On Flying

On Flying

(Repost) This is the sequel to "This Was Falling". It's a rather mindless yarn, actually, so you've been warned. If you want literature, try reading a little Æschylus or Rabelais at "The Internet Classics Archive" @ http://classics.mit.edu – don't waste time here. And if you can't heed this well meant advice, don't you dare complain to me.

Part 1

Katie was very happy to finally make it back to the shop. November was turning out to be particularly wet and dreadfully cold. She had spent all morning making rounds, on foot, which in retrospect was not the wisest thing to do. God, I hope I left some shoes here. These will take hours to dry, magic or no magic. She sneezed. Oh, good. With any luck I'll have picked up something reasonably dreadful. Thank God Remus is away right now. He'd just fuss and make me stay in bed. She had to smile though. Remus could certainly be bit a of a worrywart, but it was rather nice to know how much you meant to someone. Of course, Sirius was still here, and he would probably fuss worse than Remus now that she thought about it.

Katie pulled off her soaking cloak and shoes, and sat by the fire. Mrs. Noyes still seemed to be out. Katie looked around the room and smiled. Oh, I did like living here. It was such a fun place to be. But I certainly didn't mind moving out. She laughed to herself. I didn't move a thing, actually. Remus did it all. Wouldn't let me lift a finger to help.

Remus and Katie had been married for a few weeks now. She was still surprised at how new everything had seemed after they were married. She had thought that after knowing each other for four years, they had everything pretty well down. But this was very, very different. It's so wonderful. I guess I was a little naïve thinking that nothing would really change ….

She heard the door open, and looked up from the fire to see Mrs. Noyes coming in.

"Hello! Let me help you with your things. Ugh. Can we get any wetter, do you wonder?"

"This is the worst November I've seen in years; thank you…." They hung her things up by the fire to dry, and Mrs. Noyes turned and gave Katie a hug.

"Well, Mrs. Lupin, how were rounds?"

Katie laughed. She was still unused to that title, even though Mrs. Noyes and Sirius both said it constantly to her. I think in retrospect re- introducing them may have been dangerous….

"Fine. A lot of colds and flu, of course. I must have seen 12 sneezing, wheezing children at least. Too bad we don't have a potion for fretting mothers. They do get in the way."

Mrs. Noyes clucked a bit at that as she started to pour them tea. "Yes that would be a best seller. But you'll sympathise a bit more with them when you have your own children to worry about." She turned to hand Katie a cup, but stopped when she saw the expression on Katie's face.

"Goodness dear, what's wrong?" She laughed, and just put the cup next to Katie on the table. "Hadn't thought about that one, had you? Yes, these things take on a very different perspective from the other side of the wall, I can tell you from experience. Still, they're worth the fuss and worry, wouldn't you say?"

Katie didn't say anything, but just sat there with the same odd expression on her face. I never ever thought about….

"Katie?"

Katie looked slowly at Mrs. Noyes. "I've never really thought about having any children. It was something I never thought would, well, happen, I guess."

"I can understand that. But it's different now, isn't it? You two will make lovely parents." Will we indeed? Mrs. Noyes has no idea some of the things that haunt us, I suspect. Would Remus ever…Then another thought occurred to her.

"Mrs. Noyes? Can …," she stopped and sighed, giving Mrs. Noyes a small weak smile. "There's no way to ask this without sounding like an idiot, I'm afraid."

"Out with it dear. You are the last person on this earth I would ever consider an idiot. Tied with your husband, of course."

"Well, …. Can Remus even have children? Is the lycanthropy… hereditary?" Katie had turned red as she said this. I can't believe I don't know this. You'd think by now I knew all there was to know. But Mrs. Noyes just smiled and shook her head.

"I had thought you might look this up for yourself. I knew it would never stop you marring the boy, no matter what, but I guess you just never did think about it, did you? Of course Remus can have children. Perfectly normal children. We understand very little, really, about lycanthropy. But it is only ever passed on by the bite. Children of werewolves do not themselves become werewolves just because of the parent. Only if they get bit. Interesting, don't you think?"

Interesting? This isn't some detached clinical discussion. Only if they get bit…I think, maybe, that this is not something Remus can face. All he'll think about is if he would hurt them somehow. I never even considered any of this. Do I even want children? How could I possibly bring this up with Remus….

"Katie?"

"Oh, Mrs. Noyes. This really isn't something I ever gave much thought to. Remus and I never discussed it, and I'm not really sure that I have any desire to have any children."

Mrs. Noyes gave her a look. "That will change, dear. You didn't let yourself think about it before because you didn't think it was a possibility. Now it is a very real possibility. Instinct will kick in, I suspect. It's just a question of when. And, maybe you never discussed it because Remus thought you didn't want to talk about it."

"We talk about everything…."

"Do you now? For years there were a lot of things you two could never discuss. You told me yourself, you've just discovered a rather interesting little phenomenon that happens after you get married. Suddenly, everything is very different. And there are a lot more things to talk about, aren't there?" Well, yes, I'm going to have to agree with that. But still….

"Do you think Remus would want children? I mean, you understand how difficult things are for him with what he has to live with."

Mrs. Noyes looked at the fire. "I honestly couldn't say, dear. I know that Remus likes children, and that he's very good with them. It's his patience, of course, and the fact that he is such a nice, good man. Children instinctively know who they can and can't trust. Ironic, don't you think?"

"What?"

"Here Remus is supposed to be some creature who haunts their nightmares. But he's not. And with the wolfsbane, that part of him that he cannot control can no longer do any damage. So how does he differ from any other man?"

Katie gave her a look and rolled her eyes.

"Yes," laughed Mrs. Noyes, "but it's our sense of self that sets us all apart, isn't it? You should think about this. And talk to Remus about it. I think you may find that you do want a family."

Katie stood up, picked up her wet things, and made to return to the house by the fire. She turned back to wink at Mrs. Noyes. "Well, at the very least, we have Sirius to keep an eye on." She could hear Mrs. Noyes laughing as she stepped into the fireplace and vanished.

***

Katie stepped out of the fireplace in Remus' study. She had laughed when she discovered he had reset up his connection to the network so that whenever she returned it would be here, the most likely place he would be when he was home. That was sweet. But Remus was away just now helping the Aurors track some Death Eaters who were accused of something particularly upsetting that Remus refused to tell her, and he had also forbade Sirius to tell her. Katie was still struggling a bit with this newly discovered over-protective streak in Remus, but decided that it wasn't worth getting upset over. She'd just have to quietly figure out a way to break the habit. He only does it because he hates seeing you upset, not because he thinks you can't deal with it. That makes all the difference.

She walked down the hallway to the other end of the floor where Sirius had his own study. Occasionally Sirius, in his animagus form, would go with Remus, but only when Remus was working on his own. This time, a group had gone out together so Sirius stayed at home. He had busied himself with writing long letters to Harry and following up any new leads about where Peter Pettigrew might be. The story of what had really happened was known, and believed, by a few more people now, but it would never really mean anything unless they found Pettigrew.

Katie stopped outside the door. Maybe Remus has discussed the idea of children with him. Katie knew, from hearing various stories, that Remus had been particularly attached to Harry when he had been a baby. And he had truly loved being a teacher, whatever the reason Dumbledore had brought him to Hogwarts for in the first place. Katie knew that if Remus had ever said anything at all on the subject in the first place, he probably would have said it to Sirius. But she still hesitated before knocking. Maybe I should just go mull over this on my own for a while. I'm sure he's busy. But now that Mrs. Noyes had brought up this idea, she found she couldn't stop thinking about it. She wasn't ready to say anything to Remus, but it might be a good idea to see what Sirius thought first.

She knocked. After a moment, the door swung open and she stepped in. Sirius was sitting at the desk, leaning over some rather musty looking old book, and holding his wand absently. He looked up briefly, and then let his attention go back to the book.

"Hello. Still raining?"

"Have you tried to look out the window?" She saw him smile, but he didn't look up.

"Yes I had noticed it is rather dark for the early afternoon. Have a good morning? Do you need some lunch or something?"

"No, I'm fine. Just wanted to drop by and let you know I was back." She stood in front of his fire, tracing the pattern in the bricks in the mantelpiece. "What are you reading there?"

"Old book on charms. Some dandy things in here, I can tell you. Did you know you could charm an arrow to pierce any particular body part you choose? Nasty."

Oh, that's delightful. Now I have something new to worry about whenever Remus goes off.

"Sirius? Has Remus ever talked to you about…."she trailed off. I'm not sure how I feel about this, why should I be bothering Sirius and trying to figure this out?

"About what?" he asked, absently, still absorbed in the charm text.

We don't need to do this right now. There's too much happening anyway to think about these things. It's not safe; we can't possibly think about this until all the trouble dies down anyway. If it dies down….

"Oh, nothing. Go back to work."

Sirius gave a snort, but didn't look up. "Mrs. Lupin, don't be a prat. You wouldn't have come in here if it were nothing. Out with it."

What the hell.

"Has Remus ever talked to you about children? Well, about having them, I mean?"

Sirius didn't say anything for a moment. He seemed not to have heard her. That's it, I'm out of here. I can't believe Mrs. Noyes gave me such a stupid idea. Suddenly Sirius threw the book aside and jumped up, utterly startling her as he hugged her and laughed.

"You're pregnant! That's fantastic! Why the hell are you standing here telling me? Let's see if we can track down Remus…."

Katie grabbed him as he went for the door. "NO! No, Sirius. Wrong. I'm not pregnant. Not."

Sirius stopped, and seemed a little crestfallen. That rather surprised her. "I was just wondering", she went on, "if the subject has ever come up. We've certainly never talked about it, but I thought maybe you might have."

Sirius looked at her and shook his head. "I think that this is one of those "no go" zones for Remus. He never really thought he'd get married and all that." He gave her a wink. "But things change, right?"

She smiled at him and sat on the chair next to Sirius' desk. Sirius sat back down and watched her. He seemed lost in thought. Then he asked, "What do you think about having children?"

Katie had to smile at this. "This was pretty much a "no go" zone for me, too. Same reason. I couldn't stand to let myself dream about something that was pretty much never going to happen."

Sirius nodded.

They sat there for a little bit, before Katie looked back at him.

"What do you think he might say to the idea," she asked him quietly. I'm not certain he would be overly keen on it. I'd bet he thinks…he thinks it would be too dangerous. And that he couldn't do right by any children, because he's been shunned and struggled so much in his life. Everything has been so hard for him.

Sirius thought about that for a few minutes. Finally, with a sigh, he looked back at her and shrugged.

"Katie, I honestly don't know. I can think of any number reasons why he would love the idea, and any number of reasons why he would hate it. This will be a probably be a sticky subject with him. I can tell you that I do remember how much he loved Harry when he was a baby. Remus is so patient and good with children. That's why to this day I understand that any number of his former students at Hogwarts still miss him. But, those weren't his own children. Those were children who would be safely away from him when the wolf came. A child of his would be living in the house. And a child of his would have a werewolf as a father." Sirius shook his head, and then sighed again.

"Any child would be damn lucky to have a parent such as Remus. But I'm not sure Remus would agree with me."

Katie nodded, and chewed on a fingernail absently. "I think we're in total agreement on all of this."

"So what are you going to say to Remus?"

Katie shook her head and stood up to leave. "Nothing."

Sirius frowned. "Katie…."

"Nothing just yet, Sirius. I'm still not sure what I feel about all this. Things are bad enough right now without my giving him one more thing to feel bad about, I think."

"Alright, I'll let it go for now. But I can assure you that my New Year's resolution will be to bring it back up if nothing has been said by then. With both of you."

Katie looked at him sharply. "Don't you dare go saying anything to Remus to upset him."

Sirius smiled. "No, Katie-girl. I heed your warning and will do no such thing. For now. And Katie? You can always come and talk to me about it yourself, you know. To work things out before you decide what you want to say to Remus."

***

When Remus returned the next day, he looked exhausted and troubled. He confessed to Katie that they had had a bad run in with some rather dangerous Death Eaters. It was clearer than ever that Voldemort was back, practically to his full strength, and was busy aligning forces everywhere. There had been a confrontation that resulted in one of the Death eaters being very severely injured, and who was most likely going to die.

"But you're not hurt, are you?"

Remus shook his head, and sank down on their bed with a groan. "No, exhausted, that's all. And I'm starting to ache from the full moon already. It'll be rising early tomorrow, and it's so damn dark from the rain that…."

But Katie had shushed him, and tucked him in to bed. "Rest. Try not to think about it."

Remus fell asleep and did not move again until next morning. When he woke up, he looked worse than Katie had seen him in a long time. That's what days of chasing lunatics will get you. I better see if I can do anything. "Remus, love, do you want any breakfast?"

"No," he said in a hoarse voice. "Just let me drink the potion, then I'm going back to sleep. Oh Katie, this is just like it was…." He lay there staring at the ceiling, looking angry and anxious at the same time. "I'm not going to let this happen again."

And somehow I thought that this would be a good time to bring up the idea of having children? Not a chance.

***

Three days later, Remus was back to his old self. He looked healthy, he spent the better part of breakfast trading friendly barbs with Sirius, and he fussed when Katie sneezed. Twice.

"Katie, you're a healer. Do something for that and stop my worrying," he teased, as he held her loosely and nuzzled her neck. The rain had finally stopped and sun was actually coming in through the windows, but it was still bitterly cold. It's going to snow soon. Then you have to worry about him being outside for days in the snow. Great.

"Things look a little better today, do they?" she said in a teasing tone. He laughed quietly, but said nothing and kissed her cheek.

