Hermione Lupin flicked her wand and the newly washed dishes that were sitting in the sink rose, shook themselves dry, and with another flick, stacked themselves neatly in a pile. She was about to start putting the leftovers in the refrigerator when she heard a loud crash followed by an even louder shriek.
Hermione sighed and went to the front of the hallway. "Nathaniel Remus Lupin and Harry James Potter, I told you to get ready for bed," she yelled.
"Yes mum," Nathaniel yelled back.
"We are Aunt Hermione," yelled Harry.
Hermione waited, silently listening. The boys were quiet for about a minute, before she could hear the sounds of muffled laughter.
"They're just excited," said Remus, coming up behind her and wrapping his arms around her waist. He kissed the back of her neck.
"They'll never get up in the morning if they don't get to bed soon," answered Hermione, giggling as Remus's beard tickled her neck. "And I thought you were going to shave?" she asked.
"I thought you liked the beard," he said rubbing his cheek against hers.
"Of course I like it," she said, turning in his arms. "I like everything about your face." She placed her hands on the sides of his face and leaned in to kiss him. Their kiss was growing passionate when they were interrupted by another loud crash. They released each other, groaning loudly.
"I'll go," said Remus.
"No, I'll go," returned Hermione. She slipped down the hall and opened Nathaniel's bedroom door quietly. She could hear the two boys whispering animatedly to each other. "It doesn't sound like you're getting ready for bed," she said, pushing the door open fully.
Nathaniel and Harry looked up sharply and Hermione could see Nathaniel push something behind him. "We're in our pajamas," Nathaniel pointed out.
She smiled. "You two aren't up to anything are you?" she asked.
"No mum," said Nathaniel solemnly.
"Harry?" asked Hermione.
Harry shook his head, but he lowered his eyes. He never could lie to her. Hermione tried desperately not to laugh. She knew they were up to something, but they were both good kids and she knew it wouldn't be anything too serious.
"You know we have to get to King's Cross Station early tomorrow morning to catch the Hogwarts Express," she said. "You need some sleep."
"We can sleep on the train, mum," complained Nathaniel.
"Nathaniel Lupin, I want you in bed now," said Hermione, using the tone the brooked no argument. "Both of you."
"Yes mum," he said sullenly.
Nathaniel jumped off Harry's bed and bounded into his own. As the boys settled under the covers, Hermione gathered the dirty clothes they had thrown on the floor. Then she went to Nathaniel's bed and smoothed the comforter over his chest. She leaned down and kissed his forehead. "I love you, Nathaniel," she said quietly.
"Love you too, mum," he answered.
She smiled. "You're going to have such a wonderful time a school," she added.
Nathaniel lifted his arms and hugged his mother tightly.
She returned his hug and noted that he let her hold him longer than he normally did. At the age of eleven he was already beginning to think hugs from his mother were a bit embarrassing. "Go to sleep," she whispered as she stood and went to Harry's bed. She sat on the edge. "Are you ready for your first day of school tomorrow?" she asked.
"Are you okay, Harry?" she asked her voice full of concern.
"You know, it's okay to be nervous about your first day of school," she said.
Harry's eyes darted to Nathaniel. "I'm not nervous," he said, shooting a glance at Nathaniel. "Just tired," he finished.
Hermione smiled and smoothed his black hair back from his forehead, exposing the small lightening shaped scar she hadn't been able to save him from. "Your dad's going to meet us at Platform 9 ¾ tomorrow morning." James had been on an extended Auror assignment during the last week of the summer and Harry had been staying with them. "Try and get some sleep," she said gently. She leaned down and kissed his forehead. "I love you," she said.
"I love you too, Aunt Hermione," he answered with a small smile. "Good night."
"Good night," she answered and stood.
Remus was hovering in the doorway as she turned. "My turn," he said.
"I want the lights out in five minutes," she said warningly.
"Yes, ma'am," replied Remus, trying to keep the smile from his face. Hermione left the room, knowing the lights wouldn't be out in anything less than fifteen minutes. Remus and Nathaniel shared a special bond and once they got talking neither one of them knew how to stop. She loved how close they were. It had been that way since Nathaniel was a baby.
