his latest school year. “If you two are here, Mr and Mrs Potter,” she murmured, “you might want to let Hermione know what’s happened – she’s got better connections than I do. I’ll look after him for you.”
Lily smiled softly. “Thank Merlin she’s there.”
“Shouldn’t think there’s much I can do, unfortunately.” Hermione sighed. “Not without alerting Dumbledore.”
With no way of knowing whether her message had been heard, she hurried back inside her own house, locking the front door firmly, and dashed into the kitchen, pressing her ear against the wall.
“That won’t work.” Harry predicted. “Aunt Petunia’s always complaining about the thickness of the walls.”
Unfortunately for her, the walls were very thick, and she gave it up as a bad job, deciding to wait for Harry upstairs in one of her own spare rooms.
Halfway up the stairs, she stopped, an idea hitting her. It was all very well leaning out of their windows, but it was very difficult to have a decent conversation, and if the Dursleys didn’t lock Harry in his room for this, she’d be very surprised.
James scowled, pressing a kiss to Harry’s hair.
She went back downstairs and unlocked her backdoor, stepping out into her back garden. An owl swooped past her and flew straight into the kitchen window of Number Four.
“Ministry, I should think.” Addie said darkly.
Hearing Vernon shouting something about owls, Jess jogged down to her garden shed and pulled the door open.
It took a few minutes of searching, but she finally found what she was looking for: a curved piece of drainpipe from when she’d had the guttering replaced.
“Oh …” Lily whispered. “Oh, I understand.”
“What?” James asked, looking lost.
“If the windows are close enough together and the pipe’s long enough, she can use it to channel the sound.” Lily explained. “And then they don’t have to stick their heads out of the window.”
She took it back up to the house and rinsed off the cobwebs and dirt under the outside tap. Then she went back inside, locked the back door again, and carried it upstairs to the spare bedroom, pausing only to rescue some masking tape from a kitchen drawer.
Lily nodded to herself, certain she was right.
Opening the window, she leaned out, letting her gaze wander over the back gardens of Privet Drive, as she waited for Harry to go upstairs.
Finally, a door slammed. A few minutes later, the window to her left opened, Hedwig soared off, and Harry’s head popped out. “Well, that was fun.”
“I can almost taste the sarcasm.” Draco drawled.
“What happened?” Jess asked urgently. “What was that owl for?”
“To tell me that I’ve been expelled from Hogwarts.”
“They can’t!” James protested. “They can’t do that!”
“Calm down, James.” David said, although he looked just as angry. “I’m sure someone at the Ministry has some sense.”
Harry answered dully. “Then I got another owl from Mr Weasley telling me not to surrender my wand and to stay put. Then I got an owl from Sirius telling me not to leave the house.
“That’s it?” Addie asked. “That’s all you said?!”
“I was probably in a hurry.” Sirius said. “Sorry, Harry.”
Then I got another owl from the Ministry telling me that I haven’t been expelled, but I’ve got a trial to decide whether I should be or not.”
James relaxed slightly. “Good.”
“But they can’t expel you for defending yourself, surely!” Jess protested. “It doesn’t make sense!”
“None of it makes sense.” Harry sighed, rubbing his scar.
“Do you think it’s hurting again?” Lily asked in concern.
Harry grimaced. “It hasn’t stopped since he came back.”
Jess’s brow creased in concern. “You look tired, sweetheart.”
“I am tired.” Harry admitted. “But …” He broke off, staring down into the dark garden.
Lily and James both stiffened.
Jess glanced down as well, just to make sure he hadn’t seen something. There was nothing there …
… so she turned back to Harry. “Who did you write to?”
“Ron. And Hermione. And Sirius.” Harry scowled. “And I want actual news this time – not just “There’s lots going on, but we can’t tell you”.”
Hermione grimaced. “Sorry, Harry.”
Harry waved her off. “It’s fine. You tried.”
Jess grimaced in sympathy, as Harry yawned. “You should get some sleep, Harry.”
“But …” Again, Harry broke off, and Jess retreated inside for a second to fetch the drainpipe.
“Mind out,” she warned, threading one end out of the window and towards him.
“What’s this for?” Harry asked, grabbing hold of it.
“Well, I don’t happen to be in possession of a mobile telephone.”
“Are they mobile now then?” Lily asked in interest.
Hermione nodded. “They’re getting more popular, mobile phones. Smaller, too.”
Jess pointed out briskly, taping her end of the drainpipe to the window sill. “And if it rains, we’ve got a problem sticking our heads out of the window. Is your bed up against the wall?” She asked, tossing the tape along to him.
“Yeah it is.” Harry caught it deftly and proceeded to copy her actions.
Jess caught the tape again when he threw it back and pulled her head back inside, settling on the bed in her own room. “Is that better?”
“I can still hear you if that’s what you mean.” Harry answered, perfectly audible through the pipe.
Lily grinned. “Good. Now you can be comfortable while you talk.”
Jess smiled in satisfaction. It wasn’t perfect, by any means, but it meant she could still talk to her boy. “Now I think it’s time for you to go to bed, sweetheart.”
Harry sighed. “Alright. But …”
“Goats butt.” Jess quoted. “Birds fly. And teenage wizards who have just fought off Dementors need their sleep.”
Jen raised an eyebrow. “Sirius …”
“I know.” Her brother agreed softly. “That’s what Mum says.”
“It is?” James asked.
“Well, the last part changes.” Jen conceded. “But the first part …”
“Maybe it is you.” Lily said.
“Well, we’ll find out soon, I hope.” Jen said. “They won’t leave Harry there for much longer.”
Harry laughed weakly, becoming a little dimmer. “Alright. I’m changing first though.”
“That might be a good idea.” Jess agreed, leaning against the wall. “How did your aunt and uncle take it?”
Harry laughed again, derisively this time. “How do they take anything magical? Uncle Vernon was all for blaming me for what had happened to their Ickle Diddykins, then Aunt Petunia knows what Dementors are – apparently she heard Dad telling Mum …”
James frowned. “When have I ever talked to you about Dementors?”
“That was me.” Sirius said. “Jen and I visited after second year to thank her parents for letting us stay there after … Well, you know. We were talking about our parents and someone mentioned Azkaban, I think. Why’d you think it was your dad?”
Harry shrugged. “I don’t know. It hasn’t happened yet.”
“She actually used your parents’ names?” Jess asked in surprise.
“Well, she said she heard ‘that awful boy’ telling ‘her’.” Harry amended.
“Ah.” Sirius said, nodding. “That explains it.”
“I assume she meant Mum and Dad. Though why Dad thought Dementors were an appropriate subject of conversation, I don’t know.”
“It might not have been your dad.” Jess said fairly. “Your mum was a Marauder, you said – there are four boys there who your aunt might have and probably did consider ‘awful’, any one of whom could have visited her during the summer.”
“And we did.” Sirius said cheerfully.
“That’s true.” Harry conceded. “Oh, and then Uncle Vernon was all for throwing me out – which I’d have been all for – I’d have come to you – except those letters told me not to – and then Aunt Petunia got a Howler of all things that said, “Remember my last, Petunia,” and she said I had to stay.”
“What on earth …?” Lily asked slowly.
“Dumbledore, maybe?” Jen suggested. “He did leave that letter with Harry at the beginning of the first book. Maybe it explained about the blood wards and how the family was safer with Harry there.”
“Maybe.” Lily agreed.
Jess let out a steady breath. “Well.” She said on the end of it. “That’s a turn up for the books. Who was it from?”
“No idea.” There was a rustle of sheets. “Alright, I’m in bed, but don’t expect me to sleep.”
Jess smiled softly. She had been looking after Harry for long enough that she knew one or two tricks to get him to sleep, no matter how wired, or how scared he might be.
“And what might they be?” Fred asked innocently.
Harry looked sheepish. “Jess has a magic voice, I swear. There are a few songs that she can sing and it sends me straight to sleep.”
“Dancing bears, painted wings,
Things I almost remember,
And a song someone sings,
Once upon a December …”
“That’s one of her favourites.” Harry remarked, when the book paused on its own.
Her voice, though quiet, filled the room and floated through the drainpipe to the room next door. She had built up a repertoire of songs to use as lullabies over the years, but this was one of her favourites, simply because its background – a film about a young woman who didn’t remember who she was – had struck a chord with her.
“It would.” Lily frowned. “I don’t know that one though.”
“It’s about the Russian royal family.” Hermione explained. “Based on the theory that when they were assassinated, the princess somehow escaped. It’s the story of how she found her way home.”
“Someone holds me safe and warm,
Horses prance through a silver storm,
Figures dancing gracefully
Across my memory …”
She had given up trying to puzzle out her own history, and had done just weeks after waking in hospital on August 2nd, 1982, with no idea why she was there.
Sirius sucked in a breath. “August 2nd …”
“It’s got to be Jen.” Addie whispered.
“I disappeared August 1st, right?” Jen asked.
Sirius nodded, gripping Addie’s hand. “Yeah, you did.”
She had been found, doctors told her, by the postman, who had knocked on the door to deliver a package. She was a creature of habit, so when she hadn’t answered, he had become concerned and peered through the letter box to see her lying motionless at the bottom of the stairs.
Jen shook her head. “I don’t know … Maybe she is just a Muggle with amnesia and latent magic. Creature of habit implies I’d been there for a while.”
“Not unless the Memory Charm was set to affect everyone around you.” Addie disagreed.
“What Death Eater would go to that amount of trouble?” Jen asked. “Why not just kill me?”
“I’m still not convinced it was the Death Eaters.” Addie said darkly.
An ambulance was duly called and she awoke a day later, only able to offer a tentative explanation of falling down the stairs.
The doctors gave her some pain-killers and discharged her, once they were certain that she was in no further danger.
As soon as she got home, she climbed the stairs and found the culprit in her accident – the carpet had become loose and must have tripped her on her way downstairs that morning.
“Nice and neat.” David commented, looking at his ‘niece’ with concern. “Too neat for my liking.”
“Far away, long ago,
Glowing dim as an ember,
Things my heart used to know,
Once upon a December …”
“It is a beautiful song.” Lily murmured absently.
She had been able to tell the doctors her name, of course, and where she lived, and who her parents were – had been (they’d died in a car crash four years previously) – but she couldn’t actually remember anything.
She just knew it had happened.
She had been assured that her almost-amnesia would disappear over time, but so far she had seen no improvement. She could remember that she grew up in America, before moving to England to finish her schooling after her parents’ deaths, but she couldn’t actually remember doing it.
Plus she had no trace of an American accent in her voice, and her passport claimed she’d never left the country.
“Ah.” Addie smirked. “Someone messed up.”
“If it is me and a Memory Charm,” Jen said, “you have to admit, they did a good job.”
Remus rolled his eyes. “Only you, Selena.”
“Someone holds me safe and warm,
Horses prance through a silver storm,
Figures dancing gracefully
Across my memory …”
And then there were the dreams, which had been around for as long as she could remember – although that was only just over fourteen years.
Thinking of the dreams caused her eyes to flicker up towards the sky, where the moon peeked out from behind a cloud.
It would be full in just over a week, and that dream – the one she had never told Harry about – would return. The dream of pain and agony – not hers, but someone else’s, and she couldn’t help feeling that if she just knew where they were, she could help them.
Harry nodded. “I thought so. I knew she wasn’t telling me something.”
Jen glanced at Remus. She’d been trying not to get her hopes up, not truly believing that she and Jessica were the same person, but the more information that was revealed, the more likely it seemed.
“Far away, long ago,
Glowing dim as an ember,
Things my heart used to know,
Things it yearns to remember …”
Jess may have given up on figuring it out, but she still wished that she could.
“And a song that someone sings …
Once upon a December …”
The last note shook slightly as she held it, and died away into the night.
There was no sound through the drainpipe, and Jess’s smile returned; she knew that Harry would have fallen asleep, lulled by her voice into accepting his own exhaustion.
Harry shook his head. “Like I said, magic voice.”
She had no doubt that the nightmares would return, but that was no reason for him to try to stay awake. However terrifying they were, that would only end badly.
“I hate it when she’s right.” Harry muttered, rubbing his face.
She stood up and moved to the window, her eyes tracking the direction Hedwig had flown in. “You’d better be able to do something about this, Sirius.” She murmured.
“I’ll do my best.” Sirius whispered, resting his head atop Addie’s.
“Because I can’t do a damn thing. I wish I could.” Her gaze drifted upwards to the few stars that shone through in the cloudy sky. “Actually, while I’m on the subject of wishing, I’ve got a few more for you. I wish I knew what was going on – really going on, not just what Harry could tell me.
“Don’t we all.” Lily muttered.
I wish I could talk to the other people in Harry’s life and get someone to listen when I say he needs help.
“That’ll take a while.” Harry grumbled. “Most people only care when they need me to save the school. I said ‘most’,” he added, before his companions could protest.
And I wish I knew who I am.”
Her voice cracked on the last word, and she turned away from the window, a tear escaping her before she could guard against it.
Remus squeezed Jen’s hand. Like his girlfriend, he was trying not to get his hopes up, but he couldn’t help it.
Little did she know, in just three days, all of these wishes would be granted.
Jen breathed a sigh of relief. “We should find out soon then.”
“This book is going to wreak havoc on my nerves.” Lily muttered shakily. “I can tell it already.”
“Just try to take it one chapter at a time.” James advised soothingly.
“I don’t know if I can.” Lily admitted.
“Well, you’re one down.” Hermione told her, checking the book. “That’s the end of the chapter. Who wants to look after it next?”
Is é sin toisc labhairt leat Gaeilge an-te = That's because you're hot when you speak Irish.
Chapter 2: Chapter Two - Memories
“I’ll take it.” Jen said after a few seconds. She took the book from Hermione and turned it to the next page. “Ready?”
Lily took a deep breath. “As we’ll ever be.”
Getting nods from everyone else, Jen tapped the book with her wand, gripping Remus’s hand tightly.
“Looks like we might get some answers.” Regulus murmured, looking worriedly at his sister.
Three days later, Jessica was starting to get very angry with the wizards and witches in Harry’s life. They had to know what had happened, and yet no one was doing anything about it.
“That can’t be true.” Sirius said immediately, when Harry looked hurt. “We’re probably trying to work out how to get you to Headquarters safely.”
“But if Voldemort’s in hiding, he’s hardly going to jump out from behind a rubbish bin and do me in.” Harry protested.
“Better to be safe than sorry.” Addie said firmly. “They’ll get you out, Harry – I’m sure of it.”
Hedwig still hadn’t returned – and neither had any other owl – and Jess spent a good portion of her day in her spare bedroom, talking to Harry – or, rather, listening as he ranted about how unfair it was.
“Harry …” Lily began, then stopped with a sigh. “Never mind, I agree with you.”
Normally, Jess would have chided him about acting like a teenager – even if he was one – but she completely agreed with everything he said.
Lily chuckled. “Whoever she is or isn’t, I like her.”
“I guess the nightmares aren’t getting any better?” She asked softly, when he finally took a second to breathe.
Harry sighed. “No. Unless by ‘getting better’, you mean ‘getting worse’, in which case, yes.
“I think if she meant ‘getting worse’, she’d have said so.” Hermione said gently, reaching a hand towards Harry, who grasped it.
I don’t suppose you’ve had another dream telling me when I’m getting out of here, have you?”
Jess smiled. “No, but I did have another dream this morning.”
“That morning?” Harry repeated with a frown. “But Jess always dreams at night … and she never sleeps in.”
“This morning?” Harry repeated.
“This morning.” Jess confirmed. “I took a nap after breakfast for the first time in years.”
“Whatever it was, it’s important.” David said grimly.
“Must have been important.” Harry commented, his frown evident in his voice. “What …?”
The sound of a door unlocking sounded through the pipe …
“Come on!” Sirius whined. “I want to know what the dream was!”
… and Jess heard Harry stand, blocking the window from view.
“We’re going out.” Vernon Dursley’s voice said.
Harry snorted. “More like they’re going out.”
“Sorry?” Harry asked, his voice just polite enough to cover the coldness in it.
“We – that is to say, your aunt, Dudley and I – are going out.”
Jess stifled her snort. He hardly needed to elaborate – the Dursleys had never bothered taking Harry anywhere, aside from Dudley’s birthday trip to the zoo, and those few days before Harry’s eleventh birthday, when they had fled the letters from Hogwarts. She shuddered, remembering how worried she’d been.
“Worried?” Narcissa asked.
Harry smiled slightly. “Uncle Vernon didn’t exactly handle that week very well. He did more to draw the neighbours’ attention than the letters could ever do.”
“Fine.” Harry said dully.
“You are not to leave your bedroom while we are away.”
“You are not to touch the television, the stereo, or any of our possessions.”
“You are not to steal food from the fridge.”
“This is ridiculous.” Lily growled.
“I know, Lils.” James murmured, scowling himself.
Jess stood up and paced the length of the room, before whirling to glare at the wall, as though her gaze could pierce the brick and cement. No child should have to STEAL food from their own house just to be properly fed.
“It’s okay, Mum.” Harry said softly. “She’ll feed me when they’ve gone.”
Lily’s scowl softened a little. “I know, darling. But my sister should be doing that.”
“I am going to lock your door.”
Harry snorted again. “Like that’ll work. Fred and George taught me how to pick locks.”
“You do that.”
Jess covered her mouth, her glare softening into a smile. She could only imagine Vernon Dursley’s face at this lack of rebellion …
Harry sniggered. “That would be hilarious. He always thinks I’m ‘up to something’ if I don’t fight back.”
… and she forced the image from her mind until she heard the door lock again, lest he hear her laughter.
“Nicely done.” She said softly.
“Thanks.” Harry replied heavily, and she heard him sink back onto his bed. “Just so you know, I fully intend on picking the lock and coming over when they’re gone.”
“Good boy.” Lily whispered.
“Good.” Jess said firmly. “At least then I can make sure that you’ve got at least one decent meal inside you. Best come through the cupboard though – that new security system they’ve been bragging about …
“Security system?” Regulus asked.
“As in what is it or why do they have one?” Harry responded.
“Why do they have one?” Regulus elaborated. “I know what it is. At least, I know the wizarding version; it can’t be too different.”
Harry smirked. “Money keeps going missing from Uncle Vernon’s wallet or Aunt Petunia’s purse. Quite a lot, actually. They thought it was me to start with, but they searched my room and couldn’t find anything, so their new theory is that someone’s breaking into the house.”
Lily gasped. “Harry, if they …”
“It’s fine, Mum.” Harry interrupted. “It’s Dudley – he’s taking it to buy cigarettes and beer and stuff. But, of course, they won’t suspect their precious Diddydums.”
Lily shook her head. “Thank Merlin you turned out normal.”
… probably …”
She trailed off, hearing a loud crack from downstairs.
Arabella stiffened. “What was that?”
“Car backfiring?” Lily suggested hopefully.
“It wouldn’t mention that.” Mandy disagreed. “Must have been apparition.”
“It might just be the changing of the guard.” Sirius remarked.
James frowned. “That’s a good point – where was the Order member when the Dementors attacked?”
Fred, Hermione and Ginny looked at each other. “Dung.” They chorused.
“Must have been.” Sirius agreed darkly. “When I get my hands on him …”
“Easy, love.” Addie said soothingly. “It hasn’t happened yet.”
“What was that?” Harry asked instantly.
Jess hesitated. She knew that Harry wouldn’t have heard the sound as clearly as her – her bedroom door was open, while his was shut and locked.
She didn’t want to worry him – or, worse, get his hopes up – the sound was probably a car backfiring and nothing to do with the wizarding world at all.
“See?” Lily asked smugly. “Jess agrees with me.”
“Jess has never heard someone apparate before.” Mandy pointed out.
James sighed. “Mandy, let her hope please.”
“Probably one of my dinner plates.”
Narcissa frowned. “If she thought it was a car, why would she say it was the plates?”
“It gives her a chance to go and check without worrying Harry.” Jen answered immediately. “That’s what I’d do.”
Remus’s hand tightened around hers, but they didn’t dare look at each other.
Jess sighed, running a hand through her hair. “I stacked them rather precariously earlier. Give your aunt and uncle time to leave and then come through – I’ll tell you about the new dream then.”
Sirius sighed. “We’re never going to find out.”
“Patience, Pads.” Jen said mildly. “She’ll get there.”
“Alright, see you in a minute.” Harry called as Jess left the room. She hurried down the stairs and poked her head round the kitchen door, just in case.
Sure enough, her plates were still stacked on the side, as precariously as she’d left them, no china shattered on her tiled floor.
“Definitely not that then.” Arabella muttered.
She made her way into the living room and pulled aside the netting over her window. The Dursleys’ car was still in the driveway, but that wasn’t what caught her attention.
None of the street lights seemed to be working …
“You reckon it’s that ‘Put-Outer’ again?” Remus asked. “The one in the first book?”
“Possible.” Sirius conceded. “Let’s hope so, because that means Dumbledore’s in on whatever it is.”
“That’s a good thing?” Jen asked, slightly waspishly.
“Not necessarily.” Sirius admitted. “Better him than Voldemort or the Ministry at the moment though.”
… and ten people were huddled in the street, shrouded in the shadows of the houses across the road.
“Ten people?” Lily repeated, startled.
“Well, let’s assume it is the Order.” James said, frowning. “How many people would be sent?”
“As many who volunteered.” Sirius answered. “Moody will be there – he’ll want as many as possible. Moony’s probably there, and I’d be surprised if Dora hadn’t gone. Hestia and Emmeline have probably gone as well … Kingsley too, I should think.”
“That’s six.” Hermione concluded. “Dedalus Diggle has probably gone too. It’s the other three I’m not sure about.”
“We’re assuming it’s the Order.” Regulus said darkly. “It might not be.”
Her pulse quickened, her grip tightening on the net curtains.
Hopefully these people were here to collect Harry, finally, but what if his Ministry had decided not to wait for a trial before expelling him?
Or what if those Dementors had just been the opening act?
Lily whimpered quietly and James pressed a kiss to her head.
Jess was just about to run upstairs and warn Harry, when one of the people broke away from the rest and hobbled off down the street.
