disclaimer: I don't own the Order of the Phoenix, or Hogwarts. I only own the Darkflame Clan and friends.
A/N: filler fluff while I fine tune the details of the plot (with a little help from courtney) for the real sequel.. enjoy
"Ready to go, Remi?" Zeke asked softly. "You're going to miss the train."
"Oh, right," Remi sat up, smiling, and grabbed her bags, following Zeke out to the car, where Zackary was waiting impatiently, his midnight red hair combed in some sad parody of order, the only thing about him that was ever askew. Isamu sat in the back seat, grinning excitedly, already in her uniform.
"Do be careful, you. The last thing we need is someone else disappearing."
Remi turned back to the door of the small house, where the eldest girl of the Darkflame family, Eve, stood beside the youngest girl, Rhiannon. The contrast between the two was striking. Eve was only twenty two but looked significantly older, her blonde, choppy hair tucked back behind her ears, her face scrubbed clean of makeup but heavy with sleep, or lack thereof, from nights spent catching up on paperwork from her research. Rhia smiled and waved to Remi, the two braids that had become her trademark as of late looking a bit disheveled from sleeping on them. Rhia looked so much like Rakka had when she was eight that it was bittersweet to see her growing up.
It had been nearly three years since Rakka disappeared, without so much as a goodbye. It had been hard on everyone, but they were starting to move on. It wasn't like they had much of a choice, after all. Remi and Jakob had moved in with the others right after graduation, helping out whenever they could with the house and babysitting Rhia. Zeke, Jakob and Tomas were off to their respective schools later that week, Zeke and Jakob going into Auror training and Tomas leaving for the States to start on his courses at a prestigious political academy. Zackary was working for the Ministry, and would be watching Rhiannon while Eve returned to Romania to work with Charlie Weasley on some research - she had explained it to everyone repeatedly, but no one ever remembered, other than that it had to do with dragons. Where did that leave Remi? Well, hopefully, with a job at Hogwarts. It was the only shot she had left. Which was why she was taking the Hogwarts Express one more time.
"Come on, Remi, today," Zackary snapped. Zeke rolled his eyes, repeating Zackary's comment in a high pitched whine as he crammed Isamu's belongings into the trunk, then hopped into the front seat. Remi climbed into the back next to Isamu, and they were off to the train station.
"Have fun," Zackary sighed.
"You too!" Remi grinned, hugging him in a stranglehold. Zeke was turning almost as red as Zackary was, but with laughter instead of embarassment slowly boiling into anger. Remi released him, completely unaware, and turned to Zeke, giving him an equally childish embrace. Zeke sqeezed her so tight she couldn't breathe for a moment, lifting her two feet up off the ground with a light laugh before putting her back down, mussing her hair, and giving her one last smirk.
"Good luck, kiddo," he punched her shoulder playfully. "Owl us as soon as you know what's going on."
"Oh, you'll hear from me alright, lady," Remi grinned. "If I don't get the job, I'll be back on your doorstep within a week."
"Lady?" Zeke raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms. "Who did you just call a lady?"
"Oops, that's the last call, let's go, Isamu," Remi grabbed her bags, all but running onto the train.
After an all too short ride, Isamu darted off with her classmates, leaving Remi to fidget with nervousness outside the stairs to Dumbledore's office by herself, waiting for the headmaster to leave his office to go to the Great Hall. The sound of quiet, even footsteps gave away who was approaching. Quietly, grinning, Remi put down her bags and slipped off into an alcove, hidden from sight. As the first corner of black robes swirled around the corner, she pounced, nearly knocking Professor Snape flat to the ground.
"What the bloody hell?!" Snape roared. "Remillius? What in the name of Merlin are you doing here? You are aware that you graduated already, are you not?"
"Yes'm, silly lady," Remi grinned. "I'm here to talk to Dumbledore about something."
"I'm job huntin!" she declared proudly, grinning so widely that her eyes were squinted shut.
"Well, good luck with that," Snape dusted off his sleeves, beginning to walk away.
"Hey, Professor Snapey-person?" Remi called.
"Yes, Miss Remillius?"
"Can I list you as a reference?"
Snape didn't answer, walking away with one hand pulling at his jaw length hair right where it met his scalp, muttering to himself about why he should hex Remi into next year, but Remi paid him no mind, straightening her clothes and standing beside the statue patiently. No sooner was Severus out of sight than the stairway opened, and the headmaster stepped out.
