Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Madam Bones drummed her fingers absently on the files on her desk as she stared blankly at the wall before her. She had meant to review the facts of the files one last time, but two sleepless nights and three cups of coffee had left her jittery. Conscious, but wired and unfocused. She basically had the files memorized anyways, they had been her obsession since Pettigrew's interrogation.
The file on top was the report on Pettigrew's arrest and the transcript from his interrogation. The second file was Sirius Black's. The final file contained everything they knew about the Potters and Moody and Tonks' reports on their search for the missing witch and wizard.
The two aurors began their search at a muggle library, poring over old newspaper articles from November 1981 until they found a photo of the famous couple accompanying an article about their amnesia. A copy of the newspaper clipping was in the file. From there, the aurors had been able to locate the Potters with relative ease. However, after knocking on their door, they were not met by James nor Lily Potter, but their eleven-year-old daughter. It was because of the Hogwarts-aged girl that the aurors immediately contacted Professor Dumbledore who offered up his potions master to help restore their memories.
Bones had wanted to see them straight away, as soon as their memories were returned to them, but Tonks reminded her that they would want to see their son first and suggested that they meet the following day. Today. They would be arriving any minute now.
She had decided not to tell the minister that they had been found yet, she feared that he might make excuses or back down from his promise. She needed to be focused for the meeting with the Potters and before she told Fudge she would need to crush the tiny flicker of doubt inside her. She would need to confirm that they truly were the Potters. Fudge was due to arrive at her office at nine-thirty, a mere half hour after the Potters, but he hadn't been able to clear much time from his very busy schedule. She suspected that would change when he discovered the real reason for the meeting. In addition, she had told her friend at the Prophet the previous day that she may have need of her for the biggest news to hit the wizarding world since Voldemort's defeat. Needless to say, Alethea Sinclair was awaiting her owl.
Madam Bones had prepared as much as she could possibly prepare, but unfortunately that meant that she was still entirely unready to meet the Potters.
The fireplace flared green and Auror Tonks stepped out, "They're coming through now." The head of the DMLE nodded and stood, still touching her desk with her fingertips as though to brace herself.
The fireplace flared again and Lily Potter stepped out, dusting her skirt off, then meeting Bones's eye. Bones had never met her before, but it would have been easy to recognize her even if she hadn't been studying the Potters for the last two days. Her face, along with her husband's and infant son's had been splashed across the Prophet for weeks after their supposed deaths in 1981 and reliably in years since, on the anniversary. Her red hair had dulled slightly with age and she seemed more worn than she had in her photos, but her eyes were still a vibrant green and the small smile she gave Bones was full of warmth.
James Potter, on the other hand, Bones had known all her life. All pureblood children grew up with one another in at least some capacity and it was no different for the Bones children and James Potter, despite the decade of age difference between Amelia Bones and he. She had once been recruited to babysit him while she was home from Hogwarts for the summer, he had been six and had gone through as many babysitters that year. By the time she was able to leave (escape) her skin was green and her hair was singed. She had never gone back.
He looked just like he had the last time she had seen him, in the ministry, before they went into hiding. His black hair was still a mess like that of an unruly sixteen-year-old and his eyes still held a mischievous glint to them. His smile was crooked, "Madam Bones, it's good to see you again," he said formally.
She struggled to find a response, she had been unaware of how much doubt had taken root inside her. They were here, the Potters had truly defied death and remained unknown to the wizarding world for over a decade. It was truly them. "I'm sorry," she shook her head as though to clear it. "I knew you were coming, but actually seeing you… Please, sit." The two Potters sat on the other side of the desk from Bones and Tonks left the office.
"It must be surreal," Lily said. She may not have known Lily, but her warmth and kindness had always been praised throughout her martyrdom.
"It is, but I can't imagine how it must be for you, finding out about all of this, and your son- I really appreciate you taking the time to meet with me today."
"Of course," James responded. "Anything to help Harry, clear Sirius's name and put Pettigrew behind bars."
Bones swallowed. "On the behalf of the ministry, I would like to apologize for everything that has happened regarding Sirius Black's case and Harry's underage magic incident. The way that was handled was absurd. How is he handling everything? And your daughter, it must be a shock for her too."