Squinting through the gathering darkness, Jess could just make out a carpet bag dangling from the figure’s arm and smiled.
“Gran!” Arabella said, breathing a sigh of relief. “It is the Order!”
Mrs Figg, which means they must be …
Her thoughts stuttered to a halt and she gasped aloud as another of the figures stepped close enough to activate her porch light.
“Or not.” Arabella amended, biting her lip.
“No, it’s the Order.” Harry said. “Mrs Figg wouldn’t be talking to anyone else. It’s probably Remus – she’d recognise him from her dreams.”
She knew that face – had seen it in one of her dreams when Harry was nine, albeit younger – and she knew who he was.
Harry grinned, proved right.
Hurrying to the front door, she pulled it open and stepped into her front garden. “Don’t just stand there!” She hissed. “If they think you’re here for Harry, they’ll never leave!”
Jen chuckled. “If she’s not me, you’d better take her with you regardless.” She told Remus.
Looks were exchanged, along with a whispered conversation, but the man she had recognised as Remus Lupin seemed to know who she was, and led his fellows up her driveway and into her home.
She ushered them into the living room, drawing the curtains closed.
“Smart move.” Lily said. “You don’t want the neighbours to see them.”
“Well,” she stated, “it’s about time you lot got here!”
“She’s going to tell them off.” Fred said, a grin spreading across his face. “Brilliant!”
“Excuse me?” One of the women asked, brushing her long dark hair away from her face.
“Emmeline.” Sirius concluded. “Which means Hestia’s definitely there.”
Jess leaned against the window, her arms crossed. “Three days, he’s been sitting up there, wondering if anyone actually gives a damn about the fact that he had to fight for his soul the other night! Would it have killed you to send him a note telling him you were on your way?
David shook his head. “One of the guard could have slipped it to him.”
“I was locked in my room.” Harry reminded him. “And owls could be intercepted. I wouldn’t mind being left out of the loop, if someone told me why I was.”
I mean, I’ve come to terms with the fact that you people don’t care what happens when he’s here, but this is getting ridiculous!”
“I don’t like what you’re implying, girl.” One of the men growled. This man she also recognised, from Harry’s stories rather than her own dreams, one rapidly spinning eye giving away his identity.
“Moody.” David stated, smiling.
Jess narrowed her eyes, refusing to be intimidated. “Yeah, well, I don’t like how Harry has to live; apparently we’ll both just have to get used to it.”
“I agree, Jen.” David said. “We could use her on side, Muggle or not.”
Professor ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody gave her a twisted smile. “I like this one, Remus.
“And that’s not easy.” Sirius said, shaking his head.
How’d you meet her?”
“I didn’t.” Remus admitted, stepping between her and the crowd of slightly confused, slightly angry witches and wizards in her living room.
“Probably a good place to be.” Jen remarked. “People never like being told they’re wrong.”
“But Harry has. Her name’s Jessica – correct?”
Jess nodded, favouring him a smile. “Yes. Jessica Brown.”
“She knows about magic because Harry told her after his first year.” Remus explained. “She’s a true-dreamer.”
“Is it even possible for a Muggle to be a true-dreamer?” Another of the women asked sceptically.
Jess took a moment to admire the woman’s purple hair …
“Dora.” Sirius said with a smile.
“Right again.” Addie remarked. “You know them well.”
… before slipping past them to the writing desk in the corner of the room. “I have prophetic dreams as well, if you want to talk about things that shouldn’t be possible. And I had another this morning, if you’d care to see it.”
“I would.” Remus said, as the others murmured among themselves. He took the piece of paper she handed him, and read it aloud. “‘Hidden beneath a mask so fair, the only one with heart to dare, to go against the Lord of Light, and by that act bring down the night’.”
Jen tapped the book. “Oh, that’s not good.”
“What?” James asked. “There’s someone who can take down Voldemort – that’s a good thing!”
“Except it says that they have to go against Dumbledore to do it.” Jen said grimly. “How are they going to do that?”
“With difficulty.” Sirius answered. “Let’s find out, shall we?”
Jen nodded and restarted the book.
“Are they always that cryptic?” The purple-haired woman asked, sounding more interested now.
Jess shrugged. “I’ve only had three prophetic ones. The last one was – the first was three words repeated over and over again around an image of a large black dog.”
“The one Harry told Hermione about in the Forbidden Forest.” Lily whispered.
Apparently, everyone there recognised the description, but it was a tall bald, black wizard who spoke.
“Kingsley.” Sirius smirked. “Damn, I’m good.”
“What three words?”
“Innocence. Injustice. Betrayal.” Jess recited, unable to help feeling smug at the sharp intake of breath.
Jen smirked. “Not underestimating her anymore, are they?”
“I seem to recall Harry writing that you had clues last time.” Remus said, waving the piece of paper he was holding. “Words, I think?”
“That’s right.” Lily murmured. “I’d forgotten about them.”
“Not this time.” Jess sighed. “The only thing I got was the full moon, but that could mean anything. Maybe whoever it is will be found on the full moon, or they were hidden on the full moon, or they’re a werewolf, or they’re going to find a cure for lycanthropy …” she shrugged. “The list goes on.”
“Or they share a soul-bond with a werewolf.” Sirius said. “Good luck, Jen.”
“We still don’t know it’s me.” Jen said flatly. “Stop it.”
“Stop it.” Remus repeated, a stern tone in his voice. “We’ll find out when we find out.”
“How’d you know the illness that goes with the werewolf curse?” Remus asked. “Not something that usually gets passed around the Muggle world.”
Jess smiled. “I read Harry’s school books. He leaves them with me, just in case they decide to burn them all.
“Good boy.” Lily said with a smile.
Not that it does his homework much good when he’s locked in his room all day.”
“Why’s he locked in his room?” The third witch asked.
“No description.” Fred remarked. “But it probably is Hestia. Or Arabella or Mandy, I suppose.”
“No.” Hermione disagreed. “First of all, they’re in Europe. Second of all, they’d both be there and ‘the third witch’ implies that there were only three witches to start with.”
Jess scowled, though not at her. “Because they were reminded rather violently that the wizarding world exists, and they’re blaming Harry for it.”
The purple-haired witch was frowning lightly. “How accurate are these dreams?”
“Well, the last two prophecies both came true.” Jess told her. “And I’ve dreamed the events of Harry’s time at Hogwarts. And there’s this …” She searched in her writing desk again, and pulled out another sheet of paper.
“What do you think?” James asked his son.
Harry looked thoughtful. “It’s probably the picture of her dream when I was nine.”
“The one you said Jen’s not in?” Addie asked. “Let’s hope Remus pays attention to that.”
This one was bigger, and rather than writing, it was covered in carefully sketched pencil marks.
Jess wasn’t much of an artist usually, but the urge to draw the scene she’d dreamed one night six years ago had been too much, and her pencil had almost acted of its own accord.
“Impressive.” Regulus remarked.
She handed it to Remus, and his eyes widened as a gasp escaped him.
Jess knew why – that picture was the reason she had recognised him earlier. In it, he was sat on the bank of a lake, surrounded by several of his classmates, including (she knew now) Harry’s parents.
A minute later, his forehead creased in confusion, and he looked up at her. “Could I have a word with you? In private?”
“He’s seen it.” James concluded, grinning. “Let’s hope he can get to the bottom of this.”
Jess was surprised, but shrugged. “Alright.” She led him further through the house into the kitchen, shutting the door behind them, before dashing to the sink as the pile of plates threatened to topple over. “Whoops!”
“Allow me.” Remus flicked his wand and the plates soared back into their cupboard, stacking neatly.
Jen smiled at her boyfriend, who returned it weakly.
“Thanks.” Jess sat down at her kitchen table and gestured to one of the other chairs. “What did you want to talk to me about?”
Remus sat down opposite her and very carefully set the picture and prophecy in front of him. He pointed to the picture. “Do you remember having this dream?”
“That’s it, take it logically.” Sirius said. “Step by step.”
“You do realise this hasn’t happened yet, don’t you?” Remus asked, sounding slightly amused.
Jess frowned. “Well … yes. Not vividly, obviously – I have a lot of dreams, and it was six years ago. There wasn’t much to it though – just you and your friends on the bank of the lake. It was … James I was most drawn to.” She admitted.
James smirked. “Can’t say I blame her.”
Lily rolled her eyes. “Prat. It was probably because you looked like Harry.”
“He looked so much like Harry … for obvious reasons, but I didn’t know that then.”
“Were you there?” Remus asked. “Or were you just watching?”
“I was just watching.” Jess answered. “At least, I assume so. None of you talked to me anyway … although you did keep smiling at me.” She added pointlessly, gesturing to the picture.
“Or at someone behind her.” Jen pointed out, when the others looked triumphant. “I might not be in the picture because she couldn’t see me, not because I wasn’t there.”
Sure enough, whilst the others were silently laughing amongst themselves, Remus was smiling directly out of the paper.
“At you?” Remus asked. “Or someone behind you?”
James sighed. “Sounds like Remus is thinking the same way.”
Jess shrugged. “Could have been either. Why?”
“And there wasn’t anyone else with us?” Remus pressed.
Jess leaned back in her chair, thinking hard. “No.” She said finally. “No, I drew it as I saw it. Or rather, my pencil drew it as I saw it – I didn’t really have much of a say in the matter.”
“So I might have been there out of sight.” Jen concluded.
“Or not.” Regulus frowned. “If the pencil was acting of its own accord, I should think what she saw was inconsequential.”
“Because there was someone else.” Remus told her in a whisper. “Someone else who should have been there, because we were never by the lake without her.”
Addie nodded to herself, confirming that Jen would definitely have been there.
“Okay …” Jess said slowly. “What does that …?”
“You know what I am?” Remus asked over her half-formed query.
Jen rolled eyes. “Who, sweetheart. Not what.”
Jess raised an eyebrow. “I know you’re a werewolf, if that’s what you mean.” She said calmly. “Harry told me. But I don’t think the dream was talking about you, if that’s what you’re wondering – I got the feeling it was a woman actually.”
“Another point in your favour.” Alice said.
Remus closed his eyes, but couldn’t hide the emotion that passed across his face. “Her name was Jennifer.” He said slowly, his voice barely audible; she had to lean forward to hear him at all. “The woman missing from the picture. She was Sirius’s sister, Harry’s godmother … and I love her more than anything.”
Jen rested her head on Remus’s shoulder, closing her eyes.
Jess didn’t miss the sudden change from past to present tense. “She’s …?”
“Missing.” Remus finished. “Presumed dead. But we shared a soul-bond. I’d know if she was dead … although that in itself makes no sense, because I should have been able to find her if that were true. Because of the soul bond, she could help me keep control of myself during the transformations. Do you think it could refer to her?”
“Please say yes.” Sirius whispered. “Even if you’re not the same person, please say yes.”
Jess hesitated. “Well … that does make sense,” she said carefully, “because normally when I dream about the full moon, it’s chaotic and pain-filled and …” she broke off with a grimace.
“This was calmer.” Jen finished, opening her eyes. Her heart was thudding in her chest, as she finally allowed herself to hope.
“You dream about the full moon a lot?” Remus asked.
“Keep asking.” Addie murmured. “Keep asking about the dreams …”
“Not so much about the full moon.” Jess amended. “It’s more that I dream on the full moon. Nightmares, really, more than dreams.”
“How long have you had these dreams?”
Regulus smirked. “Good question. As long as she mentions the amnesia.”
Jess raised an eyebrow. “Harry didn’t tell you that bit?” She sighed. “A little over fourteen years. That I can remember.”
“That you can remember?” Remus repeated.
“I have amnesia of sorts.” Jess explained. “I can remember that things happened, I just can’t remember them happening.”
“Sounds like a Memory Charm.” Remus said, frowning.
“Yes!” James grinned. “Well done, Moony – we got there!”
“Why hasn’t it lifted though?” Jen asked. “If he’s there and she’s me …”
“It doesn’t work like that.” Sirius said with a sigh. “There needs to be physical contact. Not much – just skin-on-skin; a handshake would do it, but …”
“They haven’t.” Jen grimaced. “And they’re unlikely to now; they’ve already met.”
Jess stiffened. “A Memory Charm?” She whispered. “Is that … Is that easily fixed? I mean, can you tell easily?”
Now it was Remus’s turn to lean back in his chair, regarding her curiously. “Most Muggles would panic if they thought a spell had been cast on them.”
Jen snorted. “Hardly a normal Muggle, love.”
“I’m not most Muggles.” Jess told him with a humourless smile. “Besides, I don’t believe what I do remember. None of it makes sense. I want to know who I am.”
“Now that sounds more like a Memory Modification.” Remus frowned. “Easier to fix, harder to confirm.”
David frowned. “I’d forgotten about that.”
“Can you?” Jess asked.
“I can.” Remus said slowly. “It’ll mean using Legilimency.
“Can you?” Narcissa asked.
“Not at the moment.” Remus admitted. “My Occlumency’s quite good; it helps with the lycanthropy.”
Mind reading.” He elaborated, when she looked confused.
“It’s not …” Addie began, but Sirius clapped a hand over her mouth.
“Except it’s not mind-reading, and Addie would give me a two-hour lecture on calling it that.”
“Not two hours.” Addie disagreed, smirking at her future counterpart, who was glaring at Sirius. “One hour, maybe, but not two.”
He tapped the picture and she glanced down to see that he was pointing to one of the girls talking to Harry’s mother.
Jess shifted slightly in her seat. “It’s not that I don’t trust you to go rifling through my head,” she said carefully, “because Harry trusts you and that’s good enough for me, but … at the moment, I’m just assuming that I know who you are.”
“Warrants an introduction.” James said hopefully.
Remus chuckled. “Of course – we were never properly introduced, were we? Remus Lupin.”
Jess took his offered hand …
Addie stopped glaring at Sirius and they looked sharply at the book.
“If you’re wearing gloves,” Sirius said slowly, “I may never forgive you.”
… and a jolt of static electricity shot through them.
Everyone looked at Addie and Sirius, since they were the only people who knew anything about the soul bond.
“Could just be static.” Addie admitted slowly.
“Hell of a coincidence though.” Sirius muttered.
She let go quickly, barely hearing his rueful apology, as her head seemed to explode with a hundred thoughts and memories and feelings and fears.
Sirius’s face broke into a wide grin. “It’s her!”
“Not necessarily.” Addie cautioned, before anyone could get too excited. “Once someone knows about a Memory Charm, it’s easier to break – it may just be that their magic reacted. That can happen without a bond.”
Sirius shook his head. “No, it’s Jen. I can tell, Ads.”
A few things rose to the surface, however, vying for attention.
First and foremost was the man sitting across the table from her, now looking quite worried that she seemed to have retreated into her own mind.
“I suppose I would be.” Remus murmured, his eyes fixed on Jen now, praying to every deity that existed.
Second of all was the sudden crushing realism of Sirius’s incarceration – it was one thing to be told what Dementors were like, but now she remembered …
“There aren’t many people who’d care.” Addie whispered, her eyes wide.
Speaking of Harry, there was also the growing anger that Harry had not only been abandoned with his aunt and uncle (and James and Lily definitely didn’t request that) …
“There aren’t many people who’d know.” James said, his smile widening.
… but that there were wards and charms around the house or on Harry himself, that prevented people from interfering, even if they knew he was being abused and neglected.
Not even the reminder of that little detail could dampen the spirits of the readers right now, but they were still holding out for irreconcilable proof.
Finally, there was the knowledge that one thing still remained a mystery – who had hit her with the Charm in the first place? Whoever it was, she remembered turning her back on them, which meant – to top it all off – it was someone she trusted.
Yes, Jennifer Black was not happy, and someone was going to pay.
James and Sirius let out whoops of joy and leapt to their feet, pulling Jen into a bizarre hug-slash-victory-dance. Lily burst into tears, and the other girls didn’t look like they’d be far behind. Narcissa waited for James and Sirius to release Jen, then embraced her cousin herself.
Jen felt a little overwhelmed. She had just come to terms with the fact that she was dead, and now she … wasn’t.
“Alright, that’s enough.” Regulus said, shooing James and Sirius away. “Let her breathe.” He kissed Jen’s forehead softly. “I’m just glad you’re alright, Jenny.”
“Yeah,” Jen whispered. “Me too.” Her eyes found Remus, who hadn’t moved, but was watching their antics with a smile so relieved that it looked as though he’d been let off of a death sentence himself. He caught her eye and reached out to her, and she almost fell into his arms, burying her face in his shirt.
Remus took a shaky breath, holding her tightly. “I love you so much.”
“I love you too.” Jen whispered.
It took several minutes for Jen to regain her composure and even longer for everyone else to settle down. Finally Jen let off a few cracks from her wand to cut through the chatter.
“Look, I’m as happy as you are.” She said frankly. “But apparently, I’ve got the fate of the wizarding world on my shoulders, so can we find out how I handle that please?” Without waiting for a response, she tapped the book again to start the reading.
“You were right.” She whispered hoarsely, suddenly aware of how different her voice sounded.
“Of course.” David murmured. “There must have been some kind of spell changing her voice or Remus would have recognised it.”
“You were right. I remember.”
“How …?” Remus frowned.
“C’mon, Moony, catch up!” James grinned.
Remus rolled his eyes. “I was probably just expecting her to know where Jen was, not to actually be her.”
“There’s no way it would have lifted from just shaking my …” He trailed off. “Hidden beneath a mask so fair …” he repeated slowly. “I assumed a glamour, but … it was more than that … it was the guise of a fair-haired woman … Jen?”
“There we are.” James said, his grin softening.
Looking up, Jen was tempted to reach out into his mind, but resisted, unsure of the state of the link – as he’d said, he should have been able to find her, which suggested the bond had been tampered with in some way.
Jen grimaced. “Why does that make me feel sick?”
“Because it’s an intensely private and intimate connection.” Addie answered. “It’s like someone snooping through your underwear drawer – it’s a violation in more ways than one.”
The thought caused bile to rise up in her throat and she choked it down, holding out her hand. “Wand?”
Remus handed his over without a second thought …
David shook his head. “At least ask a security question.”
“Give him a break, Dad.” James said. “He’s in shock.”
“Plus he’d know.” Sirius added. “Now he knows … he’d know.”
Addie chuckled. “Somewhere along the line, that made sense.”
… and she aimed it at her face. “Finite glamouri.”
He shook his head. “Nothing.”
Jen frowned. “That’s … Is it because it’s Remus’s wand?”
“Must be.” Sirius answered. “There aren’t many people who could place a charm that you couldn’t remove.”
Jen sighed in frustration. It wasn’t the wand, she knew that …
Sirius raised an eyebrow. “Clearly she knows something I don’t.”
… she’d always been able to use his wand as easily as hers.
“Really?” Regulus asked.
Jen shrugged. “I’ve never tried.”
“Whoever put this glamour on me is more powerful than me then.”
“That’s not many people.” Addie murmured.
Remus raised an eyebrow. “That’s not many people.”
Addie rolled her eyes. “I said that already.”
“I know.” Jen tapped the wand against her throat and murmured a second incantation. “Did that one work?”
Remus smiled as her voice returned to normal, cementing the fact that it was definitely her. “Yeah. Yeah, that one worked.”
“That’s something I suppose.” Jen muttered.
“We’ll figure something out.” Remus whispered. “I shouldn’t think I care less what you look like by that point.”
Jen cracked a smile. “Yeah, you’re probably right.”
“Good.” Jen returned his wand. “Then you can start by telling me that my brother’s alright after twelve years in hell.”
“I’m fine, Lena.” Sirius said immediately. “I promise.”
Her voice cracked and he had suddenly rounded the table and pulled her into his arms. “He’s fine, Jen.” He whispered. “Still has nightmares, thinner than I’d like, but fine.”
“That doesn’t sound fine.” Addie said worriedly.
“Relax.” Sirius said breezily. “We all have nightmares. And it’s taking me a while to regain weight – that’s normal as well.”
Addie didn’t look convinced and, glancing at Hermione, she wasn’t the only one.
“Thank Merlin and Morgana.” Jen breathed out, resting her head on his shoulder. “And Peter …?”
Jen shook her head. “It must be strange. Taking everything Jess already knew from Harry and then looking at it from my perspective.”
“I hate to be devil’s advocate, but this could actually be a good thing.” David said. “You’ll be more open-minded to different approaches.”
“Yeah.” Remus confirmed darkly. “Peter.”
Jen lifted her head to meet his eyes. “Is Mandy alright?”
Mandy smiled sadly. “Thanks, Jen.”
“She’s coping.” Remus answered. “Are you alright?”
“I’m angry.” Jen admitted in a low voice.
“Uh oh.” Addie murmured. “An angry Black is never a pretty sight. I’m fairly sure that’s where the phrase ‘blacklisted’ came from.”
Sirius gave her a small smile. “Probably.”
“Very angry. Whoever did this …”
“… they were on our side.” Remus finished. “Peter?”
“Could he?” Mandy asked, sounding terrified.
“Definitely not.” Sirius answered. “Not enough power.”
Jen shook her head. “No. No, Peter had more power than any of us gave him credit for, but he wasn’t more powerful than me.
Sirius nodded in agreement.
Nowhere close. Whoever it was, they weren’t in our generation of graduates.”
Remus nodded. It had only been a few weeks ago that he’d had a similar discussion with Hermione, about the research in the Department of Mysteries that had listed the Hogwarts graduates of his generation in terms of power.
Jen had topped the list, followed closely by James, Sirius, Addie, and Lily.
Jen shook her head. “I still can’t believe that.”
Although, as Sirius had remarked at the time, he could never remember which way round he and Addie came.
“Do you remember?” Sirius asked Addie.
“I remember Mum talking about it.” Addie said, frowning thoughtfully. “And I remember us being together, but I can’t think of the order either. It’s possible we’ve got the same level.”
“I’ll need my wand back.” Jen commented, frowning. “Harry mentioned something about Hermione having a second wand and it coming from Sirius’s vault. Can I assume it’s mine?”
“That’d be a good guess.” Sirius said cheerfully.
“You can.” Remus helped her to her feet. “It’s at Headquarters. I assume you’re coming with us?”
