Author's note:  This story was originally published on Schnoogle as "Sirius Black's Secret Love."  I've made a few changes to it, but it will be essentially the same story.  There were a few readers who thought the title had been misleading, so this is an attempt to do a better job of naming my story.  Please note that this chapter is told through 3rd person Arabella Figg's POV.  Starting in Chapter Two the narration reverts to the standard 3rd person Harry Potter's POV.  This is only because I didn't want Harry to eavesdrop over this chapter, but wanted the reader to be able to know what transpired.  I'd also like to thank my beta readers Cara Hicks and Ama for offering terrific suggestions to strengthen my writing.  This is also dedicated to the wonderful online community that is the Harry Potter for Grown Ups list where we debate our theories on a daily basis, many listies will recognize theories that have been floated there and served to inspire my imagination.

Disclaimer:  This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc.  No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Chapter One – Arabella's Surprise Messenger

Mrs. Figg had just finished her afternoon tea when she heard a familiar sound.  Albus Dumbledore wanted to speak with her through her fire.  She lived in a Muggle neighbourhood and was careful to make sure that any magical aspects of her house were carefully concealed so that if any of her neighbours visited they wouldn't see anything out of the ordinary.  Mrs. Figg stood up from her kitchen table and removed the whistling teakettle from the gas stove.  She took her wand out from her deep pocket and waved it over the flames.

"Yes, Albus.  What did you want to tell me?"

Dumbledore's head appeared in the flames in miniature.  Only a portion of his long hair and beard was visible.

"Arabella, please open your fireplace flue.  You will be receiving someone who will give you some dire news and a new assignment from me.  Do not be alarmed by the messenger – he is to be trusted.  You'll understand after you hear his story, which has been verified by me.  That is all for now."

Dumbledore's face popped and the flames resumed their normal height.  Mrs. Figg replaced the kettle to the burner and shut the flame off. 

Dumbledore's words echoed in her head.  "Don't be alarmed by the messenger."  She began to wonder who Dumbldore was sending.  She started to frown.  She understood that Dumbledore could often be cryptic, especially when communicating from a distance.  He was cautious to not reveal too much that somehow might be intercepted by others.  That was why he was sending someone in person to give her detailed information.

Mrs. Figg moved to her fireplace and mechanically opened the flue.  She also waved her wand about a foot above the mantel and magically reconnected it to the Floo Network.  Most wizards and witches had their fireplaces constantly connected to this network.  She saw this as a vulnerability where anyone could fly into your house unannounced and attack you.  Therefore she only allowed travel by Floo powder under her own control.

Mrs. Figg sat down in her favourite chair and held her wand in her lap.  She would be armed and ready for whomever Dumbledore was sending.  She looked at the clock on the mantel.  Any minute now.  Then she heard the rumbling of someone coming through the chimney and landing on her hearth.  Her eyes opened wide as she recognized the figure, struggling to stand.  Before her stood a man wearing ragged robes and having long matted hair and a shaggy beard.  The orange tabby cat that was sitting at her feet arched his back and hissed.

"Sirius Black!"  Her knuckles were white from clutching her wand tightly.

"Arabella, didn't Dumbledore tell you I was coming?"

Her eyes were cold towards him.

"He told me to expect someone, but didn't say who.  Give me your message and then give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you."

He held out his hands in front of him.

"Please, calm down.  The message is lengthy – you need to know that Voldemort has risen.  He has a body once again and Dumbledore needs our help to counter Voldemort's forces.  I'll tell you all about that, but first I must tell you that I never betrayed the Potters.  That evil deed was done by Peter Pettigrew.  I had tried to track him down and seek revenge, but he got the better of me."

Arabella Figg's eyebrows furrowed.  "But you killed him as well as a street full of Muggles."

Sirius shook his head slowly.  "No.  Pettigrew faked his own death and caused the explosion.  He framed me for everything.  I snapped.  Lily…James…and then all those innocent people killed by someone I thought was my friend.  I had trusted him.   And I misjudged and underestimated him...I was devastated.  When agents from the Ministry came – I was hopeless in stating my case.  They didn't even test my wand, they just sent me to Azkaban without a trial."

Sirius then told her of Pettigrew, James and himself being unregistered Animagi and how Pettigrew lived for twelve years as a rat.  Arabella was visibly shaken when she heard how close Pettigrew had been to Harry Potter.  After he finished telling her how he had escaped from Azkaban in order to save Harry and how Wormtail had escaped after that night in the Shrieking Shack, she had tears streaming down her face. 

"Oh, Sirius.  You don't know how many nights I laid awake wondering how I missed signs about you.  I blamed myself since we had worked so closely together and I felt responsible for…everything."

Sirius crossed the room and sat down on the edge of the sofa nearest Arabella's chair.  She set her wand down and Sirius took her hands in his in a comforting gesture.  The cat at this point crawled up on the hearth and started to sleep, he was now satisfied that the visitor meant no harm.

"That's how I felt about Pettigrew.  Thoughts of betrayal, vengeance and the bitter taste of injustice were all my constant companions.  They weren't happy thoughts so the Dementors couldn't feed off of them.  Somehow I managed to maintain some semblance of sanity.  I don't want you to start thinking about Pettigrew now.  He's not worth any more aggravation for anyone.  You've punished yourself enough thinking about me."

"Sirius, when I heard about what you were accused of, it hit me really hard.  Hours after Lily and James were killed, Dumbledore asked me to watch over Harry.  We had the perfect plan.  If I was present when Petunia discovered Harry – then I could work to become a trusted family friend.  I was to live here and establish a close relationship with the Dursleys and be a surrogate grandparent for Harry and Dudley.  Except…that's not what happened."

Sirius frowned.  "What happened?"

"Well, the plan worked at first," Arabella started slowly.   "I had stationed myself across the street hiding waiting for Petunia to open her door in the morning.  She screamed and fainted as soon as she saw Harry.  I rang her front doorbell to wake up her husband Vernon.  When he came downstairs I told him that I saw her faint dead away.  That's when he saw Harry and already he started in muttering.  I helped make tea and resuscitate Petunia.  Then I worked on feeding and changing the two small boys.  I spent all day with them, ingratiating myself with them and offering to help them out as much as possible.  And then…I came home and found out about you and Pettigrew."

New tears came streaming down her face.  Sirius took one hand and tenderly brushed them away.

"I was devastated," she continued.  "I simply couldn't function properly.  Nothing could make me get out of bed for a week.  By the time I got over my shock and tried to reconnect with the Dursleys, it was too late.  They had already decided how they were going to treat Harry.  He was an embarrassment and they were going to try to pretend he didn't exist.  I also became an embarrassment to them, because I knew of Harry's existence.  I pretended to accept them at their word that a close family friend had dropped off Harry when his parents died in a car crash.  So, I was someone they turned to only in times of desperation.  In order to seem less of a threat to them – I became eccentric.  The crazy old cat lady.  Harry has never known that I'm here watching over the neighbourhood to protect him from Dark Forces."

Arabella had now finished crying.  She turned and looked Sirius straight in the eye.  "Dumbledore said I was going to have a new assignment.  What is it?"

 "He wants you to be the new Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor."

"Really?  What happened to the last one?"

Sirius gave a wan smile. "Well, you see he's doesn't seem to be able to keep anyone for longer than a year.  Last year he had Alastor Moody in that position…except it wasn't really Moody."

"What do you mean?"

"It was actually Bartemius Crouch, Jr., a Death Eater who everyone thought died in Azkaban.  He and Wormtail had overpowered Moody.  Crouch kept him hostage in his own trunk under the Imperius curse."

Arabella shook her head slowly.  "Oh poor Alastor.  He's always been paranoid.  I can't imagine how he'll recover from that."

"I know, there's so much more I need to tell you about Crouch and what happened to Harry."

"Yes, yes, I know," she said nodding.  "Tell me, who is supposed to watch over Privet Drive while I'm at Hogwarts?"

"Well, Dumbledore thinks that this would be a good place for me to hide out at."

