A/N:O.K.. A few things you need to know before the rest of the things you need to know.
*Pauses for a minute to allow everyone to digest that last statement*
Now, for those of you who have read the preview chapters, my advice is 'to read them again'. There have been a few minor, but important., alterations.
Next, whereas I would like to hand you a nice, happy little lark of a read, I'm afraid that is not what you will find within this story. Family Relations is as convoluted as it's title suggests. How convoluted, you asked? Folks, it's taken me nearly three years to write this thing. You figure it out. You really need to read between the lines here. Trust me, there isn't one word in this thing that I didn't mean to put in here. And if it's there, it serves a purpose. So read carefully is my advice.
My next piece of advice, if you suspect something, but aren't sure, ask. I'll be more than happy to spell things out and draw pictures this time. Because it really is necessary.
A/N: Folks, we need to talk.
A few things you need to know before starting this story. They're important...and slightly confusing.
One: Family Relations is the sequel to Family Life. If you haven't read that story, boy, are you gonna be one lost little reader.
Two: If you have read Family Life, you might still be lost. Why? Because I have to make some changes. Nothing drastic. Don't get upset. But they are important.
Change one: Do you remember back in Family Life, when they were all in the chamber in the lair of the Deatheaters? You remember when Harry cast the spell? Do you remember Analisa turning and saying something to Lupin? Good! Now, do me a favor? Forget that part. Small change. The person Analisa was talking to was Snape, not Lupin. (Trust me, it's real important.)
Change two: You remember in Fever I told you that story was in no way related to Family Life except in one small area? For those of you who forgot what that area was, here it is. In the end of Fever, Sirius changed Harry's name, making it now Harry James Potter Black. There was something else involved in the court papers. Remember that? Well, it figures in with this story in a rather big way. (Telling you what right now would ruin the story, so if you forgot, go back and review.) So, the fact of the matter is, while Fever and Family Life aren't related, Family Relations does borrow that one concept from Fever.
Three: Remember, Q&A at the end of each chapter. Feel free to ask questions. Give P.A.R. something to read for a change. After all, I'm giving you something to read.
Four: Oh, and could you back up the time line a little for me? I know Family Life ended with the start of the school term like only a week away. But I need a little more time with this story. So could we back Family Life up a little further? How far? I haven't an exact date yet. But it'll figure into Family Life's changes. So just work with me, O.K.?
O.K., one more thing.
Yes! The first few chapters are short. Why? Well, folks, because P.A.R. learned a new word and you have only yourselves to blame for teaching it to me. (Someone mentioned it in a review.). That word is 'Cliffhanger'.
It's a fun little word, and a really great writing tool. (Let's face it, folks, it's the greatest marketing tool ever invented!).
So bare with P.A.R. while she has her little bit of fun.
Be good. Don't flame. And P.A.R. will make the chapters longer. Deal? O.K..
On with the story.
Chapter One: Meetings
"All right then, Mr. Black. We just have a few more issues that need to be cleared up before we can finalize the adoption of your godson."
Sirius sat in the chair before the caseworker about as stiffly as anyone could, his hand wrapped in a tight grip over the head of his cane. He had lost count of the number of meetings, paper signings, and personal interviews he and Arabella had been through all to try and get to this point. And still they managed to find something to asked him. Of course, Sirius wasn't really that surprised. There was one issue left that they had been skirting about the whole time, but never asked any direct questions about.
Next to him, Arabella was literally on the edge of her chair. She had been the one who had always appeared the most eager each time they had come here. Wondering if each meeting would be the last. If they would finally be handed the adoption papers on that visit.
Sirius had sworn she probably had the whole presentation to Harry planned out. Flying down the hallway screaming for joy quickly came to mind as he envisioned the scene. And he was pretty sure no one had better be between her and her godson on that day. The results could get messy.
"Now, Mr. Black...," The interviewer started.
Sirius' eyes narrowed slightly.
"There is a report we've come across that seems to indicate some sort of a criminal record?"
Sirius quickly produced several papers from his jacket. He had come well prepared for this.
"I was cleared of those charges." Sirius stated simply.
The woman looked over the official documents. When the ministry had finally accepted the parchment given to Harry by Peter Pettigrew as authentic, one of the restitutions they were required to give Sirius was a document stating he was cleared of all charges and was declared free. Of course, two separate documents were required. One signed by the officials of the wizarding community, and one by those of the muggle community, so both would recognize the paper as official.
And a week of articles in the Daily Prophet and the muggle papers, as well as on the muggle news, didn't hurt either. Where had this woman been that week?
The woman behind the desk looked the paper over for a few minutes, which was followed by a few phone calls. She then made a quick copy of the documents before handing them back to Sirius.
"Well, Mr. Black." The woman behind the desk said pleasantly. "That was really the only matter that needed clearing up. But all seems in order in regards to it." She added with a smile. "So....,"
Arabella was barely still sitting on any chair at all as she leaned forward a bit more.
But just then the door to the office opened and a young man hurried in. He hastily placed a note on the woman's desk in front of her, right on top of the adoption papers she was getting ready to sign.
The caseworker quickly read the note over. As she finished she turned to the man standing next to her, her expression somewhere between confused and irritated.
"They're sure about this?" She asked quietly.
The man nodded.
"They checked the claim?"
The man nodded.
"They're sure?" She emphasized this time.
The man nodded.
"What!?" Arabella nearly shouted. She had been holding onto the edge of the woman's desk at this point. The tension had been building in her all through the interview. That horrible little feeling that she couldn't get rid of that something would go wrong and stop them from being able to adopt her godson.
The woman turned a stoic face back to the couple before her as the man quickly hurried out, closing the door behind him.
"Mr. Black," the woman said calmly, folding her hands on her desk as she gave him a level stare, "I understood that you had custody of your godson."
Sirius' expression shifted ever so slightly to one of confusion. But the grip on his cane tightened enough to turn his knuckles white. "I do." Sirius replied, keeping his voice as even as he could under his growing apprehension. "I gave you the papers. You have your copies of them."
"Yes, sir." She replied, opening the folder on the desk in front of her again.
Laying on top of the folder was the unsigned adoption paper, already made out. Arabella stared fixatedly at it as she begged that this was just a small matter. A few more questions and she would have her son. Her family. Everything she had dreamed about for fourteen long years.
"Mr. Black," the caseworker stated as she closed the file, "I'm must tell you that that does not seem to be the case. And until the matter is resolved, we can't finalize the adoption. I'm sorry."
Arabella drew on every ounce of resolve within her not to break into tears. She felt as though her godson had been snatched right out of her arms along with her dreams. Next to her Sirius' expression had gone very hard, and his voice very cold.
"Someone else, Sir, has stepped forward claiming to have custody of the minor child, Harry James Potter Black."
Sirius was out of his chair, leaning hard on his cane for balance. "Who!?"
The caseworker stared up at Sirius without so much as flinching.