Don't hit back just yet. If I, today, stumbled on the beginning of my own story, I probably wouldn't read it. And honestly? I think I'd be missing out. Though also saving a few hours of my life. (Your call.)

If you've clicked on this, you're entering a strange sort of saga that isn't finished yet- but actually, almost is. Or will be. I started this post Order of the Phoenix, drafts starting after that and posted in the beginning of my sophomore year. And then I left it for a while, because, well, my life got sort of interesting for a while there at the end of high school. More than that, in the more than a year where I was absolutely devoted to writing this, and getting steady feedback, my writing style changed. Grew. Improved. By the time I reached the 19th chapter, the story had altered. (though by now, I'm off base from canon, but I'm still trying to stay parallel to it.)

What I had set out to do- which, really, was partly an answer to my 'she can't kill Sirius!' and a mix of Lily seeming to have no friends of the Sirius- Remus caliber, and grown out of reading a lot of fanfictions which the good ones of I was really very into at the time but which went something like this- girl OC, often related to Dumbledore, and often with terrible names (Emerald, I think, was the worst I found in a serious story, and I remember reading one where the girl described how she'd recreated a scene between her and her boyfriend, and that infuriated me- I despise the author avatar, though of course a character's humanity is derived from the author- but seriously, massive pet peeve). I wasn't into fanfiction long enough to understand the Mary-Sue problem, but, oh, yeah. Bothered me. And also, there was the OC phenomenon appearing in other stories, which I really enjoyed- where the girl comes back into Sirius or Remus' life respectively, pulled back into the world- but in the past 15 some years, has apparently been doing nothing but hiding out in a cottage somewhere. And at the time I was convinced Harry HAD to have a godmother- only fair- and I didn't like the ones I was finding, which had all these excuses or, even less likely, became 'godmother' by virtue of being Sirius' wife- not something that made logical sense to me. Out of the fact that I was a fourteen/ fifteen year old girl starting this story, this character developed- yeah, in her own way a bit of a Mary Sue- but who was in a lot of ways, opposite. She seems perfect and helpful but really her return absolutely sends everything to shitsville. She was 'friends' with Lily and the Marauders, but ended up on the fringes of it, never what she really wanted to be- the most important person to the person/people most important to her, or ever even close. The similarity of her name to Ginny, which looking back I kick myself for, is probably more of an unconscious meaning thing than I noted- she was the sort of character Ginny is in the third, fourth book, not centrally oriented but sort of there, for everything. The past fifteen years of her life have changed her as just as much as the MWPP days, and meant as much. And more, she's over-confident, vain, was too self-absorbed at twenty-something to really be anyone's godmother, thisclose to getting herself killed, but genuinely cares and wants to come through- which she sometimes does but a lot of times doesn't. What I tried to do, and I think by now I've ended up doing, is made her human. She is not who I had her set out to be in my mind to begin with. I like her so much better than that.

Through the course of this story I wrote the Marauder's entire second year. My OC came to play second fiddle to the Weasley twins, to become a sort of navigation board to connect different canon characters I wanted to play with. The Weasley twins are the star of this story, the Marauders in the flashbacks.

But really- don't totally judge this story from the beginning- though some of it I do like, a lot. Because I'm eighteen now, and finishing it with a completely different outlook on, well, everything than I started out with. And if any of my readers are still out there, I'm finishing this for you. This story keeps coming back to me and I need to conclude it, because while I have this tendency to leave things unfinished. It's made a lot of who I am as a writer. And along the way- I figured something out. Why Sirius had to die. Why stories can't always have happy endings. Why we want them to anyway.

So really- even if you skip ahead a little, because while I'm going to try to amend a bit to make it easier to read- gimme a chance. I tried my best then to entertain and, frankly, still do. I want to come through, too. (and if you actually do go through all of this, and spend the time, really- take an extra minute and spare me a line, criticism, praise, what have you. It's a little bit of a big deal. But either way- thank you, because writing this- changed me. Lots. ) Apologies for the author's note/prologue, but I needed it- present-me's answer to past-me. Which, funnily enough, is probably the theme of this story.

