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After the Battle
Harry didn't waste any time getting his children home and the Potter residence was soon filled with people. Eddy and Jordan had both requested to go home with the girls, and Harry had agreed that that was probably for the best. Molly and Arthur had arrived through the floo-network the moment they heard about what had happened and Remus arrived shortly after them. The rest of the family seemed to find out about the events just as quickly, and even those that could not come checked in during the evening.
Millie and Lily were the worst affected by what happened, even though Sirius too had been shaken up by the prospect of nearly loosing his sisters. Right now the lot of them were being pampered and taken care of by the house elves, as well as Molly and Ginny. The house elf called Dobby seemed especially prone to shove cookies and pastries in their hands as if a few snacks would solve their problems. The children accepted and ate nonetheless, and James and Lily supposed they didn't want to hurt the elf's feelings. And he did seem ever so pleased whenever they took his offerings.
Eddy and Jordan were keeping close to the girls, and the four of them were occupying the sofa completely, Millie curled up into a little ball hugging her knees and leaning on Eddy's shoulder. Lily did seem to handle the ordeal a bit better than her sister, but she had been holding Jordan's hand the entire evening, and it didn't look like she was about to let go.
Harry was standing by the fireplace, watching the photographs on the mantle. He looked tired. Spent.
"How are you feeling?" Harry turned his head to look at Remus. "Everyone is checking on the kids, I though someone should be checking on you too." Harry smiled faintly.
"Will I ever see the day when you don't?" he said. Remus shook his head and waited for Harry to respond to his original question. It took a while, but Remus seemed willing to wait.
"She risked her life," Harry then said quietly. "Lily told me. When Malfoy wanted to kill Lily, she put her self in front of her sister. And when he said he would kill me she offered to go with him if he didn't. She is my little girl and she was sacrificing herself for me. That isn't right. She shouldn't have been put in that situation."
"Harry, you did not put her in that situation. Malfoy did. Don't forget that," Remus said seriously.
"I should have protected them better," Harry said plainly. "Besides Millie shouldn't have felt obligated to sacrifice herself to save me."
"I doubt she felt obliged, Harry. Besides, she's her father's daughter, they both are. They didn't do anything that you wouldn't have done," Remus said with the same calm voice as before.
"Oh, come on Remus. That's not true." Harry responded.
"Isn't it?" Remus asked. "Did you not risk your life to save Ginny's when you were only twelve? And did you not risk your life for Ron only one year later when you went after him into the Shrieking Shack? Were you not the one that went to the Ministry of Magic to save Sirius when you believed Voldemort was holding him there? Now how is that not the same thing?" Remus asked. Harry sighed.
"Well did they have to get that part of me?" Harry asked with a sigh, making Remus chuckle as he patted his shoulder.
"Would you really want them not to?" Remus asked. "Draco would probably have killed Lily if Millie hadn't been that way. And he would definitely have taken Millie if Lily hadn't held on to her sister." Harry nodded. He seemed to know Remus was right. Still James could understand the wish he had as a father for keeping his children safe, and the guilt at what he perceived as failure to do so. He knew that he would never completely forgive himself for making the wrong choice of Secret-Keeper, always regretting the repercussions his decision had on Harry's life.
"How did you know?" Remus asked changing the subject.
"The map," Harry answered.
"Good thing you had it then," Remus said. Harry nodded.
"Lily sent Peeves after me. I ran into him on the way down. He wouldn't have gotten to me fast enough though. If I hadn't looked at the map, I would have lost my daughter."
"It seemed that map had other uses than the ones we intended for it when we made it," Remus said. "Although, it was fast thinking of Lily to send Peeves." Harry gave him a faint smile.
"He proved useful. I sent him to get Snape," Harry said. "I wouldn't have thought about that if I hadn't run into him. Just don't tell Snape that. He'd love to hear about me making a mistake." Remus laughed softly and patted him on the back.
"Well you proved him wrong when it came to Malfoy being an Animagus," Remus said. "Or should I say us."
"You doubted me, still?" Harry asked and his voice showed a hint of surprise. Remus nodded.
"I saw the way they struggled," he said nodding to one of the photos on the mantelpiece. "I didn't think it was possible." Drawing closer James and Lily looked at the picture. So did Harry, running his finger along the frame. It was the picture from Harry's christening. The one where Sirius was holding Harry while James were standing with his arm around his best friend's shoulder. The one they had seen the first day they arrived. James let out a short laugh, remembering how glad he had been to see that very photo that first day, the indication that everything had been alright. How wrong that picture had been. Yet he was still glad that Harry had it.