Hermione settled her hand over her still flat stomach. She only hoped Remus would share that same bond with their next child. She closed her eyes and wondered what it would be like with this next child. Her first pregnancy had been so full of drama, but now that decree 47 had been repealed, she wasn't worried about any Ministry interference. All she had to worry about was telling Remus. She wanted it to be perfect this time. With a sigh, Hermione threw the boys dirty clothes in the hamper and then went to her own room. By the time Remus joined her, she had showered and changed and was in bed reading.
He flopped onto the bed, facing her. "They're asleep," he said.
Hermione glanced at the clock by the bed. "And it's only 10:30," she answered.
Remus pulled himself up and kissed his wife. "Early enough," he said against her lips. He plucked the book she was holding out of her hand and tossed it onto the floor.
"Remus," she giggled, as he pulled her down and settled on top of her.
He kissed her neck working his way down her body. "I didn't know how I was going to stand his being so far away," he said between kisses, "but you must admit there will be some advantages to having him at school."
Hermione sighed as he kissed her stomach over her silk nightgown. She could feel the heat of his mouth and it was sending tingles through her body.
"We've never really been alone," he said, lifting his head. "We got pregnant over our honeymoon and then with the war and everything…," he trailed off.
"So you're looking forward to some alone time?" she asked hesitatingly.
He smiled. "Aren't you?"
She nodded. "I suppose."
Remus crawled back up and kissed her lips lightly. "I'm going to miss him too."
"I can't believe the time went by so quickly," she said with a sigh.
"I know," he agreed and then he kissed her again and neither one of them said anything for a long time.
The next morning, Hermione woke before anyone. She showered and dressed and went to the kitchen to make the boys breakfast. To her surprise, when she entered the kitchen she discovered someone was already there. "Harry," she said in surprise.
"Morning," he mumbled. He was eating a bowl of cereal and looking a bit morose.
Hermione pulled a bowl out of the cupboard and set it next to him. Then she poured in the cereal and milk and sat down. "So, are you going to tell me what's the matter?" she asked.
"Harry, tell me," she insisted. "You've always been able to talk to me."
"What if nobody likes me at school?" he asked quietly.
"It's not possible," she replied with a smile.
"What if it's like it was five years ago?" he asked.
Hermione sighed. "It won't be," she said.
"But what if it is?"
Hermione bit her bottom lip thoughtfully, wondering how to ease his fears.
Harry and James hadn't had an easy time after Lily's death. The wizarding world had considered Harry some kind of deity and they hadn't left James in peace to properly grieve for his wife. The continuing questions regarding Hermione's involvement or lack of involvement hadn't died down either. Ultimately, thanks to the support of James, Sirius, and Dumbledore, the ministry had not charged Hermione. But Crouch never forgot how they had stood against him and he hadn't done anything to dispel the rumors of her involvement either.
James had been severely criticized for allowing Hermione access to Harry, but he hadn't cared. As far as he was concerned, Hermione was the closest thing to a mother Harry had now and he wasn't going to bow down to pressure to keep her away from him.
But worse than the adoring fans were the former Death Eater's who they weren't able to put in Azkaban, including the Malfoy's and the Lestrange's. Every now and again James would get threats that couldn't be traced. When Harry was nearly six there had been a kidnapping attempt. It was then that James decided he couldn't risk raising Harry in the wizarding world. He had taken Harry into hiding, though he maintained his relationship with the Lupin's and Sirius. He also took jobs with the Ministry every now and then when there was a special case. When that happened he could always count on Hermione to look after Harry as if he were her own son.
"Do you remember what happened back then?" asked Hermione.
"Some," said Harry with a shrug.
"Your dad did what was best for you. He sacrificed a lot."
"We had to run away because people hate me," he said.
"That's not true," said Hermione with a gasp. "Is that what you think?"
"Dad said we had to leave home because people wanted to hurt me," he said. "Why would they want to hurt me unless they hated me?"
Hermione put her hand on Harry's shoulder. "We never lie to each other, do we Harry?" she asked.
He shook his head. "What's the point? You always know everything anyway."