Arabella tried unsuccessfully to stifle a laugh.  "Not looking like that.  Oh, we need to do a bit of work to change your appearance.  After all, you're still a wanted fugitive."  She shook her head.   "I can't believe that Dumbledore didn't try to help you get rid of the convict-on-the-run look.  Honestly, you look like you just escaped from Azkaban two days ago instead of two years ago." 

Sirius gave a sheepish grin.  "Well, most of the time I didn't appear in my human form, but in my Animagus form."

"That won't do you any good in this neighbourhood.  Look, why don't I get dinner going and you can take a nice long, hot bath.  When you get out I'll cut your hair.  Come and follow me."

Arabella crossed to the fireplace and closed the flue and then waved her wand to disconnect it from the network.  She took Sirius down a hallway into a tiled bathroom with a bathtub that had a shower attachment.  She brought out some large fluffy towels and handed him a razor and shaving cream.

"Everyone remembers you from your youth as clean shaven with longish hair.  Now your wanted photos show you with a beard and long wild hair.  Why don't you shave and leave a moustache?  I'll give you a good haircut before dinner.  Then we'll work on other ways to change your appearance to help you walk with ease in both the Muggle and the Wizarding World."

Sirius gave her a big smile.  "Thanks Bella."  He paused then said softly, "Could you do me a favour?"

Arabella returned his smile.  "What's that?"

"Resume your true form for me.  I'd like to see my old friend and not your disguise."

Arabella nodded.  "All right.  Just for you.  And I'll see if I can find any clothes for you.  We need to burn these robes.  Oh and before you step in the bath, could you please place five drops of this under your tongue?" 

She handed him a small bottle with a green liquid inside.  Sirius looked at the bottle quizzically.

"What is this?"

Arabella gave a small smile.  "It's to rid yourself of ticks and fleas.  I give this to all of my cats.  If you've been living as a dog for a few years now, I'm safe in thinking you may have picked up a few fleas.  I don't let the cats bring them in this house and I'm not letting you do it either.  Have a nice bath."

Arabella closed the bathroom door.  She could hear the bath filling with water.  She then started to imagine Sirius disrobing.  She shook her head and started blushing.  How long had it been?  How long since she had been held tenderly?  How long had it been since she was kissed and made love to?  Far too long.  It had been fifteen years since Robert's death.  Since Robert's murder she quickly corrected herself.

She opened her closet door and looked at the far end.  Here were the few things of her late husband that she had kept.  She took out a white shirt, black pants and a simple black robe.  She didn't have any undergarments for Sirius, but right now – that probably wouldn't matter.  She doubted that when he was in Azkaban that they would replace any worn out clothes.  Instead she assumed that the robes he was wearing were the same ones he had been arrested in.  Had he worn any undergarments then, surely they would have been thrown away years ago.

Arabella then looked in her closet for her own clothes.  She chose a simple black dress with short sleeves.  It was a warm summer's evening and there was no real need for a robe.  She changed out of the frousy old lady housedress she wore into the black dress.  Then she reached for a small vial of potion.  She administered three drops of the clear fluid under her tongue and looked in the mirror waiting for it to take effect.  Within seconds the wrinkles around her eyes started to melt.  Her eyesight started changing and she quickly took off her spectacles, as they were no longer needed.  Her hair colour started moving up the strands of her hair until the bun on top of her head was now filled with a honey-blonde coloured hair instead of white.  Arabella was now looking at her true self, a forty-four year old woman.  She smiled appreciatively at her reflection and noticed how her figure had changed and firmed up.

"Not too bad, if I do say so myself.  Arabella, I haven't seen you look this young in ages!"  She laughed to herself and then rubbed her hands together, "Now about that dinner."

Arabella walked into her kitchen and started looking in the refrigerator.  What should I make, she wondered.   He probably hasn't eaten well in years, so it won't matter really but…He needs some good stick to your ribs kind of food.  She made her mind up and decided on Shepherd's pie, a garden salad and an apple crisp with vanilla ice cream for dessert.  She directed her wand in many different directions getting a knife chopping onions, while a pot was filling with water for the potatoes to boil in.  Another knife was peeling apples.  The kitchen started to fill with the smell of dinner cooking.  She allowed her mind to drift backward in time.

"Sirius, I need to talk with you about your sex life."

"Arabella…please," Sirius sputtered. " I think my love life is my own business, thank you very much."

"It would be if you were in love with someone.  But you aren't.  You have a different girlfriend every week.  It's a liability for us.  Sooner or later you're going to be on a date with someone who will want to kill you."

Sirius looked at her darkly.  "I think I can take care of myself."

Arabella returned a stern look at him.  "You're endangering everyone with your reckless behavior.  You don't even know half of these women before you go out with them.  I'm assuming you sleep with most of them.  That's putting yourself in a very vulnerable position.  We simply cannot allow you to jeopardize everything we've been working on in the last few years because you cannot control your hormones."

Sirius softened his tone with her.  "That is easy for you and Lily and James to say.  You all have found someone to fall in love with.  I haven't.  I'm just trying to find someone to love."

Arabella continued in a direct and no nonsense manner.  "Love is more than just shagging someone.  You need to find someone who you truly like, someone that you can trust, someone that will laugh at your jokes and that makes you laugh.  You need to find someone who will love you for who you are and who understands what is in your heart.  Going from bed to bed like you're doing – you will never find love.  Right now your libido is a liability.  You need to either find yourself a steady girlfriend, take a sabbatical from dating for awhile, or you're going to have to screen your dates with me first."

"Whoa, Arabella!  I've never seen you like this.  You're…"

"Direct, that's what I am.  Word around town is that you show the ladies a good time in the sack.  How come you can't get a second or third date?"

Sirius blushed darkly.  "I don't have to listen to this."

"You bloody well have to.  You report to me and I'm telling you that we're all lucky that you haven't been targeted yet and find out that a Tuesday evening girlfriend happens to be a Death Eater in disguise.  If they capture you and torture you…"

Sirius's anger was rising.  "I'll never tell them anything and you bloody well know that."

"Then they'll just kill you," she spat at him.  "Sirius you are a brilliant wizard and I don't want to lose you.  Now start doing some thinking with that larger head of yours for a change.  From now on, you cannot just meet someone at the Leaky Cauldron and then take them back to your flat.  If you meet someone you're interested in, you will make a date with them.  But you will bring me their name, year and house from Hogwarts and any other personal information you can gather before you are alone with them."

Sirius rolled his eyes.  "You're going to do background checks on them?"

"You bet.  I'll try to find out anything suspicious and let you be forewarned so that you can be forearmed.   And Sirius, this is not negotiable."

"Very well," he muttered darkly under his breath.

Arabella started sprinkling the cinnamon sugar over the layers of apple slices in the ceramic dish.  She really had liked working with Sirius, it's just that he was so cocky and headstrong at times.  It infuriated her, but also endeared him to her because that weakness was also his greatest strength.  She remembered how Dumbledore came to her and offered her a job as a free-lance Auror.  She'd have more freedom and less bureaucracy than continuing to work for the Ministry of Magic.  He also wanted her to train and supervise two new graduates from Hogwarts that he praised highly:  Sirius Black and James Potter.  Arabella's thoughts then drifted to one of her darkest nights.

Arabella was watching from a safe distance as two young people were kissing on a bench under a gazebo.  It was a warm autumn evening.  She was quietly sitting there in her cat form in the shadows and silently wondering whether or not this was even necessary.  Sirius started to kiss the young woman's neck and then he started to unbutton her blouse.  One button, two buttons, three buttons.  This exposed an ample amount of cleavage.  Arabella started wondering, "just how far is this guy going to go in the great outdoors?"  He buried his head in the young woman's chest and she gave out a low moan.  Then Arabella's ears straightened and her eyes narrowed.  The young woman's arm that was supporting her against the bench started to move, but it was not moving towards Sirius's back in an affectionate manner.  Instead she was reaching behind the bench for something.  Arabella saw the glint of moonlight off the blade of a large knife and she transformed back into her human form.

"Expelliarmus!" she roared.  The knife flew towards her and she used her wand to slow the knife down and to bring it to her.  She took out a handkerchief and placed it on the handle.  She carefully smelled the blade and frowned.  She then placed the weapon in a large purse.

