A New Life in San Francisco
A/N; I can't believe this story is over! But it's been three years since I started this story. I just shocked myself with that, I hadn't realised it had been that long but I've enjoyed writing this story and although my writing style has changed a lot over those three years I hope you all still like this story. I don't have any plans for a sequel for this story and the only epilogue is really the last part of this chapter. I hope you all like and leave me nice reviews.
Chapter 27; A New Life
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" James asked as his nibbled at his fingertips even as he paced the bedroom as Chris changed clothes. James was wearing a baggy pair of black jeans and a blue button down shirt as well as one of Chris' heavy jackets that completely swamped him. Chris had returned in the early hours of the morning and taken Felix home for the morning so that James could get used to the idea of going to see everyone again but he was seriously starting to have doubts about whether it was wise or not.
"Don't you want to see them?" Chris asked trying to hide a smile.
"Don't try it, Chris." James sighed out. "You know I do and that won't convince me to put them..."
"You won't be." Chris told him as he settled on a tight white t-shirt. "You spent the whole night alone with Felix and nothing bad happened."
"Maybe I'm not ready." James shook his head.
Chris sighed and walked towards him before moving around him and sitting down in one of the two nice chairs in the bedroom. He pulled James down into his lap and was surprised again but James' weight. James had always been very skinny and he knew now how Azkaban could permanently wreck you like that but this version of James surprised him every time. He was a stick and he was weak, weighing only a little more than seven stone and James had told him that the only reason he even had that weight on him was because as a Panther Animagus some of his muscles simply wouldn't allow themselves to be weakened. He probably weighed less than most of his cousins and sisters and that was a scary thought.
"James." Chris kissed the side of his neck. "Next week you want to go back to work and Paige really needs you. I mean almost a third of the children you helped out of that orphanage were just attacked by Death Eaters and their new home almost completely burned to the ground. Paige says they all think it was the Warden trying to kill them all. The point is you need to help them, only you really can at the moment and they need you. If you don't care about what you need then at least care about what those children need. You need to be around other people this weekend so you can get used to it before you go meet all of your children again."
James sighed and pressed his face into Chris' neck. "You're a git when you want to be." James told him with a sigh even as Chris hugged him tighter. "Well, we're not orbing all the way there. I'm not appearing in the middle of your mom's living room."
Chris chuckled and stood up, lifting James with him and setting him on the ground. "You ready to go then?"
"No?" James tried but Chris just poked him in the side. "Garden, Chris. Promise me."
"You know I'd never do otherwise." Chris smiled before hugging him tightly, resting his chin on James' hair before the two burst into a cloud of orbs and streamed out of the window before vanishing completely.
James looked around as soon as the scene around him turned from the bright light of orbs to the garden of the Manor lit by the autumn sun. Chris' dad loved this garden and he worked on it quite a bit and it was full of colour even now. James sighed as he took it in before tensing up in Chris' arms as he heard laughing from inside.
"Were you hoping they'd all be late and arrive at different times?" Chris asked even as he kept hold of James around his waist even as James slowly turned around in his arms to look at the house. He felt James playing with his fingers and a moment later start nibbling on something gently with his teeth. The Promise Ring. James did that whenever he was nervous or thinking about something painful. "You're going to nibble that down to nothing if you're not careful." Chris warned him playfully.
"Warded it." James mumbled. "Runes."
Chris actually laughed. It was just like James to think like that, about the future of something like a ring but then again to James that ring was almost as important to him as Chris himself was. It was the constant reminder of Chris' love for him.
"You ready to go on in?" Chris whispered into his ear.
"How about we just wait out here for a while?" James suggested. "It's nice out here and everything."
"If that's what you really want." Chris told him and felt James sag against him ever so slightly in defeat.
"At the first sign..." James started but trailed off when Chris tightened his grip ever so slightly.
"I know, I'll orb you out." Chris promised before rubbing his cheek against the side of James' head to make him turn to look back over his shoulder. Chris moved in and kissed him deeply, really feeling all of the emotion in the kiss before pulling away slowly and pecking him on the corner of the mouth, seeing the emotion in James' eyes which had only just started to reappear lately. "I love you so much, James."