"I might be contagious, you know."

He still just smiled. He's in a good mood, at least. But I know this look I'm getting now. He knows something's up, and he's about to play the "we swore we'd never hold anything back" card. And yes, he can now see that I've figured that out.

"So, what is it?" Can't we ever just sit and talk about the weather?

"Okay, Remus, I know we promised. Give me a minute to think of how to start this conversation without giving you a heart attack."

Remus raised his eyebrows at this. "I think that comment there might do it alone. What are you trying to do, give me more grey hair?" He was still laughing as he teased her, so that at least was good.

Katie considered the best way to start this conversation. Nope, can't think of any. Just go for it.

"Remus, Mrs. Noyes asked me an interesting question."

"Which was what?"

"She asked…if you and I were…."

Remus grinned and leaned in to kiss her again. "You and are a lot of things, love; what exactly was she asking?"

Katie smiled, but pushed him back so she could look in his eyes. Okay, he just figured out that this is serious at least.

"She asked if we had given any thought to having children," she said calmly. She watched his face change from the happy, open expression he had had to quiet, closed expression. I knew it. This is not a good thing to bring up, damn it.

"Remus, love, we don't need to discuss this now. I personally never gave it much thought. I was just keeping in good faith with the promises we made not to…." She stopped as he held up a hand to silence her.

"Katie, don't you want children?"

"Are you saying you do?" she was very surprised by his question. But he didn't respond, just went to stand by the window.

Remus sighed, and leaned against the window frame, staring out across the garden. His face had taken on the familiar stony expression he wore when he was struggling to keep everything very controlled.

"Katie, do you remember the first day we met?"

Despite everything, Katie had to smile warmly at this. Oh, yes. Very well. Young Mr. Lupin and his beautiful eyes. "Yes. I fell in love with you then, you know? You were just so…I can't explain it. You took my breath away."

She could see Remus smiling, but his face was still ashen.

"Yes," he whispered. "I know the feeling." He stopped for a moment, then continued in his normal tone; "You asked me if I would stay and have tea while you worked."

"Yes, I think that subconsciously I didn't want you to leave. Not just yet."

"I very consciously wanted to stay. I almost did. I…I forgot myself. You had such a pretty smile and the loveliest eyes I had ever seen. It was like …you weren't just being polite; you looked like you meant it, when you asked me to stay, and I thought how wonderful that was." He paused again.

Katie looked at him closely. "I did mean it. But you left, after you saw that witch and her children across the street."

He nodded, but made no reply. I knew there was something then. He did look like he was going to stay, he wanted to. But he left so quickly, and he looked so hurt. Why? Is it something about the witch, or was it something about the children?

"Remus, love," she said quietly, "why did you leave like that?"

Remus didn't speak for a long time. Finally he stepped back from the window, took her hand and sat her on the couch. Then he told her.

***

Remus had finally come back to his parent's house. He simply had nowhere else to go. After his father had passed, Remus couldn't bear being in the house, and had stayed away for years. But, being what he was, he had a very difficult time. He could never hold a job very long, not without disclosing why he was absent so often. It had been different, before Voldemort was defeated. He had worked as an Auror, with James and Sirius. Not exactly a standard job, and his absences were not really noticed. Especially with James and Sirius to cover for him.

But then everything was gone. Worse, he had been forced to admit to his superior what he was, because of the investigation as to what had happened that night. She was shocked, but didn't say anything. She'd just excused him, telling him to take a few more days off, because she knew how deeply he was grieving everything that had just happened. She never said anything, but when the Aurors had started to disband and get on with their lives, she had made certain that Remus was one of the first to go. Nothing was ever said, but there was no need. Remus felt oddly grateful that she didn't say anything to anyone about it, and had left without a further word.

Remus just went on trying to get through his life as best he could. He had come to see his father after that, to spend some time at the house and try to decide what to do next. His father was all he had left. But Mr. Lupin was so angry over everything that had happened that it made it difficult. Remus knew that his father was grieving for James and Lily, and especially for Remus.

Finally, one night, it was too much. Remus had made the mistake of saying Sirius' name. They had not, up to that point, said anything about that, but now Mr. Lupin flew into a rage. Remus had sat there, stunned, as his normally quiet, patient, controlled father, the one who had loved Sirius more than any other of Remus' friends, cursed Sirius' name and cried that Sirius was lucky he was sent to Azkaban before Mr. Lupin had found him.

"How could he? How could he have done this? I'd kill him myself if they let me near him…."

"Dad, please…."

"NO! No; he betrayed all of you. He just…how could he have lied to us? How could he have done these things! All I ever heard from that miserable boy was how much he loved you all, how much you meant to him. And look what he did. To betray that love and that trust so utterly. To condemn James and Lily; to orphan his own godson! What has Harry got left now? And to just stand there, and kill poor Peter, and all those other innocents. And what he did to you."

"Dad…."

But his father was not listening to him. "He told me, he told me he loved you and he would never hurt you. I believed him! I wanted so much to believe him…. I wanted everything for you, everything, and that bastard took it all. He would have killed you too, had you been there. I couldn't take it if he had done that; if he took you from me. Thank god you were…"

"I was useless! I was locked away, a thing, a monster, utterly helpless. Some wretched animal that could think about nothing but killing myself!"

Mr. Lupin slammed his fist on the table so hard Remus thought he heard a crack.

"Don't you ever, ever, say those things. They are not true; you are you, you're my boy, my Remus. You are not a monster. Sirius…." But he had choked to a stop. Remus stared at the table for a few moments, then stood up and left. They never spoke of it again, and a few years later Mr. Lupin had died, still believing that Sirius Black had destroyed Remus' sense of self and happiness.

***

Katie stared at the fire. That must have been so terrible for him then, but it's probably worse now. His father never knew what happened.

"Katie? You are never, ever to say any of this to Sirius. Sirius and my father were very close. My father truly loved him, and that's why he was so heartbroken over what happened. I know that if my dad had had the chance to know the truth, to know that it was Peter who had caused everything, he would have taken Sirius back in a second, and begged him to forgive all the things he said and thought."

Katie nodded, but didn't look at him. "I think that Sirius already…."

"I know that Sirius grieves to think that my dad died believing all those terrible things. But it's just not something we can ever change. Please, never speak to Sirius about this. I don't like asking this, but it's too important."

"Of course. But that still doesn't explain about that day we met. Or about our other discussion…."

Remus stroked her cheek, and gave a thin smile.

"I'm getting to that."

***

Remus finally returned to the house he grew up in when he had nowhere else left to go. The house was in bad shape, and the garden had gone wild. As he had so little money, there was nothing he could really do for the house. But he had set about putting the garden right immediately. And he could use the garden to make a modest living, at least.

The first month back, he never went beyond the garden. He stayed carefully away from everyone. As very few people ever came out that way, he wasn't noticed. His parents had of course chosen the house for that reason, when they needed to take care of him as a child.

Finally, he had needed a few things, so he went to the village to find Mrs. Noyes. She knew all about him, and it was because of her that his parents had chosen this village. The Lupins had been desperately trying to find any healer who could help them do anything for Remus. Most of the people they had talked to were just horrified, and told them there was nothing to do and sent them on their way. But Mrs. Noyes felt deeply for them, and had said she would do everything she could.

Remus had felt humiliated, walking back into Mrs. Noyes' store in his ragged robes. He simply had no place else to go. She had recognised him instantly, and he was stunned when she dropped what she was doing and came over to embrace him.

"Young Remus Lupin! Back at last! Oh, I have missed you, boy. Sit down, let me get you some tea and something to eat."

"No, really, I just…."

"Sit down, Remus. Now, what are you up to?"

Remus looked down, unwilling to tell Mrs. Noyes how bad things had been for him. Not sure what to say, he told her that he was back at his house, and was replanting the garden. "I thought that perhaps I could grow…."

"Wonderful! Oh, to have your mothers' wonderful herbs and flowers back will be a godsend. There's no one here for miles who has such a selection, or such quality."

Remus had flushed at this. "Mrs. Noyes, I'm not sure my skills are quite that of my mothers."

"Nonsense. This is me, Remus, and I've known you since you were little. You helped her with that garden all your life. Yes, this is going to be very good. When will you start having things ready for me?"

"Not for a while, at least. I've just finished clearing away everything really. That's why I came to talk to you. I…."

"You'll be needing something in advance, of course. Not a problem. Will you need and seeds and stocks, too? Or is there enough left there to get going properly? Oh, I'll give you a list of the things that would really make the difference to me, wait here." She jumped up and went into the back room.

Remus sat there, still feeling slightly off over everything, but he was starting to relax. This was going to be okay, really. It will be nice to be back here. Suddenly the door to the shop opened, and a young witch came in with two small children. She looked distracted and a little upset.

"Hello. Is Mrs. Noyes in?"

"Yes, she's just gone round back to get something, and will be right back." Remus noticed one of the little girls looking at him, and smiled at her. She smiled back and walked over to him, in that casual and open manner children always seem to have.

"Hello. Who are you then?"

"I'm Remus."

"Hello Remus. I'm Emma. That's Gwen," she added, pointing to her sister.

"Nice to meet you, Emma."

She smiled again, and Mrs. Noyes came back.

"Here we are Remus…oh hello Mrs. Ferris. And hello to you two. Care for some chocolate?"

Remus had laughed at this, as the girls quickly rushed over to Mrs. Noyes. He had had more than his fair share of chocolate at that age from Mrs. Noyes, too.

"Mrs. Noyes, I think that there's a dreadful problem in the close." Their mother said in a strained voice.

"Why do you think that, sweetie?"

"Three days ago those two decided to sneak out and go to the meadow. They wanted to see if they could see the faeries in the full moon. I had told them that this wasn't true, that only people with the gift for seeing faeries would ever spot one, but they decided to go anyway."

Mrs. Noyes chuckled and patted Gwen on the head.

"Natural curiosity. Very healthy in children."

"Yes, well, they came home very frightened and upset. It seems that they were almost to the meadow when they heard something."

Remus froze in his seat.

"What did you hear girls?" asked Mrs. Noyes.

"I sounded like a dog, ," said Emma. "It was a horrible howling noise. And we thought we heard something breaking, too. Like, like wood or something."

"And what did you do then?"

"We ran back home, and told mummy, and she locked all the windows and doors and said we were to stay in our room and not move until the next day, then she locked that door too."

Mrs. Noyes looked up at Mrs. Ferris and said, "That seems a bit much for two little girls thinking they heard a dog."

Mrs. Ferris didn't say anything, but then grabbed both girls and shoved them out the front door, telling them to go to the sweet shop where she would meet them. Then she turned back to Mrs. Noyes.

"You know it wasn't a dog! It's back, I just know it! Nobody's heard anything for years, but I still remember…."

"Dear, you are making no sense. Now calm down."

"Calm down! When there's a werewolf in the close? Are you mad?"

Mrs. Noyes gave her a sharp look. Remus felt ill, and continued to keep his gaze fixed on his hands.

"You know no such thing. Honestly. And all those rumours years ago were just that. Stop it, or you'll frighten your children."

Mrs. Ferris was now turning a dangerous shade of red. "I will do no such thing. Just because they never found out who it was, doesn't mean it wasn't real. I saw it. I saw it myself when I was little. How can someone do this? Come into a nice respectable place and live like it was nothing? Think of the children, think what this thing could do? Your children may have grown and moved on, Mrs. Noyes, but mine are right here, and I will not sit by and wait for them to be killed by some monster." She stopped, and seemed to suddenly notice Remus.

"Who are you?" she snapped.

Mrs. Noyes stepped forward. "You may not remember Mr. Remus Lupin, I think he was away at school most of the year by the time you came here."

"Lupin? I know that name."

"No doubt you remember his parents. They lived at the house at the end of the road leading to the meadow. Young Remus has just moved back there himself."

Mrs. Ferris thought a moment, then stepped forward and offered her hand. "Yes, I do remember now. I knew your parents, but you were away at Hogwarts by the time I came, so I don't think I ever did meet you. How do you do?"

Remus took her hand, and kept his face in a tight mask. He managed a smile and said hello, but did not look her in the eye.

"Wait, you live near the close, then, don't you?" Mrs. Ferris said suddenly.

"Yes, I do actually". Remus felt like he was going to faint, but still stood very still.

"Did you hear anything then? The other night I mean. Have you heard this monster?"

Remus finally looked at her. "No. No, I haven't heard anything. There are any number of foxes out there and I seem to remember from my own childhood running about in the dark that the noises we hear can often seem at lot worse than they are. I suspect what they heard was a fox close by, running through the undergrowth, no doubt after his dinner." Remus cringed at how easily this lie came out. But Mrs. Ferris seemed to have calm down a bit.

"Perhaps you're right about that. That hadn't occurred to me. Well, maybe." She looked at Remus sharply. "But you will tell us if you ever hear anything? I know Mrs. Noyes may think I'm an alarmist, but I remember the rumours, as no doubt you will as well, from when I was younger. I even saw it once, I just know it, out in the meadow. I will not let anything happen to my children if I can prevent it."

"Of course not. And, if I do see or hear anything, I will let you know."

She smiled at him, then turned to Mrs. Noyes. "I did need some things, actually."

They went to collect what she needed, and Remus sank back down into his chair. He felt ill and exhausted, and totally disgusted with himself. Mrs. Ferris left a little while later, and Mrs. Noyes came back to where Remus was sitting.

"Were you outside then?"

"No! I was locked in the shed. I must have…I forgot…" he was fighting back tears now. "I didn't think anyone would be nearby, so I must have forgotten to put silencing charms on the shed. I just…my father used to do that, whenever I was here, so I think I just sort of expected them to be there. How could I have done something so stupid!"