Sirius had raised his head immediately when he heard the curse being uttered.  His date had flown backward and was knocked unconscious.  He then saw Arabella emerge from the shadows.

"I was following up on a hunch of mine.  There was something in her background check that just didn't smell right."

"Thank you," he sighed heavily and then shook his head. "Maybe I do need a sabbatical from dating."

Arabella smiled, "We'll have to test this knife when we take her to the Ministry, but it smells like a very potent poison on it from the Amazon rain forest.  A single scratch can be lethal.  Please help me with her."

Arabella conjured ropes around the young woman's hands and Sirius slung her over his shoulder.  He carried her over to his motorcycle and Arabella climbed on the back.  The unconscious woman was then sandwiched between Sirius and Arabella.  They rode in silence back to the Ministry of Magic.

As they entered the Ministry's offices Arabella strode to the front desk.  "Hello, Ralph.  We're here tonight to turn over someone who attempted to murder my partner, Sirius Black.  I have the weapon here in my purse with her fingerprints on them.  We'll revive her as soon as she is securely in custody for interrogation."

Ralph looked up with grave concern in his eyes.  "Arabella, we've been trying to get in touch with you for a couple hours now.  Have you spoken with anyone?"

"Why?  What happened?" she asked with great dread in her voice.

 "It's your husband.  Robert was killed.  The Dark Mark was over your house."


Arabella heard the water from the potatoes boiling over on the stove.  She quickly went over and shut off the flame.  She tested the potatoes and they were done.  She drained the water and then directed her wand to a potato masher to mash them in the pan.

Sirius was knocking on the Potters' door.  Lily answered and looked surprised to see them.

"Arabella, Sirius.  What brings you here at this time of night?"

Sirius was supporting Arabella.  "It's Robert.  He was murdered tonight."

Lily opened her arms and gave a strong embrace to Arabella.  "Please come in.  You will stay with us tonight."  She then turned to Sirius, "Go get James, he's in the nursery." 

Lily walked Arabella over to the couch.

"I wasn't there Lily.  I know that it was meant for me, not Robert!  I was supposed to be home for dinner, but I followed up on a hunch and…" she stammered.

Sirius walked back in the room with James.  "And you saved my life.  Arabella, if you had been home then maybe you, Robert and I would all be dead.  Would that be better?"

"No, but…" She broke down in sobs.

Lily stroked Arabella's hair.  "You need to try to calm down.  I know it's hard because you and Robert shared such a strong love for each other, but right now you're going to have to stop thinking of yourself and think of your baby."

"Baby?"  Sirius looked at Lily and James.

Lily nodded, "Yes, she's almost five months pregnant."  She then raised Arabella's chin up and looked her in the eye.  "Everything you feel, your baby feels.  You have to try and stay as calm as you can otherwise it'll hurt your little one."

Arabella nodded but the tears continued to stream down her face.

James turned to Sirius, "Who's leading the inquiry at the Ministry?"


 James nodded, "That's good.  At least they have someone competent in charge."

Arabella then looked up, "We'll have to put a note on the outside of the Apothecary that it'll be closed until further notice."

"Don't worry," said Lily.  "We'll take care of that.  Now why don't you come with me, I'll start a pot of tea.  Later I'll find you a nightgown and you'll sleep in our guest room.  James, why don't you get some blankets so Sirius can sleep on the couch.  I think she's going to need all of our support in the morning."

Lily, James and Sirius had been so supportive to her during those dark days, Arabella reflected.  They truly were dear friends.  The Potters' deaths were as much a shock to her as was her husband's.  Dumbledore thought she was the perfect candidate to provide security for the orphaned Harry.  The position did allow her autonomy and privacy, but it was also very isolating.  She had purposefully lost contact with all of her friends and relatives in the Wizarding World.  Here she was in a neighbourhood where she was constantly on the lookout for any suspicious people or activities.  She longed for contact with those she could confide in, laugh with and share her true self and feelings with.  Tonight's dinner with Sirius would do wonders towards filling that tremendous void in her life.

Now she looked around the kitchen and it seemed that all was ready.  She merely needed to put the meat pie and apple crisp in the oven and let them bake.  The salad was made and chilling in the refrigerator, the table was set for two with candles and flowers.  Arabella turned to the three cats that were in her living room.  She told them that she'd appreciate it if they'd stand guard outside the house this evening and to pass the word on to the other sentries.  If there were any signs of dark magic in the neighbourhood that she'd need their reports, otherwise to please not disturb her.  To anyone else it would have sounded like she was simply meowing at them.  They then turned and went through the cat door.  She'd now go back and see how Sirius was doing.

Arabella heard the bathtub draining.  She knocked on the door and said, "Please don't try to wear those horrible rags again.  I've got some nice clothes here for you to try."

"Come on in."

Arabella nervously entered the bathroom.  Sirius was standing at the sink shaving and was wearing only a bath towel wrapped around his waist.  He was thin, but muscular.  His long hair reached the middle of his back and there was facial hair lining the sink in a thick blanket.  He looked at her and smiled.  "You look much better.  More like how I remember you."

Arabella blushed and felt a warmth spread throughout her body.

Sirius then turned back to the mirror and took one hand and felt his smooth cheeks.  "What do you think?  You like this moustache?"

"It needs a little trim.  Here's some scissors.  I'll be right back with a chair so I can cut your hair."

Arabella hung the clothes on the back of the door on a hook and slowly walked out to retrieve a chair.  Her heart was beating hard.  Sirius looked so attractive.  She didn't know if she'd be able to resist his charms.  Then again she thought, she wasn't sure if she wanted to either.  She walked back into the bathroom and set the chair in the middle of the floor.

"Have a seat," she announced.

Sirius sat down and Arabella started to cut his long hair from the back.  Snip.  A foot of hair fell to the floor.  Snip, snip.  More long and stringy clumps of hair fell onto the tile.  She then used the comb and started to cut closer to his head.  She wanted a short hairstyle for him.  One that would befit an everyday working class Muggle.  As the hair fell down on his shoulders, Arabella would find herself brushing it off onto the floor.  When her fingers touched his shoulders she found they felt like they tingled with electricity.

Arabella started to chat as she continued to cut his hair, "We'll have to come up with a good cover for you to stay here while I'm gone.  I'm thinking that I should say that I'm visiting a sister I haven't spoken to in twenty years.  She lives in Scotland and has terminal cancer.  I'm going to help her manage in her last few months and then help to set her affairs in order after she's gone."

Sirius agreed.  "That sounds reasonable and no one will really be able to quibble about how long you'll be.  As long as it takes.  I like it."

Arabella beamed.  She was glad that Sirius thought it was a good cover.  "And as for you, I think you'll be a nephew on my late husband's side.  You'll be house sitting while I'm gone."

"That sounds plausible enough."

"Yes, but I also want you to have the same name for both the Muggle world as well as the Wizarding World.  It makes it far easier in case there's a witch or wizard passing as Muggle – and I think to help in your disguise we need to do a little more than just a shave and haircut."

"What did you have in mind?" Sirius asked. 

"I think you'll need to age to be in your fifties and we'll get you some nice Muggle contact lenses for your eyes.  They can change the colour to brown.  I also think you need to learn an Australian accent," Arabella answered.

"You're the boss.  So what am I supposed to do for a job?  Don't all Muggles have jobs?"  Sirius asked.

"Hmm," she mused.  "You could be a writer who works from home.  You will have to figure out how to deal with Nadine Henderson across the street though."

"Who's she?"

"A single mother in her thirties with a small daughter.  She looks at any man who's not behind bars or mentally incompetent as a potential future husband.  That includes married men, I'm afraid.  She'll be drooling the moment she sees you."

Sirius thought for a moment.  "Well, I'll deal with her.  I'm not about to make any stupid mistakes like I did in my youth.  I never truly thanked you for saving my life and for telling me the truth about how foolish I was.  Thinking back, I realize that I was fearful of ever letting myself fall in love with someone.  I was afraid of being rejected once someone knew who I really was.  So I'd cut them loose first and never allow anyone to really get close to me.  That is except for you, James and Lily."

