A few weeks later, Harry was sitting at the kitchen table with his aunt, the photo album of Lily and a book of healthy recipes open in front of them. Petunia smiled as she indicated a photo of herself and her sister with a number of other girls roasting sausages over a bonfire. "That was the last year we were in Brownie Guides together," she said. "I was ten and Lily was nine. But it seemed like every time our Pack did anything out in the woods, I'd get stung by a bee or I'd trip and tumble into a nettle patch or otherwise injure myself so I decided to quit rather than move on to become a regular Guide. We did have some fun, mind, but I got good and tired of being referred to as 'Troublesome Tuney' every time one of the girls had to call the leaders to bring the first aid kit."

Harry managed not to laugh outright, although he couldn't quite contain a grin. "Did you like anything to do outdoors? And what about my mum, what did she like?"

"I did like bicycling," Petunia told him. "It kept me on the roads and out of the scrub. It wasn't that I minded being outdoors so very much, I just prefer more civilized or at least cultivated outdoor spaces over 'getting back to nature' as they called it in my day. Lily enjoyed that part of it a bit more; she liked going berrying and didn't mind getting scratched up by the brambles. And even before she met that Snape boy, she was always mashing up flowers and leaves and berries that weren't edible, trying to make dyes from them. I remember her being thrilled when our gran showed her how to colour eggs with onion skins and red cabbage. Gran worked as a plotter for the WAAF back in World War Two, and got to know some of the Yankee WACs who held the same position in the American forces. Anyway, Gran told us that the Yanks celebrate Easter with dyed hard-boiled eggs, and so when Easter came round they managed to get hold of some eggs somehow and boiled one batch with onion skins which turned them rusty orange, and another batch with a couple of red cabbage leaves which turned them a sort of grayish blue. Anyway, Lily had all sorts of fun with that… I think the family had hard-boiled eggs for breakfast or egg salad sandwiches for lunch every day for a month after Gran showed her that, because she kept on making more."

Harry did laugh this time. "Did she ever succeed in making dyes from anything else?"

"Well… sort of. But not in a good way," Petunia said with a chuckle of her own at the memory. "She thought that beets would make a pretty colour as a dye, and somehow or other got hold of a few very tiny ones to experiment with, or at least, that was her intent. But she had put them in the pocket of her dress to carry home, and then forgot about them. The dress went through the wash with the beets still in the pocket, and came out with huge pink splotches all over it; as did several other items in that load of wash. The rest of that load of wash all came out with a pinkish tint to it. Mum was beside herself, as there had been a particularly nice, brand new blouse of hers which got ruined. She cut Lily's pocket money by half until she'd paid back the cost of that blouse. I was actually pleased, though, because the pinkish colour that seeped into the entire load turned a light blue skirt of mine into a very pretty shade of lavender. Still, after that happened, Lily was much more careful when mucking about with plants for dyes."

"I would think so," Harry said with a chuckle. He glanced at the clock and asked, "Would you like help with dinner?"

"No, but thank you. Dudley's lost half a stone as of this morning, so I thought we'd celebrate and order out for pizza," his aunt replied. "Thin crust with ham and all the veg won't completely ruin his diet, but it will seem like a reward to him, especially as I've found a variety of no-sugar-added individual sized fruit pies for tonight's afters."

Harry nodded. "All right. I'm going to get a head start on my reading, then, since Ms. Beckett said we're going to have to do a book report over the Easter hols. We get to choose from four books, but I'm not sure which one I want to do yet, so I might read them all and then decide."

"Which books?" Petunia sounded interested. "Perhaps I can encourage Dudders to read one or more of them as well. His teacher thinks he might do better in school if he'd read a bit more."

"We get to choose from The Phantom Tollbooth, Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing, Charlotte's Web, and The Borrowers," Harry said. "I got Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing from the library today."

"I don't believe I've heard of that one," Petunia said. "What's it about?"

Harry thought for a moment, trying to remember the blurb on the book jacket. "Um, it's about an American boy growing up in New York City, and the fun and troubles he has with his family, especially with his little brother who can be quite annoying."

"Well, let me know if you like it, and if you do, I'll try to get Diddy interested."

"All right, Aunt Petunia," Harry said as he headed upstairs to do his reading.