Jen snorted. “No, I thought I’d stick around Privet Drive and prune the roses.”
Jen snorted. “As if I’d do anything else.
“You’re less sarcastic in the future.” Alice observed.
Where …?” She broke off at the sound of a car engine starting up. “The Dursleys are leaving. Come on.”
They returned to the living room, where the various witches and wizards had made themselves at home. Jen smiled, as her eyes travelled over them, now recognising them as old friends and fellow Order members, until they alighted upon the purple-haired witch.
Jen smiled. “This should be fun.”
Jen didn’t recognise her from the original Order – she was too young to have been a member – but her heart-shaped face was all too familiar.
“Andie.” Jen and Sirius chorused.
“Guess who was under a Memory Charm?” Remus asked lightly.
“Oh please.” Jen said, rolling her eyes, as everyone reached for their wands. “As if I’d ever join Mouldy-Shorts.
Regulus coughed. “Jen …”
“What?” Jen asked innocently.
“Never mind.” Regulus sighed.
I don’t have my wand anyway, and I’ll leave the glamour on for now.” She winked at Remus, who grinned, knowing that she’d rather have that conversation with Sirius in private.
“Thanks.” Sirius said. “I’d rather you didn’t give me a heart attack.”
“Oh, I’ll do that anyway.” Jen said cheerfully. “I’ll just do it in private.”
“And don’t bother breaking in next door. Harry will be over soon anyway; you may as well wait. So, Nymmy,” she addressed the youngest witch, “what are you up to now?”
“That’ll be enough to convince her.” Sirius said with a smile.
“Don’t call me …” Nymphadora Tonks, daughter of Jen’s cousin, Andromeda, paused mid-sentence. “Wait. There’s only two people who ever called me that. And you’re not Sirius.”
“Good to know her observation skills are up to par.” Jen said.
Jen raised an eyebrow. “I should hope not.” She suddenly found herself with an armful of cousin and hugged her tightly. “It’s good to see you too.”
“Nymphadora!” Mad-Eye barked.
Sirius snorted. “He’s brave.”
“Haven’t I taught you better than that?! Constant vigilance, girl!”
Jen rolled her eyes. “When I was thirteen-years-old, David Potter took me, James and Sirius to work with him. You told him that I’d either be the best auror you’d ever worked with, or your worst nightmare.”
David chuckled. “I remember that. He was ranting about Dark Magic, and you told him that, for the most part, it was the user that made the magic Dark and that some of it could be used to take down Dark Wizards.”
Regulus was beaming with pride, which made Jen smile all the wider.
Mad-Eye looked momentarily stunned, before his face formed a twisted smile. “Good to have you back, Black. Had us all worried there.”
“That’s about as close to a hug as Moody will get.” David remarked. “He must really like you, Jen.”
“There’s an understatement.” Dora muttered, pulling away to wipe her eyes.
“Well?” Jen prompted her. “What are you up to now?”
“I’m an auror.” Dora answered proudly.
Jen shook her head. “Still can’t believe that. She was having a tea party last time I saw her.”
“Good for you.” Jen tugged a strand of hair. “It was blue last time I saw you.”
Dora shrugged. “I like variety.”
“Your mum?” Jen asked.
“She’s fine.” Dora assured her. “So’s Dad. They’ll want to see you.”
“That’d be nice.” Narcissa said softly, wanting to hear about her older sister.
“I’ll try to call by and see her at some point this week.” Jen said, hearing a tapping noise on the other side of the wall. “And that’s my cue.”
Pushing a coffee table out of the way, she grasped a nick in the wall and tugged sharply, causing a small door to swing open.
“Gets smaller every year.” Harry remarked.
“You get bigger every year.” Hermione corrected.
“Just.” Fred added.
Harry crawled through the opening and straightened up, stretching. “Thanks, Jess; I …” He trailed off and looked around the living room, making eye contact with everyone there. “What’s going on?”
Draco snickered. “You must be so confused.”
“Thanks for the concern, Draco.” Harry said, rolling his eyes.
“It’s alright, Harry.” Remus told him with a smile. “We’ve come to take you with us.”
“That sounds ominous.” James joked.
Lily rolled her eyes. “It sounds wonderful.”
“How long do we have?” Jen asked, causing Harry to frown slightly at the use of pronoun.
“Long enough.” Remus told her. “You explain; we’ll get his things together.”
“I’ll go!” Dora volunteered brightly, disapparating.
“That won’t set off the security, will it?” Regulus asked.
“Not how it works.” Hermione told him. “Muggle security tends to be attached to the doors or windows so if they’re not opened with a key, an alarm goes off.”
Remus sighed. “I’ll go and fix whatever she’s broken.” He informed them, before vanishing himself with a crack.
Jen laughed. “Sounds familiar.”
“Jess?” Harry questioned, as she chuckled fondly – apparently Dora hadn’t changed a bit. “What’s going on?”
Jen put a hand on his shoulder and guided him through to the kitchen, where the two pieces of paper still lay on the table. “I had another dream, Harry.”
“Yeah, you said.” Harry picked it up and read it through. “Sounds like one Hermione heard last year.
“It does.” Jen groaned. “I’d forgotten about that. So I need to go against Dumbledore, take down Voldemort and become the new leader of the Light.”
“All with a distinctly Grey approach to things.” Addie said, grinning. “Good luck.”
Who is she, do you know?”
Jen took a deep breath. “Me. It’s me, Harry.”
“You seem to be taking it better in future.” Mandy remarked.
Jen shrugged. “I’m older, I suppose. And I haven’t had as much time to get my head around it yet.”
Harry looked up, looking bewildered. “But … But you’re not a witch.”
“Yes, I am, Harry.” Jen sighed. “I just didn’t know until about ten minutes ago. I was under a Memory Charm; my magic was escaping me.”
“You’re a witch.” Harry said softly. “You went to Hogwarts?”
Jen chuckled. “I did. I was a Gryffindor.”
“Well, that makes everything better.” Harry said, grinning.
Harry grinned at her. “Does that mean you’re coming with us?”
“It does.” Jen smiled back. “It also means you don’t have to go back to the Dursleys.”
“I hadn’t thought of that.” Lily whispered. “Thank you, Jen.”
“Don’t worry about it, Lily.” Jen said, smiling weakly. “I only wish I could do it before.”
Hope blossomed in Harry’s expression for a second, before his face fell. “But … Dumbledore …”
“Albus Dumbledore has no say over where you spend your summers, Harry.” Jen told him, more sharply than she had intended. “Besides, I have the legal high ground here.”
“That’s true.” David agreed, smiling.
“How?” Harry asked quietly, sounding as though he wished he could believe her, but doubted it.
Jen’s smile softened. “Because I’m your godmother.”
The book fell silent and Jen checked the page. “That’s the end of the chapter.”
“And we got you back.” Remus added, kissing the side of her head. “That was a good chapter.”
“It really was.” Lily agreed, smiling.
“You know, I’ve just realised.” Harry said softly. “This means that you did raise me after all.”
Jen was stunned for a few seconds. It was an obvious statement, but one she hadn’t thought of.
“He’s right.” Lily said finally. “Even when you didn’t remember him, you looked after him.”
Jen rose out of Remus’s arms, and crossed the floor to embrace Harry tightly. He clung to her more tightly than she expected, breathing in her scent, and she realised that she was suddenly the most familiar person in the room to him.
“You were there.” He whispered.
Loosening her grip, Jen drew back slightly and brushed his hair back, gently kissing his forehead. “Thank Merlin.”
Chapter 3: Chapter Three - Back to Headquarters
It took a little while for everyone to settle again, but once they had, Remus picked up the book from where Jen had set it aside, and opened it to the next chapter. “Ready?”
This time, there was no hesitation and everyone nodded eagerly.
Remus tapped his wand against the book, and ‘Meredith’ began speaking again.
Back to Headquarters
“Great.” Jen grimaced. “That should be fun.”
“You don’t have to stay.” Sirius reminded her. “You could go back to … Where was she living before?”
“She and Remus both lived in the cottage.” Sirius answered. “I don’t think anything else was considered.”
“I do have to stay.” Jen said before Sirius could continue. “I wouldn’t leave you alone in that place, especially once Harry and Hermione have gone back to Hogwarts.”
“You’re my what?” Harry asked blankly.
Harry chuckled. “Yeah, I guess it would be a bit of a shock. Especially since no one told me I had a godmother.”
Sirius winced. “Sorry, pup. It’s a somewhat touchy subject.”
“Your godmother.” Jen stifled a chuckle at the stunned expression on his face. “You know, like a godfather, but female.”
Lily rolled her eyes, but couldn’t help sniggering. “You haven’t changed a bit.”
“I know what a godmother is.” Harry’s face relaxed into a smile at the familiar sense of humour. “I just didn’t know I had one.”
Jen shrugged. “Well, it wouldn’t surprise me that Sirius didn’t want to talk about it.
Sirius and Jen exchanged a sad, knowing smile.
We’re twins,” she explained when he looked at her questioningly. “And while we’re at it, my name’s not Jessica, it’s Jennifer, but everyone just calls me Jen. Not Jenny, unless you happen to enjoy cleaning without magic.”
“You let me call you Jenny.” Regulus remarked.
“I know.” Jen said, but didn’t elaborate.
Harry shrugged. “I do that all the time here anyway.”
Lily scowled, muttering something unsavoury about her sister.
Jen raised an eyebrow. “I know. I’ll think of something better – give me time.” She frowned slightly. “There are a few things that are bugging me, Harry – you said your parents are alright?”
“At least I won’t have to deal with that.” Jen murmured.
James frowned. “What do you mean, Jen?”
“Well, when I thought you were dead, I didn’t remember knowing you.” Jen pointed out. “Now I remember knowing you, but I know you’re alive. I won’t have to deal with losing you. I hope.”
Harry nodded. “Yeah, but Hermione doesn’t know where they are.”
“I wonder if there’s something in the library at Grimmauld Place.” Jen said musingly.
“Possibly.” Sirius conceded. “Have fun trawling through it though – half of those books are lethal.”
“And they said they didn’t want Dumbledore to know?” Jen asked. “Why?”
David beamed proudly. “Good girl, Jen. Thank Merlin someone asked that question!”
“In my defence,” Sirius said, “I was a little preoccupied.”
Harry thought for a second. “Hermione never said.”
Jen nodded slowly, thinking everything over in her head.
“Uh oh.” Sirius murmured. “She’s thinking things again.”
“Is that a bad thing?” Addie asked, raising an eyebrow.
“No.” Sirius answered. “But Jen … Well, you’ll see.”
For whatever reason, James and Lily had stopped trusting Albus Dumbledore.
“So ask yourself why.” Regulus murmured.
Her first instinctual response was shock, and maybe a little anger. Albus Dumbledore was the leader of the Order of the Phoenix, Defeater of Grindelwald, Headmaster of Hogwarts, Light Lord against Voldemort’s Dark.
“Of course.” Jen groaned. “This me hasn’t read the books or doesn’t remember them. She won’t know …”
“Calm down, Jen.” Remus said soothingly. “You’ve been looking at Dumbledore from a Muggle point of view for four years, I’m sure you’ve cottoned on that something’s wrong. And there’s the prophecy as well.”
It was that last title that caused her thoughts to shudder to a grinding halt. What was it her prophecy had said?
“See?” Remus asked with a smile.
… go against the Lord of Light and by that act bring down the night …
Jen took a moment to consider how strange it was referring to it as ‘her’ prophecy – she’d never shown the slightest inclination towards Divination …
“Although,” Addie said slowly, “I wouldn’t be surprised if it ran in the family. Sirius had a prophetic dream once.”
“No I didn’t.” Sirius disagreed.
“You did, I remember you telling me about it.” Addie insisted. “You came home from work to a house, not a flat, walked into a red kitchen and called my name, but I didn’t answer. Then you went upstairs and walked into a green room with two beds, and I was lying at the foot of one of them, but I disappeared before you could reach me.”
Sirius frowned. “That’s not prophetic.”
Addie smiled gently. “On the day my family was killed, you would have come through the door into the kitchen, right?”
“Right.” Sirius whispered. “And it … it was covered in blood.”
“A red kitchen.” Addie concluded. “You called my name, but I couldn’t answer. You came upstairs into my room, which I shared with my sister, and Dark Mark was outside the window, making the room glow green. I was lying at the foot of my bed and …”
“You disappeared.” Sirius finished, grey-faced.
“Admittedly not before you could reach me.” Addie said, squeezing his hand. “But there’s got to be Seer blood in the Black family somewhere.”
“There’s probably everything in there somewhere.” Jen muttered.
… before focussing again on the wording.
I was so focussed on who she might be that I never considered what the prophecy was telling her – me – to do. Assuming I’m reading this right …
But there’s the kicker, isn’t it? I don’t know if I am.
David grimaced. “She’s got a point.”
Prophecies are notoriously difficult to understand – they can have about twelve meanings at once.
If I’m wrong, and I act on it, then …
“No, don’t think like that.” Jen groaned. “Do something!”
Then what? I deal with Dumbledore’s ‘I’m-Disappointed-You-Didn’t-Trust-Me’ face.
Regulus smirked. “You can handle that, Jenny. You’re a Black. And, yes, Sirius,” he said bluntly, “she is. You both are, whether you like it or not.”
“In case you’d forgotten, we’ve been disowned.” Sirius said icily.
“No, we haven’t.” Sirius said wearily.
“Mother blasted us off the tapestry!” Sirius protested.
“But Father never legally disowned you.” Regulus said. “Surely you realised that you never got a letter formally disowning you.”
The twins exchanged somewhat sheepish looks.
“That explains why Macnair took forever to accept that the betrothal wasn’t happening.” Jen said.
Regulus frowned. “I never liked him. Mother’s trying to convince me to do it, but it’s not going to happen.”
“Why?” Sirius asked.
“Because someone has to make this family great again.” Regulus said, sighing. “I’d do it myself, but …” His hand reflexively gripped his left arm. “Something tells me that won’t happen. Besides, you’re my brother and my sister. And I love you both, so no, I’m not disowning you. I’d disown her if I could.”
“You probably could.” Sirius pointed out.
Regulus raised an eyebrow. “You obviously didn’t.”
Sirius grimaced. “I didn’t want to think about it. The only time I ever went to Gringotts as Lord Black was to adopt Hermione.”
If I’m right, and I don’t act on it, then we risk losing the war.
“Very good point.” Narcissa said, nodding her head.
And if Dumbledore finds out and I’m right …
Jen grimaced. “Yeah, that wouldn’t be good.”
Jen frowned, thinking back to Harry’s first year at Hogwarts. Now she was looking at it with a witch’s perspective, she truly appreciated just how odd it was.
“Hallelujah!” Jen breathed.
Remus squeezed her hand. “You were going to realise, hun.”
Moving the Stone from Gringotts to a school; giving an eleven-year-old an Invisibility Cloak, knowing he’d use it to sneak out; not realising that one of the teachers was possessed …
She shook her head. Either he’s losing it, or he’s using Harry as some kind of experimental weapon.
“It had better be the first one.” David growled.
Neither option was one she wanted to consider, but there didn’t seem to be any alternative.
Better to act and be proved wrong, than to ignore it and be proved right.
Now, however, she had another problem.
“Oh what now?” Lily groaned.
Remus, she knew, would keep quiet if she asked him, but there were eight other people who had heard the prophecy and who would repeat it to Dumbledore.
James cursed under his breath. “That’s not good. What are you going to do?”
“Memory Charm I suppose.” Jen said slowly. “But I don’t know if I like that idea. Seems too … Slytherin to me.”
Sirius chuckled. “I forgot there was a time when you didn’t want to let your inner Snake out to play.”
And if I AM right …
That’s the last thing I want.
“You’re right.” David sighed. “You’ll have to go with the Memory Charm.”
Jen heaved a sigh, making up her mind, and looked seriously across the table at Harry. “Harry, you’re not too happy with the Headmaster at the moment, are you?”
Harry snorted. “Not really.”
Harry snorted. “What was your first clue?” He asked bitingly.
“Harry.” Lily chided. “It’s not Jen’s fault.”
“I know.” Harry muttered. “Sorry.”
Jen said nothing, gazing at him with a raised eyebrow until he turned slightly pink.
“Sorry.” Harry muttered. “I know it’s not your fault.”
Jen smirked slightly. “You’ll notice I didn’t need words, Lils.”
Lily rolled her eyes, but smirked back. “Yeah, yeah. Don’t rub it in.”
Jen patted his hand. “Don’t worry, sweetheart. The reason I ask is … I don’t want Dumbledore to find out about this.”
Harry looked back at the prophecy. “But …” His face cleared. “The Lord of Light … That’s him, isn’t it?”
“Good boy.” David and James said together.
“May well be.” Jen ran a hand through her hair, surprised, for some reason, by the shortness of it. Honestly, it’s been just below shoulder length for fourteen years …
Jen ran a hand through her hair automatically. “That’s not that much shorter.”
“When you disappeared, it was down to your waist.” Sirius told her.
“So just a bit shorter than mine is now.” Addie said sardonically. “I really need a haircut.”
Sirius rolled his eyes. “No you don’t.”
Addie rolled her eyes, smiling, but didn’t retort.
“And I might be translating it wrong, but I don’t want to risk that. The problem is, Harry, Dumbledore is a Legilimens. I’m sure you know what that is?”
Harry nodded. “Hermione told me. And Mum told her.”
Jen smiled. “Good. Dumbledore … At one point, I wouldn’t have worried, because it’s technically illegal to use Legilimency without permission, especially on children. Underage young people.” She corrected, when Harry opened his mouth to protest.
Lily smiled sadly. “You know him well.”
Jen bit her lip, knowing what Lily was thinking. She didn’t say anything, knowing too that Lily was probably feeling guilty for thinking it in the first place.
Harry, on the other hand, rested his head on his mother’s shoulder and squeezed her hand. “I love you, Mum.”
Lily’s smile widened slightly and she kissed his forehead. “I love you too.”
“But some of the stories you’ve come home with … I don’t like it, Harry. I’d like your permission to hide this prophecy from outside invasion.”
“Is that possible?” Harry asked curiously.
“Not exactly.” Addie answered. “If there’s a specific memory you’re dealing with, you can hide it in amongst something else. If someone doesn’t know what they’re looking for, it’s almost impossible to find.”
“Can you do that?” Harry asked.
“Only with small things.” Jen said with a smile. “It has to be specific – and he could still break through, but only if he knew what he was looking for.”
Addie shrugged. “Same thing.”
“So what are you going to do about the others?” Harry asked, nodding towards the living room.
“Remus was the only one who read the prophecy.”
Jen frowned. “That’s not true.”
“Yes it is.” Regulus refuted.
“No, it’s not.” Jen argued. “Remus read it aloud.”
“Right.” Regulus agreed. “He read it, the others heard it. Ergo, he’s the only one who read it. Secret to lying.”
“Tell the truth.” Jen finished, closing her eyes. “I’m reverting.”
“Not necessarily a bad thing.” Sirius told her firmly. “Moody was a Slytherin and acts like it – that’s how he’s still alive. If letting your inner Snake out to play wins us the war, Jen, I will never say another word against it.”
Jen told him. “And he won’t say anything.”
The secret to lying, she had learned early in life, was to tell the truth.
“How does that work?” Lily asked.
“Most of the physiological reactions that people recognise happen subconsciously.” Regulus explained. “If you tell the truth, or convince yourself you’re telling the truth, they don’t happen. Obviously it doesn’t fool everyone,” he added, nodding to Addie, “but it would fool most people.”
“It’s basically cheating the system.” Jen said, with a hint of distaste. “Sorry, Harry.”
Harry shook his head. “It’s okay. I should think it’s better if you don’t tell anyone what you’re going to do.”
Remus was the only one who’d read the prophecy – he just wasn’t the only one who heard it.
But the less people who knew the second part of her plan, the better.
What was it Lily always said? Best way to keep a secret: tell no one. Second best way to keep a secret: tell one other person, if you must. There is no third way.
Lily smirked. “So you do listen to me. Good to know.”
James snorted. “Bit hypocritical, isn’t it? We hardly have any secrets from each other.”
She hid a smile. Of course, we ignored that every day. Eleven of us were in on the Animagus secret … except that’s not a secret anymore, because Peter will have told the Death Eaters.
Sirius scowled. “I hadn’t thought of that.”
As soon as the thought materialised, Jen pushed it out of her head, unwilling to dwell on the subject of Peter Pettigrew just yet.
“Thank you.” Mandy whispered.
“May I?” She asked.
Harry nodded. “What do I need to do?”
“Thankfully, nothing.” Addie answered. “You should probably learn Occlumency as soon as possible though.”
“Okay,” Harry said, “but why?”
“It can be a useful thing to know.” Addie told him. “And it’ll keep Dumbledore out of your head.”
“And?” Sirius prompted quietly, when Harry seemed satisfied by this.
“I’m not convinced his dreams are just dreams.” Addie murmured, causing Sirius’s eyes to widen at the implications.
Jen reached across the table and took his hands. “Look into my eyes. Ready?” At Harry’s nod, she whispered the spell and stepped into his mind.
Magically gathering all of the memories of the prophecy they had just discussed, she covered them in a layer of magic that took the form of black gauze, tethering it to a memory of a conversation in the common room with Hermione.
Important to Harry, but inconsequential enough that no one will bother looking too closely.
Addie nodded. “Nicely done.”
Jen blinked, breaking eye contact, and released Harry’s hands. “All done.
A crack in the living room made Harry start, his hand moving to his wand.
Harry blushed slightly. “Apparition, right?”
“Yes.” David confirmed. “But good reflexes.”
“It’s Remus and Dora back.” Jen assured him, standing up. “But good reflexes.
Jen smirked. “Great minds …”
Come on. I should probably introduce everyone.”
“Good idea.” Lily agreed. “Then we can see just how accurate Sirius and Hermione were.”
“Just so we remember,” Jen said, “who did you guess?”
“Remus, obviously.” Sirius answered. “Mad-Eye, Dora, Kingsley, Hestia, Emmeline, Dedalus, and two we don’t know about.”
