I couldn't help myself - I wanted to know what happens to Iris, Oliver and co. after the war. So I started this. I've gotten a fair bit of it done already, but I'm in the process of rewriting. I decided I wanted to take the story in a bit of a different direction after I had gotten most of it done, so I'm making the necessary changes. I'll probably only put up the first two chapters for now until I get the rewrites done, so apologies in advance if it's not regularly updated for a bit.
Anyway, hope you enjoy!
It was a bright, warm day. Iris sat on a balcony that overlooked Diagon Alley, soaking in as much sun as she could, making up for the year she had been locked away in a magical coma. She often spent her mornings and afternoons out there - when she wasn't out exploring the city - soothed by the noise of people bustling up and down the street or rebuilding shops and homes that had been destroyed over the past year. It was a respite from the empty quiet of the flat that seemed to suffocate her. There was only so much cleaning she could do every day to occupy her thoughts.
Her feet were propped up on the edge of a wrought iron railing that ran the entire length of the balcony, an open book in her lap. Next to her, a mug of tea sat cooling on a matching table. She had to admit, Oliver did have a nice flat. Looking at it now, it was nearly unrecognizable from when they had first arrived a few weeks ago after spending the summer helping rebuild Hogwarts. It had taken the better part of a week for them to get it back to rights and replace most of the furniture. But they had managed and now you couldn't even tell that it had been ransacked while he was on the run.
Her heart contracted slightly as her thoughts drifted to Oliver. After the initial joy of being reunited, things had taken a sharp turn in the opposite direction. She had so much hope for them at the beginning of the summer, especially after they had spent a week with his family in Scotland. And at the times things had seemed like they would continue going well. Though even Iris had to admit that it was foolish of her to expect that they could pick up exactly where they left off. They had both survived a war. One that took too many innocent people.
But in that small alcove of hope in Scotland, for a week following the final battle Iris had forgotten about the potential struggles to come.
May 2, 1998
"Are you sure this is okay," Iris asked nervously. She looked down at her dirty clothes, then over at Harry. They were all still wearing what they had fought in. And they all could desperately use a shower or bath. Mrs. Weasley had fixed them up so at least they didn't have any wounds, but Iris was sore, tired and starving. Oliver had insisted they would be welcomed at his parents' house nearby and it would be more comfortable than staying at Hogwarts or Hogsmeade. Plus, he needed to see them and let them know he was alive.
This was not exactly how Iris had planned to meet Oliver's parents for the first time, but she figured it was for the best. And Harry was part of the package when it came to Iris, so best they all meet at once.
Before they had made it halfway down the path, the door open and a woman walked out. She stopped right in front of the door, shocked. Her hands covering her mouth as tears filled her eyes. She was short, but it was obvious that Oliver had her eyes and smile. Her light brown hair was pulled back in a low bun with curly tendrils sneaking out around the edges of her face. It was streaked with gray. She gasped, trying to hold back her sobs.
"Oliver?" she said. He took one step towards her but she ran the rest of the way and threw her arms around him. He completely enveloped her small frame as she began sobbing. "We thought we had lost you!" Behind her, a tall man walked out with teary eyes of his own, a look of surprise on his face. It didn't take a genius to see the similarities between him and Oliver as he walked over and threw his arms around both his wife and son. They had the same height and build, though age and time had weathered him. Possibly worry for his only son as well. But looking at his face, it was like seeing an older version of Oliver. Iris and Harry stood back, allowing them their family reunion. Harry reached over and grabbed Iris' hand, squeezing it. She looked over at him and smiled. She still couldn't quite believe how much he had grown in the year since she left. So many things had changed - herself and Oliver included.
Oliver's mother let go of him and looked up at him, cupping his face in her hands.
"You're here," she said, grinning. Oliver nodded. She then looked over and took notice of Iris and Harry. Her eyes widened as she saw the Boy Who Lived standing on the path to her house. She looked back to Oliver, her eyes questioning him. But then turned back to Iris and Harry, smiling warmly.
"Mum… this is Harry and… Red. Though, ehm, well. There's lots to explain, but her real name is Iris - not Lauren - and she's Harry's aunt," he said. Iris gulped, a bit worried as Mrs. Wood looked at her son, a bit confused. But then she looked back at the two of them and grinned. She walked over and hugged Iris.
"It's so good to finally meet you," she said. Iris hugged her back, smiling at Oliver over her shoulder. The older witch stepped back and looked at Iris. "You're every bit as beautiful as Oliver said you were." She then looked over at Harry and hugged him as well.
"Never in my life would I have thought I'd meet you, Harry. But all the same, I feel as though I know you from all the talk Oliver's done," she said. She stepped back and looked at Oliver, then Iris and Harry again. "Well, come on in. Let's get you all inside. From the looks of you, I'm sure you're a fair bit hungry and tired. I've just got supper ready," she said. They followed her in. The inside of the house was much bigger than it appeared outside, but quaint and cozy. "Please, have a seat," she said, motioning to the table. Oliver moved to sit and Iris sat next to him with Harry across from them. Mr. Wood sat at one end of the table, next to Iris. Mrs. Wood waved her wand and dishes moved themselves to the table. Oliver's father so far hadn't said anything, just studied their guests contemplatively, then smiling at Oliver. It made Iris slightly nervous. Soon enough the table was laden with food and Mrs. Wood had taken her seat.