Arabella had to stop cutting hair for a moment because her eyes welled with tears.  "Thank you, Sirius.  That means a lot to me."

"I'll just tell Nadine, that I'm watching this house as a favour for my aunt.  That I am married to a wonderful woman, but that we are currently separated.    That our relationship has spanned many years and right now she's trying to sort out a lot of problems from her youth that she's never adequately dealt with.  That I will wait for her for as long as it takes and I would do nothing to harm her in any way.  Think that'll work?"

"It does for me." 

Arabella then turned to cut his hair in the front of his face.  This was far harder as she felt Sirius's eyes on her.  She could also feel his breath on her face.  She found her heart beating faster.  As she was finishing up and surveying his haircut, Sirius reached up and pulled at the hairpins holding Arabella's hair on the top of her head.  As the pins were released, her hair cascaded down over her shoulders and fell past her waist. 

Sirius gave a warm smile as he helped to smooth her hair over her shoulders.  "That's better.  That's the way I remember you.  I always loved your hair."

Arabella looked into his blue-gray eyes.  They were smiling at her and then they changed.  She saw a hunger and a longing that she recognized.

"Bella…" Sirius whispered, stroking the side of her face. 

Arabella leaned forward and kissed him.  Their lips touched and she felt like she was on fire.  The kiss was deep and their tongues met causing her to melt into his arms as he pulled her close to his chest.  His arms swept her legs onto his lap.  Arabella dropped the comb and scissors onto the floor and heard them clatter as they hit the tile.  Her hands were running through his hair.  Sirius slowly unzipped the back of her dress and unsnapped her bra.  He then slipped the right shoulder of her dress down exposing a breast.  He slid his lips down her neck and then started to lick and kiss her nipple.  Arabella's breathing slowed down. Sirius then took his hand and placed it under the hem of her dress and slowly moved it upwards towards the juncture between her thighs and gently groped it.  Arabella uttered a low moan and then took her right hand and placed it under her legs.  She found the gap in the towel and then squeezed his erection.  Sirius groaned with pleasure.

Arabella released him and stood.  She took Sirius by the hand and they walked across the hall to her bedroom.  The towel fell on the floor.  She pulled back the covers to the bed and Sirius helped remove her clothing.  They fell on the bed and found their hands roaming over each other's bodies.  Their legs were entwined and as Sirius entered her, they both gasped.  Their lovemaking was frenzied.  It was as if the world was going to end in five minutes and they needed to make each second count.  When it was over they were both panting and drenched in sweat.

Sirius tried to think of something to say but didn't know what was appropriate.  Instead he simply started to kiss her cheeks, her forehead, her eyes and then her lips.  He didn't want this moment to ever end.  Arabella felt tears rolling down her cheeks.  She had never felt so loved and so complete.  Not even with Robert.  She was going to be certain that nothing happened to Sirius.  She was never going to lose someone she loved again.

"I think our dinner is ready," Arabella said quietly.

"Mmm, I did work up an appetite," Sirius said lewdly.

"Yeah, well, so did I.  Let's go eat before the dinner burns in the oven."

They threw on some bathrobes and then Arabella glanced around.  "Maybe we ought to clean up the bathroom a little."

They walked in and saw his long black hair everywhere.

"My God, it looks like a bear shed in here," she laughed as she picked up his tattered robes.  She then pointed her wand at the largest piles of hair and commanded, "Accio!"  The hair flew to her.  She repeated this by waving her wand in every direction around the room, the sink and the bathtub.  She placed the clumps of hair on the robes and then went back to the bedroom and collected the hair that was in her bed.  She took the whole mess with her to the living room and placed it in the fireplace.  She opened the flue and commanded, "Incendio!"  Flames appeared and consumed the hair and clothes in a matter of seconds.

"Ugggh!  There's nothing quite like the smell of burning hair," said Sirius.  When the flames died down Arabella closed the flue again.

"Come on, it'll smell much nicer in the kitchen," as Arabella took him by the arm.

As they walked inside Sirius began to beam.  "The table looks wonderful and it smells incredible.  Is that Shepherd's pie and…" he sniffed, "baked apples?"

Arabella smiled and nodded.

"Those are my favourites, thank you."  Sirius picked her up and twirled her about the room.  He gave her a kiss and set her down.  She blushed and waved her wand to open the oven door and bring the meat pie to rest on a hot plate at the table.  The apple crisp went to rest on the top of the stove to cool.  She then waved the oven to turn itself off.

After Arabella dished out the food for both of them, she turned to him and sighed heavily, "Okay, I guess it's time for you to tell me what I don't want to hear.  Tell me how Voldemort came back and what has happened to Harry."

Over dinner he told her about the fateful evening of the Third Task of the Triwizard Tournament and all the terrible events that transpired that night and all the planning by Voldemort that had led up to it.  When Sirius told her how the Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge allowed a dementor to administer a Kiss to Crouch, Jr. and how he then refused to believe Harry's testimony about Voldemort's return, Arabella grew visibly upset.

"I don't trust Fudge.  Never have," she spat bitterly.  "When I was still at the Ministry and we were both in the Magical Law Enforcement Squad, he always seemed to bungle cases that he should have been able to handle.  Somehow or other there would always be an excuse such as insufficient evidence, especially when it was people like Lucius Malfoy who were under suspicion.  Other times cases would seem to just fall completely solved into his lap without any apparent effort on his part.  His ascent in the Ministry seemed to be on an accelerated course, even when others with better records should have been promoted before him.  I found it very curious at the time."

"Do you think he's a Death Eater?" asked Sirius.

"No.  I don't think he cavorts around in costume wearing a mask," replied Arabella.  "But I do think he's corrupt.  I think he was a collaborator and probably a spy for them.  I think Voldemort used Fudge to put away those who betrayed him and to send a message to those who were wavering in their support.  I think Fudge has skeletons buried in his backyard and had Crouch eliminated before he himself was implicated and someone decided to start digging in sensitive areas."

She looked Sirius straight in the eye.  "You represent a very real threat to him.  In order to clear your name we will need to capture Pettigrew and the political fallout of his actions in your case will cost Fudge his job.  He'll do anything to prevent that from happening."  She shook her head.  "Damn!  I should have questioned the story more closely about your guilt since it was Fudge handling the case.  I should have…"

Sirius took one of her hands and held it in his.  "You've tortured yourself enough with the past.  Let's just concentrate on how best to deal with the challenges that are before us.  And there are many of those."

"You're right," she sighed.  "Who else did Dumbledore ask you to notify about this news?"

"I've told Remus Lupin and now you.  I'm supposed to contact Mundungus Fletcher next."

"Good.  We can take care of that tomorrow," she said smiling.  "Fletcher relieves me periodically when I have to leave my post for any extended period of time.  He can't communicate with the Kneazles, but he can at least respond and cast spells if the monitors show dangerous activity in the neighbourhood.  Tomorrow, I'll need to show you around Little Whinging, get you some coloured contact lenses, pick up some supplies, and so forth.  I'll also have to set up an appointment to meet with Dumbledore to find out what he expects of me as an instructor, like required textbooks, areas to cover for the different years, that type of thing.  We will also one day need to go to Diagon Alley to pick up Harry's supplies for next year and…get you a new wand."

"You think of everything, don't you?" said Sirius.  "Have you thought of how I'm going to fool Mr. Ollivander and get a new wand?"

"We'll have to make sure he's away from his store at the time.  I'll see if Dumbledore can help arrange that."  She started to drum her fingers on the table.  "I also want to ask him about this summer and Harry.  I think he should spend as much time with us as possible.  He needs guidance, support and any tutoring we can give him."

Arabella looked at the table.  There was only about a spoonful or so left of the apple crisp, otherwise it was all gone.  Sirius had eaten three helpings of everything.  She was pleased with that and hoped that he would soon stop being undernourished.  She waved her wand at the dishes on the table and they went into the sink where they magically started to wash themselves.  Minutes later everything was cleaned and put away.

"I was thinking…" Arabella said in a sly voice.

"Yesssss," Sirius drawled in reply.