James almost cried and he turned and hid his face in Chris' chest. "Love you too." He mumbled and Chris kissed his cheek which was the closest place he could reach to show that he'd heard.
"Let's go." Chris prompted and James nodded and pulled away although he caught Chris' right hand in his own left and almost walked behind his boyfriend, almost shielding himself from the family members he knew were waiting inside, here just to see him and welcome him back.
They walked through the laundry room and into the kitchen and James was confronted by the first of seventeen that he missed. Chris' mom, Piper, was standing with her back to them slicing French bread into slices and putting them into a basket. James could smell cooking food and he realised how much he missed being here. It was strange that he'd connected to this place so quickly. It felt like home more than any other place he'd been to. Sure, Hogwarts had always felt like a home to him and he loved the sentience of the school but this place was on a completely different tier to the school. It exuded the love that James had yearned for his whole life and he knew he never wanted to lose it. He couldn't handle losing it again.
"Mom." Chris almost whispered but that was enough as she flew around. James couldn't help but pull Chris' arm in front of himself as if hiding behind his boyfriend and Piper's eyes widened as she took him in.
"Oh, James. It's so good to see you again." Piper moved closer and James steeled himself and moved forwards which seemed to be all the permission she needed as she opened her arms and swooped in to embrace him. James froze up and didn't let go of Chris' hand by his side and she seemed to notice as she slowly withdrew, not fast enough to show it pained her.
"I'm sorry..." James winced.
"Oh, dear." Piper smiled at him. "I don't blame you for not being comfortable but I really wanted to feel that you were real. Everyone's missed you so much."
Chris moved forwards and hugged his mother and whispered something in her ear which made her pull back and nod before smiling at James again and picking up the basket of bread and moving through the door into the dining room. As the door opened a blast of sound hit them and James started shaking slightly. "What did you whisper to her?" James asked quietly.
"I just asked her to go tell everyone we're here and that we'll come through in a minute." Chris explained. "You don't have to worry, they're not going to all jump you at the same time. They remember how you've been and none of them want to see you like that again but they are going to want to be around you. You know how much they adore you, especially Anna, Felix, Jason, Luke, Pennie, Ashley and Matt."
"I think I can handle children." James bit his lip. "I... I always could after Azkaban. It's just they..."
"They saw you just after you escaped." Chris nodded. "They'll just be glad you did escape."
"Let's go." James mumbled quietly. "Just don't leave me alone."
"I promise I won't." Chris kissed the side of his head just as he led James through into the dining room and from there into the living to see everyone sitting or standing around. Obviously Piper had already warned them since they were watching him the instant the two walked through the door and James couldn't help but clutch Chris' hand tighter but he made sure he wasn't too frightened looking and that the shields around his desires, emotions and thoughts were strong and keeping everything closed up within him.
In the silence he glanced around the room. There were still three sofas in the room and they were taken up with four people on each. To the left Coup was sitting on the end with Phoebe against his side and Felix and then Joshua keeping a close eye on his younger cousin. On the sofa with the back to him were Paige's twins, Luke and Pennie, as well as Jason, Phoebe's youngest and Patience, Phoebe's eldest who was the first to react as she went pale and turned away from him, shaking slightly after taking in his pale and drawn appearance although he looked ten times more alive now after a week of nurturing from Chris than he had when he'd first seen them when he'd killed Voldemort. On the last sofa were Ashley and Matt, Paige's two youngest as well as their parents and finally sitting on the floor by the fire were Wyatt, Prue and Anna and lastly Leo was standing with the phone near his ear, having obviously been talking to someone though he muttered a quick goodbye and hung up.
Felix, having spent the whole night with James was the first to get up and he quickly ran for James and hugged him. James, having had the few seconds warning braced himself and hugged him back with his right arm. "You came!" Felix whispered and hugged him tighter regardless of the fact as a fifteen year old it was rather strange to hug your older cousins twenty-one year old boyfriend. Nothing was normal in this family though.