In Wiltshire, Malfoy Manor was humming with activity. Sirius had joined the family for an early dinner, and was now helping Lucius adjust his bow tie for his evening out with Narcissa. "There, you look perfect," the animagus said with a smile. "You've got the tickets, right? And remember, there will be valet parking… you pull up and get out of the car, and an attendant will give you a claim ticket and move the car to the car park while you and Narcissa go into the theatre. When you leave again, give them back the claim ticket and they'll bring the car 'round for you."

"I just hope Narcissa enjoys her evening," Lucius said a little nervously. "Especially as Dr. Gardner suggested on our last visit that precautionary bed rest was likely on the horizon."

"I'm sure she'll love the ballet," Sirius reassured the older man. "The Sleeping Beauty is one of the classics, according to my friend, and in fact, this year is its one hundredth anniversary. Plus it's a story with a happy ending, rather than a tragedy."

"Which is half the reason we selected it over Swan Lake," Lucius admitted. "The other half of the reason being the probability of bed rest for Narcissa and the later performance dates for Swan Lake. Dr. Gardner did say that even if bed rest is prescribed as a precautionary measure, Narcissa could most likely get up for any special events, such as Draco's birthday. But I'd rather not risk her health or that of the baby for something like the ballet, you know?"

Sirius gave a sympathetic smile. "I can imagine, anyway," he said. "But never having been married, let alone a concerned father-to-be, I don't actually know." The two men headed down to the hall to await Narcissa.

Draco was already there, glancing up at the staircase. "You look very handsome, Father," he said. "Cousin Sirius, may we play Monopoly tonight?"

Sirius chuckled. "No, Monopoly is never as fun when there's just two people playing. I bought a new game today, something called Othello, and we can learn it together."

"All right," the young boy said with a smile. His expression turned to admiration as he caught sight of his mother walking carefully down the stairs. "Mother, you look beautiful!"

"I must agree with our son, Narcissa," Lucius said, his tone warm as he offered his hand to assist her down the last few steps. "That gown is most becoming."

"Thank you, darling, and you look quite nice yourself," Narcissa said as she took in his tuxedo. "I see you got your tie and cummerbund to match my dress perfectly."

"The one advantage of being magical," he chuckled. "That shade of blue looks lovely with your hair."

"And it doesn't make me look too fat?"

"You're expecting, not fat," Lucius said firmly. "So no, it doesn't make you look fat." Her chiffon gown, in a shade of blue somewhere between royal blue and cobalt, had an empire waistline accented by silver and crystal beads and then flowed gently down over her expanded belly to swirl around her feet and offering only the barest glimpse of matching shoes. Sapphire and diamond earrings and a matching necklace completed the ensemble. "I do believe I shall be the envy of every man in attendance tonight," he added as he offered her his arm. "Shall we be off?"

Narcissa tucked her hand into her husband's arm but paused to give Draco a kiss on the cheek. "Don't drive Sirius too crazy with questions, darling, and don't stay up too terribly late. We'll tell you all about the ballet in the morning."

Draco smiled. "I can't wait. Have a wonderful night, Mother, Father."

"Good night, Draco," Lucius said as he led Narcissa out. The couple climbed into the Rolls Royce for the trip into London.

Arriving in good time for the show, Lucius turned over the car key to the valet as he'd been instructed, and led his wife into the theatre. While they maintained their Malfoy Masks enough to keep from gaping at the opulence within, they both had to admit that they were impressed by the elegance of the lobby, and even more impressed by the auditorium when an usher escorted them to their box seats.

Narcissa found herself enraptured by the grace of the dancers and the beauty of the music, while Lucius had to admit that he was astounded at the ingenuity shown by the muggle special effects lighting as well as their ability to convey a story in music and dance. As they talked about the show on their way home, Narcissa smiled softly. "You know, Lucius, I think we ought to consider naming our daughter Aurora. Maybe it isn't quite a star or constellation name, but if you consider the aurora borealis, it still counts. And I like it much better than either Columba or Aquila as we'd been thinking."

"Aurora Verina Malfoy… I do like that," Lucius said softly. "Yes, let's name her Aurora, for the northern lights and for our first ballet." He turned into the drive at the Manor and shut the car off, then reached over to lay his hand on the swell of Narcissa's belly. "What do you think, little sweetheart, do you like the name Aurora?" he asked, and laughed when his hand was nudged quite emphatically from within.

Narcissa giggled as well. "I do believe she approves," she said before yawning. "However, I also believe it's a bit past her mother's bedtime."

"Past mine as well," Lucius admitted, "given that there is a Wizengamot session in the morning. Fortunately, there isn't anything too urgent on the agenda, unless something's come up in the last day or two, and I haven't heard of anything." He exited the car and walked around to open Narcissa's door and help her out.