She smiled. "That's right," she agreed. "So you know I'm not lying now. You are special. Something happened to you when you were a baby that marked you as special. And some people are afraid of special. Some people hate special."
"I wish I wasn't special," said Harry.
"I know," she said. "Sometimes I wish that too. I wish the only people who knew how special you are, are your dad, me, Uncle Remus, and Uncle Sirius. But being special isn't the end of the world and there are people who will love you despite it."
"What if Nate and I aren't sorted into the same house? Then I won't have any friends."
"What?" he demanded.
"You're going to make some of the best friends of your life at Hogwarts," she said. "It's where your father met Sirius and Remus and look how long they've been friends."
Harry smiled. "Yeah," he agreed. "And where Uncle Remus met you and Dad met Mum."
"That's right," she said with a smile. She put her hand over his. "So no worries, okay."
Harry gave her a small smile and nodded.
"Good. Now go upstairs and get ready," she ordered.
"Yes, Aunt Hermione," he said and he jumped up from his chair and hurried to Nathaniel's room.
Hermione waited until he was gone before dropping her head into her hands. She was as worried as Harry was, but she couldn't let him know that. She jumped about a mile when she felt a hand on her shoulder.
"Sorry," said Remus, rubbing her shoulder. "I didn't mean to scare you."
"It's okay," she answered, placing her hand over his. "Did you hear?"
"Yeah," he said softly. "He'll be fine," Remus tried to reassure her.
"He's got a tough seven years coming up," she said. "I wish I could convince James to tell him about the prophecy. He should know what's coming."
Remus sighed. They'd had this argument too many times to count. "You don't know what's coming," he said. "And James is his father. It's up to him."
"James is wrong," said Hermione. She stood and began clearing the dishes.
"In your opinion," said Remus. He happened to agree with James. "Harry deserves to be a child. He shouldn't have to worry about adult responsibilities."
"Sirius agrees with me," Hermione countered.
"Sirius is never around," Remus snapped back. "And I don't want to have this argument for the fiftieth time. It is James' decision and you have to accept that."
"Sirius understands that Harry needs to be prepared," Hermione shot back, her voice rising slightly. "We could be leaving him vulnerable."
"Muuuuummmmm," shouted Nathaniel from his room, interrupting his parent's argument. "I can't find my socks."
"Nathaniel, they're already packed," answered Hermione in exasperation.
"Not those socks," he yelled. "My self-warming ones."
"Oh for the love of God," sighed Hermione.
"Do you want me to help him?" asked Remus.
"No, I'll take care of it," she answered.
As she passed her husband, he extended his hand and stopped her. "Let's not fight about this today," he said quietly. "This is a special day for us."
Hermione nodded and smiled. "You're right. I'm sorry."
"Me too," he answered. He leaned down and kissed her on her forehead. "Go help our son." She nodded and continued on to Nathaniel's room.
"Muuummm," Nathaniel yelled again then he looked over and saw his mother framed in his bedroom door with her hands on her hips.
"Nathaniel Remus Lupin, what in the name of Merlin do you need with self-warming socks in the middle of summer?"
He shrugged. "It might be cold in the castle at night."
Hermione bit back a smile. "It won't be cold," she reassured him.
"Well what about in the winter?" Nathaniel insisted.
"Your father and I will send the socks then," she assured him.
Nathaniel opened his mouth to protest further, but shut it when he saw the look his mum was giving him. "Fine," he said with all the exasperation he could muster.
"Where's Harry?" Hermione asked.
"Bathroom," answered Nathaniel. He smirked. "He's trying to make his hair lie flat." Nathaniel pulled out his wand. "I offered to do this new spell I learned from our school books, but he said I'd just end up setting it on fire. Personally, I think that might be an improvement."
"No spells until you're at school. You know the rules," said Hermione, but she was having a very hard time keeping a stern face. As close as Nathaniel was to his father, he had inherited his two godfather's carefree and adventurous spirits. It worried Hermione how often he jumped into situations before carefully weighing the possible outcomes. "Now," she continued. "Close that trunk and finish getting dressed. We have to leave soon."
Nathaniel reluctantly shut his trunk with a snap. Hermione covered her mouth and left the room quickly. Remus was waiting just outside the room for her.