"Why, Miss Remillius, what a surprise," Dumbledore smiled. "Tell me, how is Rakka?"
"Actually, we haven't heard from her since graduation," Remi sighed. "She left, and hasn't come home. We've been waiting for her for years.. not even so much as an owl yet."
"I'm sure she's well," Dumbledore rested a hand on her shoulder. "She probably just hasn't had time to write.just yet. Care for a lemon drop?"
"No thanks," Remi smiled.
"So," Dumbledore took a lemon drop from the tin before putting it back in the pocket of his robes. "What brings you back to Hogwarts?"
"Actually, I was hoping maybe there was something you could use help with around here. Perhaps assisting a teacher or something."
"Really?" Dumbledore smiled. "Well, now that you mention it, Hagrid has been rather overwhelmed as of late, trying to run errands for me, teach a class, and keep watch on the forest. Perhaps he could use a bright young assistant such as yourself."
"Really?" Eana beamed. "You think so, Headmaster?"
"I think so," he nodded. "I must be off, I have a feast to oversee. But if you don't mind, perhaps you could take a quick walk down to Hagrid's, and retrieve him for me?"
"Certainly, Headmaster," Eana nodded enthusiastically. "Right away."
Hagrid was perhaps even happier to see Eana than Dumbledore had been, and even more enthusiastic about her new job than she was. She was to temporarily stay in the dorms with Isamu until a better plan could be established, and was to report to Hagrid's cabin in the morning. She owled back home to let them know of her success right after the feast, then settled in for the night. She had a hard time sleeping, however, as thoughts of Rakka plagued her dreams.
Eana was up bright and early the following morning, though hardly her perky self. She ate breakfast with the students, sitting at the Slytherin table as though she had never graduated, before heading out to Hagrid's cabin to begin her first day on the job. She got there only to realize, however, that Hagrid wasn't there. Sighing to herself, she sat on his front step, only to see him coming from the school, Fang dashing out to meet him.
"Sorry, Eana, I forgot you were waiting for me," he sounded a little winded, as though he'd left the castle at a flat out run. "I've just got a quick errand to run for Dumbledore, then I'll be right back. Go ahead on inside and get comfortable in the meantime, okay?"
Remi nodded, and Fang followed her into the house as Hagrid meandered off. She could hear him start his motorbike, then there was nothing but the birds outside and Fang's heavy breathing as he slept in the armchair. Sighing, Remi sat down on the end of Hagrid's bed.
An hour passed, then two, and Remi was starting to honestly consider heading back to the school to ask Dumbledore what was going on. She decided to give Hagrid another half an hour, and resigned herself to a staring contest with Fang, who broke it off with a yawn, prompting her to do the same. A few minutes later, the nights of not sleeping caught up with her, and she fell asleep on Hagrid's bed.
Remi woke up to something heavy on her, and the feeling fo fur against her face. The fur was explained away easily enough, as she had a terrible habit of changing into her animagi form --a rather small fox-- in her sleep, and was curled up like just about any furry animal sleeps: with her tail in front of her face. The heavy thing on her, however, was baffling. It felt almost like she'd been draped in a dozen heavy blankets. She squirmed under it, but didn't manage to move very far before she bumped into something hard, nose first. Just as she was about to take the risk and change back, everything around her moved, and she collided with the unidentified hard thing, head first, blacking out.
She awoke later to the sounds of voices, and a cramped back and neck from the way she was lying. All around her, the heavy material pressed in, but beneath her, she couldn't feel anything solid, like she was being held up only by the fabric beneath her feet. Standing was a trying task, but she managed to move enough to get the hard thing she'd hit her head on (which left her with a nasty bruise and an even nastier headache) under her feet, giving her something solid to get her paws on. The voices outside were too muffled for her to understand, but sounded familliar. One was certainly Hagrid, another Dumbledore.. and she thought she heard Snape here and there, but the others were foreign. One male voice sounded fairly young, around her age or Snape's, but not like any member of the staff she'd ever met. Was she even still at Hogwarts? Well, there was only one way to find out.