Felix had barely backed off when Matt, who James could have guessed wouldn't care if James was uncomfortable jumped up and ran to hug him. James got a little dizzy as he was hugged by Jason, Ashley and then Luke before Chris finally pulled him back a little and wrapped his arms around him having noticed that it was overwhelming him a bit. Joshua stood up and put a hand on Pennie's shoulder to make sure she didn't try to hug him too and then reached out his hand to James who reached out and took it accepting the welcome back from the eighteen year old with a grateful smile.
James let Chris steer him towards where Phoebe and Coup had been sitting as the two stood to give up their seats and James let Phoebe give him a light hug and a kiss on the cheek. "You're so cold, James." Phoebe told him quietly.
"It's something that happens in there." James winced. "You stop trying to be warm."
"He was always a little cold to touch, Aunt Phoebe." Chris tried to explain. "But he's a lot colder now."
"It'll fade." James assured them as he sat beside Chris and leaned into his arm. Felix sat beside him and turned to face him with Joshua behind him and the family gathered around to continue their talking and playing but just including James in everything.
James escaped about an hour later while everyone was setting the table and with a lingering touch to Chris' arm he assured him that he'd be alright. He headed up through the house seeking some quiet and eventually found himself in the attic of the house. It was strange that the attic, which stood for so much to the family that he'd joined, had started to grow on him. It was where the family discussed anything to do with demons and knew it was their answer to keeping their demon fighting as separate from their lives as possible. The normal pedestal sat in the edge of the room with the Book of Shadows sitting on top and James knew that throughout the generations since the Salem Witch Trials the book had been passed down from mother to daughter and now to sons as well and each person who had held the book had added something to it until it had grown into what it was now. Probably the best source of spells and knowledge of the Wicca and Demon world ever to exist. It was what made this family so strong, it didn't increase their strength but it gave them access to spells that had been long forgotten, ways to kill demons that the demons had thought forgotten and Chris' family had guarded it for centuries.
On the table that they used to brew potions was another old leather bound book with James' own emblem on the front, the one that had appeared the first time James had used the book. The Rune Tome had been left in their care after James had been arrested and put back into Azkaban and James hadn't wanted to have the temptation around to cast magic over the last week so it had stayed up in the attic of the Manor. James moved over to the pedestal and gently ran his fingers over the old leather of the Book of Shadows and he sighed out in relief.
"Did you really think it would react to you?" Wyatt's voice made him jump and his magic throbbed but he controlled it and then soothed it.
"I..." James sighed.
"You thought that your stay in Azkaban could make you evil?" Wyatt frowned and moved closer until he was just on the other side of the pedestal. He reached over and opened the book and started randomly flicking to different pages. James' eyes flickered across the writing and diagrams.
"Voldemort was in my head so much." James tried to explain. "He made me do things. He made me torture you all in my head and kill everyone."
"Torture doesn't make you turn evil, James." Wyatt pointed out.
"How can torturing the people you love not be evil?" James pressed.
"I meant him torturing you." Wyatt smiled. "He forced that on you to break you but you're here now and you're not evil but you didn't need the book to tell you that."
"Then what tells me I'm good?" James asked.
"You love my brother." Wyatt said simply.
"How do you know that for sure?" James pressed.
"Because I'm his older brother. It's my job to protect him and I'd have already kicked your arse if you were only pretending to love him. Us big brothers can sense this sort of thing. Just ask Chris and Joshua, we all look after our younger cousins, brothers and sisters." Wyatt explained. "And also because you came here today. You couldn't accept being scared of being around people like us because you knew that you loved Chris too much to take him away from his family."
"Chris is who he is because of his family." James told Wyatt. "I can't take his family from him. It couldn't anyway. He'd never lose his family for me."
Wyatt opened his mouth to argue but then shut it again and nodded. "You are right as much as it seems mean to say it." Wyatt reached out and took James' shoulder in his hand. "You are a good boyfriend to him if you can admit that. It's the same with me, no matter how much I could love a partner my family will always come first. I'd always leave them to be here to protect them. Chris is just lucky he found you."
"Why?" James asked.