"Shhh, dear. It's alright. Now, that woman is a gossip and an alarmist, but I think you've taken care of her nicely." Remus made a face, thinking about the lies he had just told. "Don't look like that. Just do be more careful in the future. Now, here's what I need from you…."

But Remus shook his head and stood up.

"This was a terrible idea. I'll just sell the house and hope the money can last a while."

"You will do no such thing. You will stay right here and get on with your life. Think about your mum and dad, will you? They knew you knew were no monster, and goodness, boy, so do I. We'll just do what we can, like we always did. I forbid you to leave."

Remus looked very surprised, and Mrs. Noyes laughed. "Yes, I forbid it. Now let's get on with it."

***

Remus stopped talking and looked at Katie. She was crying softly, and wrapped her arms around him when he had finished. He held her quietly but did not speak again. This suddenly makes sense. Every time he looks at a child, he hears what that woman said. All he thinks about are the 'what ifs'.

"You didn't want to have to talk to her again. You didn't want to have to lie, and think about all those things she said. But Remus she's just one…."

"Katie, that's just one of a hundred versions of that story I could tell you. This isn't just one overly protective parent. This is…everyone. And they have a right to be frightened, and scared. I wouldn't want my child in danger either. I would do anything to protect that child."

She tried to stop crying, but she couldn't. She suddenly realised that she really did want to have a family, but was equally certain that Remus would never allow it. This is too unfair…. Remus turned her face to look at him. She was very, very surprised to see that he was smiling.

"You didn't answer my question earlier, you know. I asked you if you wanted to have children. Do you?"

She knew she had no choice but to answer him, and truthfully. But she couldn't speak, so she just nodded. And Remus smiled a little more.

"Good. So do I. We'll just have to figure out how we can pull it off. I think we'll manage, don't you?"

I can't believe I'm hearing this. I've fallen asleep on the couch or something.

"Katie, you were so sure I'd say no, weren't you?" he asked her, still smiling. Then he looked out of the window in to the garden, and absently ran his hands across her back. "A while ago, I probably would have. But I've come to realise a few things over the last year. Mainly that some risks are worth taking."

"You always knew that, Remus." He looked back at her and smiled.

"I said realise, not know." He sighed. "This won't be easy, and even talking about it when things are so uncertain seems irresponsible to the welfare of the child, but….James and Lily had Harry, despite everything that was happening. And he brought more joy and hope and just plain normalcy than you can imagine. Doesn't matter to a hungry 4 month old where the Death Eaters are meeting, or how far they've got, or where they might strike tonight. The baby just needs to be cared for. And you drop everything, and you do it. So, why shouldn't we do this?" he winked at her, "Bet it'll be fun."

Katie just had to laugh at this. This is definitely going to be fun. "We better tell Sirius about this before he bursts."

"Oh, is this why he's been so jumpy the past few days?"

"Yes. When I first came back after seeing Mrs. Noyes and all this started, I thought I might talk to him to see if maybe you two had ever discussed any of this. I made him swear he would say nothing to you on the subject."

Remus chuckled. "No wonder he's been so twitchy. This is a big subject. And I can just guess his opinions on the matter." He kissed Katie and stood up. "I'll just go have a chat with him, shall I?"

"Yes, but do me a favour, would you? String him along a bit to pay him back for making me fret he was going to spill the beans."

"You know he wouldn't."

"No, but he was trying damn hard to make me do it, I can tell you."

Remus laughed and left the room. She heard him call out for Sirius as he went down the hall. Still bellowing at each other like this is school. Imagine what the noise level will be like with a few kids running about. And, finally, she let herself lay on the couch and dream about what it might be like.

---------------****---------------

Part 2

Sirius felt that he had never been colder or wetter in his whole life. This included both times James had knocked him off his broom into the lake at Hogwarts (deliberately), and the time he had managed to capsize a boat in the North Sea of the shores of Scotland. In January. This is beyond awful. And having to stay out here, for hours and hours at a time. This better pay off. I am not as young as I used to be, and I don't think I can take much more of this. It was early March, and the harsh winter had refused to go away. It was bitterly cold, and snow was still on the ground in this part of the country.

Sirius and Remus were carefully watching the house of a wizard suspected of leading one of Voldemort's cartels in this area. They had it on good authority that in a few days time, there would be a meeting at this house, so they were waiting to see who was going to turn up. Good enough authority to warrant our being out here, at least. Remus had made them come early, to find the best place to be, and to see who started arriving when. He had agreed to have Sirius join him this time. The full moon was going to rise the day before the meeting, so Remus wanted Sirius there to help him keep an eye on things, particularly when he was transformed. Despite how angry Remus had been with Sirius when he had faced the wolf in his human form, they at least had learned a valuable bit of information from the incident. As long as he had the potion, Remus wasn't dangerous, so Sirius could be with him and stay in his human form, which was much better for keeping an eye on the house and remembering whoever showed up. But he's still jumpy about it. He's only just started letting Katie be with him after he's transformed. That was a difficult transition for both of them, but I'm glad he did it.

Try to think of something warm and happy. That'll help. He looked over at Remus. Remus looked utterly miserable, and paler than Sirius would have liked. Probably the same expression I've got. Oh let's do try any think about something other than how cold, wet, and old we're getting

"So, Moony, if you could be sitting anywhere else in the universe right now, where would it be?"

Remus sighed. "Sitting on the couch in my study, in front of a roaring fire, drinking an obscenely large glass of butterbeer, with Katie curled up in my arms."

"That's it? That's the best you can do?"

Remus gave a sly smile. "You asked where I wanted to be sitting, Padfoot; not speculate on where your lurid imagination would have you at."

"Ouch, Moony, touché."

"Trying to get me to think happy, warm thoughts, are you?"

I know my happy thought, Mr. Lupin. "Like the pitter-patter of little feet?"

Remus smiled, but didn't take his gaze off the road. "Maybe. Eventually"

"What do you mean 'eventually', I thought you two decided that this was a good thing?"

"We did. And when it happens, it happens. These things do take time, Padfoot."

Do they now? It's been months now since this was given the go ahead. "Moony do hurry up about it, won't you? I'm going mad waiting to get my hands on the next generation of Marauders to corrupt."

Remus laughed at that. "Yes, Katie did express some concern over what ideas you might put into a child's head."

"Just me?"

"No, she expressed an equal level of concern over my potential behaviour. She informed me that she is more than a match for the both of us, so we'd better watch it." She is at that. But that just raises the stakes, doesn't it?

"You're going to be an amazing dad, Moony, dangerous corruptive influences or not. Just like your own father." He saw Remus' smile get a little sad, but he smiled nonetheless.

"Thanks, Sirius. I hope so." He lapsed back into silence, and Sirius could tell by the look on his face he was lost in his own thoughts. Best leave it. Hopefully it is a warm happy thought. What should I think about then? He looked back briefly at Remus, and smiled when he saw the far off look on his friend's face. Same look he had on his wedding day. Now there's a good happy thought….

***

October 31st turned out to be a really beautiful, if not slightly cold, day for a wedding. Remus had been in the best mood of his life for the past two weeks while they were getting ready for everything. He walked around the house with a constant smile on his face, and Sirius heard him humming to himself more than once.

"It's all turning out perfectly, isn't it?" he'd commented one morning over breakfast.

Sirius had laughed. "I'd be horrified over this constant good mood if I didn't know you had such a good reason for it. Come to think of it, James was just as annoying, wasn't he?"

Remus just made a face at him and went out to meet Katie, who had just walked in the front gate. I am glad that everything really is turning out well. They deserve it. In fact, during all of this, Remus had only been concerned over one thing, and that had been Harry's opinion of the date of the wedding, and why they had chosen it.

"What if he hates the idea?"

Sirius hadn't been concerned at all. "He'll love this, I know it. Concentrate more on how you're going to convince Albus to bring those three down here with him and Minerva." Sirius had smiled to himself at that thought. Remus may be nice and polite most of the time, but when his mind gets set on something, it gets done, without argument. Hope Dumbledore remembers exactly how stubborn the man can be.

Later that morning, Remus had come to see Sirius in his study.

"Sirius? Will you read something for me please?"

"Of course. Another report?"

"No." Remus looked at the parchment he held and rolled it lightly in his hands. "No, I've written a letter to Harry. I was wondering if you would give it a go over before I sent it to him."

Sirius looked puzzled. "I've never read your letters to Harry before. Why now?"

"I've written to Harry explaining why we chose Halloween to get married." Remus looked at Sirius. Oh, I see. Getting Harry's permission, I guess. Very Remus. But, as always, he has a point. Maybe Harry does have something to say about it.

"I'll read it if you like, but I'm sure it's fine. And I'm sure that Harry will be equally as pleased as I was. I do think this will be the best thing for all of us."

Remus smiled, but held the letter out to Sirius. "Please, it's important that it is alright with Harry. I want him to be here, but I want to know that this is okay with him. They were our friends, but they were his parents."

Sirius took the parchment and opened it.

Harry-

Thank you for your congratulations, from both myself and from Katie. I am very happy, if still a little surprised, by the turn of events. Wait till you find yourself in a similar situation, and then we'll talk.

Katie and I are busy setting a date for the wedding. We very much want you, Ron and Hermione to be there, and I will be speaking with Dumbledore about it. Sirius will be begging Dumbledore about it, I suspect. In any case, no matter what Dumbledore chooses, I wanted to speak to you about the actual day of the wedding.

I was thinking that it would be wonderful to be married on Halloween. For so long, Harry, that day has held so many tragic memories for me, as well as for Sirius, and, I am sure, yourself. It had occurred to me that getting married on that day would finally give us all something good to remember. I want to remember only the wonderful things about your mum and dad, and their own wedding was one of the happiest days of my life. You know that I would give almost anything to have them here now, sharing this with me just as I shared that day with them. And, in you, they are. I see you as their voice in this matter, Harry. Sirius is very pleased with the idea himself, but I want to know how you feel about it.

If you think that this is inappropriate, or you find it upsetting in any way, we will find another day. Please, don't think that you need to agree to this to be polite. This is too important, really, for such things. I hope to hear from you soon, and to see you on the wedding day, whenever that is.

Take care,

Remus

Sirius felt like crying, for some reason. But he held himself in check, handed the letter back to Remus, and just said, "That's perfect."

The next day, Hedwig arrived with a very short note.

Remus-

This is brilliant. I couldn't be happier, and we will be there. Dumbledore just said. See you then!

Give my love to Katie and Sirius, too-

Harry

Dumbledore, after specifying exactly what wards must be set up, similar to the ones they had set in the summer, was only too pleased to bring Harry, Ron and Hermione with him. Sirius felt that Dumbledore really understood how important it was to Remus to have them there. And he and Remus spent the next several days diligently, and happily, making sure they had up every one of the complex and difficult wards were put up, in addition to the ones Remus had already set. For Katie.

***

Happy as Sirius was to have the younger generation joining them, he was fascinated most of all to meet Katie's parents. I gather there was a bit of fuss over this, but even when one immovable force meets another, something's going to happen. Katie had invited them, reluctantly Sirius could gather, and they were due to arrive the day before the ceremony. This brought the problem of how they were going to introduce Sirius to them.

"We can't very well explain to them everything that happened, like we did with Mrs. Noyes," Katie was saying to Remus. "She knew Sirius before, and she trusts you implicitly. In fact, she seemed delighted to have Sirius back, as it were."

Remus had grinned at that. "Well, he was one of her best customers, once. Kept falling off brooms and out of trees and breaking various bits of himself, you know."

Sirius gave him a wicked smile, then turned to Katie.

"No chance of them recognising me is there? I mean truly realising, well…."

Katie shook her head. "I doubt they'll recognise me." Remus had given her a very stern look at that comment, so she retreated. "Really, Sirius. The only thing they might possibly recognise, in any way shape or form, is the name. So that's got to be dealt with."

Remus said, with a totally blank expression, "We could just introduce him as Snuffles, you know, and leave it at that." Yes, thank you, Moony. Just brilliant. That won't raise any eyebrows, will it?

Katie rolled her eyes and left the room saying, "Once again, I'll just leave it to you two and carefully not say a word."

***

Katie and Remus had gone to collect her parents from the muggle train station. Sirius busied himself with making certain that lunch was ready when they got there. Eventually, he heard the car pull up. Thank goodness Katie drives. Remus never did get the hang of that, no matter how clever the man is. He left the kitchen, and went outside to help them.

Katie's parents seemed nice enough. Mrs. Davies was glowing, as any mother of the bride should be, and her father greeted him with a very big smile.

"Ah, Edmund, good. Let me introduce you to my parents. Mum, dad, this is Edmund Black, Remus' best friend and our best man." Sirius had chosen Mr. Lupin's first name, in honor of the day, and had seen no reason to change his own last name, which was reasonably innocuous.

Sirius stepped forward and shook their hands.

"Very pleased to meet you. Katie's marring one of the best, you know."

Mr. Davies had laughed, and shook Sirius' hand warmly. "I don't doubt it for a minute. Couldn't imagine her choosing anything else. Yes, very nice to meet you, Mr. Black."

"Please, call me Edmund."

"Edmund then." Seems very nice. Why was Katie unhappy with inviting them? She looks like him, actually.

The Davies proved to be very nice and polite indeed. They should take to Remus like a fish to water. Same calm, controlled manner. Interesting. They did seem to like Remus very much, and it was evident that they were very happy for Katie. Katie still seemed strained at bit though, but Sirius decided that this was just nerves. But she looked positively ill later in the afternoon, when Mr. Davies and Remus went into Remus' study to talk. Her mother had gone to lie down and rest from the long day, and Katie was with Sirius helping to get food ready for the next day.