"That I'm still covered with sweat from earlier and I thought a nice warm bath sounded nice," she said with a twinkle in her eye.  "Care to join me?"

"Absolutely," he said as he rose from the table.

Sirius followed Arabella into the bathroom where she started to prepare the bath.  She started the water running and poured in a generous amount of bubble bath, she waved her wand to extend the bath sideways to better accommodate both of them, and placed two dozen candles around the room.  "Incendio!" they were all lit and she turned the electric lights out.  The warm glow from the candles danced about the room.  She then conjured soft pillows for their heads in the bathtub and laid out two fluffy towels on a chair.

"I know you prefer my hair down, but I'd like to put up so it doesn't get all wet in the bath.  I'll wash it in the morning," Arabella said as she quickly wound her long hair into a loose knot on her head.

Sirius then came up from behind her and kissed the nape of her neck.  He gently untied her bathrobe and started to run his hands down her body.  She turned around and opened his bathrobe and pulled it off him.  Her bathrobe gently fell to the floor and they both stepped into the bathtub.  Sirius leaned his head against the pillows and then pulled Arabella to lean her back against his chest.  He nibbled an earlobe as he took a sponge and tenderly washed her bosoms.

"Hmmm, you do know how to make a woman feel desirable," she murmured.

Sirius shifted her slightly so that he could look her in the face.  "You are by far the most desirable woman I have ever known in my life.  I am hopelessly in love with you.  I have never felt as connected – heart, body and soul to anyone as I do for you.  I want you to know that I will never do anything to hurt you."

She smiled and nodded softly.  He kissed her on the forehead and said, "I had no idea what to expect in seeing you today.  All I was hoping for was that you wouldn't hex me."

"I came close," she chuckled.

"I certainly didn't expect this and I feel overwhelmed by your love and passion," he said.

"Same here.  I had no idea this morning that by nightfall I would be here with you," she said as she gestured about the bath.

Sirius then cleared his throat, "In my younger days, I was always prepared and took precautions…so that no woman would have to worry."

Arabella started laughing hoarsely, "Sirius, are you worried about me getting pregnant?  I haven't ovulated in years.  My ovaries have been stuck in an eighty-year old woman's body.  I don't even know if I'll ever go through menopause or if I've just leapfrogged past it."  Then her voice softened.  "I long since gave up any hope of being a mother when I miscarried.  Being isolated here for so long, I also gave up on love.  And as of right now, I'm beginning to hope again.  I would welcome any chance I could to become a mother and nothing, nothing would make me happier than to bear your child."

Their eyes locked for moment and then they both had tears welling up in their eyes.  Sirius pulled her close to his chest and kissed the top of her head and sighed heavily.  Then the emotion came over him and he quietly choked back tears while she held him tightly.  She softly whispered, "Sirius, I love you with all my heart and soul."

Sirius started to tell her about the horrors of Azkaban and his struggle with living two years as a fugitive.  Fourteen years of repressing his pain and suffering came bubbling to the surface.  He told her of the depression he had felt and the times he had almost considered suicide to end his pain, except that the thought of Harry Potter's safety kept him from ever going through with it.  Arabella held and comforted him while he poured his heart out to her.  By the time he was finished talking, the water had gone cold and the candles had almost burned themselves out.

After a notable silence, Arabella broke their embrace and looked directly at Sirius.  "I think we should get ready for bed.  I have a few things that I need to do first.  One of which is feed my cats."  She gave a sheepish look, "I kind of forgot about that little detail.  Besides I'm feeling like a giant prune right now."

As they rose from the tub, Sirius handed her a towel.  "Would you mind if I borrowed your wand for a few minutes?  You've taken care of everything so far and I'd like to return the favour and give you a little surprise."

"Sure," she said as she gave him a quick kiss on the lips.

After drying themselves, they put their bathrobes back on.  Arabella gave Sirius a new toothbrush and left him in the bathroom.  She went to the kitchen to prepare the dinner for her cats.  After placing their food in the dishes, she called them to eat.  She then walked upstairs and opened a bedroom door.  Inside was a room filled with strange looking machines.  She turned to a long-haired white cat that was watching a monitor that had a schematic diagram of the neighbourhood.

"Anything to report Snowy?" she asked.

"All's quiet," he yowled back.

"Dinner is ready.  Thank you for pulling a longer shift.  Tufty had a nap earlier.  He should be fine to pull the overnight shift.  Please go downstairs and send him here after he's finished eating."

The cat stood, stretched and then walked silently out of the room.  Arabella methodically checked all of the surveillance equipment.  Within a few minutes an orange tabby cat sauntered into the room and leapt up on the chair that Snowy had been perched at.  Arabella stroked the cat a few times and said, "Let me know if you see any Dark Magic or magic from humans tonight.  Otherwise, I'll see you in the morning."

She went back downstairs and went back to the bathroom.  As she washed her face she looked carefully at her reflection in the mirror.  She saw a contentment in her eyes that hadn't been there in years.  She sighed and allowed her mind to replay the lovemaking session earlier that day.  That level of passion just couldn't be sustained, it would kill them if they tried.  After brushing her teeth, she brushed her hair and gave her reflection a quick smile.  Let's go see what he has in store for me now she thought.

Sirius had moved all the candles from the bathroom and then magically restored their height.  There was a heady smell of sandalwood incense that covered the room and he had discovered a compact disc player and the haunting sounds of Enya's music played softly in the background.  He had transfigured her sheets to being satin and had taken the flowers from the kitchen table and sprinkled rose petals all over the bed.  Sirius took Arabella by the hand and they gently crawled onto the bed.

He began kissing her tenderly on the mouth and then all around her face and neck.  Then he moved to the bottom of the bed and started massaging her feet and slowly progressed up her legs.  He massaged every portion of her body with a tenderness that amazed Arabella.  When he massaged her inner thighs she groaned with pleasure.  He then slowly worked his way up to her breasts.  He started to knead them and then changed the touch to lightly tracing the outline of her nipples.  He kissed, licked and suckled them while one of his hands carefully slipped between her legs.  This caused her desire for him to become overwhelming.  Arabella helped guide him inside of her.  He slowly and rhythmically pleasured her.  He took his time and allowed her to have numerous waves of ecstasy.  By the time that he had reached his climax, they were covered once again in a light sheen of sweat.

Afterwards they lay with their heads on their pillows gazing into each other's eyes.   Arabella broke their silence by saying, "I don't think I could have survived if we had tried to repeat our earlier performance."

"Well that had been the product of our collective thirty years of pent-up sexual energy.  I don't ever want to be in that situation ever again."

"You also had fifteen years?  But you were put in Azkaban fourteen years ago," she asked slyly.

"Well, after you saved my life I did take a sabbatical from dating.  The scare of my almost dying may not have been enough, but when Robert was murdered that same night…the thought of trying to sweet talk women so that I could get them into bed just seemed so incredibly shallow.  You were in such pain at that time, I wanted to be there for you," he said stroking the side of her face.  "You were so obsessed with finding his murderers that I knew I needed to watch over you."

"I know I was being difficult," she nodded.  "Lily kept warning me about what it was doing to my baby, but I just couldn't leave it alone and let Moody be the only one following the case."

"I have never seen Moody so angry than the night he and Frank Longbottom killed Rosier and Wilkes.  Mind you, I would have killed them myself and gone to Azkaban after they used the Cruciatus curse on you," he said bitterly.  "Moody and Longbottom were just quicker than I was.  Since they were given permission by the Ministry to use the Unforgivable curses and I wasn't – I was glad they were faster, but I would have killed them for you."

A tear slowly fell down Arabella's cheek, "That was the darkest day of my life.  Thank you for staying with me while I was being treated at St. Mungo's.  If you hadn't been there to help me through it… I don't know if I would have survived."

"I had to fight to be there.  They felt that only immediate family could stay, but I prevailed.  You didn't have any immediate family left and I knew you shouldn't be alone then.  I insisted that as your partner I was as close as family," he said softly.  Sirius then smoothed the hair from her face.  "It was then that I started falling in love with you.  Here was this wonderfully strong and beautiful woman who needed me.  I was afraid of ever disappointing you afterward.  I don't know if I would have ever acted on my feelings toward you, I was afraid…"

She gave a rueful smile, "Afraid of how it might change our working relationship?"