She picked up the pieces of paper, folded them, and slipped them into her pocket, before leading Harry back to the living room.
“How did you get your memory back?” Harry asked curiously.
“Not now, Harry.” Jen told him, glancing at Mad-Eye. “I don’t think we have time.”
“We’ll tell you later.” Remus confirmed, crossing the room to hug Harry …
“Bout time.” James grumbled good-naturedly.
… and hand him his Firebolt.
“Wow …” Jen sighed, reaching out to touch the Firebolt’s handle.
“Uh oh.” Addie said ominously. “We’ve lost her.”
“I knew it was a good broom, but …”
“From a witch’s perspective, it’s even better?” Dora finished.
Jen nodded, admiring it. “Very nice. I played Chaser at Hogwarts.” She explained, seeing Harry’s inquisitive look. “Now, Harry, you know Mad-Eye Moody, don’t you?”
“In a way.” Harry answered, shaking his hand. “We were stuck in the infirmary for a few days.”
Hermione snorted. “I bet that was fun.”
“It really was.” Harry said, with no hint of sarcasm.
Remus smiled weakly at Jen. “Apparently, Harry and Mad-Eye react in similar ways to being cooped up in hospital.”
David chuckled. “Then it was fun.”
Jen hid a smile behind her hand. “That doesn’t surprise me.”
Remus’s grin widened, and he gestured to Dora. “Harry, this is Nymphadora …”
Sirius winced. “Blimey, Moony, you’re brave.”
“Don’t call me Nymphadora, Remus.” Dora cut him off, shuddering. “It’s Tonks.”
Sirius raised an eyebrow. “And she didn’t hex you. I’m impressed.”
Remus just managed to avoid rolling his eyes. “Nymphadora Tonks, who prefers to be known by her first name only.”
“So would you, if your fool of a mother called you Nymphadora.” Dora muttered …
“Andie wasn’t a fool.” Jen said, smirking. “Sadism runs in the family.”
“Good to know.” Remus responded.
… exchanging a wry smile with Jen, who sniggered.
“Andie wasn’t a fool, Dora. She had to put up with an unusual name, so did you.”
“Exactly.” Jen agreed.
“You’re talking to yourself, Jenny.” Regulus teased gently.
Dora did roll her eyes. “If you say so, Guinevere.”
“Oooh.” Addie and Lily chorused. “Someone’s in trouble.”
Jen sniffed. “I don’t know what she’s talking about.”
Jen ignored her, continuing the introductions. “This is Kingsley Shacklebolt, Harry.”
“Four for four so far.” James remarked. “But we knew about those three.”
“Jennifer,” Kingsley greeted, nodding to her. “Coming back to the ranks?”
Jen looked thoughtful. “I hadn’t even thought of that.”
“You won’t.” Sirius predicted confidently. “Not that you didn’t love the aurors, but you wouldn’t be able to work for the Ministry at the moment, especially not needing to deal with Dumbledore as well. Surprised Kingsley’s being so formal though.”
“That is yet to be decided.” Jen answered carefully, raising an eyebrow. “C’mon, Shack; we worked together for how long?”
Kingsley cracked a smile and hugged her.
“That’s more like it.” Sirius grinned.
“Sirius will be so pleased to see you – he’s going mental.”
Jen grimaced. “Yeah, that’ll make me feel better.”
Addie rested her head on Sirius’s shoulder. “Why do I get the feeling you’re not as alright as you’re pretending to be?”
“I have no idea.” Sirius answered flatly.
The statement had Jen worried, but when Kingsley released her to shake Harry’s hand, she was pulled into another hug, this one rather more tearful.
“That’ll be the girls then.” Sirius predicted.
Addie smirked. “Not necessarily. Lily said when Harry was born, you cried more than he did.”
“That’s an exaggeration.” Sirius protested. “There may have been a manly tear or two.” He conceded, when she just looked at him.
“Always fun to watch the difference between males and females in this situation.” Remus commented, his smirk audible.
“In this situation?” Jen repeated. “Does this happen to you a lot?”
“Only at weekends.” Remus deadpanned.
Jen tilted her head to look at him over Hestia and Emmeline’s shoulders.
“That’s five down.” Addie smirked. “You are good.”
“Exactly how many of these situations have you been in?”
Remus inclined his head to her, silently conceding her point.
“You’re less sarcastic in the future as well.” Arabella observed. “I feel like I’m losing you all.”
“Harry, this is Hestia Jones and Emmeline Vance.” Jen told him, gesturing to red hair then dark brown, almost black, before freeing herself to greet the remainders of the party. “Dedalus Diggle, Sturgis Podmore, and Elphias Doge.
“You got all six.” Addie observed. “What about the last two?”
Sirius shrugged. “No one I’d have guessed. They’ll be the name-chasers.”
“The others won’t?” Harry asked. “No offence, Remus.”
“None taken.” Remus said. “I know you didn’t mean me.”
“Moody knew James, Kingsley worked with us, Dora’s my cousin, Hestia and Emmeline were friends with Lily.” Sirius listed. “And Dedalus just thinks you make the sun shine in the morning.”
“Yeah, I’d noticed.” Harry muttered.
Everyone, Harry Potter, as if he needs introducing.”
Harry flattened his hair over his scar, self-consciously.
“I see what you mean, Remus.” Kingsley remarked slowly. “He looks exactly like James.”
“Except his eyes.” Emmeline whispered. “Lily’s eyes.
Lily frowned slightly. “Did we become friends after Hogwarts?”
“Not exactly.” Sirius said. “But I should think Harry will ask.”
Lily and I weren’t exactly close,” she said, seeing Harry’s confusion, “but she was one of the first people to really accept me after Hogwarts …
“Oh.” Lily said softly.
“We were very close behind.” Sirius added hastily. “But none of us was expecting her to actually join the Order, even if she was a nice Slytherin, so we at least did a double-take. Lily just offered her a cup of tea, didn’t even bat an eyelid.”
… I was a Slytherin,” she smirked slightly, “and apparently, my house-mates don’t do a very good job of endearing us to the wider population.”
Arabella snorted. “Really?”
Harry cracked a smile. “You don’t say?” He glanced around the living room again, clearly a little unnerved by all the eyes on him.
“A surprising number of people volunteered to collect you.” Remus told him, grinning at Jen.
Jen chuckled. “I wonder why.”
“Yeah, well, the more the better.” Mad-Eye growled. “We’re your guard, Potter.”
Remus glanced towards the window. “We’re just waiting for the signal to tell us it’s safe to set off. We’ve got about five minutes.”
“I wonder how they’re getting there.” Lily remarked, frowning. “Floo, maybe?”
“Not even Mrs Figg’s connected.” Sirius disagreed. “They won’t want to risk side-along, although Jen could probably manage it …”
“After fourteen years without apparating?” Jen asked. “No thanks.”
“Fair point.” Sirius conceded. “Unauthorised Portkey’s a really bad idea at the best of times – not that we ever paid attention to that, but the Ministry’s more likely to notice and Jen’s out of practice …”
“Could I make Portkeys then?” Jen asked.
Sirius nodded. “Good ones. So the only way they can really travel is by broom.”
“I get the feeling they’re going to repeat this discussion in a minute.” Remus remarked, tapping the book with his wand.
“Very clean, those Muggles.” Dora remarked, jerking a thumb towards the wall. “My dad’s Muggle-born and he’s a right slob. I suppose it varies though, like with wizards.”
Lily rolled her eyes. “We’re hardly a different species; we’re all human.”
“Course it does.” Jen said, rolling her eyes. “Come on, Dora, they’re hardly a different species.”
“But the Dursleys are unnaturally clean.” Jen finished.
“Still,” Lily smirked, “great minds.”
Harry sighed, sounding irritated, apparently out of patience. “Look, will someone tell me what’s happen …”
“Like they’re going to tell you in the middle of a Muggle neighbourhood.” Hermione sighed.
Jen clapped a hand over his mouth before he could finish the question. “Not here, Harry.”
Harry quirked an eyebrow at her as she released him. “Who’s going to overhear us? The walls?”
“Walls can have ears, Harry.” Jen told him darkly. “And eyes, for that matter.”
“Really?” Harry asked.
“Well, maybe not in Muggle neighbourhoods.” Jen conceded. “But it’s a good habit to get into, I should think.”
“Smart girl.” Mad-Eye barked, his normal eye turning to look at her. The magical eye, however, stayed where it was, staring at the ceiling. “Damn. Keeps getting stuck – ever since that scum wore it.”
Lily grimaced. “Lovely.”
He reached up and pulled the magical eye out with a loud squelching sound, like a plunger being pulled from a sink.
“Eww!” Several people chorused.
“Mad-Eye, you do know that’s disgusting, don’t you?” Dora asked lightly, as though she were commenting on the weather.
“Apparently she’s used to it.” Addie remarked, her nose crinkled in distaste.
Mad-Eye ignored her. “Jen, be a good girl and get me a glass of water, would you?”
Jen rolled her eyes. “How old am I?”
“Thirty five.” James answered promptly.
Jen groaned. “Never mind.”
Jen rolled her eyes, ignoring the urge to remind him that she wasn’t thirteen anymore, and hurried into the kitchen, retrieving a glass from the cupboard and filling it with water.
“Cheers.” Mad-Eye said when she returned. He dropped the eye into the water and prodded it with his wand, making it spin around rapidly. “I want three-hundred-and-sixty degree visibility on the return journey.”
“Yeah, definitely flying.” Sirius confirmed.
“Where are we going?” Harry asked. “The Burrow?”
“Not the Burrow, no.” Remus answered evasively. “We’ve set up Headquarters somewhere undetectable. It’s taken a while …” He coughed and changed the subject. “We’re going by broom.”
Jen chuckled, shaking her head. “Subtlety of a brick.”
“What?” Remus asked, bewildered.
Jen shook her head again. “I’m sure the book will explain.”
“Only way to do it, I should think.” Jen remarked, glancing curiously at him.
She had long since mastered the art of reading between the lines, and Remus had just inadvertently told her two things: firstly, the Order of the Phoenix had been regrouped – which wasn’t really a surprise, given the people in her living room, and the fact that no one was addressing how they all knew each other – and, secondly, that he didn’t want to tell her, or Harry, where Headquarters was.
“Oh.” Remus chuckled. “Are you sure you just don’t know me too well.”
Again, she resisted the urge to reach into the link, not ready to deal with it if it didn’t work.
“If it had ruptured beyond repair, you’d both be dead.” Sirius disagreed.
“It’s still hardly the right place to have that conversation.” Jen pointed out.
You’re being paranoid , she told herself, if someone had ruptured the link beyond repair, we’d both be dead.
Still, this was not the time or place for that discussion.
“We have got to stop doing that.” Jen sighed.
“You’re too young to apparate,” she continued, “we’re not connected to the Floo network, and an unauthorised Portkey …”
“More than our life’s worth.” Remus finished.
“Oh, here we go again.” Sirius smirked. “Finishing each other’s sentences. You’ll be finishing silent conversations next.”
“What?” James asked.
Addie laughed. “They used to have this annoying habit of having a conversation in their heads and then finishing them out loud. So we’d be talking about, I dunno, the Potions homework and whether we’d have all finished by the weekend, and then one of them would say something like, “So we could go to Honeydukes first then.””
“Drove us insane.” Sirius agreed.
“Remus says you’re a good flier.” Kingsley added.
“He’s excellent.” Remus confirmed. “Flies as well as James, if not better.”
Sirius nodded in agreement.
Privately, having been on a Quidditch team with James and flown with him since she was five, Jen felt that was a bit of a tall order …
“Thanks, Jen.” James said, grinning at her.
… but, out of loyalty to her godson, she said nothing.
“We’d better get outside so we’re ready.” Remus decided. “Harry, I’ve left a note with your aunt and uncle telling them not to worry …”
“Did you think they would?” Jen asked.
“I’m probably trying to be optimistic.” Remus pointed out.
“They won’t.” Harry assured him.
“… that you’re safe …”
“That’ll just depress them.” Jen muttered.
“… and that you’ll see them next summer.”
“Do I have to?” Harry asked, a slight whine detectable in his voice.
“No.” Jen answered, scowling.
“Not if I have anything to do with it.” Jen said darkly, under her breath. “Mad-Eye,” she said, louder, “am I imagining it, or did you borrow Dumbledore’s Deluminator.”
“So that’s what it’s called.” Jen murmured.
Mad-Eye pulled the small silver instrument out of his pocket. “What of it?”
“Turn the streetlights back on.” She told him. “You can use my back garden.”
“Probably safer.” David agreed. “But why do I feel like you have an ulterior motive?”
As he moved to the front door, Jen grasped Remus’s arm and pulled him out of earshot. “I need to borrow your wand.”
“Because I do.” Jen sighed.
Remus looked quizzically at her, but handed it over. She waved it in a small circle, carefully focussing on the eight people she needed to include.
Let’s see … can’t get rid of the prophecy entirely … that’d raise too many questions about why Remus and I needed a private conversation. Let’s see … ‘Hidden beneath a mask so bright, a missing soldier for the light …’
Jen grimaced. “I hate poetry.”
“You’re not doing too badly.” Addie said loyally.
I always hated poetry. Annie and Addie were the ones who had a way with words …
Maybe something about the full moon? Let’s see, the one in August is … the Grain Moon, I think.
Remus nodded. “It is.”
‘As the grain moon nears, the haze will lift … the soul will heal; no more shall drift.’
Jen pulled a face. “Merlin, that’s awful.”
“It’s not too bad.” Lily said. “Bit cheesy, perhaps, but not awful.”
That’ll do. And may that last part come true sooner rather than later.
Putting the words together in her head, she reluctantly whispered the spell that had ripped her own life apart.
Jen shuddered, and Remus kissed her head.
A small jet of blue light left her wand and hit each person in turn.
David raised an eyebrow.
No one even flinched and she allowed herself a satisfied smile, handing Remus’s wand back.
“Impressive.” David commented. “Mass-obliviation isn’t easy – to do it without making it obvious is almost impossible.”
“What did you just do?” He hissed.
Jen raised an eyebrow. “Prophecy.” She whispered. “Last two lines.”
Remus frowned. “You don’t think …”
“I think I don’t want to take chances.” Jen finished firmly, as Mad-Eye returned. “And we’ll talk about this later.”
“Yes dear.” Remus muttered.
“Yes dear.” Remus said under his breath.
Sirius snorted. “Some things never change.”
“Come here, boy.” Mad-Eye growled, jerking his wand. “I need to Disillusion you. Lupin says you’ve got an Invisibility Cloak, but it won’t stay on while we’re flying; this’ll disguise you better.
David nodded approvingly.
Here.” He tapped Harry hard on the top of his head, and Jen watched as her godson suddenly seemed to vanish, blending in with the rest of the kitchen.
“Nice one, Mad-Eye.” Dora commented.
Jen jerked a head towards the kitchen. “Come on.” She led them to the back door and stood back to let them out, switching off the appliances before following them.
I’ll have to get a house-elf to pick up the mail or something.
“As long as it’s not Kreacher.” Jen grumbled.
“Clear night.” Mad-Eye grunted, surveying the sky. “Could have done with a bit more cloud cover. Right!”
Sirius sighed. “Oh, here we go.”
He barked suddenly at Harry, but directing his words partly at Jen as well. “We’re going to be flying in close formation, so keep close on Tonks’ tail, got me? If one of us is killed …”
Lily squeaked. “Is that likely to happen?”
“Highly unlikely.” Sirius assured her. “Voldemort won’t break cover for this. Fudge’s denial is the best thing that could have happened to him – he’ll take advantage of it for a little longer. Moody’s just being paranoid.”
“Is that likely?” Harry asked, startled.
Mad-Eye ignored him. “… the others keep flying; don’t stop, don’t break ranks. If they take out all of us and you survive, Harry, just keep flying east; the rear guard will take over.”
“Stop being so cheerful, Mad-Eye; he’ll think we’re not taking this seriously.” Dora chided, strapping Harry’s trunk and Hedwig’s cage into a harness below her broom.
Addie laughed. “She’s definitely your cousin, Padfoot.”
“I’m just telling the boy the plan!” Mad-Eye growled. “Our job’s to deliver him safely to Headquarters and if we die in the attempt …”
“No one’s going to die.” Kingsley interrupted calmly.
“Thank Merlin for a level head.” Mandy remarked. “No offence, Remus.”
“Mount your brooms.” Remus said sharply, before Mad-Eye could retort. “There’s the first signal.” He pointed into the sky where, high above them, a shower of red sparks was just evaporating into the air. “You alright sharing a broom, Jen?”
“What’s my other choice?” Jen asked rhetorically.
“Don’t really have much of a choice, do I?” Jen asked wryly, mounting the broom he offered her. As he climbed on behind her, she glanced over at Harry, feeling apprehensive.
It was all very well Dora joking about it, but Mad-Eye did have a point – if Voldemort had got wind of Harry’s movements … She shuddered at the thought.
“It’ll be alright.” Remus said softly. “Sirius is right.”
“I know.” Jen said. “Doesn’t make me worry less.”
“Relax.” Remus whispered, leaning forward to cover her hands with his. “Even if Voldemort did know, he won’t break cover for this.”
Jen nodded, knowing he was right. The Minister’s denial was the best thing that could have happened to Voldemort, and he’d want to take full advantage of it while he could.
“Would you two stop copying me!” Sirius joked.
“Second signal!” Remus called as green sparks exploded above them. “Let’s go!”
Ten broomsticks rose into the sky, and Jen closed her eyes as the night air rushed passed her face. She had always loved flying – maybe not as ardently as James …
“I don’t think anyone loves flying as much as James.” Lily said.
“I don’t know.” Arabella disagreed, smirking at her best friend. “I reckon Mandy could give him a run for his money.”
… but it felt wonderful to be back on a broom.
As she opened her eyes, Harry and Dora soared above them, and, looking up, Jen could see that Remus was right – Harry seemed to belong in the air.
Harry blushed slightly, but Hermione nodded understandingly. “You really do.”
“Hard left, hard left; there’s a Muggle looking up!” Moody shouted, and they all veered to the side as one unit.
“I’m glad you’re controlling the broom.” Jen commented, pitching her voice to be heard above the roar of the wind in her ears. “It’s been years since I last flew in formation.”
Jen rolled her eyes. “No duh. It’s been years since I last flew.”
It was a statement of the blindingly obvious, given her whereabouts for the last fourteen years, but Remus didn’t comment, or maybe he just didn’t have time, because at that point, Moody barked, “We need more height … give it another quarter of a mile!”
Fred sniggered. “I bet he tries to take them via Greenland or something like that.”
Hermione shook her head. “Fool’s bet. Jen won’t let him. Neither will Tonks.”
By this point, night had well and truly fallen, and, looking down, all Jen could see were tiny pinpricks of light denoting houses and cars.
“Beautiful view, isn’t it?” Remus remarked.
Jen nodded with a smile, hearing Harry’s laughter high above them. She hadn’t seen him truly smile in weeks, so hearing him laugh was somewhat of a relief.
Lily smiled sadly. Her poor boy …
“Bearing south!” Mad-Eye yelled. “Town ahead!”
They soared to the right, skirting the edge of the large cluster of lights that were all they could see of the nearest town.
“Bear south-east and keep climbing; there’s some low cloud ahead that we can lose ourselves in!”
“They are not flying through clouds!” Lily shrieked. “They’ll catch their death!”
“We’re not flying through clouds!” Dora protested, beating Jen to it. “We’ll get soaked, Mad-Eye!”
“Thank you!” Lily breathed, allowing James to pull her back into her seat.
“Thank Merlin someone’s got some sense.” Jen sighed, more to herself than to Remus. “I don’t think Harry put a coat on.”
“Oh, Harry …” Lily sighed.
“Sorry, Mum.” Harry said sheepishly. “I’ll try to remember next time.”
Half an hour later, and it wasn’t just Harry’s body temperature Jen was worried about. She could still feel her hands, but only because Remus’s were covering them.
“Thanks.” Jen said. “I should have put a coat on.”
“I should have put a coat on.” She commented, tilting her head back so he could hear her. “I just hope Harry doesn’t catch pneumonia.”
“He’ll be fine.” Remus assured her. “Molly will get him warmed up and he’ll be fine. When we get there …”
“I’ll take Harry to wherever the others are.” Jen finished. “And get my wand back. You explain everything to Dumbledore and ask him to keep it quiet – I’ll talk to Sirius after the meeting.”
Sirius sighed. “For Merlin’s sake, break it to me gently.”
“Don’t scare him.” Remus warned gently. “He’s got enough on his plate.”
“Thank you.” Sirius muttered.
Jen grimaced, knowing he couldn’t see her. Why do I get the feeling he’s not just talking about Azkaban?
“Because I’m not.” Remus answered.
She asked silently. And why do I have a bad feeling about Headquarters?
“And I have no subtlety, apparently.” Remus added.
“Because you’re observant and subtlety was never my strong point.” Remus answered.
“Wait …” Lily said slowly. “Didn’t the book say she asked ‘silently’? How did Remus hear her?”
“I told you.” Sirius said. “They could talk in their heads.”
“But the link’s blocked.” Jen pointed out, catching on to Lily’s point. “Unless breaking the spell unblocked it.”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Jen mused. “You could be pretty subtle when you …” She trailed off.
Unless she was very much mistaken, she hadn’t asked either of those questions aloud; she’d only thought them. And if he’d answered …
Remus, can you hear this? She thought, matter-of-factly.
“Wind’s not that loud.” Remus answered. “Why, can’t you hear me?”
James sniggered. “Someone hasn’t cottoned on yet.”
Jen laughed aloud, giving him a mental prod. Try again.
“What are you …?” He trailed off, and his voice appeared in her head. You’re not talking aloud, are you?
“There it is.” Lily sang.
No, I’m not. Jen answered. It’s back.
You’re back. Remus corrected, his arms tightening slightly around her. How’s the rest of it your end?
Jen closed her eyes to step back into her mind to see what her visualisation of the bond looked like now.
Jen frowned. “Visualisation? What do I mean by that?”