Sirius looked at her, shelling peas with an unusual ferocity.

"Katie girl," he said softly, using his own term of endearment for her, "What is it? Nerves getting to you? Tomorrow's a big day. But a great one, yes?"

She said nothing at first, and then replied equally softly, "Yes. A very great day."

"Then why are you upset?"

Katie said nothing, and continued to attack the peapods.

I know. My relationship with my own parents was a bit disastrous.

"They seem to be very happy for you. And they obviously like Remus."

She just nodded. Sirius sighed, and decided not to push it. Making Katie angry the night before her wedding was a guarantee that he would infuriate Remus, and that was no way to start tomorrow. Finally, though, he heard her say very quietly, 'Glad they're finally showing interest in something I do. Bet they never thought I'd pull this sort of thing off."

Sirius stopped what he was doing and went over to her. She didn't look at him.

"Katie, my own relationship with my parents was not good. Despite being tied for top of my class, I always felt they thought I was a bit of an idiot. Maybe I acted like one. Actually, I did act like one. Every time an owl was sent to them describing exactly why I was getting detention, yet again, I would picture them sitting at the dining room table with grim faces discussing what an absolute fool I was. And that was a lot of owls. I used to wonder why they couldn't be more like the Lupins, who, although not exactly pleased that Remus caused a few owl flights himself, tended to just laugh it off, and still completely adored him."

Katie finally looked at him.

"Katie, my parents died thinking I was a murderer who betrayed his friends in the worst possible way. Your parents are happy for you, right now, no matter what. Enjoy that."

She burst into tears at that, and threw her arms around Sirius. He hugged her back, but said nothing else. He was pleased to see at dinner that she seemed very happy indeed, and that her parents obviously revelled in her and Remus' unmasked joy.

***

The next day was gorgeous. Despite the chill, the sky was a perfect blue, and the tress in the forest blazed red and yellow, in strong contrast to the green of the meadow. The flowerbeds were full of winter blooms, and everything looked about as perfect as they could have hoped.

The rest of their guests, though few in number, arrived in great spirits that morning. Sirius could hardly wait to see Harry, and embraced him warmly when he finally appeared. Ron was beaming too, and Hermione looked absolutely radiant. Wonder when they will really notice that? Actually, they probably have. I'll keep an eye on that.

"Where's Katie?", she asked happily.

"Upstairs waiting for you." Hermione was standing with Katie. She had first asked Mrs. Noyes, but Mrs. Noyes said that she was far too old, and that the lovelier younger generation should all be up there together. Remus had laughed, and run a hand deliberately through his greying hair, but Mrs. Noyes insisted. Katie didn't argue with her, and was pleased when Hermione seemed eager for the job. They're very alike. I should point that out to Harry and Ron so they get a good idea of what they're up against.

Sirius had managed to keep his composure though most of the ceremony, until he handed Remus Katie's ring. At that, he had burst into tears. James' very, very happy tears.

***

Sirius was brought back to the moment; the bloody cold moment; hearing Remus sigh. He looked over at his friend and recognised Remus' concerned and worried expression.

"What is it?"

"What if this is totally the wrong place to be? What if this is nothing? We've gone and wasted days, and upset Katie for nothing." Katie was most displeased with them spending all this time chasing people across the country and living in abandoned houses like the one they had found nearby. But she said little about it, knowing it was important. Doesn't stop her worrying, though.

"We know that we're here on very good advice."

Remus said nothing. Stop sulking. This is bad enough. Let's try to cheer up, shall we?

"I suspect I'm picking up on some senseless worry here; rather like, oh let's say, fretting about O.W.L.S. results?"

Remus did manage a quiet laugh at this.

"O.W.L.S. that turned out to be very good indeed, right?" continued Sirius. "Almost as good as you did, come to think of it."

"You tied with me, as I recall."

"Not exactly. You botched potions, but I botched herbology. So it evened itself out."

"Should have paid more attention in potions, I guess."

Sirius gave a small snort. 'You paid attention in everything. You just didn't like potions, so you focused on other things. I, however, paid no attention whatsoever in herbology and got what I deserved."

Remus laughed again.

"And to think, Moony," continued Sirius in a sly tone, "you tried to leave me in charge of the garden…."

"Yes, alright, we're over that; I've already said my penance for being so stupid."

Sirius looked up at the grey sky. Rain. At least the snow will melt. He turned to Remus. "Look, we've been here all night. Let's go back for a while, change our robes and try to warm up, and then come back later. I doubt anyone will try to show up before dark anyway."

Remus gave one last pained look at the house, then nodded and stood up.

They walked back to the abandoned old house nearby where they had left their things. A small bungalow with only a few rooms, it had a reasonably good roof and gave them a place to come and dry out on occasion. They had left their stores there, and came back only when they needed to dry out or get something to eat.

This time, though, as they walked back, Sirius could feel that something was wrong. Remus obviously felt it too. They looked at each other, and without a word drew their wands and stepped forward into the house.

It was destroyed. Everything was on end, what little furniture that remained smashed, and even pieces of the wall had been torn out, like someone was looking for something behind them. Sirius and Remus did not speak as the looked at the damage, but simply turned and left.

"What now?" asked Sirius when they had gone a distance from the house.

"There could be any number of reasons why this happened, you know. It could have been muggles."

"Don't be ridiculous. Why would they do something like that?"

"Sometimes muggle youths do these sort of things. This was an old, abandoned house. They couldn't expect anyone actually used it. The opportunity to just, well, go wild, was too good to pass up."

Sirius looked furious. "Remus, that's just a very creative excuse to try and pretend this isn't exactly what it looks like. Preftokis must know we're here. We should alert the others."

Remus shook his head. "He'd have waited for us if it were him. Or set charms and hexes, don't you think? No, we need to stay right here and find out what we came to. They should all be here in three days time. This is our chance to see exactly who's involved in all this. That's too important to walk away from." He stopped talking, but was still staring back in the direction of the house with a strained look on his face. I know what he's thinking….

"Okay Remus, maybe you're right. And…" he hesitated, not sure if he should finish. This is the last thing he needs to think of; but I doubt it's ever really off his mind. "and I'm sure that Katie's okay, if it was just muggles. Even if anything were to happen, she'd go straight to Hogwarts, you know that, " he finished quietly.

Remus said nothing, but turned and continued walking back through the snow to Preftokis' house.

***

They sat in the snow for the rest of the day, watching the house and seeing a few people start to arrive. Sirius was getting very wound up, as Remus seemed to have withdrawn and had said very little. What now? Finally, Remus had turned to Sirius and looked him in the eye. Sirius did not like the look at all.

"What?"

"It's the full moon tonight, Sirius."

Sirius blinked. So what?

"And?"

"And…" Remus stopped and looked away. Finally he looked back at Sirius. "And I haven't had my potion. We need to find somewhere to put me. Now." What is he talking about. Katie always gives it to him to bring with him if he needs to.

"I don't understand, Remus. You had it when we started…."

"It was in that house. It was destroyed with everything else. I saw the smashed bottle."

Sirius felt the blood drain from his face. Then he felt himself get very angry. Why didn't he say anything?

"Remus, why didn't you say anything this morning? We could have gone back, we could have contacted Katie!"

"No. We couldn't leave, and we can't send messages, you know that. It's too much of a risk, especially if they do suspect we're here." Of course, don't risk someone following an owl back to her, however remote the chance….

"That's the stupidest thing I've heard you say since we were 13. Katie is going to have a fit over this one!"

Remus grabbed his arm and starred into his face. Sirius froze and returned his stare. Remus had a tight, wild look Sirius hadn't seen in years. The wolf; it's back, and it's angry.

"I am not going to risk everything just because of this. It's hardly a life or death matter. Finding out who these people are and what they're up to, that is. I'm not going to let them take everything away again. So I have a bad night, so what? That seems a very small price to pay to get what we need."

Sirius couldn't think of anything else to say. Remus was right, of course. But this was going to be horrible for them. The wolf hasn't been free for long time. And…Remus is so emotionally strung out right now that…okay, now I am frightened.

"Remus…." Remus shut him up with an angry wave of his hand. Right. Be calm. Don't infuriate the wolf anymore. It'll just hurt Remus if you do.

"We've got to find someplace nearby you can lock me up, so you can still watch the house. Now."

Without another word he dropped Sirius' arm and walked away. Sirius could feel his heart pounding, and had to take a few seconds to regain his composure before he followed. All he could think as he watched Remus' back ahead of him, seeing the tight set to his shoulders and feeling the anxiety and fear coming from him, was of that morning years ago when he saw what terrible fury the wolf had unleashed. He almost died. The wolf almost killed him that night. But it's different now, isn't it? He knows how much he's got; how much he's loved. Surely it couldn't be as bad as that night. Sirius could feel himself shaking. I am frightened of this wolf. But I'm not going to let it win. It just can't have him.

They found an ancient stone shed on the corner of a large field just over the ridge from the road. A herd of sheep was visible in the distance, and Sirius realised that this must be an old feed keep of the farm. They pried open the door and looked around. The building was small, but strong. The stone walls were thick, the old wood roof and the door solid. It would have to do, in any event, because the moon was getting ready to rise.

Sirius went over and grabbed some dangerous looking piece of farm equipment and threw it outside. Remus gave him a curious but fevered look. Sirius just stared at him pointedly until Remus nodded slowly, and sat down. He looked as bad as Sirius had ever seen him, and the layer of grime on his face only accented how pale his face had become.

Sirius sat down himself. This is going to be a long night.

"Get out, Sirius."

Sirius looked up sharply at Remus. What? Not a chance….

"Get out now. It'll be starting soon." Remus' teeth were chattering now, and he had started to shake. Sweat was pouring down his forehead, leaving trails in the grime on his face.

"I'm staying right here with you."

"No, you're not. Get out."

"Remus…."

"Please don't argue with me, Sirius. You need to keep an eye on the house, or all this is for nothing. Besides," he paused for a moment. "The wolf…the wolf is furious, I can feel it like I haven't felt it in years. I don't want to hurt you. I don't want you to see me like this." He was shaking even harder now, but stood up to take off his robes, and handed them to Sirius.

"Get out. Try and keep these dry. I'll need them back."

Sirius numbly took Remus' robes, but didn't move.

"I said don't argue about this. I need to know you're safe. It'll help. Don't you see? It'll help."

With that, Sirius stood and turned to go. But as he was about to walk out the door, Remus suddenly stopped him.

"Wait." He took off his wedding ring, and handed it to Sirius. Remus always removed his ring for his transformations, but usually wore it on a long chain he kept around his neck. Sirius stared at him blankly. "Keep that safe for me, Padfoot. I'll need that back, too."

Sirius left the shed in a daze. He turned and charmed the door tightly shut, and set up silencing charms as well. Then, still gripping Remus' ring tightly in his hand, he sat down in the snow and cried.

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Part 3

Katie Lupin was not in the best of moods. It was, for the fifth day straight, pouring rain. The river had overflowed yesterday, flooding the high street and forcing she and Mrs. Noyes to spend the better part of the day cleaning up the shop. Because of the shop's location, they were conspicuous to the muggle population of the village, so they had to do practically everything by hand and it was unpleasant work at best. Katie tried to distract herself thinking about the various reactions of Mrs. Noyes' muggle customers, of which there were any number though they had no idea of the things they could really get their hands on, if they had come in to find the two of them cleaning the shop with magic. We could enchant some mops, like in that silly cartoon Remus thinks is so funny. She had at least felt better, for a few moments, thinking about sitting on the couch with Remus, curled up and watching him laugh so merrily at the sight of the endless marching brooms. I believe his comment was "we should have tried that one. Filch would have finally exploded from fury". Someday, I need to get to Hogwarts, and meet Mr. Filch, and apologise to the man, as I feel someone should make the gesture.

But thinking about Remus only made her start worrying about him again. He was becoming more strained from all that was going on. He's scared about what might happen. All he can think about is everything that happened last time. Remus had gone through a spell of insomnia because of his constant worrying in January, making Katie more anxious, but finally Remus had seemed to calm down, as things were very quiet, and the house had returned to its normal happy tone. That lasted until a week ago, when word had arrived that a wizard in the north, by the name of Preftokis, was supposedly bringing a cartel of Death Eaters to his home, trying to reconvene some of Voldemort's old support in the area. Even Sirius, who had been slowly and steadily getting over the final lingering horrors of his years in Azkaban, had retreated into himself and spoke little. Katie let them brood in silence for two days, but as Remus was getting ready to leave, she demanded to know why this wizard in particular was upsetting them.

Despite everything, Remus had grinned at her, and pulled her into a warm embrace.

"You amaze me," he whispered in her ear. "Every day. Everything you do. But it really amazes me how you can read me like a book. I don't remember saying anything about this wizard in particularly being upsetting, but you figured that all out, didn't you?" He sighed and kissed her.

"Healer and mind reader it would seem." He smiled at her, tucking a stay hand of hair behind her ear before wrapping his arms around her again.

Katie had to laugh at this, and said, "No, no mind reading. I just know you. And you rather amaze me too, now that you mention it."

She felt Remus laugh. After a bit, he sighed, and started to absently stroke her back. Finally, he said "Preftokis was once a very powerful Death Eater, back during Voldemort's last rise. Very close to him. But we were tipped off one night about something he was planning." He paused. Katie, instinctively knowing there was more, just returned his soft caresses and waited. Finally, after sighing again and giving her a quick kiss on the temple he went on.