"He's just excited," he said quietly.
"I know," she replied. "I remember the day I left for Hogwarts like it was yesterday. I thought I was going to be sick."
"Not me," said Remus. "I was too excited to keep still. I just knew exciting things were going to happen to me at that school."
"And they did," smiled Hermione, stepping into his arms and putting her hands on his waist. "You met me."
"That's right," he said, bending and kissing the tip of her nose.
"You're not going to do that at the train station, are you?" asked Nathaniel. He was frowning up at his parents, clearly annoyed.
"Are you ready to go?" asked Remus, ignoring his son's rolled eyes.
"Good," said Remus. "I'll get your trunk and Harry's," he said and disappeared into the room.
Nathaniel narrowed his eyes at his mother. "You're not going to embarrass me are you?"
"We'll try desperately hard not to," answered Hermione.
"Is Uncle Sirius going to be there?" asked Nathaniel.
"Nathaniel," said Hermione with a sigh. "You have asked that at least a hundred times. The answer still hasn't changed."
Nathaniel frowned and dug his hands into his pockets.
Hermione smiled and put a hand on his shoulder. "You know your Godfather is very busy. If he can get away I'm sure he will. But I don't want you to be too disappointed if he's not there."
Nathaniel nodded sedately and walked to the front door.
"What was that about?" asked Remus, emerging from the room.
"He was asking about Sirius," replied Hermione.
"Again?" asked Remus, annoyed.
"He adores him," said Hermione. "Both of the boys do."
"That much is obvious," said Remus. "I suppose if I was eleven I too would be fascinated by an adult who still acts like a kid and spoils me rotten."
"Remus," began Hermione warningly. "Don't start."
"Well it doesn't matter anyway. I doubt Sirius will show up today. We haven't even heard from him in over a month."
"I know," said Hermione quietly. It was true they hadn't heard from Sirius in over a month. It wasn't the longest they ever went without contact, but she still worried.
Remus saw the worry lines beginning to etch across her forehead. "He's fine," he told her. "He's always fine."
Hermione smiled. "I know you're right. I just wish he'd settle down."
"I don't think he ever will," said Remus. "Sirius isn't the type."
"If the right woman came along," she began, but she was interrupted by a screech from Nathaniel.
"Daaaaad, we're going to be late," he yelled.
"Let's get going before he walks to King's Cross Station by himself," said Remus.
Hermione laughed. "Harry," she called out. "Hurry up or Nathaniel will go without you."
They arrived at the station and made it through platform 9 ¾ with relative ease. The Hogwarts Express gleamed and the students and parents milled around, getting luggage onto the train and saying goodbye. Nathaniel and Harry could barely contain their excitement as they looked everywhere, taking everything in. Suddenly Nathaniel broke away from his parents and went tearing down the platform shouting, "Uncle Sirius, Uncle Sirius!"
Sirius jogged forward and swept Nathaniel into his arms. "I knew you'd be here," said Nathaniel excitedly. "I told mum and dad, but they said not to get my hopes up, but I knew."
"Of course I'm here," he answered. "Do you think I'd miss my godsons' first day to school?" He looked up and saw Hermione in front of him. "Hi, Hermione," he said, setting Nathaniel back on his feet.
Hermione had hurried after Nathaniel when she saw Sirius. Now she hugged him tightly. Then she smacked him hard on the shoulder. "You can't owl us to let us know you're alive every now and then?" she asked.
"Ow," yelped Sirius, rubbing his shoulder. "That hurt," he complained.
"Baby," she mouthed with a grin.
"Hey, Padfoot," greeted Remus, coming up behind his wife with Harry in tow.
"Moony," acknowledged Sirius. "Hey Harry," he said addressing his other godson. "What? No Hello?"
"Hi Uncle Sirius," said Harry quietly and he stepped forward and hugged his godfather.
"What's the matter with you?" Sirius asked, none too subtly.
"Nothing," said Harry defensively. He scanned the crowd, self-conscious of the attention they might be attracting. "Is my dad here yet?"
"Haven't seen him," answered Sirius. "But I just got here myself."