"Because if Chris had to leave dinner with you to come help us fight demons I know that you'd be right at his side, protecting us with your Runes." Wyatt grinned. "And I'm glad because I know you'll protect everyone just as much as I would."
"You're not just Chris' family, you're not the in-laws." James told him. "You've become like a brother. Piper and Leo treat me like a son and your sisters like I'm their older brother and you're cousins are like cousins to me. Maybe it's because my own Aunt and Cousin treated me so bad or the fact this is the first family I've ever actually really had but I need you all in my life just as you need them all in your life."
"Mate. I should warn you." Wyatt said seriously before his face cracked into a big grin. "I'm horrible to my brother."
James laughed for the first time in weeks and Wyatt hugged him even before he'd finished. "So, oh King of Magic?" James asked as he pulled back. "When do we see which of us can beat the other at magic?"
"Well, you know that wouldn't be fair." Wyatt sighed dramatically. "Chris'll try to beat me up if I beat you too badly."
"Well if you want to wimp out of fighting somebody who's only been using magic like yours for a few months I'm sure we can come up with a believable excuse to tell all your little cousins and sisters. We wouldn't want you to lose face." James laughed before his hearing caught a chuckle by the door and he turned to see Chris leaning against the door with a grin on his face and his arms crossed across his chest as he listened.
Wyatt turned and laughed. "Hey, little bro, how long have you been there?"
"About the time you were being inexorably sappy." Chris laughed. "It's something I'll have to remember to use to offset your trumped up manliness some time."
"I'm never sappy." Wyatt defended with a mock glare which faded as James leant up and kissed him on the cheek. He huffed and rolled his eyes.
"Thanks, Wyatt." James told him quietly but knew that Chris would have heard. He grabbed the Tome of Runes and tucked it under his arm.
"What's that for?" Chris asked as he stopped in front of him and kissed him on the lips briefly.
"I wanted to have a look at the Manor's wards, just to check they're working alright." James told him. "And I want to sort out a time with your Aunts and Uncles to cast wards on their houses like this one."
"I'd complain about you doing too much but I don't see the point." Chris laughed and grabbed him into a tight hug. "Lunch is up. Nobody wants to start without you."
"Chris, you know I can't eat anything." James pointed out.
"I know you can barely stomach something at Dinner. I've told them all but they still want you around for lunch." Chris pointed out and James nodded.
"Come on then." Wyatt announced. "I'll eat his share."
"I know you will." Chris laughed and punched his brother lightly on the arm as he past. Wyatt gave a mock cry of pain and started stumbling down the stairs towards lunch. James laughed again and Chris nuzzled the side of his neck. "I've missed your smile you know."
James turned to look at him and smiled with all his heart. "And I've missed your laugh. You never laughed at Hogwarts."
"I was always worried about you." Chris defended.
James poked him in the stomach. "If we're not careful we'll both be so worried about each other we'll never laugh or smile again."
Chris grabbed him from behind and wrapped his arms around him. "I'm never letting you go again." He swore.
"Well alright but it does make undressing each other difficult." James sighed regretfully making Chris laugh and kiss the back of his neck. "Let's go for lunch then everyone can do some magic so I can check the wards with magic in the air."
"Yes Sir." Chris bit his earlobe gently and tugged him down towards his family with a big smile on his face which probably looked suspicious to their family but neither of them really cared and the family quickly forgot about it when they saw the happiness in James' eyes and they all knew he'd be alright.
Two days later
James walked into the office of San Francisco Child Services and was almost run down by Courtney who greeted him with a hug and a kiss on the cheek that made James tense up and almost jerk back. He patted her on the back before she pulled back. "It's so wonderful that you're back. How are you feeling? You look so ill. Are you sure you should be back here?"
"I'm tired of sitting around on my own, Courtney." James told her. Paige had laid down his excuse as soon as they'd returned to the country. Everyone knew that Paige's experience had been requested at a boarding school in Scotland and that James had gone with her to work on gaining experience in such settings. And Paige had told them all, and her bosses, that James had fallen ill and James definitely looked that way.