Readjusting her footing, Remi leaned upward, bout couldn't get her paws on the lip of her fabric prision, which appeared to be a pocket of some sort: judging by her inanimate and unidentifiable cell mate, one of the seemingly infinite pockets of Hagrid's coats. This realization made her all the more frantic to get out, as remaining there left two unpleasant possiblities: being sat on, and never getting out. Unless Hagrid lost something important in those pockets, it was highly unlikely he would ever be sorting through them. Frantic, she tried to change back to her normal self, but the fabric was too sturdy, and she couldn't get to be any bigger than a loaf of bread, and was forced to change back.
"Hagrid, do you have something alive in that coat of yours?" the unfamilliar, young male voice asked.
"Good eye, Remus! Constant vigilance!" Was that Mad Eye Moody? Remi realized that she may be in even more trouble than she thought, and tried to jump out, scrabbling with her paws outstretched at the sides of the pocket. The fabric may have been rough, but it wasn't rough enough for her to sink her nails in, and her paws just slipped down the sides, no matter how hard she tried. She could hear a chair scraping on the floor, and felt the shifting of someone pulling down on the lip of the pocket, trying to see in. seeing her opportunity, Remi leapt again, and finally managed to get her front paws over the top of the pocket to hold herself up...
...only to find herself nose to nose, literally, with the stranger she'd heard earlier.
"A spy! Obliviate it!" Mad Eye cried, brandishing his wand. Panicking, Remi did the only thing she could think of.
She bolted right down the stranger's shirt.
"Moody, calm down!" a female voice, also strange to her.
"What was that thing? Remy?"
"It's a little fox," the man chuckled, and Remi could feel the vibration of the low sound. She stood dead still, despite her odd position, trying not to end up falling down onto (or worse yet, into) his pants. For a moment, all she could hear was his heartbeat.
"Say, Hagrid, isn's your new assistant's animagus form a fox?" Remi silently thanked Dumbledore for his great memory.
"Yes, I believe she is," Hagrid laughed a little.
Remi felt a strong hand close around her chest, and was lifted from her warm sanctuary, face to face again with the strange man. He smiled at her, and she was glad she was a fox, as foxes don't blush, no matter how cute the man smiling at them is. She took in his hazel eyes and chestnut hair, the clean lines of his face, the warmth of his smile, all with a definate bit of admiration. Her involuntary shield was certainly easy on the eyes.
"Well then, Remus, this is Remi, Hagrid's new assistant groundskeeper, and I suppose the newest memeber of the Order," Dumbledore chuckled.
"Hello, Remi," Remus smiled, putting her on the floor. Terrified, she was tempted to bolt, but managed to instead change back to her normal self. Remus watched her change with a little smirk, and she tried not to look back at him, especially once she was fully human again.
"I'm so sorry, Dumbledore, Hagrid," Remi blurted. "I fell asleep in Hagrid's cabin, and I must have changed into my animagus form in my sleep.. I woke up in Hagrid's pocket! I didn't mean to intrude.. I.."
"It's fine, Miss Remillius," Dumbledore smiled. "Sit down."
"But Dumbledore," Moody protested.
"I was going to wait a couple more weeks and let her settle in to her job first," Dumbledore sighed. "But I was planning to invite her into the Order, anyway."
"Why is that, exactly?" Moody asked. "How do you know you can trust her?"
"Moody," Remi recognized the female voice she'd heard earlier, but it now spoke in a warning tone. She could now see the girl in all her technicolor glory, bubble gum pink hair and a lime green muggle t-shirt that made Remi's eyes hurt if she looked for too long.
"Eana is a close friend of the Darkflame family, best friends with Rakka, and her parents were among Voldemort's victims," Dumbledore said softly, as though it would explain everything. "If we can trust someone to help us fight the Death Eaters, it's a girl who's friends and family have been hunted by them her entire life."
"And her tiny animagi form could be useful. As a fox, she looks like a kit, which would make some believe that if she is an animagi, she's a kid," Remus poiinted out.
"Well, then," the girl at the end of the table spoke up again. "Welcome to the Order of the Phoenix, Miss Remillius."
Remi blushed and changed a glance over at Remus, who was looking at her out of the corner of his eye, and quickly looked away. She could have sworn he was blushing a little, too.
Dumbledore Accioed a chair for her, which was a little fluffy and quite comfortable. unfortunately, after a few minutes of chatter, the adrenaline rush started to wear off, and soon enough, a tiny fox was sleeping, curled up on the fluffy chair, shivering a little. Remus gently picked her up, so as not to wake her, and took her into his lap, gently stroking her back. He could have sworn he'd heard the little fox sigh happily under his touch as her shivering stopped.