Lily pursed her lips and nodded, "It has certainly been an adjustment for them both, but I think they're both starting to get used to the idea. They're both at Diagon today, Amelia was so excited." Bones sensed that she wished she could have gone with her children to Diagon, especially for her daughter's first trip there. Even though the world thought them dead, they would most certainly be recognized and if they waited until after their return was made public, they would be swarmed. "That's our daughter's name, Amelia," she added as an afterthought.
"It's a good name," she smiled then changed directions. "I'm expecting the minister shortly, but I didn't tell him why I needed to see him today. We'll have to confirm your identities with Veritaserum, then get your statements on record. I have a friend who works for the Prophet-" both Potters' faces darkened. So they had heard about the smear campaign against Harry and Dumbledore, then. "She's very good, she hasn't written anything against Harry, and I'm sure she would consent to allow you to read her article before it is published. After we get your statements, I can summon her and we can do an interview, if you'd like."
James and Lily exchanged glances, "Okay, I think-" James stopped speaking as an impatient knock sounded at the door and the door swung open before the knocker could receive response from Bones.
"I'm terribly sorry, Amelia, I seem to have double booked myself today and we'll have to reschedule. I can do-" Cornelius Fudge seemed to have finally realized who sat before him. Lily gazed at him patiently while James smirked as though this was a prank he was pulling and it was going just the way he wanted it to. "Weatherby," he said faintly to the red-haired assistant behind him, "Cancel my appointments for the rest of the day. You're dismissed." The minister closed the door behind him. "Is it really them?" His shock was abandoned and there was now steel in his voice.
"I was about to confirm their identities with Veritaserum. Please, join us," Bones gestured for him to sit and she removed two vials from her desk drawer. "Veritaserum and the antidote, we'll use it only to confirm your identities, do we have your consent?"
"Yes," they answered in unison.
Madam Bones administered the Veritaserum to both Potters and looked at James first, "What is your name?"
"James Fleamont Potter," he responded instantly.
"Unbelievable," Fudge muttered, shaking his head.
"And you," Bones said politely to Lily while trying to smother the smugness she was feeling. "What is your name?"
"Lily Marie Evans Potter," she said without hesitation.
"Thank you," Bones told them both and gave them the antidote.
"It's them, it's really them," the minister continued to shake his head as though it would wake him from a nightmare. His gaze snapped from the ground to Bones's eyes, the blood had drained from his face and his eyes were wide with horror. "That means it's all true. All of it. Everything that Pettigrew told us. You-Know-Who and Sirius Black." If Pettigrew had not lied about the Potters, he had not lied about Voldemort or Sirius Black either.
"Yes, it is," Bones said, feeling less smug and more panicked at the mention of Voldemort. One thing at a time. "We will proceed as necessary with that after we get statements from the Potters." Fudge looked at the couple as though he had forgotten about them, then went a shade paler. "Although, I can do that if you would prefer to begin the preparations for announcing Voldemort's return."
"No," was his instant response. "I want to hear this."
Bones nodded and withdrew a few sheets of parchment and a note-taking quill from her desk. "If you're ready, just tell us everything that happened from when you went into hiding up to today, and we'll ask questions as needed."
Lily took a breath and began, explaining their decision to go into hiding and the last minute secret-keeper switch. Both Potters told their perspective of the haunting night they had nearly been murdered and the ritual which had kept them safe. Bones interrupted here, asking if they still had the book, or knew of its whereabouts. Of course they didn't have it, she knew they wouldn't, but she had to ask. Every parent in the wizarding world would kill to get their their hands on that ritual, especially once they learned of Voldemort's return. The book had likely been destroyed and it would have to be omitted from the upcoming Prophet article. The Potters continued their story and told of waking up in the middle of nowhere without their memories and how they had adjusted to the muggle world and become apart of it.
Then they proceeded with the lie, that the aurors had found them and explained who they were and Severus had given the the potion that restored their memories. Then they had been reunited with their son. If they revealed that they'd had their memories back for weeks, it would put Pettigrew's guilt and Sirius's innocence into question as well, and revealing the Order of the Phoenix would be unavoidable.