James walked into the main 'ball pen' and silence reigned for a few seconds before people started heading for him with greetings and hugs. James let himself ride out the attention even as his eyes found Kevin and Paige talking in the background.
"Alright, everyone!" Paige called over the chaos. "Don't we all have work to do?"
People headed for their desk and James walked over to Kevin and Paige. "Hi." James smiled at Kevin who hugged him briefly.
"It's good to have you back." Kevin told him with a smile as he pulled back.
"Kevin's with you for this week to get you back up to speed. He's been monitoring your case files while we were away." Paige told him. "Welcome back."
James nodded. "Let's get started, you can take me through it all and we'll see about what we have on our plate."
James spent the entire day buried in his office with Kevin sitting opposite his desk going through eight piles of files that were for every child under James' psychological help. It was late in the afternoon when James finally got Kevin to give him the files of all the children from Grand View Orphanage, the one that Voldemort and his Death Eaters had burned down along with murdering two of the three night staff. None of the children had been hurt but they'd been obviously scared and all had been through a counsellor assigned by their team to assess any emotional damage. A couple had been referred onto a psychologist like James but there were a few more which were children from Golden Marina orphanage and were a little more harmed by the emotional trauma and the counsellors had suggested they talk to James as soon as possible. It was the main reason that James was back at work already and not waiting till he was in better health.
Halliwell Manor – A few days later
James waited nervously, glancing out of the attic window with Chris standing behind him as they waited for Charlie to arrive via Wyatt so they could travel straight into the Manor through James' wards. James had spoken with Patience at length about what had happened to her and to make her realise that in no way had James ever blamed her for what had happened. He told her all about the Imperious Curse, telling her more detail than he had described to them in the first place, about everything that it could make a person do and he knew that she felt helpless at the thought of it. The feeling was quite common in James' line of work. Where a child had been forced to do something that they didn't want to do, especially when they felt helpless to stop it. It made them feel weak and powerless and it was especially dangerous to children in their later teen years with their struggle to become adults.
Patience's situation was aggravated because of the use of magic, just like Felix's condition was aggravated by his powers but in Felix's case the answer was in normal methods. Patience was different, she had to regain her sense of power, the ability to make her own decisions and control her actions and unfortunately James knew of only one way to do that. The same way that he had learnt to overcome the Imperious curse. And that was why he'd contacted Charlie through Coup as Patience's father although he hadn't yet told Phoebe or Coup what he wanted Charlie there to do.
He heard the sound of orbs and turned to the centre of the attic as Wyatt appeared with Charlie who looked around in surprise before a grin spread across his face at the sight of James. "James!" Charlie smiled. "Hermione's been out of her mind with worry."
"She couldn't come?" James asked.
"We can't risk any transport with magic with her pregnancy. She's due in a couple of months." Charlie told him before turning to look at Paige, Phoebe and Coup. "It's good to see you all well and I hope what happened doesn't affect your view on all of us. That said be as nasty to the Ministry and Order as you'd like."
Paige chuckled and James stepped forwards, out of Chris' arms. "You know why I asked you to come?"
Charlie frowned. "Coup explained the situation and said that you thought I could help but I..." Charlie winced. "You didn't tell them how and I can only think of one reason."
"Will you do it if they agree?" James asked.
"James." Charlie winced. "The very idea. It makes me feel ill."
"Can you do it?" James pressed.
"I know how to." Charlie nodded. "We learn it in case the Dragons go wild."
"You know it's possibly the only..." James started but Charlie cut him off with an angry gesture.
"Don't try to justify it, James." Charlie told him. "I may not like it but I trust you to know if it'll do any damage. If you think it has to happen then I'll do it. I just won't like it."
"What are you two talking about?" Wyatt cut in frustratingly.
"There is no way I'm pitching this to them." Charlie told him.
"I want Charlie to cast the Imperius curse on Patience." James said simply and watched everyone in the room flinch in shock. Even Chris jumped and James knew he was concerned.
"How can you suggest that?" Wyatt asked.