"They were planning on attacking two Auror's families. Not the Aurors, just their families. The cartel was large enough that they could simultaneously strike at five different sites, killing 15 members of the extended family at once," My God. To be so completely brazen like that; they felt no fear in doing something that horrific? "But we stopped them. Imagine if they had succeeded; it would have been a most horrifying and terrifying single blow by a Dark Wizard. Preftokis knew that. He wanted to be Voldemort's top man, and he was so close. We almost didn't stop him; we almost didn't make it in time. But James and I finally broke the wards on one of the meeting sites for the Death Eaters. Once inside, we could discover where the others were, and hoards of Aurors dissaperated all over to face the others. A number of people did die that night, including two Aurors." Two more of your friends.

"Preftokis was disgraced utterly. It seems he hadn't told Voldemort he was planning this; he … wanted it to be a surprise. To prove his loyalty and fidelity as it were. But to have attempted something so bold, and failed, collapsing that entire cartel and getting 3 Death Eaters killed? Sirius wasn't sure he'd lived. He was stunned to hear Preftokis was still alive. But disgraced or not, he had been a very powerful wizard. And he's probably more desperate to get into Voldemort's good graces as it were than before."

"But if you knew it was him, why wasn't he captured, and put into Azkaban? How could he still be free?"

"He himself was not part of the attack, of course. And we couldn't prove he planned it. All we had were captured Death Eaters, and they were not saying anything. During the trials after…after the fall of Voldemort, he was brought in, and he did spend a few years in Azkaban. But only a few for show, really. I think nobody considered him any threat anymore. Voldemort was gone, and Preftokis was so disgraced among the Death Eaters it couldn't make any difference." Remus looked at her. "That's politics and bureaucracy for you."

Katie scowled. "No, that's idiocy for you."

Remus gave her a wicked grin. "Same thing, I imagine."

Katie had laughed. "I think it would startle a lot of people to find out just what an anarchist you are."

"Not Mr. Filch. He knows exactly what a disrespectful little horror I can be. Or so he's always said."

***

Remus and Sirius were due to come back today, at least, so Katie had something else to think about other than the rain. She was just starting to wonder where they might be, and get dinner ready, when she saw that Hedwig had just flown up outside the kitchen window. She let the owl in, and took a small note from her. Katie dried the soaking bird a bid with a towel, then put her on a large chair in front of the fire, and got her something to eat. Such a pretty bird….she thought absently, before finally picking up the letter Hedwig delivered.

Katie assumed it was from Harry or Hermione, but was stunned to see it was from Sirius.

Katie-

A quick note so you won't worry. Remus and I are at Hogwarts right now, and will be here for a few days. Remus is fine, but he needs to rest and we both need to make plans with Dumbledore about this situation.

Love-

Sirius

Why does Remus need rest? Why isn't this letter from him? Katie felt tears of frustration sting her eyes, as she absently stroked Hedwig's head and tried not to worry. Fat chance. She glanced at the note again. Going up to Hogwarts was not an option, really, so she'd just have to wait it out here until they came back and told her what had been happening. I don't think I'm going to like any of it. She got up and went to make a cake to send back with Hedwig for Remus.

***

Two days later it had finally stopped raining, and Katie came home to see smoke coming out of the chimneys of the house. They're back. She ran the rest of the way into the house, and raced to Remus' study. She threw open the door, and found him sitting at his desk working on something.

"Remus, love, you're back," she smiled coming over to embrace him. He laughed quietly, then coughed, as he returned her embrace. Why did he just cough? I knew it, all that sitting in the snow…. She pulled back to look at him, and was startled by the look of him. He was very pale, and had the remains of a large bruise on his right temple. His right eye even looked a little bloodshot. He had obviously had a number of cuts and scrapes on his face tended to, including a split lip. He was smiling vaguely at her, but his eyes had an expression of sadness she hadn't seen in a long time.

"Remus! What happened? Sirius said you needed to rest," she saw him look angry for a moment at that comment, "but he didn't say what had happened. Did you have a run in with some of the wizards you were watching? Who did this to you?"

She saw Remus' eyes start to fill with tears, but he made no reply as he pulled her sharply to him again and buried his face in her neck. He held her tightly, and said nothing for a long while. Finally, he straightened up and tucked her head against his chest.

"I told Sirius not to say anything to upset you."

"He didn't, he just…."

"He did. He didn't need to make that comment about my needing rest…."

"Remus, it's okay. I wasn't very upset, I just wanted you home sooner, that's all." She looked at him. "Why didn't you just write me yourself?"

Remus' expression grew even darker for a moment, then returned to the calm, blank expression he wore when he was holding things in. "I couldn't." He let go of her and held up his hands. Katie was startled to see that they were looking red and raw, and were, like his face, covered in recently healed cuts. What on earth happened? Something is wrong here…he's not just upset over some run in with the Death Eaters.

"Remus?" She stopped when he shook his head and put a finger to her lips.

"I did this Katie. The wolf got out. And it was very upset."

"How? Didn't you…"

"I lost the potion when the house we were using as a base camp was destroyed. We couldn't leave; there was too much at stake, you understand? I wasn't going to risk everything for this. I didn't contact you, because I am always, always afraid that if I do something like that, and someone is watching us or knows we're there, that they might follow the owl to you. I couldn't live with myself if that happened, if anything were to happen to you."

Katie said nothing, knowing that he had to get this all out. He looked as miserable and lost as he had that night last summer when they had finally faced each other in the meadow. He can't feel like this; I can't loose him either, and I won't let the wolf have him.

"Sirius had to lock me in a shed for the night. And when the wolf came, it was furious. I don't remember much after I transformed, of course, but the next morning when Sirius came to get me…." His voice trailed off and he started to cry. Frustrated at this, he rubbed his eyes harshly with one hand while the other clenched into a fist so tight Katie saw his knuckles turn white. After he regained his composure, he dropped his hand from his eyes and went on, although his eyes had started to go red.

"I hurt myself very badly, Katie. I was very sick. My hands were destroyed because I had tried so hard to claw the stone walls to get out. I broke my shoulder throwing myself at the door. I suspect that's where the black eye came from, too. And I, I ..cut myself in several places, so I had lost a fair amount of blood." Don't cry, Katie, don't. It'll just make this worse for him. He hates making you cry; don't do it.

"I wouldn't let Sirius take me to Hogwarts until the next day, after the meeting. We had to see just how strong Preftokis was becoming again. At least try and figure out who was bothering to listen to him again."

"Did you?" she asked in a very even tone. Remus looked at her, then reached out to stroke her cheek.

"Yes, we did. It turned out to be a very important lead after all. Dumbledore thinks that this will help convince more people that Voldemort really is back, and we need all the help we can get. Voldemort still hasn't been 'officially recognised'. But that's not stopping him."

"Then you were right. It was worth it." Remus looked at her miserably. Be very careful with the next thing you say, Katie.

"Remus, I'm very, very sorry this is what had to happen to get this information. But I'm also so proud of who you are, and why you do these things. I also happen to find myself actually loving you more each day, even though every night I can't possibly imagine it getting any better. And I will never, ever let the wolf have you back. You're mine now."

***

Three weeks later Remus and Sirius left to spend a few days in London meeting with other members of their group. Remus had recovered from the shock and pain of his transformation the month before, and his normal good natured temperament was back full force, but Katie did notice that he rarely let her out of his sight, and that they didn't talk about the incident again. Sirius, however, remained a little withdrawn, but also said nothing about what had happened. Katie had demanded before they left to be notified immediately, risk or no risk, if they weren't going to be back in time for Remus to start taking his potion for this month's full moon. Remus had promised, without any argument, to do so. Sirius had looked very relieved.

***

Remus and Sirius were due to come back home that night. Katie spent the better part of the morning with Mrs. Noyes working on making numerous potions and tonics for their patients. She was surprised when an owl flew into the shop and gave her a note. She looked around quickly to see if there were any muggles who may have witnessed this odd scene, but she was alone with Mrs. Noyes, who was laughing and shaking her head.

"I bet I know what that is." So do I. They're not coming home tonight. She opened the note.

Katie-

I am coming home tonight. I just wanted to show you I'm not always an over-protective worrywart, and tell you I love you.

I'll see you soon.

Love,

Remus

Katie looked at Mrs. Noyes. "Is the big cheesy grin and rather stupid look of total happiness I think is on my face evident to you?"

"Oh yes dear, but I think it makes you look lovely."

Katie laughed, put the note in her pocket, paid the owl, and got ready to leave. "That should be everything for today. I'll stop by the Raley's on my way home, shall I?"

"No, I think that can wait until tomorrow, actually. Go home and I'll see you later, Mrs. Lupin."

"Mind if I use the fire? I don't feel like walking. I've actually been feeling a little run down the past few weeks. Nerves are getting to my ageing self, I suspect."

Katie stepped out into Remus' study a few moments later, then she left to go into the kitchen and get something to eat. She'd skipped breakfast, again, and now felt like she could eat everything in the house. Feeling a little more relaxed knowing Remus will be home on time, are we girl? She stepped into the kitchen, and stopped cold. Outside of the kitchen window, she saw three men in black robes in the road outside the house. They seemed to be doing some sort of incantation….They're trying to…

Suddenly she saw the air shimmering around the house, as the wards Remus had so carefully built fell.

Katie ran blindly through the house, automatically going to Remus' study. She could hear footsteps behind her now, running across the tiled front hall. Just get out, get out now…do exactly what Remus told you to do, don't think about anything else…She threw open the door to the study, but not before she saw something move as it rounded the corner towards her. She ran to the fireplace, and reached to grab their wedding photo, which Remus had made into a portkey. Just get out. As her hand closed on the frame, she felt an incredible pulling sensation, and the room seemed to disappear around her. She thought she heard someone shouting, and felt something sting her face, but then everything went black, and just as suddenly she found herself standing on a road in front of a large gate.

Katie stood there, clutching the picture, shaking from head to toe. Get a grip. Now. It took her several minutes to calm down enough to look and see where she was. Katie didn't recognise this place, and she looked past the gate to see an enormous castle in the distance. She saw she was standing on a road that seemed to pass through some woods, but the trees were unfamiliar to her, so she wasn't sure where on the island she might be. Finally, she looked up at the gate. Oh, of course. The gate read simply "Hogwarts".

Katie finally started to walk forward. Her healer mind registered that she was in shock, but she didn't know if it was from what just happened, or the lingering effects of the experience with the portkey. Just get up there. Find Dumbledore, or Minerva. They'll know how to get hold of Remus…he can't get back to the house, they might still be there, and he'll just…She wanted to run, but couldn't manage it somehow. She couldn't get the sound of the feet chasing her down the hall out of her mind, and was still shaking. Move girl, they'll come back and it might be too late if you don't move…Remus and Sirius are meant to be back today…maybe that's why those men came now…. The castle seemed impossibly far away, and she could feel herself starting to weep with frustration and fear. Suddenly she saw, off to her right and much closer, a group of figures flying high in the air. She stopped, and realised that it must be students playing Quiddich. They'll know where Dumbledore is, won't they? As she started towards the field, she suddenly found the strength to run. She looked up at the players, and realised that they were all wearing red. Red…red…Griffyndor, right? Yes, all Remus' pictures of James playing this, he's got red on. Thank God.

She ran onto the field, and stopped, not sure how to get their attention, as they were so high up. But suddenly she heard someone call out her name. Startled, she turned to see Ron coming down the stands towards her. He was evidently sitting with a number of other students, watching the practice as they did their homework. Just like Remus used to…she didn't seem to be able to focus. Ron was giving her his customary broad smile as he made his way down…until he got close enough to have a good look at her, then he frowned and ran the rest of the way. The players hadn't noticed Katie walk in, but they did see Ron running down the stairs, and slowed to see what was happening.

"Katie! What's wrong?" Ron looked very upset. Still in shock, Katie didn't answer him immediately I'd never thought I'd see this one looking so upset. Looks rather like Sirius when he's put out actually….

"Katie?" She snapped out of it and looked at Ron.

"I need to see Dumbledore, right now."

Ron gasped and reached out towards the side of Katie's face. "You're hurt. What happened?"

"Katie!" Harry had suddenly landed next to them.

"She's hurt Harry. We need to get her to the castle. Katie? Can you manage it or …."

"I can manage it." She looked absently at the other people who were now standing around looking at her. Must be the rest of the team. They were looking at her with concern, and, she noted, some interest. Some of Remus' students, maybe. Must know who I am.

Ron and Harry each reached to take an arm, but she suddenly stepped back. "Be careful, don't touch the portkey. It might take you back to the house…." She had not let go of it since she picked it up, but she knew that if she did, and it was picked up again….

Harry shook his head. "No, Katie, it won't. Remus only set it to come here, not to go back. It's okay." How does he know this and I don't? Remus is being over-protective again, isn't he? What a stupid thought…you are in shock. She nodded, and with Ron and Harry each taking an arm, they made their way up to the castle. They took her through a huge hallway and up some stairs, into what looked like a hospital ward.

"Sit down, Katie," said Ron, "Harry, get Dumbledore and I'll find Madame Pomfrey."

They both left in opposite directions. Ron came back first, with a woman Katie assumed was Madame Pomfrey. Katie felt very faint and turned to Ron.

"Ron, please, tell them that someone broke into the house. Three men. I saw them break the wards, and then the came in and tried to stop me…." I'm going to pass out. I need to get Ron to tell them everything.

"Katie, please, just lie still."