"Go on then. Eat," she urged. They filled their plates and Oliver and Harry eagerly dug in. Iris stared at her plate a moment, then took a bite. It was her first meal in over a year. The taste was heavenly. She almost moaned in delight, but caught herself in time and instead tucked in with gusto. Mrs. Wood smiled, reaching out to lightly touch Oliver's arm every now and again. She was beyond thrilled to have her son back and it warmed her heart to see her table full.
"So, it's over, is it?" Oliver's father asked quietly, finally saying something. Oliver paused in eating and looked over, nodding.
"Yes. He's been defeated. Thanks to Harry here," Oliver said. Harry looked down at his plate, a bit shy. He then looked up and locked eyes with Iris.
"I couldn't have done it without Iris, though," he said. Iris slowed her chewing, smiling a bit. She shook her head.
"It was all you, Harry," she said once she could.
"I feel there are many things to talk about, but let's put that off a bit. For now, just eat," Mrs. Wood said, smiling.
Once dinner had been finished and the dishes put away - Iris had insisted on helping, but Mrs. Wood shushed her and pushed her to the sofa - the five of them sat in the parlor.
"Where were you?" Mrs. Wood finally asked, looking at Oliver. "What happened? It's been a year." Oliver looked at Iris, then back at his mother, trying to decide exactly where to start. He hadn't had time to explain before he went into hiding.
"Mo chroi, I dare said this calls for somethin' a bit stronger than tea," Mr. Wood said. He stood and walked over to a cabinet, then pulled out a bottle. He waved his wand and five glasses flew over, everyone took one from the air. He then walked around and poured out a bit in each, filling his own last. He placed the bottle on a table and then sat next to his wife on a sofa across from Oliver and Iris.
"It's the best Scotland has to offer," he said with a small smile, holding his glass up. They all took a sip before Oliver spoke.
"Ehm, well, I suppose the best place to start is the beginning," he said, looking at Iris, his eyes questioning if she wanted to speak or let him. Iris cleared her throat.
"Well… for starters, I'm the younger sister of Lily Potter," she began. For the next few minutes or so, everyone was silent as she told her story. She left out the darker parts and summarized. She continued talking up until the night she fought off Bellatrix and Brom to save Wood and then went silent. She didn't need to keep secrets anymore, but it was still hard to talk about.
"It was... a bit too much for me at the time," she said finally, looking at her hands in her lap, holding her glass. She still felt the sting of guilt that she couldn't control her power then. But then she looked up at Oliver's parents sitting across from her. "And so, I needed time to heal. I was in a sort of sleep or coma for over a year," she said. "From there, I don't know much until I woke up… during the battle." Everyone was silent. Iris looked at Harry, anxious. He was hearing some of this for the first time as well. He took another sip of his whisky. Oliver cleared his throat.
"Because I was connected to Iris and her cover - Lauren - I had to go into hiding after that. The Order was worried they would come after me to get to Iris. I spent the year with Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks," he said. Iris caught her breath. She didn't know this. "I'm sorry I couldn't get word. I was too afraid they would come for you if I tried to contact you."
Iris reached over and took his hand, squeezing it.
"But then we got word that Harry was at Hogwarts and Voldemort was going there, so we moved quickly," Oliver said. He went silent again. The three of them reliving their various parts in the battle. "We lost Remus and Tonks." Tears started forming in Iris eyes. "And for a bit, we thought we lost Harry too. But… he lived. And because of him and Iris… we won," he summarized. He looked down at Iris' hand in his and then up into her eyes. He squeezed her hand back.
"And now… we're together again," he said. He looked over at Harry. "All of us." Iris looked over at the elder Woods. Mrs. Wood had tears streaming down her face. Mr. Wood look stoic at first, but upon closer examination, he had tears in his eyes as well. They waited for them to speak, Iris growing nervous about what they would say. Mrs. Wood looked at all three of them. She sniffled a bit.
"I'm… All I wanted was for my wean to come home. And he did. Because of both of you," she said, looking first at Harry and then at Iris. "I'm forever in your debt. And both of you are always welcomed in my home." Iris breathed a bit easier. Oliver chuckled softly.
"Honestly, we were just doing what anyone else would have done," Harry said humbly. Iris nodded her agreement.
"Posh. You saved my Oliver and all of us, really. That's no small deed. For either of you," she said looking between the two of them. "And my boy… you did good as well. So brave, going back to fight." Oliver blushed slightly.
"I, ah, well…" he started, shifting on the sofa uneasily.
"Well, I think we've had had enough talk for now. You all must be tired," Mrs. Wood said. "Let's get you all cleaned up and to bed."