"Yeah," he nodded.

"Well, I know I wouldn't have been ready then.  It took me several years to finally come to terms with Robert's murder and the loss of our child.  I guess I don't take the loss of loved ones very easily," she said softly.  "And when I thought you had betrayed James and Lily, I went into shock.  I couldn't believe that I had allowed myself to become emotionally dependent on someone who was evil.  That's what tormented me all these years.  And today to find out that I had been right about you all along, I realized that I had fallen in love with you years ago but never admitted it to myself."

Sirius gently touched the side of her face, "You are an incredible woman.  I feel like I'm the luckiest man in the world tonight."

"Even though you're still a fugitive wanted for a crime you didn't commit?"

"Well, there's still that…but tonight I'm in the arms of the woman that I love.  A woman that I've loved for years.  Right now, that's all that I want to concentrate on," as he leaned closer to her and kissed her fully on the mouth.  Then he rested his head back on the pillow and she snuggled up with her head resting on his chest.  She waved her wand to quickly snuff out all the candles and they quickly fell into blissful slumber.  For the first time in years, Sirius was not haunted in his dreams by the dementors of Azkaban.  Instead, he allowed himself to dream about a life with Arabella.


The next morning she woke to see Sirius propped up on one elbow and gazing down at her.  She smiled as she looked up at him.  "I guess I didn't just dream that I had a wonderful lover in bed with me."

He leaned over and started kissing her gently.  Then his tongue started to probe her mouth while his hand started to softly trace the outline of her breast.  Arabella broke the kiss, "As nice as it would be to start our day that way, I have to turn you down.  We have a lot of work to do and we'll just have to wait until this evening to continue."

Sirius looked at the clock, "But it's only six o'clock in the morning.  That's still very early…"

Rolling her eyes and shaking her head, "What am I going to do with you?  Come on and let's get our day started."

Sirius smiled, "Well you can't blame me for trying."

Arabella was getting out of bed and putting on her bathrobe.  "You can stay there for a few minutes while I take my shower if you'd like.  However, I do have a routine and you're going to have to learn it since you'll be taking over the surveillance here.  I also know that we're going to have many errands to do today and we'll be lucky to get everything done before nightfall."

Sirius leaned back on his pillow and smiled at her.  "My love, the take-charge lady.  Sure you don't want me to join you in that shower?"

"No, because I think you're going to be needing a cold shower," she said as she playfully threw her pillow at him.

Arabella started on her morning routine.  Shower, dry and fix her hair, get dressed, put a pot of tea on the stove, listen to the Wireless Wizarding Network morning news, and get a report from the cat doing the overnight shift of surveillance in the control room.  She also performed her daily disillusionment charm on the Kneazles so they appeared to Muggles as regular cats.  Ordinarily she would also review the morning Muggle newspaper, but today she'd have to wait until later when she could resume the old lady appearance and retrieve the paper from her stoop.  Sirius appeared in the kitchen dressed in the clothes she had set out for him the previous night.  He looked incredibly handsome and Arabella gave him a warm hug and kiss.

"It's seven o'clock now.  Time for the aging potion," she handed him a bottle of yellowish liquid.  "Please place twenty drops under your tongue.  One drop for every year."

"Twenty?" asked Sirius.

"Yeah, it'll be easier for you to remember that way.  You need to find an age and stick with it."

"I thought you said you've been trapped in an eighty year old woman's body for years?" he asked.

"Well, I started out at seventy and progressed until I turned eighty.  After that I decided that no one really pays that much attention as to how an old lady looks and I held steady after that.  Hurry up and take it, I still need to take my dose," she said urgently.

Sirius took the dropper and carefully administered the drops.  Arabella took the bottle from him and quickly placed the drops under her tongue.  Instantly they both began to age.  Sirius started to go gray around the temples and crow's feet began to form around his eyes.   Arabella continued to age long after he had finished aging.  Her shoulders shrunk, her hair was all white, and she had wrinkles all over her face.  She placed her spectacles upon her face and nodded at her reflection in a hand held mirror.  She then handed the mirror to Sirius.  He looked surprised to see the face looking back.

"Wow.  I do look different.  I mean I see the similarity, but…"

"Yes, and how is your vision?  Has it deteriorated at all?"

Sirius looked across the house to the far living room wall and shook his head.  "Nope I can still make out things far away."

Arabella handed him yesterday's paper, "Try reading this."

Sirius started to look at the paper and then found himself moving it farther and farther away.  "Okay, so my vision has changed."

"Good.  That way getting you contact lenses will serve a dual purpose.  But right now we need to do our morning surveillance of the neighbourhood.  You will need to take off that robe – it's not Mugglewear.  And I've got a pair of sandals for you near the door.  We'll transfigure them to fit your feet.  That'll have to do until we can go shopping later today and get you some new clothes and shoes."  She then handed him a pair of dark sunglasses.  "Please put these on.  I don't want anyone seeing the colour of your eyes before we get you some contacts."

"How long does this potion last?"

"Twenty-four hours.  I take it every morning at the same time.  That way my body became adjusted to the change.  It is very difficult on your body to change back and forth."  She then read the expression on his face.  "Don't worry, I'll willingly endure any discomfort for the next two months so you'll have a lover by nighttime who's not an octogenarian."

"Thanks," he said bemusedly.

"But I think you should try to get adjusted to your new age.  You look gorgeous to me whether you're thirty-five or fifty-five.  It won't matter to me."  Arabella walked to the front door and then turned as if she forgot something, "If we run into any of the neighbours, please follow my lead.  Oh and I've thought of a name for you."

"What is it?"

"Well, at first I thought of Joseph Diogenes, but I reconsidered because it might be a bit too risky as it is doubtful that if anyone tried looking your name up that they'd find anyone by that name."

"Diogenes?" Sirius said with humour in his voice.  "You mean I would be out looking for an honest man?"

"Exactly.  And Joseph was in reference to Joseph of the Bible who was unjustly accused of a crime and spent many years in prison.  He also had been betrayed by his brothers, not unlike being betrayed by Pettigrew."

Sirius nodded, "Okay.  Joseph works.  Do you have another last name in mind?"

"O'Brien?  I know the Aussies have a lot of Irish surnames and it was the first one to pop into my brain.  I know it's very common, so if they look up Joseph O'Brien they'd have difficulty in trying to work through all the different candidates."

"Now why is it that you want me to become Australian?"

"Because the wizarding community is very small here in Britain.  If you start talking with witches or wizards, there's a good chance they'll know someone that would have graduated in the time that you'll be claiming you were at Hogwarts.  It's just too risky.  Australia on the other hand is far away.  Hopefully you won't run into too many people with relatives from Down Under.  Besides, the accent is not that much different.  You should be able to pick it up quickly.  Now let's go." 

Arabella waved her wand at the sandals sitting next to the door, so that they fit his feet.  She then took his arm and ushered him out the front door.

They started to walk down the quiet suburban block.  The houses seemed like they had been made by a cookie cutter, it was hard to distinguish one from another.  The only difference seemed to be the different plants in the front yard and some had different lawn ornaments.  Arabella's yard had the most lawn ornaments of them all.  Of course many of them were magical instruments disguised as lawn gnomes or mushrooms.  She also had the only yard without grass.  Mowing was too problematic, so instead it was filled with lavender and roses in the front yard. 

As they strolled down the sidewalk it seemed as if everyone was still inside fixing their morning breakfast.  Arabella gave a small motion towards a house that was across the street from where they were walking.  The curtains had parted and they were being watched.

"That didn't take her long.  You'll be meeting Nadine on our trip home," she said matter-of-factly.  She squeezed his arm tightly.  "See what you can do to make yourself as unattractive to her as possible.  It won't be easy, because one – you're gorgeous and charming and two – because she's desperate and pretty dim.  Don't be afraid of being blunt with her, subtlety is not something she can recognize."

He patted her hand reassuringly.  "I've got some ideas in mind that should do the trick."