She took his arm and levered herself out, letting him guide her into the house. "Nor have I, and I did have lunch with Cordelia Greengrass yesterday. She would have said something if her husband knew of anything in particular coming up."

"Oh good, so they'll read the minutes from last session, we'll most likely hear a few proposals for new laws… and if we're lucky, one of them might have been thought out well enough to actually make sense… and then we'll be told if there are any court cases to be judged. Not likely, or I'd probably have heard of it before now. So, nice and simple and boring tomorrow, I hope," Lucius said as they entered their bedroom. He kissed his wife softly before heading for his dressing room. "Good night, Narcissa."

She added a hug to that kiss before retiring to her own dressing room. "Good night, Lucius."

After spending a pleasant evening playing Othello with Draco, Sirius headed back to 12 Grimmauld Place. "Hey, Moony, how was your evening?" he asked.

"Quiet, and yours?" the werewolf asked his friend.

"Othello is a pretty fun game," Sirius said. "You'd probably like it. Want to learn to play?"

Remus shrugged. "Sure, but not tonight. It's late enough I don't want to get all into something that will get me interested and thinking so that I won't end up getting to sleep until 3 am or later."

Sirius chuckled. "Yeah, I can understand that one. And I don't want to stay up too terribly late myself, since there's a Wizengamot session tomorrow."

"Anything important?" Remus wanted to know.

"Nah, just routine politics," Sirius said. "I swear, half of what's done in session is just so much bollocks to make it look as though we're actually doing something. Most law proposals that get put up for debate as so poorly thought out that even the member proposing it can't explain why it's such a good idea."

Remus laughed. "Well, if you ever want to propose a law to make it easier for werewolves to hold jobs, I'd be most appreciative. And you can defend it by pointing out that if we can work, we can then afford the wolfsbane potion, not to mention, we can afford a place to transform safely."

Sirius sighed. "I'm still working on enough support for something like that, Moony," he said. "Lucius is on my side now that he's gotten to know you, and he's working on his allies. But Fudge still has a good sized block of supporters, and one of his main advisors is Dolores Umbridge. She's probably the most bigoted bitch it's ever been my misfortune to have met. She hates everyone and everything… veela, centaurs, werewolves, giants, merfolk, muggles, you name it. In fact, I've done some research, and she's been behind four of the last five laws restricting the rights of werewolves and other nonhumans."

"Ugh," Remus said eloquently.

Sirius shrugged. "At least I know what to expect from her," he said. "I won't say it's anything but a right royal pain in the arse in dealing with her, but she's terrible at being subtle."

"And it's always easier to counter the threat you can see," Remus said, nodding in understanding.

"Exactly," Sirius said. "Believe me, I do want to get some of the worst of her laws repealed, but even with Lucius' help, I just don't have enough backing to pull it off yet. Hopefully by summer, though."

Remus smiled. "I know you're doing your best. So, aside from politics, what else do you have planned for the next few days?"

"I'm hoping to hear back from Princess Diana soon," the animagus said. "She and her boys are scheduled to make some sort of tour in Canada when the princes are off school for the Easter hols, so they probably won't get to spend time with Harry until the summer hols. But her last letter said something about possibly having us up to visit Balmoral for Harry's birthday in July, if the Queen allows it. She said her original plan had been for a time at Highgrove, but as Prince Charles is mostly living there now that they're officially separated, she feels that it wouldn't be appropriate for her to invite people there anymore."

"Understandable," Remus said with another nod. "I can only imagine how awkward the entire situation must be for her. I mean, it's hard enough to imagine one's marriage breaking up like that anyway, but to have to live with the sort of public scrutiny she has to deal with besides… not to mention that given her sons' ages and their status, she really has no choice but to maintain cordial relations with the Royal Family, doesn't she? And I expect there aren't too many people she can trust to even talk to when things get tough."

Sirius nodded. "True enough. She's vented to me a bit, simply because I wouldn't know how to go about feeding information to the muggle press even if I wanted to. Which I don't, of course. Why the muggle press wants to write about Diana so bloody constantly is beyond me, especially since half of what they write isn't true. I honestly think it's worse than those stupid Boy-Who-Lived story books; at least those are fiction and are marketed as fiction, whereas the news articles printed about Her Royal Highness purport to be the truth. But anyway, yes, she does have to see Her Majesty regularly because of the princes, although as I understand it, the two of them get along reasonably well." He reddened slightly as he admitted, "Actually, though, I'm hoping to hear back soon because in my last letter to her, I offered to take her out dancing as soon as her divorce is final. She's said a few times how much she always enjoyed going out dancing at a club, and how rarely she's been able to go since Prince Charles started courting her because he hates it so."