Later, Iris and Oliver were settled in his old room after they had all taken turns in the shower. Harry was in a room across the hall. Oliver had fallen into a deep sleep as soon as his head hit the pillow, his arm wrapped protectively around Iris. She tried to sleep, but couldn't despite being exhausted from the battle. Perhaps it was from being in a coma for over a year. She gingerly moved his arm from her and quietly got out of bed. All she wanted was fresh air. She quietly made her way downstairs and out the back door into a garden. Being surrounded by the various plants and flowers calmed her. She breathed deeply, taking in their scent as a gentle wind blew, cooling her skin and bare feet. She wrapped her arms around her, feeling a slight chill seeping through the light nightgown that Oliver's mother had loaned her. Tomorrow she said she would take them to town and see about getting some clothes until they could manage to get back to Headquarters in London and retrieve her and Harry's things. Harry had said he was fairly certain the home had been left undisturbed and all her trunks were still in her room.
"Trouble sleeping?" a voice said from behind her. Iris turned around and saw Oliver's father. She immediately felt nervous.
"Yes… I suppose all that time asleep has left me over rested," she said softly. He walked towards her and stood next to her. He took a deep breath.
"This place also gives me peace as well," he said. Iris nodded and looked around. She saw the highlands spread beyond the garden. Above was a clear sky full of stars.
"I've always wanted to see this place," she said. "I read these muggle novels and they made Scotland sound beautiful. Being here, I realize they didn't do them justice. It's simply breathtaking."
The two stood silent for a few moments.
"Iris I…," Mr. Wood started. Iris looked at him, biting her lower lip. "Thank you," he said finally. He looked over at her. "You saved Oliver." Iris looked down at the ground.
"I put him in danger. I… because of me he had leave you and go into hiding," she said.
"Knowing Oliver, he would have put himself in enough danger on his own. He had joined the Order, after all. You were there and saved him when he needed it," Mr. Wood said. He looked over at Iris. "You saved a fair bit of folks, I'd say." Iris looked up at the sky and took a deep breath.
"Mr. Wood, all I ever wanted was a family. A place to belong. To not hide or look over my shoulder all the time. Oliver… he knows my past. He knows… everything. But even before that all he did was show me kindness and accepted me, secrets, dark past and all. He helped me discover a strength that I never knew I had… Really I should be thanking him," she said. Mr. Wood took a deep breath.
"Well, first of all, it's Alan. Mr. Wood is too formal," he said with a small smile. Iris looked at him. "And you'll always have a place here. With us." Iris tried to swallow back tears, but found she couldn't and let them flow freely down her cheeks. "Both you and Harry. My wife and I, we're beholden to you for saving our son and making him so happy." She smiled and wrapped her arms around herself again.
"Thank you," she said softly.
"Honestly, we thought all he cared about was Quidditch," Alan said with a small laugh. Iris found herself laughing as well. "I take it you've heard a fair amount of that talk from him?" She nodded.
"But more than that. We've talked about many things. He told me about how much he loved his home," she said. Alan puffed up his chest a bit.
"As he should," he responded. He looked over at Iris and placed his hand on her shoulder. "I can see it in his eyes. lass, he loves you. And I can see in yours, you feel the same." Iris nodded.
"I do… but so much has happened… I'm, I'm worried about where we go from here," she admitted. Alan took a deep breath.
"It's not going to be easy. You both have your burdens. But… though I just met you this night, I think… You've strength enough. Both of you. Oliver is gonna need you now. Just as you're gonna need him," he said. Iris nodded, wiping her face.
"But there's also Harry," she said. Alan laughed.
"That's the thing about family… there's always room for more," he said. He squeezed her shoulder one more time and let go. "You'll figure it out."
After their talk, Iris made her way back upstairs and gently climbed back into bed. She looked over at Oliver, who stirred and popped one eye open.
"Go somewhere?" he murmured as he wrapped his arm around her and pulled her closer. Since they had reunited, Iris had noticed he was always finding some way to touch her. As if she would disappear again if he wasn't touching her at all times.
"I couldn't sleep so I went out for some fresh air," she said. "Ran into your father."
"Mmm? Have a nice chat?" he asked. Iris nodded. Oliver looked at her and gently caressed her cheek. "Part of me still can't believe you're here," he said.
"Me neither," she said. "So much has happened. So much has changed," she said. "I… I'm worried." Oliver nodded, smiling sadly.
"Aye, that's true. But we have each other. And Harry. And my parents and the Weasleys. We'll figure it out. We have time enough," he said. Iris nodded. She could see in his eyes a deep sadness. The past year had aged him. Where once was the young, fresh face of a hopeful Quidditch player, now there was a man who had escaped death many times over. Who had seen his friends die. Who had lost so much. But at the same time, she could see a small glimmer of hope. A hope that they could move on from this. Iris would ask him about the last year. But not tonight. Tonight she would let him rest. She leaned over and kissed him gently.
"We'll figure it out. But for now, rest," she said. Oliver nodded and settled back into his pillow. He pulled Iris closer. Within minutes he was breathing deeply, sound asleep. Iris watched him for awhile, still unable to sleep herself. But finally sleep, claimed her.