As they walked the six-block perimeter surrounding the Dursley's Privet Drive home she pointed out the hidden monitoring devices and showed him how to verify they were fully operational.  Some were as small and as inconspicuous as a paperclip attached to a telephone poll.  Others were as large as birdhouses and attached to tree limbs.  Some were monitors for magical activity and while others had enchantments attached to them to prevent Apparation within the zone.  There were seventy-two devices in all.  Arabella then took Sirius down Privet Drive to show him the infamous Number 4 Privet Drive, Harry's childhood home. 

"This street is Unplottable for wizards.  They simply cannot find it even with a map.  Unless, I specifically lift the enchantments and allow their entry," explained Arabella.

"I tried to catch a glimpse of Harry after I escaped from Azkaban.  I wondered why I couldn't find his house.  I knew the address because his fame reached into the confines of the prison and many of the captured Death Eaters spoke of how they wanted to go to Number 4 Privet Drive if they were ever released and finish the job that their master couldn't finish," Sirius said darkly.

"Yes, it was hard to keep Harry's whereabouts a secret from the Daily Prophet.  Later we had quite a tourist trade of witches and wizards coming to Little Whinging in the hopes of catching a glimpse of The Boy Who Lived.  None were able to find his house though.  I did see quite a few people coming through this neighbourhood – at least outside on the perimeter.  Thankfully, no one ever realized who I was."

She then pointed out the street lamps to Sirius and told him to look closely at the bulbs.  They emitted an eerie orange glow even during the daylight hours.  "Dumbledore put an enchantment on these lamps the night that Harry was left on the Dursley's doorstep.  That's the source of the Unplottable nature for wizards.  Unfortunately, it doesn't work for other magical beings.  I had a great fright the summer after Harry's first year.  A house-elf had repeatedly Apparated within the Zone and was intercepting his owl posts.  Then this elf threatened Harry and performed a Hover Charm and it set off the outdated magic detector that Dumbledore allowed the Ministry to install on their roof.  They couldn't tell the difference between elfin magic and human magic."

"But yours could?" he asked.

"Well, there is so much magic around from other magical beings.  Fairies, gremlins, ghosts, poltergeists, elves…that I had those brands of magic calibrated out because it was causing too much background noise.  I honestly never thought that it would be a problem because I didn't think any of those creatures would ever be a threat to his security.  I've since changed it and had to bring more sentries on to come and investigate all the instances of magic.  The night when the elf performed magic in the Dursley's household the damned Ministry automatically sent an owl warning Harry that he could be expelled if he cast another charm outside school and then…" her tone became very bitter.

"What happened then?"

"The Dursleys responded by locking him away in his room.  It looked like they were planning on holding him prisoner there until he was an adult.  I became frantic and started thinking up all kinds of desperate schemes to get him out of there, when the answer to my prayers literally fell out of the sky."

Sirius hadn't heard this story before and was very intrigued.  "Go on."

"Ron Weasley and his twin brothers Fred and George had decided to check on Harry since none of Ron's letters were ever answered.  Their father had bewitched a Ford Anglia convertible and they were flying it to rescue Harry.  When it came into my radar screen it took me a few moments to lift the veil to allow them to find Harry's house.  They had to take bars off of his bedroom window to get him out.  They took him back to the their house for the rest of the summer."

"You said you brought on more sentries, doesn't that pose a problem with your neighbours having so many cats?" he asked.

"It would if they behaved like ordinary cats.  They have an understanding with all the cats and dogs in the neighbourhood and there is never any trouble between them.  My sentries also do not hunt any birds, mice, moles, etc.  It would interfere with their surveillance activities.  They also don't use anyone's garden as a litter box.  Because of this, no one seems to care that I've got eight cats that patrol the neighbourhood on a daily basis."

Vernon Dursley walked out of his house and strode to his car.  He was in too much of a hurry to even notice the retreating form of the woman who babysat his nephew for years.  Sirius turned around and saw Vernon as he climbed inside his car.  He muttered a few choice obscenities regarding Harry's uncle under his breath.

"Yes, well all of that is true.   I've said things far worse about them," she said patting his hand.  "The only saving grace is that Harry is protected from Dark Magic by being in the care of his blood relatives.  Unfortunately, they're despicable people who treat him horribly.  That's why I'm going to see if I can get Dumbledore to change his mind about letting Harry know who I am."  She checked her watch and shook her head.  "We are behind schedule, but hopefully we'll be able to get most things on my list done today.  Let's head back home."

As they turned the corner on their street Arabella gave his arm a squeeze.  "Try to use that accent as best you can," she whispered.

A young woman was waving to them as she crossed the street.  She was wearing a black and white striped dress that was worn very tightly and the broad horizontal stripes accentuated her curves.  The neckline was a bit too plunging for office wear as it showed off her ample cleavage.   She was a bleach-bottle blonde wearing red lipstick and bright blue eye shadow. 

"Good morning Mrs. Figg, I saw that you have a visitor with you," she panted as she came to a stop before them.  "Who is this charming man?"

"Good morning, Nadine.  This is my nephew Joseph."

"Hello, Joseph!"


 "He'll be staying with me for awhile," continued Arabella.

"Oh really?  Well, I'll have to invite you over for dinner and so we can get to know each other," she said batting her eyelashes that were heavily clumped with mascara.

Arabella shook her head quickly, "Oh I don't think that's a very good idea.  Poor Joseph has tremendous food allergies to a whole host of foods.  It's very hard to cook for him."

Sirius then added, "Plus I keep Kosher."

"Kosher?" asked Nadine.

"That and he's also a vegan," added Arabella.

"A vegan?" Nadine repeated incredulously.  A look of I-can't-believe-you're-one-of-those crossed her eyes.

"I can't tell you how difficult it is to cook for him.  I had to change the menu ten times last night to find something that he could eat.  Oh and you can't even cook something for yourself to eat that he's allergic to.  The smell alone in the house will make him break out in hives," Arabella quickly added.

"Oh, well maybe you could just come over after dinner sometime for coffee or cocktails?" she said hopefully.

"I don't think so," Sirius said.  "I'm not inta small talk and there aren't many people who can tolerate me after about five minutes or so.  There's my aunt and my luvly wife of twenty-five years.  Other than that, I wind up saying somethin' blunt that hurts people's feelins'."

Nadine blinked and then continued on.  "So how long did you say you were staying?"

A small child no older than three was standing at the front door of Nadine's house started wailing, "Mommmmmy."  Nadine turned around to the child and said in a sing-song voice, "Hang on sweetie, I'll be there in a few minutes!"  Then she quickly turned back to Sirius and gave him her full attention.

"Well, he's just visiting for right now, but I daresay he may wind up house-sitting for me," said Arabella.

"Really?" Nadine said cheerfully.

"Yes, my older sister has taken quite ill.  She has terminal cancer and the doctors aren't sure how long she's got.  Anyway, she's been deteriorating and I fear she won't be able to take care of herself much longer.  I'm thinking of staying with her and caring for her during those last few months she has left, then I'll have to stay and take care of the details of her estate.  Joseph has agreed that he would watch my house for me."

"Is it your mother who is ill?" asked Nadine worriedly to Sirius.

"No, Joseph is my late husband's sister's son," replied Arabella.

"What about your wife?  Will she be staying with you?" Nadine asked suspiciously.

"She's going through some rough times right now.  She's seeing a therapist ta help her.  We decided that during this time that it was best ta be apart.  I'll wait as long as I have ta for her.  I'd never leave her.  And I'm hopeful that I will convince her ta visit me here once in awhile.  So, if ya see me with a beautiful woman with long blondish brown hair – that's my beloved Catherine," answered Sirius.

"She looks a lot like I did when I was her age," quickly added Arabella.  "She is a wonderful woman and I will simply disown you Joseph if you do anything to hurt her."

"You sound like you're from Australia?" asked Nadine trying to quickly change the subject.

"Originally.  I've lived in Britain for many years, but it's hard ta lose the accent you were born with," responded Sirius.

"So, do you work around here?" asked Nadine.

"He's a writer," offered Arabella.