"Ron! Remus and Sirius are supposed to be home today! Someone needs to talk to them, now, please! You need to tell them…." Everything was starting to get very black, and her own voice sounded distant to her.

Madame Pomfrey, with the force of a nurse used to dealing with fussy and reluctant school children, told her to stop talking immediately and lie still. Katie closed her eyes, and finally did pass out.

***

She woke up hours later to see that it was now dark outside. Nobody seemed to be about, but she could hear voices a ways off. She saw that someone had put her wedding photo on the stand next to the bed she was in, and smiled to see Remus smiling and laughing at her. Still dazed and half asleep, she turned and looked out of the window. The skies were clear up here, and the stars were out. Then she saw to moon. It was nearly full. Oh my God….Remus…I need to, to..what? I don't have what I need. No, I can't let him go through that, I need to get back to the house or see Mrs. Noyes. But she can't do it. Just me. She started to cry with fear and frustration. It's not fair, how can this be happening now, when everything was going so… She realised something and jumped up. Without thinking, she ran out of the ward and down the halls. I just need to find…. She suddenly stopped as she found herself standing at the top of a huge staircase, looking into a vast entry hall. There were any number of doors, but she knew that she had no idea where she was, or how to get where she needed to go. Damn it.

As she stood there, though, three students came out of a set of tall doors on her left. They seemed about 14 or so, and looked at her with surprise. She smiled at them. They can tell me.

"Excuse me, can you help me with something?"

They looked at her cautiously. Not the most welcoming expressions, are they? But these days I suppose it's not a good idea to be talking to any strangers, is it?

"Who are you?"

"My name is Katie Lupin. I'm trying to find Professor Snape's office. Can you help me?"

She saw them all cringe a bit when she said Snape's name, just like Harry, Ron and Hermione tended to whenever they mentioned him. This might not work.

"Why do you need to see him?" asked one of the girls.

"I need to discuss something urgently with him. I'm afraid I've no idea where I might find him, though. Could you help me?"

They looked at each other, then told her to come with them, and led her down the stairs and into one of the doors. They went down into a stone passageway. Katie felt instantly frozen, but as she couldn't see her breath, decided it was her imagination that the temperature seemed to have dropped. Finally, they stopped in front of a door. The girl who'd spoken earlier turned to her.

"Do you want us to wait, to take you back when you're done?" That's very nice of her….

"No, thank you. I'll be alright. Thank you very much." They nodded at her, managed to smile, and left in the direction they had come. Katie looked at the door, then hesitantly reached out and knocked. This should be very interesting.

She heard a voice say "come", and opened the door. The office was a large stone room, with many shelves of jars and dried herbs. Katie noticed any number of rather interesting ingredients, as she looked at the cases while she walked over to the large desk in front of the fire. The man seated there did not look up from what he was working on.

"Yes?"

"Severus Snape?" asked Katie in a soft voice.

His head came up at that. He looked at her with a surprised expression for an instant, then his face set in a cold mask. She noted that he was a pale as she was, and that his eyes were very, very dark. He stared at her for a few moments before speaking again.

"Yes. And who are you?"

Katie cleared her throat. "My name is Katie Lupin…."

She saw something flick across his eyes at that, but he didn't move. "I believe you know my husband. I've come to ask a favour of you. I realise that this is rather awkward, but it is very important."

Snape said nothing at first. Then he put his quill down and folded his hands in his lap. "I see. I heard what happened today," he said in a surprisingly soft voice, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Lupin." She was very surprised at this. With all of the history between Remus and Snape, not to mention her own ideas about him after what he did to Remus while Remus taught here, she was startled to realise that she was now smiling at him.

"Thank you, professor."

"Not at all. What was it you needed? Or can I venture a guess?" the cold tones had come back into his voice, and Katie's smile faded. She set her face and returned his gaze with one as equally strong and stony. Fine. We'll do it this was then. No wonder Sirius' favourite swear word is 'Snape'. But I'm not leaving without what I came for, so we'll just have to fight this one out.

"I'm sure you know exactly why I'm here. I would not dream of bothering you, but as I am unable to return to my home just yet, I do not have access to what I need. You do."

Snape watched her calmly for a few moments before answering. "I don't remember your coming to Hogwarts." What, thought Katie angrily, has that got to do with anything?

"I didn't, Professor, but that is hardly a concern of yours. I am more than capable of doing what I need to do. Are you going to help me, or not?"

She saw a smile flick across Snape's face, then he turned and stood up from the desk, walking toward one of the shelves. "Of course I will help you, Mrs. Lupin. I'd be very interested to see your work, actually." He turned to look at her again. "This is quite a job you've taken on for yourself. An interesting choice to make, wouldn't you say?"

Katie was now furious. "Mr. Snape, my choices are none of your business. I happen to love my husband very much. I could care less what you think of him. I did not 'take on a job'."

Snape startled her again by smiling outright this time. "Quite the spitfire, aren't you? Well, that makes sense. Lupin always liked the type, no matter how calm and collected he liked everyone to think he was. But I guess he had his reasons for being so uptight."

Katie felt like slapping him, but managed to stop herself. Snape saw her twitch though, and his smile turned to a smirk. "I do not mean to offend, Mrs. Lupin," he continued. "Merely to comment. Please accept my apologies." Like hell you didn't.

Snape started to pull items from his stores. "I'll start on this. You should return to the hospital wing and rest. No doubt Lupin will be upset to arrive and find you…."

My God; I didn't even stop to ask if…what's wrong with me? Why can't I focus on anything?

"He's on his way?"

Snape looked at her briefly. "Yes. We contacted him this afternoon. Both he and Black are unharmed, and will be here by morning. Please go back to bed now. I will finish this and it will be ready when they arrive."

Katie didn't move. Snape was smiling coldly again. "I assure you, Mrs. Lupin, I know what I am doing. I've had experience you know." Yes, before you tried to completely ruin his life. "I will not let anything untoward happen to Lupin. I don't want a werewolf running loose anymore than the rest of us."

With that, Katie turned on her heel and left, tears stinging her eyes. Bastard! Wretched man….but he is doing it. And he does know what he's doing. Think about Remus getting back… She made her way back up the corridor and managed to get back to the large front hall. Now what?

"Katie!"

Hermione came running up and gave her a light hug. "Where have you been! I went up to tell you Remus is okay, they contacted him, and you weren't there! Everyone's looking for you right now. You shouldn't be up, Katie. The charm they used may have missed you, but it did still give you quite a knock."

Katie stared at her blankly, then burst into tears. "Oh, Hermione! I … I can't seem to focus on anything. I woke up and I saw the moon and all I could think was that I had to get Remus his …his…but I knew I couldn't do it here, so I went to find Snape and ask him to do it, and I totally, totally forgot to even ask if Remus was okay. I just assumed he was; I was so worried that he'd have to go through it again like last month…." She couldn't go on now through her tears. Hermione wrapped an arm around her shoulders, and started to lead her back to the hospital wing.

"Katie, it's okay. You've had a shock. I understand why you went to see Snape. Don't cry, you know it'll just upset Remus more if he gets here and you'll all red and puffy." Katie had to laugh at this, although it came out more of a strange hiccough.

"Yes, good point. Snape did tell me that Remus was okay, though. And Sirius."

"Yes, they're both fine, if more than a little livid with anger. I don't want to be the Death Eater who did this, I can assure you," Hermione smiled at her. "What'd you think of Professor Snape then?"

Katie shook her head. "Wretched man. But, I am grateful for what he's doing, so I'll just keep any other comments I have to myself."

Hermione had a rather grim look on her face. "Yes, well, he bloody owes him if you ask me."

"Hermione!"

"What?"

"What you said; you must be spending too much time around Sirius."

"I think Professor Snape would elicit that response from practically anyone. Now, lay down, go back…Yes, hello Madame Pomfrey. She's fine, see? I must tell the others." Hermione turned to leave as Madame Pomfrey fussed over Katie. "Bye Katie, sleep well, and I'll see you in the morning. Oh, and if no one's said it, welcome to Hogwarts." She smiled and left.

Welcome to Hogwarts indeed.

---------------****---------------

Part 4

Remus waited impatiently for the meeting to get out. They'd finished discussing the real business, and were now making polite conversation. Can't just get up and leave for heaven's sake. He gave Sirius a light kick to stop him from fidgeting next to him. You're driving me mad. Stop it. Sirius glared at him and gave a small growl, but lay back down on the floor.

"I say, Lupin, I don't think I've ever asked where you managed to find such an animal. That's defiantly the biggest dog I've ever seen, and my parents raised wolfhounds." Ugh. Dreadful animals. Remus just smiled at the wizard across from him.

"Just sort of picked him up one day. We became instant friends." Well, that's true at least. We did become friends that first day on the train.

"Splendid animal really. Ever thought of siring him? Should have some splendid offspring. Can't let an animal like that go to waste, you know."

Remus struggled very, very hard to keep a straight face. He didn't dare look at Sirius, but he could just picture what his expression would be like if he weren't in his animagus form. I'm going to enjoy this one for years.

"Um, no actually. But a splendid idea, actually." Sirius growled low in his throat.

"I know a few breeders. They should know some Newfoundland owners who'd just love to have a look at him. I'll let you know."

"Oh, yes, thank you. Please excuse me; I need to be getting home. I promised my wife I'd be back for dinner, and it is getting late." He stood up, and took Sirius' lead out of the pocket of his cloak. He was careful not to look Sirius in the eye as he fastened it to the collar on Sirius' neck. He's utterly furious. This is just too perfect.

"Yes, yes, " continued the offending wizard. "Please give my regards to Mrs. Lupin, and thank her again for being so understanding of everything that goes on. My own wife seems to regard all of this as an excuse I have to stay out of the house." Ah.

He said goodbye, and walked out with Sirius in tow. He had to drag at the lead, as Sirius was still staring daggers at the wizard. I can't let this opportunity pass. Especially when he can't say anything. "So, Snuffles, what do you think? Should we follow up on that and see what some breeders think of you, you splendid animal you?" He had the odd feeling that Sirius was about to bite him. It's worth it.

He walked out of the building and stood there roaring with laughter as Sirius gave him an infuriated stare and growled. Sirius then barked loudly at him several times.

"I'm sure that your mother would be horrified at what you just said to me. Do behave." He was still giggling when he heard his name being called.

"Mr. Lupin? Mr. Lupin wait!"

Remus turned to see a young wizard running towards them. Remus recognised him as a seventh year he'd taught at Hogwarts, and smiled. "Mr. Treal, isn't it? I was just on my way home; my wife's expecting me. Can this wait?"

Treal shook his head. "No, sir; Headmaster needs to speak with you this instant, before you go home."

Remus felt his face drain. Calm. Stay calm and don't jump to any silly conclusions. This could be anything, absolutely anything. Sirius didn't seem to agree with him, however, and was straining the lead to follow Treal back into the building and growling at Remus. "Stop it. Everything's just fine." But he only just managed to stop himself from running through the halls to get to the fire where Dumbledore was waiting to speak with him. Mr. Lupin? Mr. Lupin, I'm so sorry to have to tell you this. The Potters….

"Albus? What is it?"

"Remus, first let me say that Katie is fine, and she's right here with us." Remus let out a small strangled cry at this, but said nothing. I knew it.

"Someone broke the wards on your house this morning, I gather. Katie went to the portkey, just as you had told her to do in such an event, and came directly here. Now, she's had a scare, and she was slightly hurt by a spell that missed her, but she's fine. She's asleep in the hospital wing, with Madame Pomfrey and Ms. Granger to keep an eye on her. That's all I know just now, as the poor dear fell asleep before I arrived with Harry. Mr. Weasley told us everything that she had said to him. Her greatest concern was that we would not contact you before you went home." You almost didn't. Remus found his throat wouldn't work, so he just nodded at the fire.

"Good. Now, I realise this is a shock Remus, but no one is harmed, so we can be very thankful for that. I think we need to concentrate on trying to determine exactly who broke into your house. It may be some random Death Eaters, attacking a wizarding home they found, or it could be Preftokis. Perhaps he did know you were there last month, and wanted to see what you were up to." Remus just nodded again, but Sirius began to bark loudly. Quickly Remus went to the door and locked it, and Sirius transformed and faced the fire.

"Albus, I want to go back there right now, to try and see if we can find anything. I doubt the Death Eaters will still be there, since they didn't manage to catch Katie. I'll send Remus to Hogwarts, then…"

"You will not! I'm coming down there with you!"

Sirius gave him glare. "Don't be a prat. You need to be with Katie, and I'll go on my own. Besides, what if someone is still there? Better I run into them than you…." His eyes broke away and he looked at the floor. How can you possibly think that, let alone say that to me? My life and safety are no less valuable than yours.

"Gentlemen," said Albus in a tone they recognised very well, "this achieves nothing. You should both go down to see what is at the house. Be very careful, and come back here immediately when you are finished. Don't speak to anyone about this just yet until we know exactly what is happening."

Remus and Sirius were glaring at each other, but then turned to the fire and nodded.

"Good. Now Sirius, please transform back, as it makes me rather nervous to think of you taking such a risk, whatever the reason. I can't afford to loose either of you. I will tell Katie that you are both well, when she wakes up, and that she can expect to see you soon. Take care." He left with a pop, and Remus and Sirius went back to glaring at each other. He's been like this since last month, and it's driving me right up the wall. But without another word Sirius transformed back, and Remus calmly picked up his lead, unlocked the door, and left.

***

When they got to the house it was starting to get dark. They couldn't see anything outside, and slowly walked to the front gate. They saw where the incantation to bring down the wards lay in the road, and Remus quickly passed his boot over it in case any muggles spotted it and got curious. They both took out their wands, and started to test for charms and hexes. Nothing.