"It's just all been incredible," Lily added the second time they told the story, to the reporter, Alethea Sinclair. "Finding Harry, getting our memories back and coming back to the wizarding world, it's just been a dream come true," she laid it on thick and the reporter gave a dreamy little sigh. She was good though, asking all the right questions and true to Bones's assurance, she promised to send them a copy of the article before it went to print. After promising once more to send them the article, Alethea left, and since Bones was meeting with Fudge in his office, Lily and James soon found themselves on the streets of London.
"I'm not ready to go home yet, are you?" James asked his wife, Sirius was probably climbing the walls at the manor alone, having been left behind by the children and Remus while they were at Diagon, but James felt the need to do something with all of his own pent-up nervous energy. They had both been so nervous to meet with Bones and give her their slightly edited and manipulated story, but it had gone better than he could have possibly hoped. Now, he desperately wished they could join the others at Diagon, but as they were, they would surely be recognized.
"No, the kids won't be home yet anyways. What shall we do?" She looped her arm through his.
"We could get something to eat, if you're hungry, or…" His gaze fell upon a muggle department store across the street and a plan began to formulate. "Or we could go shopping for some new muggle clothes, since most of ours were destroyed and it's always good to have some on hand." He didn't make eye contact with her, she always knew when he was planning something and he didn't want her to stop him.
"Okay, good idea," she agreed.
Once inside, they went their separate ways, James to the men's department and Lily to the women's. He wandered through the racks of clothes absently for a while, wasting time and browsing, knowing that Lily would take longer than he would. He piled a pair of jeans, a few tee-shirts and a couple of jumpers over his arm. That's all he really needed, he decided, they were back in the wizarding world again. But then he remembered the state of Harry's clothes, his shirts that swallowed him whole and patched-up, baggy jeans. James turned around and added more shirts, jumpers and jeans that he thought would fit Harry to his pile, then headed to the accessories department.
James painstakingly searched for and found a baseball cap which he tried on in the mirror and grinned at himself in approval. He tried to remember what Lily was wearing and found a silk scarf that he judged would probably match, and a pair of oversized sunglasses that would be imperative to the success of his plan. Then he found Lily with clothes for herself over her arm and a jumper for Amelia.
At the checkout, she frowned at the scarf and sunglasses, "Are you planning on wearing those?"
James grinned, "No, I have a plan that is beyond brilliant, but if I tell you about it, you'll just talk me out of it."
"James," she said as a warning.
"Trust me, Lil. And don't worry, it's brilliant and you'll love it," he handed over cash to pay for the clothes and left the store, bags in hand. Once they were a few blocks away and the streets were quieter, he stopped her. "Here, put these on," he ripped the tag off the sunglasses and handed them to his wife. After so many years of marriage, she knew better than to question his plans once they were in motion. By now, he was unstoppable and very committed to this plan in particular. He dug the scarf out of the bag and draped it over her head, tossing one end over her shoulder like a muggle movie star. Then, he pulled the hat he bought low over his eyes.
"Are we robbing a bank?" Lily asked in a deadpan.
"'Course not. We're going to Diagon," James told her, grinning proudly.
Her features contorted with horror, "That isn't safe, James-"
"It's perfectly safe, we're wearing disguises, we most likely won't be there long and no one knows we're back yet." Lily hesitated, uncertain, she wanted to go to Diagon as much as he did and he took advantage of that. "We never got to go with Harry and now we're missing Amelia's first time too…"
Lily sighed, "If anyone shows the slightest flicker of recognition-"
"We'll apparate straight home," he finished, beaming now.
"This is idiotic. You're idiotic," she shook her head but her lips were curved into a smile.
"I love you too," he dragged her into an alley and together, they disapparated.
When they reappeared in Diagon Alley, James was struck first by the noise. Children and parents spoke excitedly and someone shouted, "It's the new Firebolt!" While children oohed and ahhed. James spun around to see a broom being displayed in the Quality Quidditch window even more perfect than Harry's. He laughed to himself in joy and disbelief, taking in the sight of it, all of it, the hustle and bustle of people everywhere, the loud colors and all the magic.