Sirius shrugged. “You never really explained it to me, and I never asked. It’s personal.”
She wobbled slightly, and her eyes shot open. Not while we’re flying. Look later.
“Good idea.” Regulus agreed.
Fair enough. “We should be nearly there.” Remus said aloud.
“We ought to double back!” Mad-Eye shouted, contradicting him. “Make sure we’re not being followed!”
“ARE YOU MAD, MAD-EYE?!” Dora screamed from above them.
“Thank Merlin.” Lily sighed.
“We’re all frozen to our brooms! If we keep going off-course, we’re not going to get there until next Tuesday!”
“Time to start the descent!” Remus called, effectively ending the argument.
James grinned at Remus. “Guess we know who’s in charge.”
“He’s the one Harry’s most likely to listen to.” Jen pointed out. “Aside from me, I suppose.”
“Follow Tonks, Harry!”
“That’s London, isn’t it?” Jen asked, as they soared towards the largest mass of glittering lights they had seen all evening.
“Yes.” Remus confirmed, flinching. “And, for the record, I think this is a really bad idea and I had nothing to do with this.”
Jen squeezed his hand. “I know, love. It’s not your fault.”
“What?” Jen asked, worry filling her.
“You’ll see.” Remus replied ominously.
By now, she could pick out individual houses, and they swooped along a dark street, before coming to rest in a small square, dimly lit by street lamps.
Dora and Harry landed beside them, and Jen dismounted, looking around the square curiously.
It reminded her of something from long ago, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on what.
Jen shuddered. “I guess that must be the Fidelius Charm.”
Whatever it was, she didn’t like it, and she moved closer to Harry, resting a hand on his shoulder.
Lily smiled gratefully. If she couldn’t be there for her son, she was glad her friends could be.
Mad-Eye rummaged in his cloak and pulled out the silver Deluminator, using it to remove the lights from the few working street lamps.
Hermione snorted. “Not much point, really. It’s probably brighter without them.”
“That’ll take care of anyone looking out of the window.” He growled, pocketing it again. “Come on.”
Jen and Harry followed Mad-Eye across the road and on to the pavement, Remus and Dora carrying Harry’s trunk between them, the rest of the guard flanking them, wands in hand.
“Because that won’t draw attention to them.” James muttered.
“Here.” Mad-Eye held out a piece of parchment, holding up his wand so they could see it. “Read and memorise.”
Remus set his end of the trunk down and moved to stand behind her, taking her hand in his.
Jen glanced at him, but he nodded to the parchment, an unspoken apology in his eyes. She squinted at it, just able to make out the words in the wand-light.
The Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, London.
“Joy of joys.” Jen muttered, as the book fell silent.
“That’s it.” Remus said, checking it. “Who wants to baby-sit next?”
“I will.” Regulus offered, holding out his hand for it. “Let’s see what Meredith has for us this time.”
Chapter 4: Chapter Four - The Lost Black
Regulus turned to the next chapter, and tapped the book.
The Lost Black
Jen sighed. “Something tells me they’re not going to stop focussing on me any time soon.”
“Join the club.” Harry muttered.
As soon as the words sank in and the Fidelius Charm did its job, Jen was flooded with a thousand memories, ones she’d much rather have forgotten entirely.
Jen shuddered and Remus rubbed her back comfortingly.
She took an involuntary step backwards, bumping into Remus as she did, and his hand contracted around hers.
“Thank you.” Jen murmured into his shoulder.
I’m sorry. His voice said in her mind. I’m so sorry. Like I said, I don’t like it either.
Remus grimaced. “Seems a bit unfair that they’re going into our minds.”
“They’ve done it with us as well.” Harry pointed out.
Hermione shook her head though. “No, they may have published our thoughts, but these are private conversations.”
Regulus tapped the book with his wand. “Meredith? I don’t suppose you can tell us if they’re aware that you’re broadcasting these.”
“I am unable to provide that information.” Meredith responded.
Jen sighed. “It’s fine. They can’t reveal anything too private.”
“Let’s hope not.” Remus murmured to her. “Both of your brothers are in here.”
Sirius is in there? She asked in horror. Stuck back in that place? He must be …
He’s not too bad. Remus hastened to assure her. Not yet anyway.
“‘Not yet’ being the operative term.” Addie muttered.
Sirius kissed her forehead. “I’m fine, love.”
“Jen?” Harry asked worriedly. “What is it?”
“Nothing.” Jen said, smiling tremulously in his general direction.
Lily snorted. “Yeah right.”
“Well, nothing I’m willing to get into right now, at any rate.”
“Better?” Jen asked sweetly.
Lily sniffed, smiling slightly. “Much.”
Harry looked back at the parchment. “What’s the …?”
For the second time that night, Jen clapped a hand over his mouth, guessing its location from his voice.
“Well done.” Sirius sighed. “Try not to mention the Order in public, Harry.”
“Not here, Harry.” She repeated, as Mad-Eye set fire to the parchment and let it burn to ash. “Think about what you just read.”
As they did so, Number Twelve appeared from between Numbers Eleven and Thirteen, pushing them apart.
Jen forced back a shudder as they climbed the steps; the last time she had left this house was at twelve-years-old, half-unconscious, half-hysterical, in the arms of a Healer.
Regulus paused the book, staring at her in horror. “It was that bad?”
“It was awful.” Lily said darkly. “Jane said …” She cut herself off hastily.
“Jane said what?” Regulus asked slowly.
Sirius sighed. “She told Lily that if she hadn’t opened the door, I’d have been dead by the next morning, and Jen probably wouldn’t have survived the night.”
Both Addies paled profusely. “You never told me that.” Addie whispered.
Sirius squeezed her shoulders. “What was the point? It’s in the past, Ads. I don’t like thinking about it.”
Regulus shook his head. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“We thought you knew.” Jen muttered, staring at her lap. “Can we keep going please?”
Regulus looked as though he wanted to protest, but acquiesced, tapping the book again.
A Healer, she realised, who was the mother of her godson’s best friend.
It really is a small world.
Harry began humming and Hermione groaned, elbowing him in the side. “Don’t you dare – I can’t stand that song.”
Remus tapped his wand on the door a few times; the locks clicked from deep within it, and it swung open. “Get in, quick – but don’t go far, and don’t touch anything.”
“Like I need reminding.” Jen muttered.
Jen didn’t need telling twice and she ushered Harry into the hallway, taking his hand comfortingly (although whether it was her comfort or his, she wasn’t sure).
Jen smiled at Harry, who grinned back, and Lily patted his hand proudly.
Mad-Eye rapped Harry on the head again and he reappeared, as though his camouflage had melted from his body.
“Now stand still while I get us some light in here.” He whispered.
Why are we whispering? Jen asked Remus privately.
Jen sighed. “Ignorance is bliss.”
“That’s not ignorance.” Sirius said softly. “That’s forgetfulness.”
Portraits. Remus answered bluntly. Don’t want them to wake up.
Jen shuddered again at the thought, and Harry squeezed her hand, causing her to give him another smile. The gas-lamps flickered to life, and she grimaced as the hallway came into view, more threadbare, but every bit as gloomy and dark as she remembered.
Jen sighed, turning her face back into Remus’s neck, breathing deeply.
I never wanted to come back here.
A door at the end of the hallway – the door that led to the basement kitchen, if Jen remembered correctly – opened, and a red-haired woman emerged.
Jen recognised her as Molly Weasley, but she was much thinner than the last time she’d seen her.
“Mum’s been losing weight since he came back.” Ginny whispered.
Although that would have been … Probably Fabian and Gideon’s funeral …
Jen frowned. “I hadn’t seen her in that long?”
“Mum and Dad weren’t in the first Order.” Fred explained. “Because of us.”
Jen nodded understandingly. “I see.”
Lily saw her after that, because she used to baby-sit the twins …
“Brave woman.” Ginny quipped.
… but I didn’t …
“Oh, Harry, dear, it’s good to see you!” Molly whispered, pulling Harry into a hug, before holding him at arm’s length and examining him. “You’re looking very thin, dear, you’ll need feeding up …
Lily frowned worriedly. “Try to keep an eye on that, Jen. You can’t just shove food down the throat of someone who’s been half-starved.”
“I’m sure I will, Lily.” Jen said soothingly.
… but you’ll have to wait a while for dinner, I’m afraid.” She turned to the others. “He’s just arrived, the meeting’s just started.”
“He?” James asked.
“Probably Dumbledore.” Lily pointed out.
The wizards and witches behind them began to make their way down the hall, Remus ruffling Harry’s hair and giving Jen a smile as he passed.
Harry made to follow them, but Jen seized his arm. “Oh no you don’t, young man.” She said, managing to sound stern, even through a whisper. “Those meetings are not for your ears.”
“Jen!” James protested. “He deserves to know what’s going on!”
Sirius cleared his throat before Harry could agree. “I agree with you, James, however the fact remains that Harry is underage and still at school. Therefore he can’t join the Order. I’m sure I’ll fill him in as soon as I can, but he doesn’t have the skill or the ability to join the Order yet.”
Harry looked put out but nodded. “I guess that makes sense. I can hardly do anything at school.”
“Maybe we should start a Junior Order.” Hermione suggested. “Make sure people can defend themselves if the worse should happen.”
Addie looked thoughtful. “That’s not a bad idea. It depends who your Defence teacher is this year, I suppose.”
She extended a hand to Molly, who looked confused. “Jennifer Black, Sirius’s sister, Harry’s godmother. I’ve been under a Memory Charm, and it’s only just lifted. Don’t tell Sirius yet – we’ll never get anything done; I’ll tell him after the meeting.”
“Oh dear.” Remus sighed.
“Jen …” Sirius groaned. “Try not to give me a heart attack.”
Jen smiled weakly. “I’ll make no promises.”
“Of course.” Molly said with a weak smile. “Are you alright taking Harry upstairs? Second floor, third door on the right.”
Regulus frowned. “Wait a minute …” He was interrupted though, since he’d forgotten to pause the book.
Jen nodded, taking a second to remember which room that was. I wonder if Sirius did that on purpose, or if it was Dumbledore’s idea – that’s the room with Phineas Nigellus in. Direct link to the Headmaster’s office.
Tapping the book with his wand, Regulus said, “That’s what I was thinking.”
Sirius frowned. “Definitely not intentional … but I don’t remember Dumbledore having any say in the room-arranging.”
Addie sighed. “Look at me.” She said wearily, catching his eyes for a few seconds. “Compulsion Charm.”
“Bloody hell!” Sirius sighed. “How many have I been hit with? That’s, what, the third?”
“I’m more interested how you’ve become so susceptible to them.” Addie said. “Your Occlumancy’s better than that, surely?”
“She’s got a point.” Her future counterpart conceded. “But I don’t think that’s anything sinister. Azkaban just knocked your shields a bit, that’s all.”
“Got it.” She said aloud. “I’ll see you in the meeting.”
Steering Harry towards the stairs, Jen eyed a pair of moth-eaten curtains with distaste.
Jen grimaced. “That’s where Mother is, right?”
Sirius nodded, pulling a similar face. “That’s the one.”
She couldn’t remember a door or window there before, but maybe her mother had renovated before she died. She put it out of her mind, and skirted the umbrella stand at the bottom of the stairs.
“Ugh.” Jen groaned. “I’d forgotten that.”
I’d forgotten how much I hated that thing. Remus, how long do we have?
About five minutes. Remus answered. Everyone knows you’re a witch, but they don’t know who you are. And Dumbledore’s been told whatever prophecy you put in their heads, and he seems to have figured it out.
“Good job it wasn’t the real one then.” David murmured.
Oh? Jen let some of her curiosity seep through the link and got a mental chuckle in return.
“So we can transfer emotions as well?” Jen asked curiously.
Addie shrugged. “No idea. There’s not a lot written on soul bonds since the Ministry stopped recognising them as legal bonds, so we’re not sure how it works. We never asked.”
Yes, he’s twinkling at us, but … Honestly, Jen, he seems worried.
“Worried?” David asked sharply. “If he’s figured out that it’s Jen, why is he worried?”
“No idea.” Sirius frowned. “He doesn’t know that she’s prophesized to stop him, and she was a fantastic auror.”
Addie grimaced. “Unless he put her there in the first place.”
Everyone stared at her.
“Come again?” Jen asked weakly.
“It was someone you trusted enough to turn your back on and who was more powerful than you.” Addie pointed out. “Dumbledore’s the only one I can think of who fits the description.”
“Addie, I could understand after Halloween, just about,” Sirius protested, “but what was his motive before Harry was the Boy-Who-Lived?”
“I don’t know.” Addie shrugged. “Same as me, I guess. Greater good.”
“What do you mean, same as you?” Sirius asked.
“Regulus went to Dumbledore.” Addie admitted. “Told him about the Horcruxes … and about us. He obliviated you and did nothing.”
“Why?” Addie whispered, tears filling her eyes.
“My guess is that he wanted to keep the Horcruxes a secret and if he was the only one who knew, he could control who found out, how and what they did with the information.” Addie answered grimly. She leaned back against Sirius, who wrapped his arms around her waist tightly. “As for Jen … I don’t know. It’s a theory at the moment, that’s all.”
Worried, is he? Jen asked grimly. That’s not good.
“You don’t sound surprised.” Arabella observed.
Jen shrugged. “Don’t look at me, I haven’t done this yet.”
“Jen, where are we?” Harry asked softly, drawing her from the internal conversation.
“My old family home.” Jen answered reluctantly, not looking at him. “The Blacks weren’t the Lightest …
Actually, they were as Dark as sin.
“Better.” Sirius muttered.
Sirius and I … Well, I’ll explain later. Here we are.”
Harry pushed open the door she indicated. There was a beat of silence, then a shriek, and a brunette flung herself on him, hugging him tightly.
Hermione blushed as Fred whistled. “Not like that!” She protested.
Harry chuckled, kissing her forehead. “We know.”
“HARRY! Ron, he’s here! Harry’s here!”
“I think he’s noticed.” Remus sniggered.
The rest of her words tumbled out in a jumbled rush of greetings and apologies, but even with her experience translating her brother’s and James’s rambles back at Hogwarts, Jen was lost.
“Lost your touch, Selena.” Lily said.
“Let him breathe, Hermione.” The room’s other occupant said with a grin, shutting the door behind them. He was looking at Jen curiously, however. “Who are you?”
“Jennifer Black.” She told him. “Just call me Jen. You must be Ron, right? Molly’s youngest?”
Fred frowned slightly. “Second youngest.”
“Give her a break, Fred.” Ginny said. “Jess may have known about me, but Jen disappeared before I was born.”
“Second youngest.” He corrected, shaking her hand. “Ginny’s younger than me.”
“Oh of course.” Jen nodded. “Sorry, I’ve been under a Memory Charm for fourteen years, and I’m trying to put both sets of memories together – Jessica knew that Ginny was your younger sister, but Jen disappeared before she was born, you see?”
Ginny smiled triumphantly.
“I think so.” Ron answered slowly. “Hermione!”
Hermione released Harry and turned to face them, and Jen sucked in a breath. “Sweet Merlin, Hermione, you look like your mother.”
“At the moment.” Jen corrected, glancing at Hermione’s new appearance. “Did I know you’d adopted her, Padfoot?”
Sirius shook his head. “No one did, aside from James and Lily. It only happened four days before Halloween, the day we changed Secret Keeper.”
Hermione smiled at her. “So I’ve heard. You’re Jess? And you’re Jen?”
“Memory Charm.” Jen repeated. “And I believe you have something of mine.”
“Of course.” Jen smiled. “My wand.”
“Does she?” Harry asked bewildered.
Hermione put a foot up on Ron’s trunk and rolled one leg of her jeans up high enough to extract a wand from an ankle holster. “Here.”
Jen took it, closing her eyes as it warmed in her hand, as though it was rejoicing at being reunited with her finally. “Thank you for taking care of it.”
“It was my pleasure.” Hermione said with a smile. “It saved our lives, you know.”
“Thank Merlin.” Lily whispered.
“Good.” Jen said firmly, moving towards the door. “Now, I have a meeting to get to. Harry, play nice; I … Hermione, did you say you sent letters with Muggle post?”
Hermione nodded. “Dumbledore said we couldn’t send too much information with owls, in case they got intercepted, so I sent a couple via Muggle mail, but Harry kept pressing, so I figured he wasn’t getting them.”
“Good guess.” Harry muttered, scowling.
“I wasn’t.” Harry said with a frown. “Maybe Aunt Petunia was keeping them.”
Jen shook her head. “Don’t think so. You know our postman, Harry; he used to stop by for a cup of tea every morning …
“He’s about ninety.” Harry explained. “Jess – er, Jen – always said that it wasn’t fair to expect him to do the whole rounds without a cuppa in the middle.”
… he’d have mentioned it if you had a letter.” She shrugged. “I’ll work it out – don’t be too hard on them; they tried.”
She closed the door behind her, and set off downstairs, again eyeing the large curtains warily as she passed.
She entered the kitchen mid-sentence, and waited for Dumbledore to finish before closing the door. “Sorry about that, Professor.”
“Quite alright – er – Jessica.” Dumbledore said, with a smile and a wink.
“Yeah, he’s cottoned on.” Jen sighed.
Jen returned the smile, slipping into the empty seat beside Remus, opposite Sirius, slipping her wand into her pocket as she did.
Glancing up, she was amused to see that Sirius had recognised the wand and was glancing between her and the ceiling, as though wondering what had possessed Hermione to hand his sister’s wand over to a stranger.
Jen giggled. “This should be fun.”
“Oh, be nice to me!” Sirius groaned.
“We should get some kind of explanation soon.” Fred said eagerly. “With any luck, Remus will fill Jen in on what’s been happening.”
“I feel like I should stop you from listening.” Sirius said mildly.
“Sirius!” Fred protested.
“Should.” Sirius repeated, as though Fred hadn’t said anything. “But won’t.”
He’s got no idea. She thought sadly.
Can you blame him? We all thought you were dead.
Even inside their heads, his words were hollow, and she pressed his hand once under the table, before turning her attention to the others there. Dora was the only new face, although there were a couple missing that she realised, with a shock, could well have died after she disappeared.
Jen shuddered, turning to Sirius, who shook his head. “You’re probably thinking of Frank and Alice. And Dorcas Meadowes – she died after you disappeared. Aside from James and Lily, they were the only casualties.”
“Only?” David muttered. “That’s one a month.”
“We were used to one a week.” Sirius said flatly. “And that was just the Order members, never mind aurors and civilian casualties.”
Either that, or they don’t believe Voldemort’s back.
“Are there any Order members that don’t?” James asked.
Sirius thought for a second. “There are one or two who haven’t rejoined, but they have children now, so that might be the reason.”
I never thought I’d say this, but I hope it’s the latter.
“Jessica?” Dumbledore asked, catching her attention.
“Professor?” She responded, glancing up.
As soon as he caught her eye, she was forced to throw up her Occlumency shields …
David scowled, muttering something about etiquette.
“Isn’t that illegal, Dad?” James asked.
“Technically, no.” David answered. “It’s highly frowned-upon, especially on the Heir of an Ancient and Noble House, but it’s only illegal on minors.”
Jen frowned. “I’m not the Heir.”
Regulus sighed. “Jenny, we’ve been through this.”
Jen rolled her eyes. “I was never disowned, great. But I’m still not the Heir. Hermione is.”
Hermione was taken aback for a second, but smiled sweetly. “Except I’m underage and fully expect you to act in my proxy, Aunt Jen.”
Jen laughed. “Well-played.”
… and there were a few minutes in which neither of them spoke, fighting a silent battle.
Remus caught her hand again and squeezed, silently asking if she needed help.
Not breaking concentration, she squeezed back, and shifted her grip to tap his wrist, assuring him that she could handle it.
Dumbledore broke the connection first …
David smiled proudly at her.
… and she raised a politely enquiring eyebrow, as though nothing had happened. “Was there something you wanted, Professor?”
“I was wondering if you had noticed anything else unusual other than the Dementors around Privet Drive.” He asked blandly.
Jen thought for a moment. “Unless you mean Harry’s cousin turning his layers of fat into muscle and engaging in exercise willingly, no, I hadn’t.”
“Dudley’s exercising?” Lily asked. “Oh, boxing, right.” She said, before anyone could answer.
A few people chuckled, and she allowed herself a smile, before turning serious. “I didn’t even see the Dementors – or sense them for that matter. They weren’t just straying from Azkaban; they were there specifically for Harry.”
Lily shuddered, curling into James. “Who though? If it’s not Voldemort …?”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it was someone at the Ministry.” Regulus said thoughtfully. “Especially given their overreaction in expelling him.”
James gritted his teeth. “Jen …”
“I’ll handle it.” Jen said coolly.
Again, she felt a pushing at her Occlumency shields, and this time, she let part of the memory through, just enough for him to see Harry and Dudley’s return through Jess’s eyes.
Dumbledore nodded and turned to Hestia for whatever report she was due to give, and Jen relaxed.
How did I never see it? Remus asked her. Has he always been this manipulative?
“Yes.” Jen mumbled. “We just never noticed.”
I don’t know. Jen answered honestly. I just know that James and Lily asked Hermione to keep them a secret for a reason.
The rest of the meeting passed quickly, with a lot of reports about what sounded like nothing in particular.
Sirius laughed. “Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.”
Remus? Mind filling me in?
Fred leaned forwards hopefully.
Not much TO fill in. The kids are complaining that no one will tell them anything, but we don’t really know anything ourselves.
Fred groaned. “Then why won’t you just tell us that?”
“Because we like to keep up the illusion that we know what we’re doing.” Sirius said cheerfully. “That, and if you’re trying to eavesdrop, you’re not blowing things up.”
We’re trying to convince people that Voldemort’s back, but the Ministry’s been doing a good job of slandering Dumbledore’s name, and Harry’s …
Lily sniffed. “At least someone’s reacting appropriately.
“At least Jen’s got the ability to do something about it.” Sirius said cheerfully.
Remus just managed to hide a grimace. Not so loud please. Didn’t Harry tell you about the articles last year?