This is very odd.

They walked to the front door, still finding nothing. It was slightly ajar, and splintered where it had been broken in. Remus pushed it open, and started to step forward when Sirius stopped him. Now what? He looked at Sirius, who said nothing, but gazed at him with a quiet, pleading look. Fine. Go first; I do understand it's important to you. He stepped back and let Sirius pass over the threshold. Again, nothing happened.

They spent several hours searching every inch of the house and found nothing. No note, no real damage, nothing missing or misplaced. Remus was very puzzled over why anyone would go to the trouble of breaking some wards and then do nothing with the house. Finally, he and Sirius met back up in the front hall.

"I don't get this, Remus. There's obviously been someone here, but nothing's been done."

"Other than scare Katie out of her mind," grumbled Remus.

"Well, she's not the only one, is she? This is just odd. Not even a dark mark."

Remus shut his eyes and took a deep breath at this comment. I don't think I could have taken that. Remus turned to finally shut the front door, and froze.

On the back of the door was a note, in handwriting they both knew well.

Remus -

Pity you weren't here, it's been a while since we've had the chance to chat, isn't it? Who was the woman? We tried to ask her, but she didn't stay. I can guess where she's gone, though. I was surprise to find you back here, Remus. I'd hoped we could use this house ourselves, but I guess that won't be the case. Nice and isolated, isn't it? We won't be back. There are more important things to be doing than getting into scuffles with you.

Do take care, won't you?

Peter

Sirius let out a roar of anger and grabbed a vase off the table, and threw it at the note. Remus just stood there. Katie loved that vase, he thought absently.

"He was right here, Remus! He was right bloody here!" Remus just nodded, and continued to stare at the note. "I can't believe this! To come right here…."

"Do you think he means it?"

Sirius looked at him sharply. "Means what, Remus?"

"That he won't be back."

"He knows you're here now, Remus."

Remus shook his head. "He's probably known that all along. He's just seeing if he can shake me up. Make me run from him. He probably doesn't want to get into a scuffle with me, and if I fled, then he could have the house." That sounds a bit weak, though.

Sirius seemed to think so too. "Remus, I'm not sure what to think about this. But right now, he knows we're probably going to come back sooner or later, and I think that without the wards, this isn't the best place to be. He wasn't alone this afternoon, remember. Dumbledore said three wizards tried to get Katie."

Katie; what if they had? What if Peter….Don't even think about it. Just don't. He stepped forward and took the note down. "Yes, I think we better be getting to Hogwarts right away. I need to see Katie."

Sirius put a hand on his shoulder. "Albus said she was fine, Moony," he said quietly.

Remus felt himself start to shake with anger. "I don't care what he said. I need to see my wife. Now." They left, and apparated outside the gates of the school. Sirius assumed his animagus form, and somehow they both managed to walk calmly up into the front hall, where they found Harry and Ron waiting for them.

"Remus! We've been waiting up for you." It's very late, though. He managed a weak smile.

"Special privileges?" They laughed.

"Hardly. Dumbledore privilege actually. Filch keeps walking by and glaring at us, but doesn't dare say a thing," said Harry, leaning down to give Sirius a scratch behind the ears. Sirius leaned against him.

"Come up and see Dumbledore," said Ron, "after, of course," he added, seeing Remus' expression, "you've had a look in on Katie. She's asleep still. Hermione's staying with her."

"Take Snuffles here and go to Dumbledore. I'll be along shortly."

Harry, Ron and Sirius went off towards the entrance to Dumbledore's study, while Remus left in the direction of the hospital wing. He entered to find Hermione sitting next to Katie, who was still asleep, doing some homework. Of course. He couldn't help but smile.

Hermione noticed him come over, and silently got up and gave him a hug. He felt tears in his eyes as the shock started to wear off and the afternoon's events started to catch up with him. Katie looked all right, but had a small burn on her temple.

"She's fine," whispered Hermione. "She'll be thrilled you're back. But I wouldn't wake her up." She led Remus to the next room so they could talk.

"Really, Remus, she's fine, you can check with Madame Pomfrey yourself. I'm just here to keep her company, that's all, so when she wakes up, and probably doesn't remember where she is, it won't be such a fright." Very like Hermione. I wonder if she's ever thought of being a healer? She'd be very good at it, I suspect.

Remus smiled weakly at her. "Thank you, Hermione, that's very kind of you. I know I appreciate it, and I'm sure she will to. Let me just go talk to Dumbledore, then I'll be back and you can be off back to Griffyndor and go to bed."

"That's fine. Don't rush, I'm happy to sit here all night if I need to. Katie's special to me too."

Remus reached out and gave her shoulder a squeeze, then left to go to Dumbledore's office.

***

Remus woke up the next morning in the bed next to Katie's. She was back in bed fast asleep now. I can't believe she went to see Snape. That must have been interesting. Still, he was again grateful that Snape could in fact help him by making the potion. I should get up and go see him now, actually. He stood up quietly, and walked down the ward. Just as he was leaving, however, Madame Pomfrey came in.

"Remus Lupin! Well I am glad to see you, despite the circumstances. You're wife's fine, everything is as it should be. Poor dear, all that fuss in her condition can't be good, but she's more than strong enough for it."

What condition? Is she sick? Why didn't she say! "Um, Poppy, what do you mean condition? Is Katie ill?" He could hear the own concern in his voice at that, and Madame Pomfrey looked at him with surprise.

"Heavens no dear. Don't you know? Well it's early yet. Maybe she…oh dear, I feel I've spoiled the surprise. I hope she won't mind too much."

Remus could feel himself start to smile. Does she mean what I truly hope she means? "Poppy, is Katie pregnant?"

She beamed at him. "Yes dear, but try and be surprised when she tells you, won't you." Not a problem.

Remus back to Katie's bed and couldn't stop himself from waking her up. "Katie, love, wake up."

Katie rolled over and jumped up when she was Remus. She held him tightly and gave him a deep kiss.

"You're safe, you're safe," she said when she finally let him go. "I was so worried…."

"Shhhh. It's okay. We're both safe and that's all that matters, right?"

"Absolutely."

Remus looked at her, and smiled broadly. "And Katie, we have much more important things to think about now, don't we? This has all been so abstract to me, you know. Not really real; I hadn't thought that knowing would feel quite like this…."

Katie gave him an odd look, but was still smiling. "Knowing what, love?"

"Katie, don't be coy. Why didn't you tell me? When did you find out?"

"Remus, you are making no sense to me at all. What are you going on about?"

"You really don't know, do you? Poppy assumed you did. We did." He knew he was, in spite of everything, in spite of the scare they'd just had and the constant nagging fear that things could only get worse, more completely happy than he had ever been in his life. This was such a miracle to him; the absolutely last thing he had ever expected. Not even the last thing. Nothing. I never expected this at all.

Katie was still looking at him with a puzzled expression on her face. He laughed, then lightly embraced her and held her close.

"You're pregnant Katie. We're going to…." He could feel himself start to choke up. But Katie, as usual, managed to finish his thought.

"…be parents. My God, no joke?" Remus shook his head.

"No joke. Trust me, Poppy doesn't joke about things like this." Katie started to cry and laugh at the same time.

"No wonder I was feeling so run down. It's like the flu at first, you know…."

"Katie! How can you be so clinical?" He asked in tones of mock indignation. She giggled.

"How can I be so blind, is more like it. I can't believe I missed this. Mrs. Noyes is going to be rather disappointed in me, I think."

"I think Mrs. Noyes is going to dance a jig in the middle of her store. Speaking of dancing jigs, wait until I tell Sirius; he is going to be overwhelmed, you know? I think he wanted this more than we did."

"Surely not."

Remus laughed. "You didn't sit next to him in the snow for days listening to him beg us to hurry up and get on with the next generation of marauders."

"Well, we can't tell him just yet." What?

"Katie? Why not?"

She looked at him. "It's bad luck, you know, to say anything at first. You have to wait the first few months, then it's okay. Just to make certain everything's as it should be, you know?" She must be mad. I can't keep this in for a few months. She's giving me quite a look now, but at least she's smiling…and nodding.

"Okay, Remus. Maybe just a silly muggle tradition. We'll risk it."

"Thank goodness. It would have been a bigger risk to try that, I think."

"Why?"

"Because Sirius would have exploded for certain if he ever found out you were planning on not telling him this for three months."

***

Remus left and went to find Snape. He wasn't about, so he went up to Albus' office for the meeting they had set regarding Preftokis. He was aware that he had an odd happy expression on his face, but there was nothing he could do about it. I have a feeling I'm going to look like this for a while yet. Did James look just the same? As if sensing his thoughts, Harry appeared at the end of the hall. Dumbledore refused to allow the children in the meetings, no matter what, but turned a deliberate blind eye to Remus and Sirius telling them what was happening. Look at him now. I remember when he was born…so tiny, sleeping all day in our arms. None of us ever let him alone, you know? Someone was always constantly carrying him around. Now we're going to….

"Remus? What's going on? Something good, by the look of it."

Oh yes. Now, if Sirius finds out I told Harry first, and who will then tell Ron and Hermione before I get a chance to talk to him, how dangerous would that be? Doesn't matter, I can't keep it in.

"Harry, Katie's going to have a baby. We just found out."

Harry let out a cry, and gave him a tight hug. "Remus, that's the best thing I've heard in a long time. Congratulations; I know how much this means to you both." He was smiling at Remus now. "This is really great." Remus just nodded.

"I have it on good authority from my godfather that you are very good with babies,' he continued, still smiling. "Even teaching them to talk." Remus laughed.

"Sirius told you that story did he? James was a little put out over that incident. Your mum though…well, she loved it. That just made your dad even more put out." Oh, that was such a funny day. Lily was dancing all over the house with you. Then she'd point at something, and you'd just cry out "Moony!" I thought Sirius was going to pass out from laughing. Even James managed to laugh, eventually.

"Remus? I may not remember all those times, but I'm sure that having so many people who loved me so much as a baby made all the difference in who I am now. Despite everything. Thank you. I know you're going to be a brilliant dad." Remus felt like bursting into tears. When did you suddenly grow up like this and become so wise? You sound just like your father, now….

"Thank you, Harry."

"You're welcome. Now, since I can't go upstairs, can I go tell Ron and Hermione the good news, or do you want that privilege yourself? I may have to lock myself in an abandoned room until then, if you do."

Remus laughed and patted Harry on the shoulder as he turned to go up to Dumbledore's office. "No, off you go. Spread the good word. I'll see you all later."

***

Remus entered Dumbledore's office and was surprised to find both Sirius and Snape there. And a large goblet, which Snape just pointed at when he caught Remus' eye. Without a word Remus drank the potion and then sat down.

"Remus, as I was just telling Sirius here, I asked Snape to join us because I think he's valuable to this conversation."

"Of course."

Sirius gave a grunt, and Snape glared at him with his usual animosity.

Dumbledore chose to ignore this exchange, and continued, "The major issue here is whether Preftokis is once again doing something on his own, or if he's actually managed to get Voldemort to trust him again. With regards to Mr. Pettigrew's visit to your house, I actually agree with your assumptions here. Pettigrew never expected you to be there, and I doubt he'll come back once you've set up more wards." Much, much stronger wards. "So I think for now, we just have to be going on with the more urgent matters. And," he added, looking Remus firmly in the eye, " I see no reason at all you can't go back there. So I don't want to hear any talk of that." He's right. I'm not letting Peter chase me out of my house. If he comes back, so be it.

Remus nodded, noting that Sirius looked unhappy, but kept his mouth shut.

"Now, we need to determine how to find out what Preftokis is up to."

"I can find out," said Snape, quietly.

Sirius glared at him, but said nothing. Remus kept his expression even, and asked "How will you do that?"

"I'll go to see him, of course. He tried to get me to join his cartel before, but I managed to put him off for a while. I was focused on other things." Snape did not elaborate on this point. But he turned and looked at Remus. "How do you think you heard about what he was up to in the first place, Lupin?"

Now Sirius did speak. "Are you saying that it was your intelligence that tipped us off to Preftokis? Why the hell didn't you go? Look what happened because…." Stop it Sirius. Snape didn't know what would happen to us. He did the right thing.

Remus silenced Sirius, and although Sirius did shut up, he jumped up and began to pace in front of the fire, glaring at the floor.

Snape continued in the same cold tone. "At the time, I thought that Preftokis would be unsuccessful in convincing any of the others to join him. And seeing as how I was working on trying to get closer to Voldemort, aligning myself with someone like Preftokis seemed very imprudent. So I told Dumbledore what he'd said to me, and Dumbledore agreed that sending you two would be the best option. I was trying, Black, to see if I could locate Pettigrew."

Sirius froze, and Remus gave a choke.

"You've seen him?", asked Sirius sharply.

Snape shook his head. "Not yet. But I have now heard more than one Death Eater mention Wormtail. I don't think they realise exactly who Wormtail is, or what he's done. What he did, rather. Remember, many Death Eaters actually blame Pettigrew more than Potter for Voldemort's downfall last time."

Sirius said nothing, and kept his gaze fixed on the floor. Remus recognised from the set of his neck and shoulders that that was probably best.

Dumbledore addressed Snape again. "Severus, see what you can do. But be quiet about it. If your original instincts are right, then Preftokis probably is acting on his own, trying to convince Voldemort that this time, he will do the right thing. That makes him desperate, and very dangerous. It also could put you back in your efforts to get closer to Voldemort himself, as you rightly observed. We can't jeopardise that."