He had practically grown up here, his father used to bring him along whenever he needed potion supplies or new robes or books. Growing up, he had spent so many hours gawking over the latest broomsticks in Quality Quidditch, begging his father to take him to Gambol and Jape's and eating ice cream at Fortescue's with his mother. During his Hogwarts days he'd spent a great deal of time dragging Remus out of Flourish and Blotts, and dividing his time equally between Quality Quidditch and Gambol and Jape's with Sirius. Once they had all the prank supplies they needed and had discussed brooms excessively, they would grab a butterbeer at the Leaky Cauldron.
"Look, there they are!" James looked to where Lily was pointing and sure enough, a gaggle of gingers streamed into Flourish and Blotts, Amelia blending in perfectly and James would have recognized the mess of Harry's black hair anywhere. "Come on," she took his hand and practically dragged him into the bookstore, a grin plastered across her face as well. "I'll find Amelia, you find Harry?" He didn't doubt that she would find Amelia first, but he knew that she only wanted to split up so that maybe she might get a few minutes to browse for books in peace as well.
"Sure," it only took a quick scan of the bookstore to find his son, or rather to find the back of his head and his wild black hair. As he drew nearer, he recognized the frustrated voice of Hermione arguing with Ron and a couple aisles away he found Harry, staring at the back of a book but not actually appearing to be reading it.
"You'd have to be mad to buy that one, it'll bore you to death," he told Harry, matter-of-fact.
A muscle in Harry's jaw jumped, but when he looked up, curiosity was replaced by horror, "What are you doing here?" Harry hissed. But James wasn't fooled, he recognized the look on his son's face, it was a look Remus often got when he was pretending not to be amused by a prank, when really he was. Harry's lips twitched upward and a mischievous glint flashed in his eyes.
James shrugged and leaned up against the bookshelf, "Fancied a stroll through Diagon."
Some of the tension in Harry's shoulders seemed to release, "Someone could see you."
"Please, Harry," James rolled his eyes and pointed to the baseball cap, "I'm in disguise." This got a proper smile out of him. "What have you got there?" He snatched the book out of his son's hands, "The Care and Keeping of Mandrakes. Thrilling."
Harry took the book away and shoved it back on the shelf, "I needed to get away from that," he nodded in the direction of Ron and Hermione.
"Understandable," he did a quick scan of the bookstore and his eyes caught on none other than Remus Lupin, a few rows away, a book open several pages in. Just like old times, James smirked. "Back in the day, Remus would always drag us here," he told Harry in a whisper. "He could literally live in this place, but we would give him fifteen minutes to get what he needed before… Accio Book!" The book Remus was holding flew out of his hands and before he could look up, James dragged Harry down by the shoulder to hide behind the bookshelf, and the summoned book landed between them on the floor. Harry's laugh started with a snort, then it rolled out of him and James couldn't help but join in, beyond happy to simply be sitting on the floor of the bookstore laughing with his son.
"Ahem," Remus's theatrical throat clearing silenced them both, he stood before them, arms crossed and looking grave.
"Sorry, Professor-Moony-Sir," he said it like a single word as he scrambled to his feet. "Here's your book, Professor-Moony-Sir." Harry stifled a laugh next to him.
"What are you doing here? You could be seen!" Remus's voice was an angry whisper.
James rolled his eyes and adopted the same tone he had used with Harry just a minute ago, "Please, Moony. Everyone will know tomorrow morning."
"Not to mention, they're in disguise," Harry added helpfully earning a prideful grin from his father.
Remus pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration, "Your wife allowed you to do this?"
"She didn't actually, so I left her behind at the ministry." Remus stared him down. "Oh, come on, Moony, it's just a bit of fun. Don't I deserve to take my childr-" Remus cleared his throat loudly. "Don't I deserve to take them to Diagon? It's Amelia's first time here."
Remus sighed and looked up at the ceiling as though praying to Merlin for patience. "This was our last stop anyway, we'll be going home soon- but for the love of Godric, keep your hat on."
"Yessir, Professor-Moony-Sir," James mocked a salute. "Do you know where Amelia is?"
"She went over that way with Ginny and Mrs. Weasley," Harry nodded toward the back of the store.
"Come on," they left Remus behind with his book, shaking his head.
Amelia saw them before they saw her and she launched herself at her father, "Dad! Diagon Alley is so cool, we went to Gringotts and there were goblins and we got actual gold coins out of the vault and we saw owls and I got robes and guess what else! I got a wand!" He opened his mouth to say something in return but she cut him off, "I can't wait to go to Hogwarts!"
