(Disclaimer: If they were mine, I'd be off somewhere sunny, eating strawberries and luxuriating in the frustrated groans of my fans as they wait for the sixth book... instead, I'm sitting at my computer, listening to the rain... no, they're not mine. Well, most of the ones in this chapter are. But if you can't tell the difference between the ones I made up and the ones JKR did... bad fan! Bad!
One more AU of an AU, ladies and germs, and this one answers a question I was asked in a review, as well as following up on something Danger said in LwoD – what would their lives have been like if Remus and Danger had met "normally"? To take it a step further, what would all their lives have been like if... well, read on to find out what the big if's are around here!
And I should warn you that parts of this chapter will make no sense to you yet. Unless you are incredibly astute, in which case, kudos to you. But it will become blindingly obvious in retrospect. Good luck.)
Margaret Ravenclaw sat alone in the Great Hall at her embroidery frame. An unfamiliar footstep made her look up in surprise.
"Hello, Maggie," said the young woman standing in the doorway. "I hope I'm not disturbing you – I can come back later if I am..."
"No, no, of course not! Please, come in, Miss Walsh!"
"Maggie, please," the young woman protested, laughing. "It's Anne. You know that."
"Yes, of course, all right. Anne." Margaret blushed slightly. "It's just... you know."
"Yes, I know." Two pairs of hazel eyes met, one dancing with mischief. "It's all right."
"What have you got up your sleeve, Miss Anne?" demanded Alexander Slytherin, appearing out of thin air. "Besides your arm – I know all your best lines."
"I taught you all my best lines," countered Anne. "Paul, don't even think about it."
"Awww," said a disappointed Paul Gryffindor from behind her. "But I wanted to pick you up."
"I know you did, and I know why, and the answer is still no."
"Do grow up, Paul," said Maura Gryffindor from behind her brother. "Anne, how lovely to see you."
"You too, Maura – and you know he can't grow up, or he wouldn't be the Paul we all know and love."
"Love to hate, maybe," said Brenna Ravenclaw, coming in through a side door. "How are you, Anne?"
"I'm well enough... dying of excitement, though... only a month left now..."
"And we won't tell you anything," said Adam Hufflepuff. "And you think we're cruel and unusual for it."
"Yes, I do!" Anne crossed her arms and pouted. "You might give me just a tiny teeny little hint."
"We've given you lots already," said Maura firmly. "You'll just have to deal with them."
"And wait your turn like everyone else," said Sophia Ravenclaw. "So. We all being gathered, besides our slowpoke parents, what might your plans be?"
"Naughty, naughty," Anne chided, wagging her finger. "We'll wait for those slowpoke parents. They often have good insights."
The three remaining original Founders entered the Great Hall in a dignified group. The dignity soon vanished as Rowena and Helga embraced Anne like a daughter, and Godric shook her hand warmly. "You never come here yourself unless you have some important idea," he said, seating himself at the round table that appeared. "So what is it this time?"
"Another secondary weaving for you to watch over," Anne said, directing her words towards Brenna, but allowing no mistake that she meant everyone else as well. "And this one is to be so bright and cheery that in some moods, there will be no standing it."
Alex leaned forward eagerly. "Are you going to let me, this time?" he asked.
"Let you what?" teased Anne.
"You know perfectly well what! Are you?"
Anne smiled. "Yes."
Alex leaped into the air, yelling for joy, and remained there for about ten seconds, at which time the combined powers of the other ten people present returned him gently but firmly to his chair.
"When?" was the first understandable word out of his mouth.
"Hmm. Let me see." Anne pulled a scrap of paper from the pocket of her jean shorts. "Standard timeline... more or less, a few adjustments here and there... shall we say March of '75? Give him time to get nefarious, then take him down but good."
Alex nodded. "Yes'm. March of '75. You got it. You want it, you got it. That's me, Alex, cold-blooded killer. Snuff 'em on demand. That's what I do."
"Save it for someone who doesn't know you like I do, you big pussycat," said Anne fondly. "Now then, going to need to change around a few birth times... and one major bloodline change..."
Brenna Ravenclaw pulled out a long list, and she and Anne, along with the other women, bent over it.
"That one, there," said Anne, stabbing a finger down. "Can we get that essence transferred to..." She flipped over a few pages. "This line? I'll arrange for the continuance factor, because this first one's going extinct too soon, with these changes, to sustain this... and the circumstances for the removal process won't be present, even if the substance bits worked out, which they won't..."
"I think that can be done," said Brenna, making a note. "Completely different physical parameters, of course, you know."
"I know. No harm there, I don't think. Do you?"
Shaking heads all around the table.
"Good. Now, need to move a couple up – this one just a bit, this one a bit more – this one needs to go back to type – and do you think we could get these two combined? Because we need them both, but you know as well as I do about the time factor..."
"Combination's doable. Ditto for the moving – as long as you make sure the substance is in position on time."
"Don't worry, it will be." Anne grinned. "Just watch the mistress work. Oh yes, and I need a flip-on for You-All-Know-Who. She's going in."
"Well, good for her." Adam nodded. "Give her some opportunities. Think we can handle that, Mum?"
"Of course. We'd be delighted."
"Are you sure you want to go that route?" asked Godric. "If you flip her on, you know she loses her particular edge."
"I'm dealing with that," said Anne, sliding a sheet of parchment across the table. "See what you think."
Godric read, then nodded. "Yes, I think that will serve nicely. And I take it you want all else remaining the same."
"If it's not too much trouble."
Godric smiled. "No trouble at all. Not when you bring something like this to our table. A little slice of heaven for us to craft and watch over, and return to when the other worlds of our tending become too painful."
(A/N: And, so, we're off. This is the Prologue, which means that the other chapters will tend to be a bit longer, but all in all this is going to be short. Shorter than "Maybe". So I might do again what I did for that, and just update this like a maniac until it's finished. Or I might not. We'll see. Please don't forget to review, even if you're just saying "I didn't understand one word of that.")