"Where were you this time, Uncle Sirius?" asked Nathaniel excitedly. Sirius's travels often took him to very exotic and exciting places. He could usually be counted on for a good story.
"Here and there," answered Sirius evasively. "Did you boys get your trunks on the train?" he asked.
"Not yet," answered Remus. "I was just about to. Boys, why don't you help me?" Remus led Nathaniel and Harry away.
"What's the matter with Harry?" Sirius asked Hermione once he was out of earshot.
Hermione sighed. "I think he's just nervous. He doesn't want to attract any unnecessary attention. He's been away from our world for so long that I think he's worried he won't be able to blend back in."
"James was an arse for taking him away," muttered Sirius.
"James did what he thought was best," answered Hermione. "They tried to kidnap Harry. I don't think James could take losing him, not after Lily."
Sirius shook his head, wanting to get off the distasteful conversation. "So, how have you been?"
"Good," she answered with a smile. "We've had Harry for the week so I'm exhausted. Of course, it doesn't help being…" she paused and blushed.
"Being what?" asked Sirius.
"Nothing," she said quickly. She had almost let it slip that she was pregnant.
"What?" asked Sirius slyly.
"Nothing," she insisted. "But what about you? What have you been up to?"
"A little of this and a little of that," he answered with a grin.
"Fine, don't tell me," she said, rolling her eyes. "Sirius Black, international man of mystery."
"I like that," he said with a wink. Then his eyes flicked over her shoulder and he broke out into a grin. "Prongs," he shouted. "Over here."
Hermione turned and saw James striding toward them.
"Hi," he called out. He gave Hermione a big hug and greeted his best friend. "Where's my son?" he asked eagerly.
"With Remus, getting the trunks loaded," answered Hermione.
"Thanks for watching him this week," said James.
"You know we love having him."
"Dad!" came an excited yell and they all turned to see Harry running toward them. James caught him in his arms and father and son hugged for a long time.
"Did you have a good time at Aunt Hermione's?" asked James.
Harry nodded enthusiastically and the worry that had been etched on his face earlier seemed to melt a bit. "We flew practically every day," he replied.
James raised his eyebrows at Hermione. "Hermione let you fly everyday?" he asked doubtfully.
"Remus let them fly everyday while I took a calming potion," answered Hermione. "Isn't that right, Remus," she said turning toward her husband. Remus however wasn't paying any attention to the conversation. "Remus?" she repeated.
Remus was staring at a group of people across the platform. Sirius stepped next to him, following his line of sight. "Oh my God," he murmured.
"Do you see her?" asked Remus.
James and Hermione came up beside them with the boys in tow. "What's up?" asked James.
Then Hermione saw. It was her, her eleven-year-old self. She was talking quietly with her parents. "We better get the boys on the train," Hermione said quickly.
"What's Dad staring at?" asked Nathaniel.
"Nothing," said Hermione. She turned both boys away and kneeled to their level. "I'm going to miss you both," she said wrapping them both in her arms. They hugged her back and then hugged James, Sirius, and Remus in turn. "Now I want you both to behave," said Hermione. "I don't want to be getting any owls telling me you're up to no good."
"Yes, mum," said Nathaniel.
Harry just shared a grin with his father. Secretly James was hoping that his son would get into a little mischief.
"Both of you better get on the train," said Remus. The boys beamed at their family and then hurried to board the train. Tears trickled down the sides of Hermione's face and Remus put a comforting arm around her shoulder and kissed the top of her head.
"I can't believe they're gone," said Hermione.
"Yeah," agreed James. "Time went by so fast," he said quietly. "I wish Lily could have seen him today."
Hermione reached out and took his hand. "Me too, James," she agreed.
"I'm glad he had you at least."
"Thank you," she replied softly.
"They'll be home for Christmas," said Remus with a sigh.
Hermione nodded. "You don't have to rush off, do you James?"
He shook his head.
"Will you come by the house for lunch?" she asked.
"You too, Sirius?" she asked turning, but Sirius wasn't next to them.
"Where'd he go?" she asked.
"Oh no," groaned Remus. He pointed across the platform. Sirius was standing next to the younger Hermione, helping her father load her trunks onto the Hogwarts Express.