Well, yes. Jen admitted, sending a soft wave of apology through the link as she did. But they were hardly slander – gossip, yes, but …
He didn’t tell you about the last one then. Harry Potter: Disturbed and Dangerous, and it only got worse.
When I find her, Jen said darkly, I am going to squash Rita like a bug.
Hermione sniggered. “No pun intended.”
Remus’s face remained impassive, but the emotion that passed through the link translated into a smirk. Well, she’s gone quiet all of a sudden, and I won’t say that I think Hermione had something to do with it, but every time we mention it, she looks very smug. The problem is, she gave them a platform – they stick Harry in like a standing joke, and make it sound like he’s either delusional or making it up for attention.
Lily gritted her teeth, breathing heavily. “When I get back …”
“I’ll help.” James promised darkly.
Jen closed her eyes, taking a few calming breaths, in the hopes of preventing herself from standing up and apparating straight to the Daily Prophet headquarters.
“Do it!” James and Sirius cheered.
“They’ll be closed at that hour.” Remus reminded them.
They’re closed now. Remus reminded her, sounding amused. Go tomorrow.
Oh, I will. Jen said darkly. Go on. So we can’t convince anyone Voldemort’s back. What else?
Hagrid’s on a mission to contact the giants, obviously. Bill’s trying to get the goblins onside, but at the moment, it sounds like they’ll stay neutral …
“Probably.” David murmured. “Unless the rumours about Ravenclaw’s connection to Gringotts and goblin nation are true, in which case Hermione might have a shot at it.”
Hermione laughed. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves!”
Well, they won’t actively support Voldemort, because they’ve had losses too. Jen said. On the other hand, a lot of the Death Eaters are high-paying clients.
Exactly. Remus agreed. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wants me to approach the werewolves again …
“That can’t be safe.” Jen protested.
“No Order missions are safe.” Sirius said heavily. “Remus insists he wants to do it though.”
Jen clamped down on the shiver of fear that wanted to pass through the link. Even though she knew that Remus could take care of himself, the few times he had entered the underground to gain allies were some of the worst of her life.
“Did he get hurt?” Jen whispered.
“Not badly that I can remember.” Sirius assured her. “It was the worry, I think.”
What about the rest of us?
Haven’t the foggiest. Remus admitted. There have been people looking out for Harry. In case you were wondering, it was Mundungus Fletcher on duty the night the Dementors attacked.
“Of course it was.” Sirius grumbled.
Really? Jen asked, glancing at Dung out of the corner of her eye. He seemed to have fallen asleep. I’ll have to have a word with him about that.
Sirius already did.
Lily nodded approvingly.
Then I’ll have another one. Why don’t you know what we’re guarding?
Well, I know we’re guarding the Department of Mysteries. Remus conceded. But I don’t know why.
“The prophecy.” Sirius concluded again. “Although I don’t see why. Like Addie said, Voldemort can hardly walk in there.”
“Maybe he doesn’t know that.” Addie suggested. “Rookwood’s in Azkaban last I heard, and I don’t think there were any other Unspeakables in the ranks. If Voldemort wasn’t worried about hearing the prophecy during the first war, he might not have concerned himself with the protection.”
“But why would he be worried about hearing it now?” James asked.
“Because Harry’s already beat him several times.” David answered. “He’ll want to know what that prophecy says before trying it again.”
“But, Ads, even if Voldemort doesn’t know,” Sirius said, returning to the subject at hand, “it won’t make a difference. Whoever he sends will be able to talk their way out of it and they won’t get the prophecy anyway.”
Addie nodded thoughtfully. “True. But what’s to stop them putting the Unspeakables under the Imperius Curse?”
“Well, most of the Unspeakables can resist it.” David said slowly. “But she has a point.”
Sirius nodded reluctantly. “Still, I think we’re overdoing it a little bit.”
Their internal discussion was interrupted when chairs scraped back, and everyone began to get up – clearly, Dumbledore had dismissed the meeting.
As everyone made their way up the stairs into the hall, talking in hushed whispers again and stepping over the dungbombs that had mysteriously appeared outside the kitchen door …
“Kreacher?” Jen guessed.
“Maybe.” Sirius said, smirking. “My guess would be the twins or Ginny checking for the Imperturbable Charm to see if the Ears can be used.”
“How do dungbombs prove that?” Neville asked in bewilderment.
“If you flick dungbombs at an object under that Charm, they won’t make contact.” Lily explained kindly. “Doesn’t have to be dungbombs – it can be anything of that size. Well … anything, really. But the Charm can sometimes fail with bigger objects, so if you want to keep it quiet, you want something small.”
… Jen pushed through the crowd until she reached Sirius. “Could I have a word with you?” She asked. “In private?”
What’s with the dungbombs?
I think I overheard Tonks telling Ginny how to check for the Imperturbable Charm. I’ll explain later.
Sirius regarded her for a moment. “Alright.” He took her arm and guided her into the small chamber next to the drawing room, where their parents used to receive guests.
“Oh Merlin, it’s all coming back to me.” Jen groaned.
“How can I help?”
“Well, I’m sure you know about the Memory Charm by now.” Jen said carefully. “I’m having a bit of trouble getting the glamour off – whoever cast it was more powerful than me. I was wondering if you’d be willing to lend a hand.”
Sirius raised an eyebrow. “Why me?”
Jen smiled sweetly. “I just have a feeling our magic might be a bit more compatible than most.”
Sirius snorted. “Liar.”
Jen shrugged. “Well, it’s an easy way to ease you into it.”
Sirius still looked puzzled, but shrugged and drew his wand. “Very well. On three then?”
Jen nodded, aiming her own wand at herself. “One … two … three …”
Two spells combined did what one spell could not, and Jen felt a rush of magic pass over her, settling into her bones.
“I hate Glamour Charms.” Sirius muttered, fidgeting. “They always feel so weird.”
When she opened her eyes, Sirius was gaping at her and she glanced at the large ornate mirror that almost covered the entire wall, oddly relieved to see long black hair, almost to her waist …
“You kept growing it then.” Addie remarked.
Harry frowned. “I thought Glamour Charms just made you look different – like everyone else would see you with shorter hair, but it would actually be the same length it always was.”
“It depends who’s casting it.” Sirius explained. “The average witch or wizard would create a Glamour Charm like that, you’re right, but a more powerful witch or wizard can actually physically alter someone’s appearance.”
… framing highly distinctive facial features and stormy grey eyes, identical to those of the man staring at her.
Smirking slightly, she turned back to face him. “I hope you don’t mind if I keep using your sister’s wand.”
“I think I’ll be okay with it.” Sirius said with a shaky smile.
“Jen …” Sirius took a shaky step towards her, almost in a trance, and she mirrored his actions almost unconsciously.
This seemed to reassure him that he wasn’t hallucinating, because she suddenly found herself in his arms, her face buried in his chest and her shoulders shaking with the sobs that had threatened her composure the moment the Memory Charm first lifted.
“Aww …” Addie and Lily both murmured, the latter reaching out to grasp Jen’s hand.
Sirius held her tightly, shaking himself, but when he loosened his grip slightly, just enough to allow her to lift her head and meet his eyes, they were dry, though very bright. “What happened?!” He asked, almost harshly.
Everyone sat forwards slightly. They’d heard it from Sirius and Hermione’s perspectives, but they only knew so much.
“I went to visit Lily.” Jen answered. “I remember reaching the apparition point and walking to the house, but … I’d only been walking for about five minutes when someone else was there.”
“How long did it take the walk to the house?” David asked.
Sirius frowned. “About twenty minutes if you were walking quickly. Why?”
David raised an eyebrow. “And Albus didn’t put any kind of ward on the apparition point?”
“Well, I thought he had.” Sirius admitted. “But if he had, then it would have alerted for Peter, wouldn’t it?”
“Hmm.” David sat back, looking thoughtful.
“Who?” Sirius prompted.
“I don’t know.” Jen admitted. “Whoever it was, they hit me with two spells – one modified my memory and one removed the memory of them from my head.
“Crap.” Sirius muttered. “We’ll never know who then.”
“If it is who I think it is,” Addie said darkly, “Jen will figure it out.”
I know they were there, I know what they did, but I don’t know who they are!”
Jen shuddered, and Regulus shifted a little closer to her.
Sirius squeezed her shoulder and kissed her forehead. “We’ll figure it out, Jen. Love you.”
“Love you too.” Jen leaned back to better see his face. “You need a haircut.”
Addie sighed. “You really do.”
Sirius grimaced. “Yeah, I know. Molly’s only too keen to remind me.”
Jen smirked. “And you agree. You just don’t want to agree with her.”
“That’s not true.” Sirius protested.
“Yeah, it is.” Ginny, Fred and Hermione disputed in unison.
“I have nothing against Molly Weasley.” Sirius insisted. “But we have several differences of opinion and there are a few things she has yet to get her head round. Namely that this is my house and that Harry is my godson.”
Jen cleared her throat.
“Our godson.” Sirius corrected.
Jen cleared her throat.
“Our godson.” Sirius amended.
A few people laughed at that.
“You’re alright, aren’t you, Jenny?”
Jen shook her head, but didn’t comment.
For once, she didn’t scold him for the name. “I’m fine. Are you?”
Before he could answer, a sudden crash out in the hallway made them both jump, and Sirius’s head fell onto her shoulder as he groaned. “Oh, here we go.”
Jen grimaced. “Mother?”
“Tonks!” Molly’s voice cried.
“I’m sorry!” Dora wailed. “It’s that stupid umbrella stand; that’s the second time I’ve tripped over …”
But the rest of her words were drowned out by a painfully familiar voice.
“FILTH! SCUM! BY-PRODUCTS OF DIRT AND VILENESS!”
Sirius sighed. “Mother.”
Jen turned to Sirius, her eyes wide with horror. “Mother?”
“Mother.” Sirius confirmed grimly.
“You two have to stop doing that.” James snickered.
Rolling her eyes, Jen hurried from the room, aiming her wand at the portrait, which had been hidden behind the curtains she’d noticed earlier, and trying to blast it from the wall.
“Won’t work.” Sirius predicted gloomily.
“Oh, shut up!”
The painting didn’t budge, and at the sight of her, Mrs Black seemed to become even more incensed. “YOU! BLOOD TRAITOR! ABOMINATION! SHAME OF MY FLESH!”
“Oh, it’s the Take Two: The Highlights.” Jen said with mock cheerfulness. “Just in case you were lucky enough to miss the original.”
“Shut up, you miserable old hag; shut up!” Sirius seized one of the curtains and attempted to force it closed.
Molly was silencing the other portraits, Remus was helping Dora to her feet, and Harry, Hermione and the Weasleys were standing at the bottom of the stairs, watching them wide-eyed.
As her mother’s voice grew even louder, Jen abandoned her wand and seized the other curtain. “I SAID, SHUT UP!”
“Shame.” Ginny commented. “I was hoping that, if anyone could blast her down, it’d be you.”
“I might be powerful, but I’m only human.” Jen said with a weak smile.
She and Sirius finally forced them closed, and she drew her wand again, placing a Silencing Charm over the curtains.
“Now why didn’t I think of that?” Molly wondered aloud.
“Merlin only knows.” Fred muttered.
Sirius ignored her, turning to Harry with a wry smile. “Hello, Harry. I see you’ve met our mother.”
“Your mother?” Harry repeated in surprise, stepping forwards to hug him.
“My dear old mother.” Sirius confirmed. “Entire family was like that; couldn’t stand any of them.”
Jen cleared her throat.
“I am right here.” Jen pointed out acidly.
Sirius released Harry and turned to her. “My apologies, sister dearest. I assure you that any time I couldn’t stand you, it was for another reason entirely.”
James sniggered. “Nice one, mate.”
Jen folded her arms with a pout. “I hate you both.”
The Weasleys and Hermione chuckled, and Jen let out a relieved laugh. If Sirius still had his sense of humour, things couldn’t be too bad.
“Don’t count on it.” Addie muttered under her breath.
Sirius shook his head with a smile, the only one to hear her, and kissed her cheek. “I’m fine, Ads.”
Harry turned to her and she smiled as he did what amounted to a double-take. “Je-Jen?”
She didn’t blame him for stumbling over the name – he’d been calling her ‘Jess’ for fourteen years, after all. “We finally got rid of the glamour charm.”
“Hey, why couldn’t you do it on your own?” Sirius asked. “Or were you trying to give me a heart attack?”
“I was trying to break it to you gently.” Jen sniffed. “Unless you’d rather I just walk into the kitchen with the Glamour off. I’m sure Snape would love to see your uncensored reaction.”
Sirius grimaced. “There’s an image I didn’t need.”
“I was trying to not give you a heart attack.” Jen corrected, rolling her eyes. “And whoever cast it was more powerful than me.”
“And that’s not many people.” Addie concluded.
Hermione made a small noise in disbelief, and Sirius nodded in agreement. “Hermione’s right – there’s no way …”
“I’m sorry about my mother, Harry.” Jen interrupted, talking over her brother, and flashing him a hand signal warning him to shut up because they’d talk about it later. “I should have warned you. Mind you, I didn’t realise the old cow had done that.”
“Jennifer!” Molly admonished.
Jen snorted. “Who’s she to tell me how to refer to my mother? She’s lucky I didn’t say anything worse.”
Jen raised an eyebrow at her. Given how Walburga Black had treated them when they were children, she felt perfectly justified in calling her that, and even if she wasn’t, it was hardly Molly’s place to tell her off for it. Nevertheless, here and now was not the time to call her on it.
“Oh wonderful.” Lily said brightly. “You learnt some tact.”
“When have I not used tact?” Jen asked indignantly.
In response, her dorm-mates all developed coughing fits that seemed to cover up the names of several incidents.
“I’m sorry, Molly.” She said. “You’re right. That’s an insult to cows; I’ll come up with something better.”
Lily sighed. “Never mind.”
To Molly’s credit, she seemed to realise that she’d been out of line, and she chuckled. “Oh good Lord, there’s two of you.”
Sirius laughed. “That’s my sister.”
Jen nudged Harry towards the kitchen door, and down into the basement, where Bill and Arthur were talking in low voices, and Dung was asleep at one end of the table, doing a very good impersonation of a pile of dirty old rags.
Hermione giggled. “That’s what I thought when I first met him.”
While Harry greeted the two Weasleys, Jen sat down at the table, feeling more than hearing Remus sit beside her.
Is Molly always that …?
Controlling? Remus finished, as Molly snapped at Bill for leaving building plans out on the table. She can be, yes. Her heart’s in the right place; she’s just lost so much, and she wants to make sure her family’s safe, but she also has a habit of believing that she knows best. As far as she’s concerned, she loves them, so she must know what’s best for them.
“That’s not how it works unfortunately.” Lily grimaced.
That’s not the way it works. Jen sighed mentally. I don’t think she likes me.
That’s because she adores Harry. It’ll all blow up now he’s here – you watch.
Fred smirked. “This should be fun.”
At that moment, Hermione slipped into the seat beside her. “Harry told me about the prophecy.” She whispered, not looking at her. “There’s another one.”
“Good.” Jen murmured. “I’ll need to know that one.”
“What?” Jen asked. She’d be amazing undercover.
She’s not even sixteen yet. Slow down.
“Thank you, Remus.” Hermione muttered.
A piece of parchment was pushed into her hand beneath the table, and Hermione rose to her feet. “Do you need any help, Mrs Weasley?”
“Nice change of subject.” Ginny giggled.
Molly shoved the last of the plans into Bill’s arms, told him to Vanish them, and turned to Hermione. “Yes please, dear. Could you get the plates for me?”
Hermione moved away, and Jen looked down at the prophecy she’d been given, as Sirius introduced Harry to Mundungus.
At the sound of his name, the man in question jolted awake. “Some’n say m’name? I ‘gree with Sirius …”
James snorted. “I wonder why.”
Funnily enough, he’s been agreeing with Sirius ever since Harry was attacked.
Imagine that. Jen said dryly. What happened to that nice boy we were at Hogwarts with?
Too much undercover work. Remus answered, although he knew it was a rhetorical question. What does that say?
‘The true leader of the light is hidden … her mind is locked away, but her gift is not … answers shall be revealed in the place where the fire maid almost met her doom’. She sighed. Great, so I not only have to take Dumbledore down, but I have to take his place.
Jen sighed. “I was hoping I’d translate it differently.”
Seems that way. Remus agreed. What’s the last bit about though?
Remus frowned. “Guess future me hasn’t been told everything about the past. Wait – didn’t you write and tell me the prophecy?”
Hermione shook her head. “No, I wrote and told you Jess’s. I don’t think I included Rowena’s.”
The Chamber of Secrets. Jen said, after she’d read it through a few more times. Ginny nearly died down there. She’s a redhead.
“At least one of us is on the ball.” Jen teased.
I thought the Chamber of Secrets was a myth. Remus said.
Jen glanced at him. Didn’t it hit the papers?
Didn’t what hit the papers?
The basilisk that was set loose in Hogwarts and Petrified four students, a cat and a ghost.
Lily snorted. “Honestly, Jen, it’s like you’re not taking it seriously.”
Jen shrugged. “It was awful, Lils, but no one died and it’s all over. There’s no harm in my summarising events.”
Remus stared at her in shock, and Sirius slipped into the seat beside her. “What’s with you two?”
“Nothing.” Jen said. Don’t mention the petrifying. Hermione was one of them.
Sirius grimaced. “I’d be insulted, but it’s probably not the best time to bring it up.”
“Dung,” she said aloud, beating Molly to it, waving away the thick smelly smoke that was emanating from his pipe. “Would you kindly refrain from smoking that in here? Especially when we’re about to eat.”
“Sorry, Jen.” Mundungus muttered, slipping the pipe away.
Molly sniffed and went back to what she was doing.
Jen frowned. “Hang on, she was about to say the same thing!”
“Exactly.” Fred said with false sombreness. “
Jen raised an eyebrow. “What did I do?”
“It’s not a good idea to take over in Molly’s kitchen.” Sirius told her in an undertone.
Jen scowled. “It’s not Molly’s kitchen.”
“Last I checked,” Jen said, “it was my kitchen.”
James snorted. “Bet you never thought you’d be admitting that.”
Jen sniffed. “It’s the principle of the thing.”
She stood up and ruffled Harry’s hair as she passed. “Potatoes. Want to give me a hand, kiddo?”
Harry nodded with a grin, following her over to the cupboard she knew had a freezing charm on it.
“Harry, dear, sit down.” Molly fussed. “You’ve had a long flight.”
Jen rolled her eyes. “Did I miss the part where Harry lost the ability to make decisions?”
“I gave him the option, Molly.” Jen said calmly, pulling out some cream. “He’s always enjoyed helping me cook.”
“Thank Merlin you’ve developed some democracy.” Remus whispered.
Harry’s smile widened. “Are we making what I think we’re making?”
“What do you think we’re making?” Jen asked, bewildered.
Harry grinned. “I can never remember what it’s called – something French. It’s slices of potatoes layered with cream and cheese, it’s really good.”
“Yes, we are.” Jen told him. “Molly, are those potatoes par-boiled?”
Molly followed her gaze to the saucepan. “Yes, but I was just going to put them out with the stew …”
“Trust me.” Jen said cheerfully. “This works too.”
Harry peeked into the cauldron as he passed it. “Will we have time?”
“Magic, Harry.” Jen said cheerfully.
“Magic speeds everything up, Harry.” Jen pointed out, whisking the cream in with some garlic. “Slice those potatoes for me please.”
If there was anything Jen and Sirius had in common, it was the ability to absorb themselves in a task, looking as if they weren’t paying attention to anything, but all the while observing and taking in every little detail about everything and everyone around them …
Addie rolled her eyes. “Bloody irritating, that.”
… and Jen used this to her advantage now.
At some point, if she was going to come up against Dumbledore, she would need allies, and Sirius and Remus, as much as she loved them, wouldn’t be enough.
“Thanks.” The two boys droned.
“Well, you won’t be.” Jen pointed out reasonably.
“What are we?” Arabella asked. “Chopped liver?”
“You won’t be either.” Jen added, smiling.
Mundungus, obviously, was a lost cause – even without the Dementor incident, he was too unreliable.
“Thank you, Captain Obvious.” Lily muttered.
Dora would listen, and Jen knew that Andie would have taught her the Occlumency skills to keep it secret.
Molly and Arthur, Jen would have to reserve judgement on.
“Dad’ll be fine.” Fred said with certainty. “It’s Mum you’re going to have trouble with.”
She would teach the Occlumency and start dropping hints, but she was a little worried that Molly would refuse, just because Jen’s approach would mean warning Harry he was in danger and teaching him to defend himself, which, she had a feeling, would clash with Molly’s approach, given Sirius’s earlier comment and Remus’s explanation.
“Why doesn’t Molly want my son to defend himself?!” Lily demanded.
Fred sighed. “It’s not that Mum doesn’t want that, it’s …”
“Mum thinks that if we’re not told anything, we won’t get involved with the war.” Ginny explained tiredly. “Like Voldemort’s going to breeze right past us.”
Bill, on the other hand, seemed weary of his mother’s constant chastising …
Fred snorted. “Boy, is he ever.”
… and she knew he would have to have decent Occlumency skills – it was a requirement to work as a curse-breaker, at least it had been when she was in fifth year.
“Still is.” Fred confirmed.
And Fred and George, for all their joking around, reminded her too much of James and Sirius for her to brush them off as immature pranksters.
Fred opened his mouth and paused. “Is that a compliment or not?”
Jen sniggered. “Compliment.”
“Fred, George, NO, JUST CARRY THEM!”
Jen spun around, just in time to see Sirius and Mundungus dive away from the table; the twins had bewitched the cauldron of stew, a flagon of butterbeer, and a heavy wooden breadboard – complete with knife – to hurtle towards them.
David sighed. “Maybe just be a little more careful with how you use magic.”
“We would have had it all under control.” Fred insisted. “We’re not stupid.”
Alright, so maybe they are a little immature, but they’re more than that. And that did not help.
Startled by their mother’s shout, the twins lost control of the spell. The stew skidded the length of the table, leaving a burn-mark behind it; the butterbeer fell with a crash, spilling everywhere; and the bread-knife fell from the board and landed, point down, exactly where Sirius’s right hand had been seconds before.