"What will it do?" Phoebe stepped forwards and took her husband's hand in her own while she touched Wyatt on the arm to get him to calm down. "You have to have a good reason so let's hear it."
"When I was fourteen we had a Defence Professor that taught us about the three Unforgivable Curses and he taught me to throw off the Imperious Curse." James explained.
"Yeah, and he just happened to be a Death Eater that set you up to fall into Voldemort's trap and thus Voldemort used your blood to be reborn and killed a student." Charlie pointed out. "He then almost managed to torture you."
"Charlie." James warned before turning to Phoebe. "The point is right now Patience's problem is that she's lost any feeling of being able to make decisions for herself. Her time under the Imperious Curse stripped any self confidence away from her and that's dangerous at her age especially."
"Normally when that happens we do something to boost their self-confidence." Paige spoke up realising where James was going.
"With Patience it's a little more complicated because no matter how confident we get her she'll still know that she can't defend against the Imperious Curse and that it can make her do whatever the caster wants her to do." James explained. "That's the problem."
"So you want to teach her how to throw off the curse to rebuild her confidence?" Coup asked. "Will that work?"
"Some people are just born to fight it off, their bodies instinctively want to throw it off and fighting it depends on what the order is." Charlie explained. "If I cast it on Wyatt now for example I might be able to make him stand on one leg. Most definitely really since he has no experience in it but the problem is that it makes you want to do it so since you don't see any threat in standing on one leg you'd do it. But if I ordered you to orb that knife into Chris' heart and kill him you'd almost certainly start fighting it. You might be successful or you might not. Do you understand?"
"Yeah." Wyatt nodded. "And thanks for the graphic."
"Sorry." Charlie winced.
"Phoebe, Paige and Chris have already seen what it can do. You remember the children back when Chris and I jumped back into the future. Some people just can't fight it at all but with even a little magic you can do it." James told them.
"James is one of the best at throwing it off. When the 'Defence Teacher' cast it on him and tried to get him to jump onto a chair, James stumbled and knocked it over." Charlie explained. "Simply put even though there was no harm in the task, James instinctively refused to be controlled. Most probably because of his childhood."
"Thank you, Charlie." James cut in. "The point is that once Patience learns to overcome the Imperious Curse she'll most likely regain her confidence and the Imperious won't be a threat to her anymore."
"You're sure about this?" Coup asked. James nodded and Charlie sighed but nodded anyway.
"We'll let you do this if one of us is present." Phoebe told them both. "But in the end if you can't convince Patience to let you cast that curse on her then you won't be able to."
"Wyatt, can you go and get her?" James asked and Wyatt nodded and orbed away, heading for Phoebe and Coup's house.
They stood around for a while before Charlie fidgeted and pulled something out of his pocket. "Maybe you should take a look at this, James." Charlie told him and winced as James took the newspaper clipping from him.
James read it with a perfectly emotionless face and by the end of it Charlie was shifting nervously. James shrugged and passed it to Chris. "Doesn't that bother you?" Charlie asked.
"I can't help it if the Ministry and Dumbledore are idiots." James shrugged. "I'm over it and I don't want anything more to do with that world. I went back to try to help the children but they couldn't except that and this is just proof that Dumbledore and the Ministry would rather make an enemy of the person that freed them from Voldemort than to admit to the world that they were wrong and risk losing face."
"But they've declared you dead!" Charlie gasped out in horror. "They're giving my dick of a brother the Order of Merlin First Class for killing you!"
"What!?" Paige gasped.
"I told him to." James shrugged.
"What does that say?" Paige demanded even as Chris finished reading it with a sigh and passed it to Charlie to pass to Paige. Chris reached for James and James settled back into his chest and wrapped his own arms over Chris' as they came up to rest on his chest.
"It says that the Order of the Phoenix captured me when I was on the run and in an attempt to rescue his 'ally' Voldemort attacked Hogwarts." James shrugged. "In the fight Dumbledore defeated Voldemort and Ronald Weasley defeated me. It claims his power of 'light' completely obliterated me and that was why there is no body."