"Why Padfoot, you're blushing," Remus teased with a grin. "I do believe you might just be harbouring a bit of affection for the lady. Are you?"

"Maybe," Sirius admitted, the colour on his cheeks deepening. "She seems quite nice, from the few times we've spoken in person, and I would like to get the chance to know her better."

Remus looked surprised. "Are you truly thinking about courting her, then? I'm so used to thinking of you as the Lothario of the group… I mean, I don't recall you ever maintaining an interest in a girl for more than a couple of weeks before. No, I take that back, you did date Moira McInnes for two full months back in seventh year even though she had the reputation of being the school broom."

The animagus laughed. "Why do you think I dated her?" he teased his friend in return. "Let's just say that Moira taught me a few things that stood me in good stead with most of the girls I dated after her. Seriously, though, back then I didn't want to get involved with anyone because of the war and all. I could see how much his worry over Lily affected James, and I was determined to avoid the same thing happening to me. If things had gone as they ought to have following their deaths, I might well have found someone to settle down with, someone who would have helped me raise Harry with all the love he deserves. As for Princess Diana… well, she already has a soft spot of her own for Harry, and if it ever came to it, I'd be more than pleased to be allowed to help raise her boys as well. Mind, I've no idea if anything even could come of it, between her and the boys being muggles not to mention the fact that Wills is second in line to inherit Britain's crown. It might well be that the Queen and the Prince of Wales will force her into some kind of agreement to either not get involved with anyone until her sons are older or else give up custody of them so that they're not being influenced by anyone who isn't already a relation. So to answer your question, yes, I am truly thinking about courting Diana, but I don't know if she'll be able to accept such a courtship."

Remus shook his head thoughtfully. "Well, I suppose all I can do is wish you the best of luck. I'd like to say that the Queen and Prince Charles wouldn't be so petty as to deny Princess Diana a social life… and I honestly don't think they would… but given that the little princes are involved, that does complicate matters to a degree. Hopefully I'm right and she'll also want to get to know you a little better."

"And what about you, Remus? You don't plan on remaining single forever, do you?" Sirius asked.

The werewolf shook his head. "You know as well as I do that as things stand, I can't marry," he said. "How could I support a family when I can't hold a job? I know, I'll have an income from the textbooks, but there's no guarantee that will last. Besides which, I wouldn't want to put anyone at risk of infection. What if I did marry and have a baby that also turned out to be a werewolf?"

Sirius looked determined. "I'll get those sodding laws changed if it's the last thing I do," he said. "As for the risk, the right woman will take it on gladly if it means she gets you. If you're that worried about the baby issue, you can always just not have any. You'd have to ask Stephen for more details, but I understand there is a muggle surgery that will prevent a man from becoming a father, ever."

"Really?" Remus looked intrigued in spite of himself.

"Really," Sirius confirmed. "It's something I've thought about myself, given the level of crazy in my family history. But if there's the slightest chance things could work out with Diana, I probably won't. When I first heard about the surgery, I hadn't figured on ever getting married unless I had to for some sort of political alliance and if that was the case, the chances of the witch in question being a second or third cousin would be fairly high. I wouldn't want a child with someone so closely related after hearing what Stephen said about genetics and health problems. But there's no chance of Diana being closely related, and I do know that she'd like at least one more child in hopes of getting a daughter."

Remus laughed. "Merlin, Padfoot, not even courting yet and already talking about possible children? You do have it bad, old friend!"

"Piss off, Moony!"

Meanwhile in Kensington Palace, Princess Diana was blushing as she read her latest letter from Sirius Black. He wants to take me dancing, she thought, to celebrate my freedom when the divorce comes final. But does he mean the invitation as a friend? Or as an actual date? Does it matter right now? Would I like to date him, if it comes to that? I think I would… between the few times we've spoken and the letters we've written, I think Sirius and I have more in common than Charles and I ever did. All right, stop overthinking things… make a decision and answer!

Reaching for her personal stationery and a pen, she started writing.

Dear Sirius,

I'd love to go out dancing sometime. We can settle on a time and place as soon as I know for sure when the divorce will be final…