Sirius winced. “Lucky me.”
Jen grimaced and turned back to the dish she was heating with her wand, Harry watching her, fascinated. The cheese had just started to bubble and brown, so she cut the heat quickly.
“FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE!” Molly stormed at the twins. “THERE WAS NO NEED – I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS! JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE ALLOWED TO DO MAGIC NOW, YOU DON’T HAVE TO WHIP YOUR WANDS OUT FOR EVERY LITTLE TINY THING!”
James frowned. “Carrying heavy stuff is hardly a tiny little thing. It’s not like they were levitating a couple of mugs.”
Bloody hell, she’s louder than Mother.
Jen grimaced in horror. “Seriously?”
Sirius sighed. “Yep.”
Just let her run herself down. Remus advised; even with her back turned, she could sense him wincing at the volume.
“We were just trying to save time!” Fred protested, hurrying forward to wrench the bread knife out of the table. “Sorry, Sirius, mate – didn’t mean to …”
“’S’alright.” Sirius grinned, hoisting himself to his feet. “I’m left-handed.”
James sniggered. “There’s that, I suppose.”
“Boys,” Arthur said, lifting the stew back to the middle of the table. “Your mother’s right. You’re supposed to show a sense of responsibility now you’ve come of age.”
Wait … aren’t the twins seventeen?
Oh, of course; you weren’t around for the law change, were you? They changed the legal age from eighteen to seventeen in the early eighties – can’t remember what year it was.
Well, it’s about time.
“None of your brothers caused this much trouble!” Molly ranted, slamming another flagon of butterbeer on to the table, and spilling nearly as much herself.
“Alright, she needs to stop doing that!” Lily snapped. “I bet they were just as bad.”
“I highly doubt that.” Jen interrupted, flicking her own wand to send the dish in front of her over to the table, a mat sliding neatly beneath it.
Remus chuckled. “You could have carried that.”
Jen shrugged, smirking. “It proved my point.”
“Everyone uses magic for everything as soon as they’re allowed. Remember James?” She asked Sirius and Remus.
James groaned. “Oh no …”
“You’ll come of age at Hogwarts.” Lily giggled. “It can’t have been that bad.”
As the two men laughed, Bill raised an eyebrow. “I seem to remember James Potter’s coming-of-age party when I was a second year – wasn’t it in March?”
“That was a good night.” Addie remembered wistfully.
“We were there for it?” Addie asked.
Sirius nodded. “James knew several people were going home for the holidays, so we celebrated early. After that, he celebrated later in the year, given that the 27th … had bad memories.”
“Yeah – don’t know why he was so excited, since he could do magic at Hogwarts anyway.” Sirius grinned. “But he decided to Summon his glasses that morning.”
“Except he couldn’t see to catch them,” Remus smirked, “and they poked him in the eye.”
Everyone laughed as James went bright red.
“Could be worse.” Addie said consolingly. “This one tried to do his fly up.” She added, smirking at Sirius.
“You weren’t even there!” Sirius protested, as the laughter escalated. “How the hell did you know that?”
Addie laughed, shaking her head. “That would have been the perfect excuse to tell them I was wrong rather than confirming it. James told me.”
“Of course he did.” Sirius muttered.
There was a round of laughter, as Molly, looking highly disapproving, reached for Harry’s plate.
Jen beat her to it, ladling him some of the stew and a little more of the potato dish (since she knew it was one of his favourites). “Is that enough, sweetheart?”
“Of course it’s not!” Molly protested.
Jen raised an eyebrow. “I don’t think I was talking to her.”
“Look at him; he looks half-starved.”
Jen kept looking at Harry, who took the plate with a nod and a ‘thanks’. “He is half-starved, Molly, which means his stomach is smaller than it should be, which means you can’t just shove food down his throat until he’s ‘fattened up’, because if you do, it will make him throw up.”
“Thank you.” Lily muttered.
Molly looked indignant. “It’s what I’ve done every summer and there’s never been a problem …”
“Actually there has.” Fred interrupted. “He’s just too polite to tell you.”
Sirius sighed. “Harry, in future, tell someone if you’re sick.”
Molly looked at Harry, who had turned red. “Oh, I’m so sorry, Harry, dear. I thought I was helping.”
“I know, Mrs Weasley.” Harry said, his blush fading ever so slightly. “That’s why I didn’t say anything – I really do appreciate it.”
“Ever the peace-maker.” Hermione said affectionately.
Molly smiled weakly and patted Harry’s cheek, before taking a seat between Bill and Arthur.
“Let’s eat.” Bill suggested quietly.
She can’t be blamed for something she wasn’t aware of. Remus pointed out gently. Simmer down, Selena. He’s fine.
Jen took a deep, calming breath, telling the wolf within her that her cub was safe and that Molly wasn’t really a threat to him, just misguided.
Jen pulled a face. “That’ll be fun to keep under control. She hasn’t been out for a long time.”
“I only know that because Lily was a Healer.”
Molly seemed to hear the unspoken olive branch, because she smiled across the table at her.
“Didn’t you say Mum was an Unspeakable, Mr Weasley?” Harry asked.
“I thought she was.” Arthur admitted. “I ran into her at the Ministry once – she said she was going to the Department of Mysteries. There’s no other reason she’d be going there.”
“I think she did have an interview there.” Jen remarked. “But she decided against it.”
Lily smiled. “I know we figured that out, but it’s nice to have it confirmed.”
“Why?” Hermione asked curiously.
“Well, first of all, Lily had her heart set on being a Healer.” Jen said with a smile. “Secondly, to be an Unspeakable, you have to swear utter secrecy – not even your family could know what you were working on. Lily wouldn’t have lied to James like that.”
Hermione nodded, and the table lapsed into quiet for a few minutes.
“This potato is delicious, Jennifer.” Molly remarked after a while. “You must give me the recipe.”
Lily smiled. “Good, hopefully things will stay peaceful for a while.”
“They won’t.” Addie predicted, not sounding too worried.
“Of course.” Jen said with a smile, accepting the returned branch. “I picked it up in the Muggle world.” She glanced along the table, counting Weasleys, frowned, and opened her mouth, but Remus’s voice in her mind stopped her.
Don’t what? I was only wondering where the others were. Molly and Arthur had seven, didn’t they? I count five.
Jen grimaced. “Good job you stopped me.”
Charlie’s in Romania; he’s a dragon-handler, although I’m sure Harry told you that.
He did. He also said that Charlie had come back for the Tournament.
He’s recruiting foreign wizards, or trying to. Bit like Mandy and Arabella. Mandy’s the Head of Magical Games and Sports now.
I heard. Jen hid a smile. She deserves it.
Mandy beamed, but it faded a little in the next second. “How long do you think it’ll be until we find out about Jen?”
“Hopefully not too long.” Jen assured her. “But I should think it’ll be difficult for us to get hold of you.”
I guess she’s preparing for the European Quidditch Cup, right? Must be next year if the World Cup was last.
It is, in Germany.
Wait, that only explains one. What about the other boy? Percy?
Percy is, shall we say, in agreement with the Ministry. Apparently, there was a huge row and he stormed out. It’s not a good idea to mention his name in front of Molly – she’s gone to try to talk to him several times, but he just slams the door in her face.
Lily shook her head. “Poor woman.”
Good Lord …
“Oh, I’ve been meaning to tell you, Sirius,” Molly said, oblivious, “there’s something trapped in that writing desk in the drawing room; it keeps rattling and shaking.
“Boggart.” Remus and Jen said in unison.
Of course, it could just be a Boggart, but I thought we ought to ask Alastor to have a look at it before we let it out.”
“Probably a good idea.” Jen conceded.
James frowned. “Does that mean Moody knows what a Boggart really looks like, or does he just see what scares him the most?”
“The first one I should think.” David answered.
“Whatever you like.” Sirius said flatly.
“And those curtains are infested with doxys.” Molly added. “I thought we might try to tackle them tomorrow.”
“I look forward to it.” Sirius said, only just hiding his sarcasm.
Addie rolled her eyes. “I know you don’t agree with her, but you could at least not bait her.”
Jen kicked him under the table and gave him a warning look. “Play nice.” She muttered.
“Hypocrite.” Sirius muttered back.
“Future-me has a point.” Sirius said defiantly.
“He does.” Addie conceded. “But Jen is not intentionally baiting her. She’s just getting irritated.”
“Well, either way,” Regulus said, “that’s the end of the chapter.”
Chapter 5: Chapter Five - Disagreements and Discussions
“Here.” Lily said, reaching for the book. “I’ll take it.”
Disagreements and Discussions
“Uh oh.” James murmured.
“A galleon says the disagreement is between Mum and Jen.” Fred said. “Or Sirius.”
“Fool’s bet.” Ginny said dismissively. “I’m more interested in who’s going to win.”
“Jen.” Fred and Harry said in unison.
After dinner, Molly brought out a delicious rhubarb crumble and, by the time, that had disappeared, everyone was feeling very relaxed.
Fred snorted. “Bet that won’t last long.”
There was a warm, comfortable feeling emanating through the kitchen, despite the still dark and dismal atmosphere, and Jen could almost forget that she was in a house she hated.
“Almost.” Jen repeated. “I don’t think I could ever just forget.”
“Nearly time for bed, I think.” Molly remarked, yawning.
“Not just yet, Molly.” Sirius said, turning to Harry. “You know, I’m surprised at you. I thought the first thing you’d do when you got here would be to start asking questions about Voldemort.”
Jen groaned. “Sirius! You know Molly won’t agree – why not wait until she’s not in the room?!”
“Because I have back-up now.” Sirius said with a wicked grin. “And Molly needs to realise that she has no say over Harry’s life.”
The relaxed atmosphere evaporated so fast that Jen almost thought a Dementor had entered the room. So that’s what Azkaban took. Any sense of tact. Or subtlety.
Addie rolled her eyes. “He’s never had either of those things.”
You’re assuming he had any to start with. Remus gave her a slight smile. You’re projecting again, love.
Jen grimaced. “Do I always do that?”
Sirius shrugged. “No idea. I don’t think so. I should think you’re just out of practice.”
Sorry . Jen responded absently. But I would not have had this conversation here.
Too late. Remus sighed mentally. We’re having it.
“I did!” Harry protested. “I asked Ron and Hermione, but they said we’re not allowed in the Order, so …”
“And they’re quite right.” Molly interrupted sharply. “You’re too young.”
Sirius rolled his eyes. “I’m not suggesting he join the Order. But he needs to be somewhat prepared.”
Jen sighed. She hadn’t been planning on having this discussion in front of Molly, but clearly Sirius had decided to, so it was her prerogative to back him up. “You don’t have to be in the Order to ask questions.” She said fairly. “Harry’s been trapped in that house for over a month. He has the right to know …”
James and Lily were nodding in agreement.
The twins erupted into protests, and Ron and Ginny looked set to join in – Jen could sympathise with them; the twins were of age, after all.
“You’re not our responsibility though.” Sirius said apologetically. “It would be hypocritical of us to complain that Molly isn’t Harry’s legal guardian, so has no say over what he is or isn’t told, and then tell you everything against her wishes.”
“But she’s not mine and Fred’s legal guardian.” Fred pointed out fairly. “We’re adults.”
“But you’re still in school.” Addie said gently. “Until you graduate, you’re her responsibility.”
“It’s not my fault you haven’t been told what the Order’s doing.” Sirius said calmly, once the initial outburst had died down. “That’s your parents’ decision. Harry, on the other hand …”
“It’s not down to you to decide what’s good for Harry!” Molly snapped.
“Yes, it is!” Lily protested. “He’s Harry’s godfather!”
Jen raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”
Molly ignored her. “You haven’t forgotten what Dumbledore said, I suppose?”
“Albus Dumbledore has nothing to do with it!” James protested.
“Which bit?” Sirius asked politely.
James winced. “Someone’s spoiling for a fight.”
Uh oh. When Sirius gets polite … It wasn’t easy to wince mentally without betraying it outwardly, but Remus managed it. Think we should step in?
After that? Jen asked acidly.
“Easy, Selena.” Lily said gently. “You’ll do more good if you’re calm.”
“Like you could manage it.” Jen muttered.
“The bit about not telling Harry more than he needs to know.” Molly said intensely.
And how much is that?
No idea. Dumbledore won’t elaborate.
Meaning Molly’s translated it as ‘nothing’.
“Oh for heaven’s sake …” James muttered in frustration.
“I don’t intend on telling him more than he ‘needs to know’, Molly.” Sirius said patiently. “But as he was the one who saw Voldemort return, he has more right than most to …”
“Hell, yeah, he does.” Sirius agreed.
Addie sighed. “Hon, you do know you’re agreeing with yourself, right?”
“He’s not a member of the Order of the Phoenix!” Molly interrupted, her voice rising. “He’s only fifteen and …”
“And he’s dealt with as much, if not more, than most people in the Order.” Sirius finished.
“He has.” David agreed.
“What do you think about all this, Dad?” James asked.
David sighed, frowning heavily. “Honestly, James, I’m not sure. On the one hand, Dumbledore has proven himself to be manipulative and dishonest at times. On the other hand, he may have a very good reason for keeping information from Harry.”
“I think it’s the latter.” Addie said. “And I think that Harry needs to learn Occlumency, before anyone tells him anything Voldemort doesn’t already know.”
“Why?” Harry asked worriedly.
Addie sighed. “Well, sweetheart, you’ve seen what Voldemort’s doing in your dreams twice already. If you can see what he’s doing, there’s no reason why he can’t see what you’re doing, which may well be what Dumbledore’s worried about.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Jen saw Fred and George seemingly taking scores, and fought back a grin. She could remember James and Sirius doing that when McGonagall argued with some of the more stubborn members of the Order back in the first war.
Sirius chuckled. “That was always fun. Although Minnie was always right.”
She caught Hermione’s eye and signed something across the table, hoping that the girl knew enough Marauder sign language to understand the question. James and Lily?
Hermione smiled weakly and signed something back. Here. And in complete agreement with you and Sirius.
“Good.” Lily said. “We haven’t completely lost the plot.”
“No one’s denying what he’s done!” Molly said. “But he’s still …”
“He’s not a child!” Sirius said impatiently.
“He’s not an adult either!” Molly snapped. “He’s not James, Sirius!”
“How dare she?!” James hissed. “For Merlin’s sake, does she think Sirius is a complete idiot?”
“Yes.” Sirius answered, beckoning Harry closer and slinging an arm around his shoulders. “I know perfectly well who you are, Harry.”
Jen and Remus both inhaled sharply at the same time. That’s it …
Wait … Remus urged her. You talk to her now, you’ll rip her throat out. You haven’t listened to Selena in too long.
“Calmness is probably for the best, Jenny.” Regulus said soothingly.
Jen grimaced, knowing he was right.
“Why is … Selena acting like that?” Narcissa asked curiously.
“Wolves are pack animals.” Jen answered. “Cub of one is cub of all. Selena will consider Harry her child as much as James and Lily’s – and I’m sure I do too,” she added, smiling at the boy in question. “Also, the idea of insults is a foreign one to wolves, they perceive them as threats. So she’ll consider Molly a threat, not just to her cub, but to another pack member.”
He was right – it was the second time in as many hours that she’d needed to drag her Animagus side back.
“I’m perfectly clear who he is, thanks, Molly.” Sirius said, his voice so cold that it could have frozen hell.
Addie grimaced. “Oh dear.”
“I’m not sure you are.” Molly said. “Sometimes, the way you talk about him, it’s as though you think you’ve got your best friend back!”
Sirius rolled his eyes. “Oh good Merlin …”
Jen raised an eyebrow at Remus, who shook his head.
All he’s said is how he can’t wait to see Harry again, get a chance to really tell him stories about his parents, and learn more about him. We did have a discussion the other day about whether he’s more like James or Lily, but then we also dissected each of the Weasley kids as well and decided whether they were more like Arthur or Molly.
“I think you’re all more like your dad.” Sirius said, when Fred and Ginny turned to him. “Although Fred and George do have Prewett genes in you – you’re so much like your uncles.”
“What’s wrong with that?” Harry asked.
“What’s wrong, Harry, is that you are not your father, however much you might look like him.” Molly said heatedly. “You are still at school, and adults responsible for you should not forget it!”
Addie sucked in a breath. “She’s very good at hiding insults, isn’t she? That sounds like a perfectly reasonable statement, but …”
“Meaning I’m an irresponsible godfather?!” Sirius demanded. It was only now that his voice rose to match hers.
“Meaning you have been known to act rashly, Sirius, which is why Dumbledore keeps reminding you to stay home and …”
Act rashly?! Jen demanded, as Sirius told Molly to keep Dumbledore’s instructions to him out of the equation. At what … When?
James raised an eyebrow. “Reckless is practically Sirius’s middle name.”
Addie shook her head. “Maybe now, but not with Hermione and Harry to consider.”
“You don’t know that.” Sirius muttered.
“I know you.” Addie refuted.
I think Molly’s talking about going after Peter. Remus told her tiredly.
That’s one instance. Sirius wouldn’t do anything reckless, not while he’s got Harry and Hermione to think about.
Molly had rounded on her husband, demanding he back her up, but he didn’t look at all inclined to do so. Neither did anyone else.
“It might be a good idea, Molly.” Remus said gently, “that Harry gets the facts – not all the facts, but the general picture – from someone who knows, rather than a garbled version from … others.”
“Ever the diplomat.” Jen said fondly.
What’s that supposed to mean? Jen asked, as Molly seemed to concede.
Fred and George have a joke-shop planned, did Harry tell you?
He did. Also said he invested his winnings.
Ah … Remus glanced at Harry, who looked about ready to vanish under the table. That explains a lot. Anyway, they’ve created Extendable Ears – eavesdropping tools. That’s why Ginny was testing for the Imperturbable Charm. Molly found out a week or so ago and burned all the ones she could find, but I’m fairly sure they’ve still got some left. They weren’t nearly upset enough.
Fred scowled at the reminder. “You’d better believe we’ll have some left.”
That confused Jen immensely, but at that moment, Sirius interrupted Molly’s speech, as she started to go on about how she had Harry’s best interests at heart.
“Oh, and we don’t?” Jen asked icily.
“He’s not your son.” He said softly.
“He’s as good as!” Molly said fiercely. “Who else has he got?!”
“Sirius.” Lily answered. “Jen. Remus. Mandy. Arabella. He’s hardly alone in the world.”
What am I, chopped liver?
“He’s got me!” Sirius reminded her.
“Yes.” Molly agreed acidly. “The thing is, it’s been rather difficult for you to look after him while you’ve been locked up in Azkaban, hasn’t it?”
Addie almost shot to her feet, but Sirius tightened his arm around her waist, keeping her pinned to his side. “Easy, Shadow. She’s not here.”
“How dare she?!” Addie practically snarled, although allowed Sirius to restrain her. “Like you did that on purpose …”
“Ssh …” Sirius soothed, kissing her forehead. “I know.”
Jen shot to her feet. “Alright, that’s quite enough!
Fred smirked, although he was pale from his mother’s words. “Here we go.”
Sirius, sit down!”
Sirius sank slowly back into his chair, his face as white as chalk.
“Remus, would you take Harry up to the drawing room please, and put up an Imperturbable Charm on the door?” She requested, mentally asking him to leave the charm off. As she did so, she gave the tiniest wink to Fred and George.
Fred beamed. “I love you.”
“Angelina will be so disappointed.” Jen said flatly.
“The rest of you kids, upstairs to bed please; it’s late. Molly, come with me.”
Against her protests, she took Molly firmly by the arm and led her to the other end of the kitchen, putting up a Silencing Charm.
“I’m sorry.” Molly said, before she could speak. “I shouldn’t have said that; I crossed the line.”
“Damn right you did.” Addie muttered furiously.
Jen narrowed her eyes. “It’s not me you need to apologise to. And you’re so far past the line you can’t even see it, Molly – there is one very important thing you need to remember. James and Lily named Sirius Harry’s godfather, and they named me his godmother. Therefore, there are only two people who have the right to ‘decide what is right for Harry’.”
Lily nodded fervently. “Exactly!”
Molly flinched slightly at her own words being flung back in her face.
“It is not you.” Jen concluded. “Or Dumbledore. Tomorrow, I will contact him and I will find out what his reasoning is.
David relaxed. “Good girl.”
If he refuses to provide any, or I am not satisfied with it, I will tell Harry everything, Molly, because Sirius is right – he’s not a child. His childhood ended the night James and Lily were attacked.”
“But he’s only fifteen!” Molly whimpered.
“Yeah, because the age argument worked so well when he was a baby.” Draco muttered, rolling his eyes.
“Do you think Voldemort cares about that?” Jen asked rhetorically. “He was only fourteen in June, and yet Voldemort was perfectly willing to torture and attempt to kill him.” The words stuck in her throat and her voice shook, as she realised what spells Voldemort must have used. She had experienced one of them herself …
Regulus sucked in a breath, wincing. He’d realised, of course, that his siblings being aurors meant that they would get hurt, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t hope they’d escaped the worst.
… and had hoped with all her heart that Harry never would. “I am not losing him because he wasn’t prepared, Molly; I just can’t. I’d never forgive myself.”
“And another thing,” she interrupted, “you understand the concept of Animagi, right?”
Molly looked almost insulted. “Of course.”
“Good.” Jen smiled. “Then you’ll know that when you become an Animagus, part of your mind becomes that animal. Sirius and I are both canine. Pack animals. Pack mentality says that cub of one is cub of all.”
“Meaning?” Molly asked politely.
“Meaning first of all that Harry is, as far as Padfoot’s concerned, Sirius’s son as much as he is James and Lily’s.” Jen told her. “Telling Sirius that he can’t distinguish between Harry and James is like telling you that you can’t distinguish between Fred and George, and Fabian and Gideon. I’m sure you’ve compared the two.”
“That too.” Jen agreed. “And that’s a good analogy.”
Molly blushed slightly. “Well, yes, but …”
“The same goes for me as well.” Jen said, cutting her off. “Harry is, in all but name and blood, my son, Molly, and Selena agrees with me, which brings me to my second point – it is never a good idea to get between a cub and his pack.”