"Minerva stood up in front of the Order at the first meeting after this was published and told them that she didn't believe one word of it but in respect for your peace she would not spread the actual truth." Charlie told him. "She told Dumbledore that she no longer wished to have anything to do with him or the Wizarding World and resigned her position at Hogwarts. Hermione and I have evicted the Order from entering your home and have told our family that anyone willing to say that you were ever evil has no place near us."
"You didn't have to disown your family, Charlie." James said sadly.
"You've sacrificed almost everything in your life for us, James." Charlie sighed. "If my family can turn their backs on someone like you then I don't trust them to be around my children."
"Your mother?" James prompted.
"Was not impressed but she's too taken by Ron getting a medal that she hasn't realised that this means she'll never see her first grandchildren." Charlie told him with a shrug. "I'd rather have Hermione happy and free than continue a charade with my family. I just can't accept Ginny, Ron, Percy and my parents treating somebody like they have you. I don't see it being long before Bill and the twins go the same way."
"Thank you, Charlie." James told him.
"Doesn't it bother you that you saved them all and they're happy to make you out as the enemy and brand you a murderer?" Charlie asked.
"I didn't do it to save them." James told him. "I did it to save the people I love."
"You deserve something more." Charlie told him.
"I have everything I want." James told him. "I have the people around you now. I have people like you and Hermione that will know the truth and I have people like Minerva to tell me that the Wizards aren't completely beyond hope but I'll stay dead to them because that gives me peace. Dumbledore and the Ministry know that if I suddenly appear they'll lose all face and all credibility and they'll have an enemy that they can't handle. They'll keep me dead and they won't endanger any of my family because they are scared of me taking revenge in just that way."
"You figured this out before you even left Hogwarts didn't you?" Charlie asked.
"As soon as I killed Voldemort and turned and saw Dumbledore's eyes." James nodded. "I could see he was already planning something and I knew that plan was to overcome me, lock me up and claim the credit. But there was a flaw in that plan and in that instant I knew he saw it and I fixed the problem for it. He knew that if he did that none of you would have rested until you broke me free and he couldn't have that so I gave him a solution. And now I've outsmarted him because at any point I can turn around and completely destroy him and the Ministry and they know it."
"You have Dumbledore under your thumb?" Charlie said before bursting out laughing.
"I have to admit that if I wasn't half insane at the time I probably couldn't have come up with it." James shrugged just before orbs filled the room and Wyatt appeared with Patience on his arm even though she could have transported herself here.
"What's happening?" She asked instantly, pulling herself up at the sight of a Wizard and fell back behind her older cousin.
"Do you remember Charlie?" James asked her and she turned to him, seeing his determination to help her in his eyes. She nodded. "What I'm going to suggest is going to surprise you but I wouldn't suggest it if I didn't think you'd be able to do it. And definitely not if I thought it would hurt you."
"What is it?" She asked.
"Charlie can cast the Imperious Curse." James said bluntly. He wasn't talking to a child after all but a sixteen year old. He let her glare at him and just waited for her to calm down. "When I was fourteen a teacher of mine taught me how to throw of the curse and now I can do it with barely a thought. Charlie."
"You're sure?" Charlie winced. "I can't cast it on you..."
"Do it already, Charlie." James told him.
"Hermione is going to kill me." Charlie groaned before pulling his wand and aiming it at James and with a wince intoned the spell. "Imperio." James felt the spell spread through him. "Walk over here." Charlie ordered, fingering his wand.
James shook his head and rolled his shoulders and turned to look at Patience. "See, it's easy once you've practiced and that's what I want you to do."
"I couldn't..." She swallowed.
"It's practice." James told her. "He kept you under it for weeks, you didn't know it was there and you got used to the feeling. This'll teach you to recognise it and fight it."
"What if I can't?" She asked him.
"You can." Chris told her simple. "I know you, Patience, you're strong and determined. You'll do it because that's what you want and that's what you need."
Patience stared at her older cousin and then nodded. "We don't need everyone up here for this." James told them all before looking at Chris to tell him it was okay for him to leave. Chris nodded, touched the middle of his back and walked past Wyatt, grabbing his arm on the way. Paige followed them out leaving just Patience, her parents, Charlie and himself in the room.