"What is he doing?" gasped Hermione.
"Letting curiosity get the better of him," said Remus. "I'll go make sure he stays out of trouble."
"Remus, wait," said Hermione, but it was too late, he was already trotting over towards Sirius.
"They're both curious," said James.
"That much is obvious," said Hermione. "They should leave her alone."
"They're not hurting anything," said James in amusement. "Besides, she'll be intimately involved in all our lives soon enough."
"Don't remind me," said Hermione. "It's a terrible paradox. Not even I can quite work it out in my head."
"Did you tell Nathaniel?" asked James, curiously.
Hermione shook her head. "No, not yet. We thought about it, but we weren't sure what to say."
"Aren't you worried?" asked James.
"I worry about a lot. You'll have to be more specific," said Hermione.
"They're bright kids. Don't you think they might figure it out?"
Hermione shrugged. "Nathaniel doesn't know my real maiden name," she said and there are a few differences in our appearances."
"Such as?" asked James.
"My teeth," confessed Hermione. "I kinda had them fixed a bit in fourth year. And my hair is much different," she said patting her hair self consciously. And it was different. She wore it short and straighter now. "I suspect we'll have to tell both boys when they come home for Christmas, but I wanted to give them a chance to get to know her without any preconceived notions. His friendship meant everything to me. I can't deprive her of it."
Sirius and Remus rejoined James and Hermione.
Hermione narrowed her eyes at the two men. "You're both incorrigible."
"She certainly is an opinionated little thing," remarked Sirius.
Remus laughed. "She was just perfect."
Hermione grinned and kissed him fully on the mouth. "I love you," she said.
He grinned at her and took her hand. "Shall we head home?"
She nodded. "Coming James, Sirius?"
Later that night, after James and Sirius had left, Hermione and Remus were in bed talking. Hermione's head was on Remus's shoulder and she was absentmindedly stroking his chest lightly. "I need to tell you something, Remus," began Hermione.
"Hmm," he murmured. His eyes were closed and he was nearing sleep.
"Do you remember what you said last night about having some time to ourselves?" she asked.
"Mm Hm," he replied sleepily.
"Yes, well I think we're going to have to put that off for a little while."
"Okay," he mumbled and then he yawned.
"For another eleven or so years," she continued, hoping he would get her point.
"What are you talking about?" he asked, his head clearing a bit from his sleepy fog.
She pushed herself up so she was staring into his eyes. "I'm going to have another baby, Remus," she said softly.
Remus stared back at her, his mouth open slightly. Then he swallowed convulsively. "A baby?" he asked.
She nodded. "Yes," she confirmed. "Due around February."
Remus sat up, pulling her up with him. "You're having a baby?" he repeated.
She nodded again. "A girl, according to the Healer who examined me. I had them do a full examination, including blood work. There's no trace of the lycanthropy in her." Remus didn't say anything for so long that Hermione grew worried. "Are you disappointed?" she asked, feeling a small pain tighten around her heart.
Remus shook his head quickly. "No, I… I just. Oh baby," he exhaled and pushed her back into the bed and covered her mouth with his. Hermione laughed softly and stroked her husband's face. Remus cradled his wife's head with one hand and placed his other hand on her stomach. "You're giving me another baby," he smiled.
"Yes," she whispered.
"A perfect little girl who will be just like you," he sighed.
"So you're happy then?" she asked.
He nodded and she could see his eyes were wet with unshed tears. "So happy," he said kissing her deeply. "Happier than I ever thought I deserved to be."
"There isn't enough happiness in the world to give you what you deserve, my love," said Hermione.
Remus kissed her again. "And I know the perfect name," he said.
Hermione looked at him curiously.
"Lily Hermione Lupin," he said.
Hermione smiled. "Yes, that's perfect."
A/N: Okay, sorry that took sooooo long, but I was really agonizing over it for some reason. Nothing seemed right. Everything I wrote seemed to bring up more questions. Hopefully this satisfies everyone.
I was totally thrilled to find out that the story was nominated for an award. To whoever nominated it, I would like to say thank you. It really made my day. If anyone would like to vote for the story please go to magical-worlds.us/multifaceted.