"She's been like this all day," Harry said, doing a very good impression of a half-amused, half-overwhelmed older brother, Amelia stuck her tongue out at him.
James caught sight of Lily behind Amelia, she looked apologetic as Mrs. Weasley ranted irately at her, he winced. "Let's go somewhere a little further away from Mrs. Weasley." He wasn't ashamed to admit that he was frightened of the woman, after having seen her handle the unruly Fred and George. They made their way across the bookstore and were eventually met by Ron and Hermione.
"Harry, here are your books," she shoved a stack of books into his arms. "I'll be browsing," and with that, she turned on her heel and walked away without even a glance in James's direction.
"She went on a bloody rampage," Ron explained. "Ran about like a nutter, grabbing three of everything on her list," he hefted his stack then plucked a book off the top of Harry's. "Arithmancy," he explained as he dropped the book on a nearby table. "Ready to go?"
"Yeah, Amelia, do you have all your books?"
"Yes!" James waited outside while they paid for their books, not wanting to draw attention to himself. Harry, Amelia and Ron joined him and Amelia chattered excitedly until everyone else finally emerged and they went their separate ways- the Potters and Remus to the Potter Manor and the others to Grimmauld Place.
Sirius was outside flying when they arrived so James stuck his head out the window and shouted, "Padfoot!" Sirius waved and flew toward the house, hardly slowing down to jump off the broom and burst inside.
"So, how was it?" He asked, running his fingers through his windblown hair.
"It went really well." James and Lily started telling them about their day at the ministry, Bones, Fudge and the reporter, and then surprising their children at Diagon, filling Sirius's eyes with light. Then Amelia took over, rambling on and on about Diagon and carefully showing them all her wand. When they talked about Gringotts, Harry gave James and Lily an extra key for the vault which he had gotten from the goblins and James gave Harry the clothes they had gotten for him, which he accepted without a fuss. Sirius then told them in detail (and with partial reenactments) about his encounter with a particularly angry garden gnome and they spent most of the evening chatting and laughing.
When it started to grow late, an owl tapped on the window, Lily was out of her seat immediately, "The article!" She bounded across the room to let the creature inside. With quick but shaky hands she untied the thick letter and collapsed onto the couch with it, tearing it open and reading it silently.
"Well, what does it say?" Sirius asked.
"In an amazing series of events, the arrest of a cursed objects dealer has revealed the truth about the night You-Know-Who was defeated. The dealer was Peter Pettigrew, the friend of the Potters that was thought to have been murdered by Sirius Black fourteen years ago. He revealed that not only is Sirius Black innocent, but the Potters are alive and Harry Potter told the truth, You-Know-Who has returned. The ministry is currently taking all the necessary precautions to protect the wizarding world from You-Know-Who. For everything we know about him, turn to page two. After fourteen years of living as muggles with memory loss, the Potters have their memories back and have been reunited with their son, for the details, turn to page three. In addition, Sirius Black has been cleared of all charges and is asked to present himself to the ministry for a statement and his official pardon, for more information, turn to page four."
Lily read on, stopping during frequently throughout the Voldemort article to confirm facts with Harry. The article explained some of the measures the ministry was taking, if it was all true, they might be able to regain faith in their government. They tried to be critical about the article about their family, but there was nothing wrong with it. It didn't paint them in a negative light, it wasn't overly dramatic, it just told what happened. Sirius's article explained what Wormtail had done, what they knew about Sirius's escape, and urged anyone with information on his whereabouts to come forward.
In the end, they were all satisfied with what Alethea had written and Lily sent it back with a single typo circled and a note of thanks.
Heyyyyyyy… Long time no see. I haven't forgotten about this story, some devious little jerk broke into my car and stole my laptop at the end of the summer so I lost all my files including this chapter and the subsequent three I had written, then school started and rewriting everything was really really hard. It took me longer than it should have and I'm sorry, but starting from scratch has helped me to eliminate unnecessary scenes and condense things a bit. Yay! Anyways, I hope you guys enjoyed seeing Bones again, and the more light-hearted second half of this chapter, I definitely had fun writing James. As usual, your feedback is very much appreciated.