She kept her tone purposely light, because she genuinely wasn’t trying to threaten Molly, just give her a friendly warning.
“But that could all change very quickly.” Sirius put in.
“I appreciate that you care for Harry.” Jen said softly, when Molly didn’t respond. “And I appreciate everything you’ve done for him. But we’re here now. We are his legal guardians, so let us do our job.”
Lily sighed. “I wonder if Molly would be as stubborn if James and I had come back.”
“Probably.” Fred admitted. “Just not to your faces.”
With a wave of her hand, she removed the Silencing Charm, and walked away, noticing that Arthur was the only person left in the kitchen.
“I apologised to Sirius on her behalf.” He said quietly. “I’ll make sure she does the same tomorrow morning.”
Jen smiled. She liked Arthur, although her affection for Molly was beginning to diminish slightly.
“Thank you.” Jen said. “Could you also convince her to listen to what I just said and accept it? I don’t expect her to like it.”
“I will.” Arthur assured her. “She means well, Jen.”
“I know.” Jen said softly, climbing the stairs up to the hallway, glimpsing a flesh-coloured piece of string dangling from the landing. She smirked and decided not to mention it.
“Honestly, Harry,” Fred sighed, “you get all the cool parents.”
Harry grinned. “I do, don’t I? Better late than never, I guess.
Harry was sitting in the drawing room alone, and she took a moment to remind herself how much she hated those walls.
Jen grimaced. “Oh, it’s all coming back to me.”
“They’re the olive green ones, right?” Lily asked, receiving a nod.
“Remus went to talk to Sirius.” He told her when she’d closed the door. “Er … something about ‘defusing the situation’?”
Jen chuckled. “Well, if anyone can do it, he can.”
“You have too much faith in me.” Remus told her dryly.
Your faith in me is astounding … and a little disconcerting.
Just tell me he’s not going to blow anything up.
He’s not going to blow anything up.
Jen groaned over the laughter. “Is that because he’s not, or because I told you to tell me he wasn’t?”
“I don’t know.” Remus answered. “I’ll peer into the future and see.”
Thank you. Deciding to deal with whatever word games he might be playing later, Jen focused all her attention on Harry. “Okay, Harry, if I’m honest, I wouldn’t have dealt with all this tonight, in front of everyone, but there is something you need to remember. It is not up to Dumbledore or Molly Weasley what you are told or what you do, alright? It is for Sirius and I to deal with and, while we’re on the subject, we both know the difference between you and your father.
“Good to know.” James said, smirking.
You’re shorter for a start.”
Harry laughed, knowing full well she was joking. “Well, that’s good. It’d be kind of weird if you couldn’t.” He fixed her with a hopeful look. “You’re going to tell me everything, right?”
Jen laughed. “You’re assuming I know everything.”
Jen grimaced. “Not right now, Harry, no.” She held up a hand to forestall his protest. “First of all, I don’t know everything myself. Second of all, for all I know, Dumbledore has a good reason for not telling you everything. Tomorrow, I will speak to him, and if I don’t feel that it’s a good reason, I will tell you everything. Alright?”
“That sounds fair.” Harry said. “As long as …” He was cut off by ‘Meredith’ continuing.
“What if you do?” Harry asked.
“I’ll tell you what the reason is so you understand.” Jen assured him. “I won’t just leave you in the dark, Harry; that’s not fair.
Harry nodded, his query answered.
Now,” she pulled him into a hug, “try to get some sleep. Come and find me if you have another nightmare.”
Harry nodded into her shoulder. “Jen,” he said slowly, “there is another dream I keep having. I keep dreaming about a long corridor and a locked door.”
Lily frowned. “What would that be?”
“I’d need a better description to take a guess.” David frowned.
Jen felt a thrill of foreboding run through her, and she felt the presence at the back of her mind grow a little larger, signalling that Remus had started listening in. “Can you describe it for me, sweetheart?”
Harry frowned. “There’s not much to say. It’s pretty dark; there aren’t any windows or any other doors. The door’s right at the end of the corridor and it’s plain black – it doesn’t even seem to have a handle. But I think it’s locked … at least, I always wake up before I get there.”
“Department of Mysteries.” David concluded. “Level Nine, on the way down to the courtrooms. Although why Harry would be dreaming …”
“It’s started.” Addie interrupted. “Harry’s not – Voldemort is.”
Jen thought for a second. Remus?
That’s not good, Jen. Remus said tiredly. Look.
An image popped up in her mind, unbidden, of a corridor exactly as Harry had just described, and now Jen recognised it.
“Good.” David muttered.
That’s the door to the Department of Mysteries. And Harry’s dreaming about it.
“Jen?” Harry asked. “What does it mean?”
Jen hesitated, then smiled. “Probably nothing, Harry.
Jen snorted. “Sorry, Harry.”
“Well, you don’t know yourself yet.” Harry said fairly. “I’m sure you will tell me, when you know.”
Just … if that door ever does open, tell me immediately, alright?”
Harry nodded, and she kissed his forehead.
“Alright then. Bed, cub. Go on.”
“Cub?” Harry and Jen asked.
Sirius smiled softly. “I’d forgotten that. That’s what Remus and Jen used to call you.”
Harry stood up. “Cub?”
Jen’s smile became stronger. “That’s what Remus and I used to call you.”
Sirius gave a sheepish shrug.
Harry looked as though he wanted to ask something, but clearly the lure of sleep was too tempting, so he nodded. “Alright. Goodnight.” He crossed the room and opened the door. “Oh, Jen? Remus never put any charm up. And you didn’t either.”
Jen smirked, then frowned. “What was the point in that if I wasn’t going to tell him anything?”
Remus shrugged. “Probably so the twins understood that Harry didn’t know anything and didn’t badger him.”
Jen raised her eyebrows. “Oh dear. What an oversight. Goodnight, Harry.” She received an understanding smile and a wave, and then he was gone.
For a while, Jen just sat there, staring into the fire, her mind mulling everything over.
“Don’t mull.” Sirius warned. “Not in that house. It’s a bad idea.”
Eventually, she decided that she would drive herself mad like that, and made her way upstairs, extinguishing the fire with a flick of her wand.
She headed straight for the top floor, bypassing her old room in favour of Sirius’s, where Remus was leaning against the wall, and her brother was pacing up and down.
“Oh dear, he’s pacing.” Fred said in a low voice. “That’s never a good sign.”
“Did you tell him?” Sirius demanded.
“Tell him what exactly?” Jen asked coolly. “The mountains of information I don’t know? The fact that the Order is doing absolutely nothing? The fact that the Daily Prophet is regularly slandering Harry’s name and no one – no one has gone to remind them that he is underage and the heir to an Ancient and Noble family?! If James and Lily were here, they’d never get away with it!”
“Damn right they wouldn’t!” James snapped. “They wouldn’t even be attempting it!”
“Then go to the Daily Prophet tomorrow and give them a piece of your mind.” Sirius suggested.
“Oh, don’t worry.” Jen said darkly. “I will.”
“I can’t exactly walk in there, and they’re hardly Moony’s biggest fans.”
Remus turned white. “Oh Merlin … they know …”
“It’s not too bad.” Hermione assured him quickly. “They were all too concerned with Sirius’s escape at the time, and then other things happened, so it wasn’t plastered over the papers or anything, especially since you’d resigned and all. But they’re aware.”
At that, Jen turned to Remus, who sighed.
“I’m sure Harry told you about his third year.” He said dully. “Snape accidentally let slip to the students about my furry little problem. It wasn’t exactly plastered all over the papers, but they know.”
Jen stared at him. “That bastard.”
“I was thinking something worse than that.” Jen grumbled.
“We’ve always known that.” Sirius said lightly. “Enough about Snape, Jen; just thinking about him turns my stomach.
James sniggered. “Nice one, mate.”
Why didn’t you tell Harry?”
“Well, first of all, Molly has a point – Dumbledore has a reason for why he doesn’t want Harry to know things.” Jen said, perching on the edge of the bed. “I’ll talk to him tomorrow and decide whether I think it’s a good reason. However, that brings me to my second point – I think I know what it is.”
“Thank Merlin.” Addie murmured.
“Harry’s dreaming about the Department of Mysteries.” Remus told Sirius.
Sirius looked bewildered. “But … how?”
“I don’t know.” Jen admitted. “But combine that with the dreams he had last year and it sounds like he could well have some form of connection with Voldemort.
Regulus smiled proudly. “Good girl.”
If I’m right, there’s every chance that Voldemort could use that connection to see what Harry’s seeing or thinking as well.”
Sirius shuddered. “Well, we don’t want that.”
“Definitely not.” Arabella agreed.
“No, we do not.” Jen agreed. “We’ll need to teach him Occlumency.”
“You’re better off waiting until after the trial.” Sirius advised. “He won’t have as much on his mind then. Now tell me honestly, Jen … you do have some idea who cursed you. Don’t you?”
Jen sighed. “You said it yourself, Sirius. There aren’t many people who are more powerful than me. Whoever it was … I turned my back on them. They were on our side.”
Addie sighed. “It sounds like Jen’s come to the same conclusion I have.”
“But …” Sirius stared at her. “Why? And who?!”
“And then there’s this.” Jen said, ignoring his queries. She pulled both prophecies from her pocket and handed them to her brother. Did Hermione say who made the second prophecy?
Not tonight, but I think she’s mentioned it before. His mind nudged against hers, opening the link slightly, and a memory floated into her mind.
“That’s useful.” Jen commented. “So we can see each other’s memories, hear each other’s thoughts, read each other’s feelings …”
“See out of each other’s eyes.” Sirius added. “Share magic. There are probably other things as well, but I don’t know them.”
She closed her eyes, listening carefully, as Hermione explained her meeting with the founders and subsequent discoveries.
Well … She said once it had finished. That’ll throw a spanner in the works! Can you imagine the looks on those Death Eaters’ faces if we told them that the ‘noble work of Salazar Slytherin’ didn’t involve hating Muggles or Muggle-borns at all?
Jen laughed. “Oh, we have to make that public when the war’s over!”
Remus laughed aloud. “I hadn’t thought of that.”
“The hell you hadn’t.” Jen muttered, grinning at him.
Sirius looked up from the words he was perusing. “Oh sweet Merlin, you’re at it again.
“Told you so.” Sirius smirked.
“And it’s just as annoying.” Addie finished.
I take it the bond’s still there then.”
“If it wasn’t, we’d be dead.” Jen said flatly.
Regulus shook his head, resisting the urge to pull his sister into his arms.
“But he’s got a point,” she said, turning to Remus with a frown, “you should have been able to find me.”
“Believe me, I tried.” Remus sighed. “Someone …”
“Someone must have interfered with it.” Jen finished, shuddering. The very idea made her feel violated in the worst way.
Jen grimaced, remembering Addie’s earlier description.
“Jen,” Sirius said, cutting through her thoughts, “am I reading these right?”
“If you’re questioning it,” Jen grimaced, “probably.”
“But it’s Dumbledore.” Sirius protested. “If we can’t trust him, who can we trust?”
“Dumbledore is not the be all and end all.” David told them all. “It just seems that way. And from what we’re reading, I wouldn’t be inclined to put all my faith in him.”
“Me.” Jen reminded him. “And Harry.
Harry winced. “Slow down. I’m not a figurehead.”
“But you are.” Hermione said gently. “Not because you’re the ‘Boy-Who-Lived’, but because you would never stand down and let Voldemort win.”
“That’s my godson.” Jen said cheerfully, beating Lily to it.
I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
Sirius nodded reluctantly. “Me too.”
“Not a word.” Jen warned him.
Sirius held up a hand as he returned the prophecies to her. “Marauders’ Oath. I do so solemnly swear.”
Lily giggled. “I love how we all take that as a legitimate magical oath.”
“That’s because it is.” James told her seriously. “It’s an oath sworn on the bonds of brotherhood …”
“And sisterhood!” Jen interrupted.
“And sisterhood.” James agreed. “It’s sacred. For us, at least.”
Jen smiled as she set fire to the parchment and paper with her wand, watching it burn to ash. “That’ll do.” She yawned. “Now if you’ll excuse me, gentlemen; it’s been a long day.”
We need to talk. She said privately, as both men bid her goodnight.
“Great.” Sirius sighed. “I’ll never be able to keep an eye on them.”
“Good.” Jen smirked, leaning against Remus. “We could do with some privacy every now and then.”
She made her way down the hall to her old room, and stood in the dark for a moment, unwilling to light the lamps.
But the darkness had never made her family home any easier to deal with, so she flicked her wand and grimaced as the décor was illuminated.
Unlike her brother, Jen had never gone out of her way to annoy their parents – of course, a lot of what he did was to draw their attention away from her and on to him, however much she protested.
Addie made a soft noise of concern in her throat and Sirius kissed her forehead. “I was fine.”
With another wave of her wand and a muttered incantation, the green had turned to scarlet, and the silver to gold. It didn’t improve the room much …
“No, it doesn’t.” Sirius said glumly.
… but at least it looked less gloomy.
Throwing herself on to the sofa in the corner of the room, Jen closed her eyes, and mentally returned to the back of her mind where the manifestation of the soul bond resided.
It took, as it always had since the bond had formed in seventh year, the form of a door, with a small window at the top.
Jen raised an eyebrow. “Huh. That’s less impressive than I was expecting.”
Opening the door fully would allow their minds to merge as one, but that could get a little distracting, not to mention it meant they had no privacy whatsoever, so they tended to keep it closed most of the time.
The window, however, was almost always open, allowing them to control what passed through to the other person. They could close the window, temporarily shutting off the bond, and indeed they had, whenever one of them was on a mission for the Order, partly so they weren’t distracted, and partly so …
Well, there was a downside to sharing each other’s pain.
Both shuddered, inching closer to the other.
“Incredible.” David murmured, listening intently.
The longer the window was closed, the harder it was to open again, and the more tenuous the link had become. The more tenuous the link, the more dangerous it was.
“What?” Jen asked, looking at Sirius, but he looked just as troubled.
“You never told me anything like that.”
The very first extended auror mission Jen had ever taken had given them their limit – Jen had only just managed to return home, plagued by an illness that had only stopped short of becoming crippling because she had the presence of mind to force the window open and use the link to apparate home.
“Holy crap.” Regulus muttered.
“I remember that.” Sirius whispered. “I thought she’d just got sick or something … They never told us that.”
“Wait, I used the link to apparate?” Jen asked. “How does that work?”
“I’m not entirely sure.” Sirius admitted. “It’s … Normally, you apparate to coordinates, you basically throw yourself at something. What they can do is use the link to pull them to the other person, or to pull the other person to them.”
After that, they kept the window ajar if they knew they would be gone for a long time. This had to be decided beforehand, because the link, whilst easily closed by one person, was very difficult to open alone.
This time, it would be even more difficult, because there was something blocking the door. Jen examined it closely, not willing to touch it just yet.
It looked like someone had nailed several pieces of wood across the door to keep it from opening.
“Subtle.” Narcissa murmured.
There were also residues around the window. It had been kept ajar for the last fourteen years, but some sort of net had kept anything from passing through it.
Jen scowled. “That’s just creepy. It’s my head.”
A soft tapping sound came from outside her room, but she didn’t open her eyes. Come in. It was Legilimency.
What was? Remus asked. She felt him sit beside her, but still she kept her eyes shut.
Whoever blocked the link, they used Legilimency. And they must have kept the window ajar.
To anyone else, this would sound strange, but Remus understood what she meant. We never told anyone. Whoever it was wanted you out of the way, but not me. But we never told anyone what happened that first time, or what we did to … He trailed off, and she opened her eyes to see him staring at her in horror. But we did. We told Albus, and he …
He swore an oath to keep it to himself. Jen finished.
“Which means he’s the only person it could have been.” Jen whispered, a tear rolling down her cheek.
Remus brushed it away, leaning down to kiss her softly.
We didn’t ask him to, but he did anyway. We both felt it take effect.
It was the final piece in a very ugly puzzle. Albus Dumbledore was the only person with the knowledge and the motive to block the link without killing them, and he was the only person more powerful than Jen who she would have trusted enough to turn her back on.
“I can’t believe this.” Lily hissed. “He’s supposed to be on our side!”
“Don’t worry, Lils.” Sirius said soothingly. “Jen pretty much personifies ‘hell hath no fury’. She’ll make sure he pays.”
Are we telling Sirius? Remus asked.
No. Jen decided. Dumbledore can’t know.
Sirius frowned. “I wouldn’t tell anyone!”
“Maybe not, but you can lack subtlety sometimes, Padfoot.” Addie pointed out gently.
We need to go on acting like we have no idea, or … She trailed off, hardly able to believe what they were saying.
Dumbledore had always been the dependable – the nightlight the children flocked to for protection from the monsters under the bed.
She choked back a sob. I trusted him!
Narcissa shook her head, moving from Draco’s side to settle under Regulus’s arm, seeing his eyes fixed on Jen. He squeezed her shoulder gratefully, but said nothing.
We all did. Remus slipped an arm around her shoulders, and she gratefully curled into him, taking a deep breath and feeling Selena rumble in contentment. He didn’t want us dead.
No. She agreed. He just wanted me out the way. Why?
I don’t know . But he’s likely to try again. His arm tightened around her as his words reached her, and she lifted her head as his scent changed slightly.
“Uh oh.” Sirius murmured, stiffening.
“What would change the scent?” Jen asked.
“Moony.” Addie explained, looking worried. “The closer he is to the surface, the more the scent changes. We normally have to be in animal form to notice, but the bond makes it easy as a human as well. She’ll calm him down.”
Deep breaths, hun. Moony’s not due for another week.
Contrary to certain beliefs, not all werewolves could access ‘the wolf’ all the time.
David twitched as though he was itching to take notes.
Some, like Greyback, embraced it, and became more wolf than man.
Remus growled under his breath.
“Who’s Greyback?” Lily asked.
“He’s the werewolf who bit Remus.” Jen explained icily, although the ice wasn’t aimed at her friend. “He’s …”
“A psychopath.” Sirius finished. “He makes sure he’s near children on the full moon, aims to bite them young and then raise them away from wizards to make them hate us.”
“He only left me because my father made him.” Remus said flatly, stroking Jen’s hair to calm himself.
Others, like Remus, rejected it, and were, as they should be, more man than wolf.
However, if ‘the wolf’ felt a member of its pack was threatened, especially one of the cubs or the females, they were liable to take over, at any time of the month – the closer the full moon, the more like this was to happen.
Thankfully, as long as the moon wasn’t full, ‘the wolf’ could be controlled, with the proper amount of mind power.
“And Jen can help with that.” Addie finished.
Remus relaxed, and she rested her head on his shoulder again. You’ve been keeping track of the lunar cycle?
Jen smiled slightly. I told you, remember? I had dreams on the full moons. Her smile faded. Nightmares, really. I … I knew that there was somewhere I needed to be … that someone was hurting, and if I could get to them … but I couldn’t.
Jen shuddered, turning her face into Remus’s chest.
I missed you.
She could sense him rolling his eyes. That’s not the line, Jen.
Jen laughed. I know. She sighed. I missed someone. I just didn’t know it was you.
“At least I knew there was something.” Jen whispered.
The reminder of the Memory Charm brought them up short again, and any laughter evaporated.
Remus, Jen picked her words carefully, we can’t just walk away.
The hell we can’t.
No, we can’t. Jen said firmly. As long as Dumbledore thinks he’s got us on side, we can operate under the radar. As soon as he knows we’re not, we have to combat him, Voldemort AND the Ministry.
“Good girl.” David said with a proud smile.
Good point. Remus conceded. It won’t be easy. It wasn’t just your memory he took.
I know. Jen nudged at the link. He took fourteen years from us as well.
We should open the door.
“What’s going to happen when we do?” Jen asked.
“Hopefully the book will end before it gets any further than PG-13.” Addie answered, smirking. “By all accounts, it can be a little overwhelming.”
We should. Jen agreed. Is it okay that I’m a little nervous?
Only if it’s okay that I am too.
A soft shiver of love passed through the link and she smiled, sitting up. “Ready?” She asked aloud.
Remus sat up as well, shifting to face her. “When you are. Do you want to push or pull?”
Mandy frowned. “What the …?”
The question may have sounded stupid, but the actual direction the door opened changed depending on their mood.
“Oh.” Mandy murmured.
Jen thought for a second. “Pull.” She decided. “I opened the window. By myself.”
“That has yet to be proven.” Remus told her with a smirk. “On three?”
Jen nodded, closing her eyes and returning to the door. On three. One …
He pushed, she pulled, and the spells barricading the door, with some protesting, were forced aside, allowing the link to open fully for the first time in fourteen years.
Jen closed her eyes, and Lily tapped the book to pause it.
“Maybe we should leave Jen and Remus alone for this part.” She said quietly. “It is more personal than anything else we’ve read. They can fill us in if anything else happens.”
Remus took the book with a grateful smile, and he and Jen stepped through the door that had appeared.
Jen added a Silencing Charm for good measure and settled down his arms, tapping the book with her wand.
Two minds flooded into one, thoughts and emotions and memories swirling together in an eclectic mix, until it was almost impossible to decipher from whom they had originally come.
Their lips met without conscious decision, reaffirming the bond that was so strong between them, allowing some of the emotions coursing through them to spill out before they exploded.
After a few minutes, the whirlwind within their minds settled down, and they were able to push the door back into place, leaving it open just a little – neither was willing to close it again completely just yet.
Breathing a little erratically, they parted reluctantly. Grey eyes met brown, their smiles mirroring each other, and she nestled against him again, perfectly content to fall asleep right there on the sofa in his arms (given that she hadn’t seen Kreacher’s head above the stairs when she glanced up, she didn’t entirely trust the bed anyway).
The room was silent, but inside their heads, two voices spoke in unison.
I love you.
Meredith fell silent, marking the end of the chapter, and Jen tilted her face up to Remus’s, meeting the kiss she knew was coming.
“I love you.” She whispered against his lips, nestling against his side as he repeated the words back to her.