Canon errors I'm not altering: Anything in HBP. Ages of James' parents, the Prewett brother's relationship with Molly, Bellatrix as the oldest sister, several other minor things/names. I fixed a few things, the rest I'm rolling with.

Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all of its components belong to J.K. Rowling, not me.

"The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power." - Mary Pickford

Our story:

Deep in the catacombs of the city of Rome, in a place hidden from the casual eye of the tourist, a lone woman strolled, examining each wall with an experienced gaze. The constant dripping of water along the tunnels and the soft, unearthly whisper the swooping wind made did not seem to bother her. Young, but appearing deceptively younger, she might be considered a beauty, fitting in among the classic sculptures of the outward city. Her hands gleamed ethereally in the dim light that emerged from a lantern that floated beside her. As she concentrated on the runes engraved on the wall, the woman pulled out a small brush and carefully dusted a small section, blowing gently at the cloud of ancient grime that emerged.

A small half smile alighted on her lips. Lowering the stick in her left hand to get a better look, she jumped as the lantern crashed to the floor. The glass shattered instantly, leaving her in the dark.

"Ah, damn," she muttered. Raising the stick, she pointed it slightly and spoke. "Lumos."

Light shot from the tip of the wand at once, lighting up the woman's features in an eerie way.

Her high cheekbones and soft lips looked almost ghostly, wraithlike in the pale light. Her stormy blue eyes held sorrows long pushed aside, revealed for a moment in the darkness.

She'd never liked the darkness.

Her eyes clouded over again into a steely calm as she turned to the wall. In the light from her wand, a door with a stone lock appeared. There it was.

Turning towards it, her wand still lit, she murmured, "Alohomora" in a coaxing tone. The door pulsed a bright blue light, remaining locked. Sealed against magic, naturally.

She shrugged, as if that would have been too easy anyways. She set her wand on the ground to give off light, then rummaged into the pockets of her worn, comfortable jeans. Finding nothing, she pulled off her leather jacket and reached into the innermost pocket. Only her cell phone. Where was her lock picking kit when she needed it?

She'd do it the hard way, then. Not bothering to pick up her wand, she concentrated hard and stretched out her hand. "Accio!" she ordered. A large black bag came speeding down the hallway straight at her. At the last moment, she stopped to the side and caught it deftly.

With a devilish grin, she tore into one of the numerous compartments, pulling out some dangerous looking equipment. Muggle explosives. Sloppy, but effective.

It took her scarcely moments to set it up around the stone door. Setting the timer for five seconds, she rapidly yelled, "Protego!" shielding herself and the rest of the area. A cloud of smoke enveloped her. As it faded, a gaping hole appeared, rocks strewn all about it. A less experienced person might have stepped inside. A less experience person would have died.

Her sharp eyes scanned the floor. Lined with booby traps, of course. Poison hung invisibly at about chest level roughly halfway through. The woman knew its foul odor. She saw slight flickers of blue in corners of the walls. No levitating, then. Spells were heavily lined against flying, or in fact any kind of magic. These Roman wizards had been smart, very smart. The average wizard at those times would have been utterly hopeless without magic. Silently, she blessed her father for being the practical Muggle he was.

Reaching into her bag once more, she pulled out a grappling hook and a black cord Muggles liked to use for movie stunts that she had improved for her uses with magical products. Those should still work inside.

With the depression of a button, the hook shot into the room and snagged the ceiling deeply.

Several adjustments of the rope later, she attached her harness and effortlessly pulled herself up. For a light, tall woman in her thirties, she moved like a teenage gymnast, or perhaps a cat burglar as she eased her way across the chamber hanging upside down.

Finally, she hung over the farthest part of the chamber, where the object she was seeking lay. There. The scepter of Jupiter. A useless, gilded gold mess wielded by a tyrant, a powerful wizard who'd forced Muggles to accept him as a god. Yet within it lay a treasure indeed- one of the earliest wands made by the Ollivanders company, utilizing a griffin feather as a magical core, illegal to use in wandmaking now due to the near extinction of that species. She began to lower herself to reach the scepter, when the most unlikely thing imaginable happened.

Her cell phone rang.