"Well, I'm more of an academic than a writer.  But I'll be taking a sabbatical this year so I can focus my energies on writing journal articles that I just haven't had the time for," added Sirius.

"Oh really?  I'd love to read your work sometime," Nadine chirped.

"No you wouldn't.  Very few people do.  It's very dry, boring academic writing.  I need ta do it for my career or I wouldn't bother.  My writings appear in publications that have probably a circulation of fifty academics.  One of the articles I'll be writing will deal with how the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment have influenced modern economic policy," Sirius said in a haughty manner.

"Really?" said Nadine dully as her eyes got a glazed over look in them.

Sirius then gave a tremendous sneeze.

"Bless you.  Is it your allergies, dear?" asked Arabella as she handed him a handkerchief.

"No, it's that harsh perfume she's wearing.  I'm starting ta have a migraine," he said putting a hand to his forehead.

Nadine stared at him with a look of deep disappointment.  Then the child started wailing again, "Mommmmmmmy!!!!"

"I think your daughter needs you.  She's all starkers," Sirius said with contempt.

Nadine turned around and looked at her naked daughter standing at the screen door.  She became instantly enraged and started bellowing.


She started stomping across the street.  About half-way she absentmindedly waved in Arabella and Sirius's direction and said, "Bye!"

Arabella was biting her lip in trying to hold back the laughter.  The giggles started and Sirius patted her on the back.  They reached her front door and as soon as they were safely inside she roared with laughter. 

"You were ruddy brilliant!  I have never seen Nadine have such a look of revulsion in her eyes about a man, ever.  What was that stuff you said about economic theory anyway?"

Sirius shook his head laughing, "I have no idea.  I just made it up and figured she wasn't the type to know anything about religious history, philosophy or economic theory.  It was just stuff I remembered hearing about in Muggle Studies class."

"Oh my, I haven't had a good laugh like that in years.  Whew!"   Arabella sat down in a chair and had to catch her breath from laughing.  "One really good thing is that by nightfall, everyone on this street will know our cover.  Nadine will be sure to spread the word and I daresay that no one is going to be bothering you too much."

"If they do, I'll just put on my surly academic attitude and frighten them off," he laughed.

"Oh and thanks for bringing up 'Catherine.'  You've given me a cover so I won't have to worry if I show my true form," she said giving him a quick kiss on the cheek.

"Anything to help my lover," he smiled.

She stood up and crossed to the kitchen.  "Well, it's time we had some breakfast and then we've got a very full day ahead of us." 

They had a large breakfast of scrambled eggs, kippers, potatoes, tea and toast.  Arabella then called Albus Dumbledore by the fire on her stove.

"Albus, I accept your new assignment.  I've already started training my replacement and working on his assimilation in the neighbourhood.  I do have a question for you though."

"And what is that?" asked Dumbledore.

"Doesn't Hagrid offer to procure magical ingredients for Mr. Ollivander?  I was planning on going to Diagon Alley soon and wouldn't want to miss seeing my favourite wand maker."

Dumbledore smiled as he understood her cryptic message.  "Why yes, I believe that Hagrid will probably be helping Mr. Ollivander very soon."

"I also wanted to set up an appointment to see you in person.  I think there are many details that we need to discuss regarding my future assignment."

"Why don't you meet me in my office this Friday at eleven.  The students will be leaving that morning on the Hogwarts Express and we can discuss things over lunch."

"Thank you, Albus," she replied and watched as his head disappeared from the flames.

 Mundungus Fletcher was contacted next.  Arabella told him that she needed to speak with him in person because she had dire news for him.  Minutes later, Fletcher appeared at her hearth.  He was a large, crotchety old wizard with a grizzled beard and large gaps between his teeth.  Arabella told him the situation regarding Voldemort's return and then told him of Sirius's innocence.  At that point Sirius came out of the kitchen and showed himself.  Fletcher was astounded at how Sirius looked and nodded in approval.  He then started on a tirade regarding Fudge and how he thought the Ministry of Magic was filled with incompetents, fools and Death Eaters.  When he started to reminisce about the war against Grindlewald, Arabella steered the conversation back to getting Fletcher to agree to watch over the Zone when she needed to take Sirius out for errands.  She then made telephone calls to make optical and dental appointments for Sirius that day.   

Arabella introduced Sirius to the wonders of Muggle bus transportation and gave him a broad overview of Little Whinging.  They went clothes shopping and picked up several bags worth of Muggle clothing for Sirius.  They also picked up some videotaped travelogues for Australia as well as the movie, "A Cry in the Dark" which was set in Australia.  While he was at the dentist he had his teeth cleaned, x-rays taken and they made further appointments to fill six cavities.  His eye appointment resulted in ordering bifocal extended-wear coloured contact lenses that would be ready in a few days.  Arabella had to use a little suggestive magic with both the receptionists at the dentist and optometrist offices that the identification cards shown to them were for Joseph O'Brien.  Earlier over the phone she had used some suggestive magic to make available appointments suddenly appear on their schedules. 

They arrived home in the late afternoon to find Mundungus Fletcher in an irritable mood.  His inability to communicate with the cats made it difficult for him to perform surveillance in the Zone without spending the entire time staring at the monitor hoping to not spot any suspicious activity.

"Mundungus, would you like to stay for dinner?" asked Arabella.  "I'm going to make meatloaf."

"Sounds good," he grumbled in reply.  "I don't know how your cats sit and look at these monitors all day.  Little blips from fairies and pixies were constantly on the screen.  Every time I went to the loo, those cats kept taking my seat leaving all their damned hair on it.  I hope you get all your errands run soon.  I don't really want to do this everyday."

"Why don't you come downstairs and talk with me while I get dinner ready?  I've got a little whiskey if you'd care for a nip."

Mundungus got up and stumbled down the stairs complaining about his sore back and legs. 

Sirius whispered in Arabella's ear, "Why did you have to invite him to stay?  It's been hard enough being near you all day and not being able to touch you, but with him having dinner it'll be hours before we can…"

She gave him a sly smile, "I know, but we need to make sure he'll come here to relieve us for the next week or so.  I won't feel safe leaving you here or sending you out in the Muggle world alone until you are properly armed with a wand.  Until then we need him to help us out.  I want him to feel appreciated, besides we'll have the rest of the night for ourselves."

After dinner and after Fletcher's monologue about his mistrust of the Ministry, Sirius gave a large yawn and stretched his arms.  Fletcher seemed to get the hint and grumbled something about needing to get home.

"I'll see you in the morning at ten.  Thanks for dinner, Arabella.  Good seeing you again, Sirius," he said as he prepared to step in her fireplace.  He threw the Floo powder and called, "The Hovel!" and disappeared into the flames.

Arabella waited a few moments and then extinguished the flames, closed the flue and magically disconnected her house from the Floo network.

Sirius pulled her towards him and said softly in her ear, "You need to take that antidote right now or I'm going to start having lewd thoughts about my grandmother."

Arabella blushed and pulled the small bottle out of her pocket.  She had barely gotten the drops under her tongue when Sirius was already pulling the pins out of her hair.  The change wasn't quite complete when he started to open the snaps of her housedress. 

"Sirius, I bought something today that I'd like to change into."

He shook his head, "Later.  I want you right now, right here and naked."  His hands started to unsnap her brassiere and then he stopped.  "No one can see in these windows can they?"

"No.  I charmed them from Day One," she replied.

"Good," he said as his lips started to kiss the base of her neck.

Arabella found herself responding to the gentle touch of his hands roaming over her body.  She started to imagine that they would probably make love in every room of this house by the time she had to leave for Hogwarts.  Like that would be a bad thing, she mused.  Her hands fumbled with the buttons on his shirt and then they slid down his chest and unzipped his trousers.  She found that his aging twenty years had no adverse impact on his virility.  Soon they were exploring the depths of their passion on the living room floor.


In Chapter Two:  "Harry's Summer Surprise" our hero finds out that his old babysitter is not what she appeared to be.  I also switch to the standard 3rd person Harry POV.  I did not want Harry to become a peeping tom in order for the reader to enjoy the interaction between Sirius and Arabella.