Snape nodded, then he stood up and also gave a nod to Remus. He ignored Sirius, and left. Sirius leaned his head on the mantelpiece and didn't look at either of them. Stop it, Sirius, please. We need to be focused. Suddenly, he thought of a good way to snap him out of it. Or not, this might upset him further. No, I doubt it.

"Headmaster, may I tell you both something that has nothing to do with the issue at hand?"

"Of course, Remus. Please say its good news, as I think we could do with some." Dumbledore glanced at Sirius, who did not turn around. Remus nodded, and felt himself smile.

"Very good news, Headmaster." He glanced at Sirius, and saw that he hadn't turned, but had picked his head off the mantle, and had an odd look on his face. I think he knows what I'm going to say. At least, I think he's hoping he knows.

"Headmaster, just before I came here Katie and I got some rather wonderful news…." He had to stop as Sirius suddenly ran over from the fireplace and threw his arms around him.

"Remus! Finally! Oh, this is the best possible thing I could have heard!"

Dumbledore raised his eyebrows and smiled at Remus, who flushed a little and smiled back.

"I gather," said Dumbledore with his eyes twinkling, "that congratulations are in order? That is very wonderful news indeed. My very best to you and the mother to be. Most excellent. I look forward to having the next round of Lupins terrorising my halls."

Sirius looked up at Remus with a very wicked grin indeed at that comment. "Oh, do let me tell Filch the good news, won't you, Moony?" They both started laughing, and Dumbledore sighed.

"Yes, I doubt whether poor Mr. Filch will be as happy as we three."

***

Snape was gone for several days. Remus did insist on staying at Hogwarts until he came back, and he had had time to set new wards on the house. He spent the time showing Katie the grounds. She was fascinated by the place, now that she'd calmed down, and took great delight in looking about with Remus. Harry, Ron and Hermione joined them when they didn't have a class to attend. Sirius joined them in his animagus form. Katie was thrilled every time one of the students who remembered him would come over to speak with Remus.

"You were well liked, weren't you?" She said one day, after Seamus Finnegan and Dean Thomas had spent some time talking with Remus. Remus smiled. I loved this. But think what might have happened if I stayed. Think what I would have missed….

"He was adored," said Hermione, firmly. "We've never had such a good DADA professor. The others have all turned out to be utterly corrupt or total idiots."

"But such good looking, idiots, wouldn't you say, " asked Ron in a sly tone.

"Yes, it's been quite a while. I think we can all shut up about that one now, Ron," Hermione replied in an exasperated tone. Remus and Harry laughed.

"What's the joke here?" asked Katie lightly.

Ron proceeded to tell her all about Gilderoy Lockhart and the Cornish pixies. "They destroyed the classroom and escaped out the window. The man didn't have a clue as to what he was doing. But someone thought he was rather good looking and wouldn't see that. Hmmm?" Hermione had gone a little red, but finally laughed with them and gave a sheepish smile.

Katie winked at her. "Can't criticise a crush on a DADA teacher, can I?" and then looked at Remus. "If this man was so foolish, why was he hired in the first place?"

Remus grinned at her. "Oh, he's been passing himself off as a Dark Arts expert for years. Published volumes of books on the subject. Only the exploits he'd been reporting turns out were not his own, just stories he's collected. I think I might have one of his many best sellers. You should find it amusing."

"What's that?"

"'Wanderings with Werewolves'".

She gave him a very dry look. "Oh yes, very amusing."

Harry looked at the sky. "We'd better be getting back. It's going to be dark soon…."

"And it gets so cold out here," added Ron.

"You need to be getting some dinner, too, Katie," said Hermione, in her best no-nonsense tone.

Katie groaned and leaned into Remus. "Seven months or so of everyone fussing? This better be worth it." It will. Absolutely, my love.

***

Snape returned, and Remus and Sirius went to Dumbledore's office to hear what had happened. They were very surprised to see that Snape was actually looking …well, I'd say rather pleased. But I couldn't be certain.

"What happened, Severus?" he asked.

"Several rather interesting things. You should know, first of all, that Preftokis is dead."

What?

"How?" cried Sirius. "Who killed him?"

"Some members of his own 'cartel', under orders from Voldemort. Seems he was doing all of this by his own accord, again, and Voldemort was furious that the man could take such a risk, an unprecedented and foolish risk, for the second time. He made it clear that anyone who removed Preftokis would be forgiven for having listened to him again in the first place."

"They couldn't get away from the man fast enough. I'm not sure who killed him, but he's definitely dead. And his house was destroyed." He added quietly, risking a glance at Sirius. Just like… Remus cleared his throat.

"What of the cartel members? Won't they just go forward with someone Voldemort does approve of?"

"Very likely. But they're laying low because even the Ministry cannot turn a blind eye when something like this occurs. They are actually doing a reasonably thorough job of looking into the matter. So nothing is going to happen just yet, and it's safe to assume that no Death Eater will be doing anything without orders for a while. Which brings me to the second bit of news, although this I have on much less certain word."

Snape looked at Remus, and Remus was surprised to see that his expression had softened slightly. "Preftokis wasn't the only one disobeying orders. Voldemort has made it very clear that no one is to attack any of the Aurors or people supporting Dumbledore, as he's concerned that if they're targeted, people will start to believe what he's been saying. No deaths, no evidence that Dumbledore has proof of anything. Pettigrew did not have permission to be anywhere near your house. Voldemort was very unhappy when he learned of what happened, I gather."

Remus frowned. "But how could he have known? Surely Peter wouldn't have said anything, and they touched nothing."

"No. I suspect that someone told the story, though, to the wrong people." He regarded Remus with an even expression. Well, this is very interesting.

"Thank you, Severus," said Remus, hearing the own amazement in his voice.

"Not at all."

Sirius cleared his throat, and they all looked at him. Remus nearly fell of his chair when he heard Sirius say "Yes, thank you, Severus. That was a very decent thing to do."

***

Remus and Katie returned home the next day. Sirius had decided to stay up near Hogsmead for a while, to spend a little more time with Harry. Remus suspected that the news of the baby had made him feel more overprotective and sentimental towards Harry than ever, but decided not to say anything.

They stood at the edge of the garden, looking out at the sun setting over the meadow for a while. Despite everything that had happened the past few days, everything at that moment seemed very peaceful and perfect. Not peaceful for much longer. And not noisy fast enough. He smiled at Katie.

"Well, that was all interesting."

Katie gawked at him. "Interesting? That's your opinion of the matter? I used to sit here working wondering what you did with yourself while you were away. I thought not knowing was awful. Now I think knowing is worse."

Remus held her to him more closely.

"Katie, don't think like that. This will all be over some day. And we just have to go forward. I spent so long at a standstill, hiding from everything. Now, now I don't think I could stand still for anything in the world. And I don't want to. I love waking up everyday now and thinking, 'what's it all going to be about to day then?'. That's a far cry from when I used to wake up everyday thinking it was just one more day I had to get through, to try and not spend every waking minute in pain."

"I'm not so naïve to think that we will ever really be free from this all. Darkness is always there; good things happen, bad things happen. But you make all the difference, don't you, by what you let happen. People still aren't that concerned, you know. God only knows what the Lucius Malfoys of the world are up to as we speak. But I'm not going to let that change anything for us,' he smiled and caressed Katie's stomach. "For all of us. This is truly the most wonderful thing I can imagine. And I'll never let anyone, or anything, take it from he without a fight."

"That's my Remus," smiled Katie.

He smiled, and pulled her to him. He leaned down and whispered in her ear, "Oh, I most certainly am yours, Mrs. Lupin." He kissed her, then took her hand, and they walked slowly back into the house.

***EPILOGUE***

Remus tried to concentrate on finishing what he was doing, but found his gaze kept wandering out the window to where Katie was in the garden, playing with the children. She sat on the grass holding Annie, laughing, while Malcolm was once again trying to help Roarke with her motor skills. Malcolm was trying very hard to wait for Roarke to be able to move about enough to keep up with him, but was getting impatient. Katie had tried explaining that Roarke was a little young yet to be able to follow her brother about, but Malcolm had just taken that as a challenge to get her moving faster. Stubborn little thing. Can't imagine where that comes from, Remus thought with a grin. And Malcolm regarded Annie as utterly useless yet, but still doted on her when he thought nobody was paying attention. He was trying to get her to at least talk. God help those girls when they're older if they do something he doesn't like. He's going to be terribly overprotective. Of course, I don't doubt for a minute they'll be more than a match for the boy.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw that Malcolm was coming back in the house. He waited for a few moments, then saw his oldest appear at the door of the study.

"Dad? Are we leaving soon?"

Remus put down his quill and held out a hand towards Malcolm, who ran over and climbed up into his lap, settling against his chest happily. Almost six. When did that happen? He's almost getting too big for this. That thought made Remus a little sad, so he focused instead on smoothing out his son's rather messed up hair, and gave him a quick hug.

"Soon, yes. We have to wait for Mrs. Noyes to get here, as she's looking after the girls. They're a little small yet to travel, so they're staying here."

"Really?" Malcolm asked, a little hopefully, then corrected himself. "Oh, that's too bad," he said trying to hide the delight in his voice. "Then they don't get to see the baby." Remus had to laugh silently to himself at this. Malcolm had, reluctantly, learned to share his parents' attention with his sisters. But Sirius was another matter. Well, Sirius was a big part of his life for a long time. It broke his heart when he left, and we couldn't exactly explain why it was such a good thing to him.

"Is Harry going to be there?" asked Malcolm.

Remus shook his head. "No, sorry, son. He isn't back yet. But the Weasleys will be, so you get to see them."

"Oh good. Do you think Hermione might help me with my writing?"

"My help wasn't good enough for you, then?" chuckled Remus absently as he looked back at his own writing.

Malcolm let out a cry, turned, and threw his arms around his father's neck.

"Oh, no, Daddy! You're wonderful! Always! I just thought…"

Oh, Malcolm; that was a silly thing to say to you. Remus sometimes forgot how sensitive Malcolm could be about comments like that. He hugged his son back, and said "Malcolm, I'm sorry. I was just joking, really. You know how much Hermione loves helping you, just as much as I do."

Malcolm pulled back and gave his father a very stern look. "It wasn't a funny joke at all."

"No. I won't say that again, I promise." Goodness, he certainly got that expression from Sirius. "Now, why don't you get ready to go? I just see Mrs. Noyes coming in the gate, so we can leave soon. And Malcolm? I do love you very much."

Malcolm gave him a brilliant smile and hugged him again. "I love you very much, too, Daddy."

Remus stood up and put Malcolm on the floor, then followed him out the door. Malcolm ran upstairs, and Remus went out to greet Mrs. Noyes. He walked over to where they were all standing, and said hello, while he reached down and picked up Roarke, who laid her head on his shoulder and smiled shyly at Mrs. Noyes.

"Oh, that one does look just like you, Remus. Same eyes. Such a treasure."

Katie smiled. "They're all treasures, Mrs. Noyes," she said softly. "Quite amazing treasures," added Remus.

"Of course they are, dears. I'm thrilled to get the girls all to myself for the day." She took Annie from Katie and smiled as the baby laughed at her. "Do say hello to Sirius and Liz for me, won't you? And offer my congratulations. I'll be over to see them all when the fuss has died down."

"Fuss never dies down in the Black household, Mrs. Noyes. It just shifts," said Katie with a twinkle in her eye.

"Yes, good point. And to have given that man a son of his own; as if he doesn't get into enough trouble with Malcolm."

"Malcolm, thankfully," Katie said, giving her husband an amused look, "seems to have a very sensible personality, despite some very focused efforts to change that. He was horrified when Sirius tried to convince him to help him set off some fireworks in Remus' study."

Remus had to laugh. "Yes, well, he did get over it though, as I recall. And was very pleased with the results."

"I hold you both accountable for every future broken table, vase, and bone."

Malcolm came out of the house at that point and ran over to them.

"'Lo Mrs. Noyes."

"Hello to you too, sweetie. Excited?"

"We're going to see Sirius!" he cried with delight, taking his mother's hand.

"And what about the baby?"

Malcolm shrugged. "Not much good so young, are they? I bet it'll be better when the baby gets bigger."

Mrs. Noyes laughed and looked at Malcolm's parents, who were grinning themselves. "Still hasn't got a very high opinion of the things, does he?"

"Not a bit," agreed Remus.

Katie and Mrs. Noyes laughed, and turned to go into the house. Remus handed Roarke to Katie and watched them go, but stayed where he was, looking back out the garden into the meadow. It seemed so long ago, in another lifetime, when he had stood in that meadow and thought about leaving. About never trying to reach out and take this. Thank God Sirius didn't let me. Thank God Katie didn't let me. I don't even seem to remember who that man was. He glanced back at his family, and saw Malcolm turn to look at him with a concerned expression.

"I'll be right in, Malcolm."

Malcolm smiled broadly and went into the house, still holding his mother's hand. Remus felt the same tightening in his chest he used to feel only for Katie when she looked at him and he could see so much love coming from her. Now he felt that way with the children too. Especially Malcolm. I know I love all my children more than anything, but that one is just so special. What he meant to us. To all of us. Sirius used to just sit for hours, rocking him by the fire. We all used to burst into tears sometimes just looking at him, and he would just smile and laugh. And, oh, he's the spitting image of Katie. I couldn't have asked for anything more wonderful than that.

Remus looked back over into the meadow, and smiled. He closed his eyes and listened to the sounds of the garden, and the faint laughing voices in the house.

I felt like I was falling that night. Now I'm flying.