"Why did you give me this, Remus?" Harry then asked still holding the photo. Remus smiled faintly.
"You needed it more than I did," he then said. "I have plenty of pictures of Sirius, in my mind," he said. "You never got to see him the way I did. You never got to know how he was, only what he became. I knew you didn't have more than one photo of Sirius. I thought you would want one with the three of you, James, Sirius and you. Besides it was the one photo of Sirius I didn't throw away when he got sent to Azkaban. Mostly because it was the only photo I had of you." Harry nodded and put the picture back.
"I'm happy you did decide to give it to me. It's nice to have a photo of the three of us. I only wished I had one of the three of you," Harry said. Remus didn't answer. Instead he just put his hand on Harry's shoulder squeezing it gently before turning around to face the room.
Lily and Millie were still curled up in the sofa next to their boyfriends, with Ginny regularly checking on them, watching them, her face one of concern. She seemed happy they were safe and that Draco was caught, but there was something else about her as well. Anger. Anger that someone would go after and hurt her children. James got the impression that Draco should be glad that it wasn't Ginny he had faced in the Entrance Hall. Not that it mattered much to him anymore.
Sirius was sitting in a chair talking to Christopher who was sitting on the floor in front of him. The mood was one of relief, of thankfulness of being together still. Yet there was uncertainty as well. It showed in the way Lily kept squeezing Jordan's hand a bit too tight, in the way Millie curled up next to Eddy, in the looks Sirius and Christopher gave their sisters. While grateful of the turnout, their minds were all preoccupied by the same thing – what if?
Taking a breath, Harry made his way across the room to where Millie was sitting. Eddy moved as soon as Harry approached, making room next to Millie. Watching, James and Lily saw Harry take his seat next to Millie, talk to her, sooth her. Drawing closer they could hear her doubts her fears, that she was responsible for putting her family in danger.
"Millie, Draco would have wanted to go after us even if you were not a part of this family," Harry said smiling. "Besides, you make this family better. We wouldn't want to be without you even if you were right. Which you're not," he added. Millie nodded slowly, still James and Lily weren't sure she really dared to believe that what he was saying was true.
As the day turned into night and the dinner was served and eaten, the people at the house eventually started to say their goodbyes and go home. Jordan and Eddy were given a guest room upstairs, and Sirius and Christopher helped them take up their trunks, which had been picked up along with the girls ones during the day, so that when it was time for them all to go to bed they could easily change into their night clothes.
Once the house was quiet James and Lily wandered around, too restless to be able to relax and just wait the night out.
They heard Millie crying when they walked past her door. They didn't hesitate to go inside. She was dreaming, and it didn't take much to guess about what.. Her face was distorted in fear and in her sleep she pleaded with the man no longer a threat to let her go, to leave her sister alone. Unable to refrain herself Lily walked up to her. Even though she knew that she wouldn't be able to actually touch her, she moved her hand across her hair as she would have stroked her had she been alive. And even though she knew that Millie probably wouldn't hear her, she talked to her, telling her that everything would be alright. That there was no more danger. That she was safe.
Whether it was her voice, or her presence or something completely different, Millie seemed to calm down. Maybe she could hear in her dream what she couldn't when she was awake, or maybe she just knew that someone was watching over her. Whatever it was, Lily and James were both grateful when her sleep was once again as peaceful as it used to be. Smiling, Lily turned and walked up to James, happily accepting the hug he offered.
"She seems calmer," he said quietly. Lily nodded. "Do you think she heard you?"
"I don't know. Maybe she can when she's sleeping," Lily suggested, then she shrugged her shoulders. "Does it matter?" Smiling James shook his head.
"Do you think that is why we're here?" he then asked.
"To give them comfort, you mean?" Lily asked, turning her face up to look at him. "I like that thought," she then said. James smiled and kissed her, thinking that maybe that was it. Maybe it wasn't some major plan, or some major task they were supposed to do. Maybe all they were supposed to do was watch out for them and give them comfort whenever they could.
Looking down at his wife he smiled. Knowing that if this was the only task they had, and if she were to be the only person he ever spoke to again, that wouldn't matter. Somehow, he knew that would be enough.
Thanks Michelle, Paperbagprincess and Cantabile for betaing. I love you so much for helping me make this story better. Hugs for the lot of you.