"All I'm going to make you do is take a few steps." Charlie told her. "Nothing embarrassing and nothing harmful."
She nodded but Phoebe stepped in before Charlie could start. "If you don't want to continue at any time, all you have to do is tell them to stop." She told her daughter. "At any time."
Patience nodded at her mother. "I trust James." She said. "And I need to do this."
Coup nodded at James and he saw the trust in the Cupid's eyes. Now that his mind was healing he was able to lower his shields a little bit more each time he was around the family and he knew that Coup, as powerful as his desire reading ability was, could read his desire to help her.
James headed over to her and nodded. "Let's get started."
Two months later
James and Chris were walking together from a late lunch date back to James' office when Chris suddenly tensed up making James stop in his tracks. "What is it?" He asked.
"Matt sent out a pulse." Chris told him before looking at his watch. "He's with the others, on their way home from school. North Bay Park."
"My way." James said simply and pulled Chris into the alley and almost as soon as they were out of view he pulled Chris tighter and apparated them both across the city to the park near to the school that Matt, Anna, Felix, Jason, Luke, Pennie and Ashley went to.
They appeared with a crack that echoed through the trees he'd taken them to and quickly headed for the sound of explosions. James saw them first, the children were hiding behind trees and on the ground, defending themselves against a large group of demons. James sketched out a rune and powered it up as he and Chris crouched at the back of the fight, behind the children and far away from the demons. James threw his rune up into the air and set it off.
"Cover your eyes." James warned Chris who put an arm over his face even as James covered his own eyes. The rune exploded into a bright light and even in the middle of the afternoon it burned through the trees like a small sun, almost like a military flash bang. The children, with their backs to the light, wouldn't be effected as much as the demons attacking them. James leapt forwards even as the light was still fading and Chris followed him. James fell to the ground with his back to a tree between where Matt and Felix were hiding and motioned for them to stay where they were. "Matt, send a message for everyone to head over to us here. Within a few metres of me."
Matt nodded and closed his eyes and James could feel his mind stretching out to all of them. James focused on his work even as Chris distracted the demons, prolonging the fight until the others could arrive. James began drawing runes, almost too fast for anyone to follow and they circled around him and between the others, spreading out around them as they closed in. The first ring snaked back in and joined with the end and then sank into the ground in a circle with James in the middle leaving a light glow on the ground. James started the next chain and soon that stretched out and hung directly over the glow in the ground. Jason was the last to roll over to them and James activated his rune forming a weak shield around them.
James added to the shield, building it up until it wasn't just stopping the attacks but deflecting them back. Even as Paige, Phoebe, Piper and Wyatt arrived to help Chris fight off the demons James added teeth to his shield and even though the demons had long since surrounded the shield and were trying to bombard it James wasn't worried. He activated the teeth and the shield flashed with lightning that ran around it and then stabbed out at whatever was nearest to them. It fried three of the demons in seconds and then another one before the demons could start to run. Once they were distracted by the lightning Piper, Paige, Chris and Wyatt were easily able to pick them off and soon the last few were retreating.
Chris and Wyatt checked the area while James straightened up and the children followed him. James quickly 'deleted' the teeth from the shield since otherwise it would hit the Witches too. Finally James took the shield down and Piper, Phoebe and Paige checked their children, nieces and nephews to make sure they were all alright.
"That was awesome!" Felix told him with a grin before launching himself at James who laughed.
"Why can't you all stay out of trouble?" James asked. "Chris and I were having a nice walk together."
Chris laughed. "What did they want?" He asked his sister, Anna.
"What do they ever want?" She asked in return.
"To cause problems." Piper nodded. "Let's get home. Thank you, James."
"You know, I helped." Chris put on a sulk and James laughed and took his hand savouring the moment where he belonged in this family. He planned to stay here with them, protecting them and caring for them just as he'd protect Chris and love him.
The Dursley's, Hogwarts, Dumbledore, Voldemort, Azkaban, the Wizarding World; they were his past and these people around him now; they were his future. His New Life.