NOTE: THIS STORY CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS FROM THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. It takes place after the events of the 7th book, and therefore if you have not read it and don't want it spoiled, I would recommend you refrain from reading it at this point! But come back when you're done!
Stuff: this is slightly AU, but altogether I didn't really mess with canon much, aside from the addition of a few scenes that were never mentioned and two OCs. Oh, and I don't own Harry Potter blah blah blah. Obviously. This story takes place, for the most part, during two different time periods. The first is sometime in late September/ early October of 2008, before the epilogue occurs and 11 years after the fall of Voldemort. Harry's two sons, James and Albus, have already been born, and are 4 and 3 respectively. Ginny is a little over 7 months pregnant with Lily. The second is the fall/winter of 1995, spring of 1996, before the Battle at the Department of Mysteries in Book 5.
Acknowledgements: I dedicate this fiction to Lauryn, who inspired me to write this fan fiction. I hope it doesn't disappoint!
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Early September 2008
She had his laugh.
It was the sound of her laugh that made Harry turn, almost tripping as his foot caught on the corner of the doorway. Harry twisted his body forwards and bolted into the hallways to follow, shaking off the hopeful students who'd waited after the lecture to speak to him. The laugh seemed to be absorbed by the school as it faded, disappearing into the crevices of the hall and tapering off as he pushed aside a group of terrified first years that had been scurrying past. He stopped in the middle of a group of indignant Ravenclaw girls, listening intently for the sound again, caught between a fear he'd imagined it and a stronger fear he hadn't. After a minute of silence that left Harry breathless, it came again. Loud and unmistakable, it seemed to seep back from the corners of the room and surround him- a cross between a laugh and a bark, both human and canine at the same time. Even though this version was younger and more feminine than he had ever heard before, it was so clearly his laugh that it made his blood race.
Suddenly, his eyes lighted on the source, and he felt himself paling.
She was young, most likely a second year, but as she pressed her lean body against the wall and threw back her head to laugh, she looked older through her grace. Though the corner in which she was pressed was full of girls her age, she was clearly at the center of them. The charisma she possessed was palpable.
Filled with a sudden need to see the girl from close up, he pushed through a few Slytherin boys, all of whom scowled at him as he passed, approaching her gaggle. Harry could not explain it but he had to speak to her, to see her up close, to know more about her. He coughed expectantly when he reached them, and her friends jumped in surprise around her. The girl, however, seemed unfazed by his sudden entry to the group and straightened carefully, shaking her long black hair away from the crimson-framed lion on her robes and staring at him with curiosity. His stomach turned as she met his green eyes with her bright gray ones; they were the exact same color he was sure they would be. He couldn't help himself from openly examining her, this miniature that stood before him. Her nose, her ears, her eyebrows, her teeth, her straight, waist length jet black hair- if it weren't for her small, lopsided mouth and the fact she was a twelve year old girl, he would have been sure he was seeing a ghost.
She was in every way the picture of Sirius.
"Do you need something, Mr. Potter?" She said, curiosity still painted all over her face. It was only then he realized he'd been staring without speaking for quite some time.
"Oh, well, not really. I was just wondering where I could find Professor Longbottom." He lied, staring back. "Do you know where I could find him, Ms...?"
"Weller." she supplied. "Charlie Weller."
"Your first name is Charlie?" He asked, unable to stop himself. "Isn't that a boy's name?"
"Her first name is Charlotte!" shouted one of her companions, giggling. Her calm demeanor rattled with the mention of her name, and she yanked a strand of hair roughly away from her face.
"Please call me Charlie- I hate Charlotte." She scowled at her friend, who only giggled more. "Or you can just call me by my last name, like a teacher, I don't mind- just not Charlotte."
He laughed at the pained expression on her face. "Charlie then. Can you help me find Professor Longbottom? I'm afraid I checked his office and he wasn't there."
She nodded. "I think he's in one of the spare classrooms giving a detention, I can help you find him if you'd like."
He really hadn't planned on seeing Neville- in fact he'd just said goodbye to him- but he could not resist the urge to speak alone to the girl. There were so many things he wanted to ask her. He was desperate to explain this connection to his long-dead Godfather. Why did this girl look so much like him?
Charlie waved a goodbye to her friends and tossed her bag onto her shoulder, pulling her hair away from the strap as she walked with a smile to Harry.
"I think he's this way." She said, gesturing toward the direction of the opposite hallway. "I saw him heading there with one of the Hufflepuff boys who tried to jinx Mara Flethcher in Herbology this morning."
Harry nodded, not really listening. He was drinking in the slightly animated way she talked, reminding Harry of the day he had first met Sirius, the excitement that had tinged his wasted face when Harry had croaked he'd wanted to live with him.
"Mr. Potter? Mr. Potter?" She looked at him warily, and he'd realized he'd been going the wrong way, not following her.
"Oh I'm sorry,
it's been a long morning." Harry said cheerfully. "I've been
giving lectures to the Defense Against the Dark Arts classes, you
know. What did you think of it?"
She grinned roguishly. "Is it true? All those things about you defeated The Dark Lord, and using all those spells and protecting Hogwarts?"
He nodded. "It did happen once, I promise. Didn't believe your parents when they told you?"
"My mother never told me about it," she said, shaking her head. "Well, she didn't really know about it. She's a muggle, you know."
"And your father?"
She ran a hand through her hair, looking away from Harry. "I don't remember him. Mum said he died when I was young. I don't know if he was a wizard, she doesn't really like talking about it."
"I'm sorry to hear that." He said quietly. "It's not easy growing up without a dad."
"At least I've got my mum." She replied, pulling at her hair again. "She's letting me go to Hogwarts, after all."
"So you like Hogwarts?" Harry said, changing the subject abruptly. He felt sorry for bringing the subject up.
"I love Hogwarts," She told him seriously, focusing on him suddenly, the depth of her eyes catching him off guard for a moment. "And I want to use my gifts for the good of everybody. I want to be like you, Mr. Potter. I want to grow up and fight the dark wizards of the world."
He smiled and they stopped suddenly in front of a nearly empty classroom containing two students and a stern looking Neville. "Well here he is, Mr. Potter. It was nice speaking to you."
"Goodbye Charlie, take care." He called after her retreating figure. Harry wanted to follow her back to her friends, to watch her charm them, but Neville was letting the boys out of the detention and heading toward Harry.
"Harry!" He said, clapping him on the back. "I thought you'd gone already by now. Something wrong? Ginny need something from my stores?"
"No, Neville, nothing wrong, and Ginny's fine, thanks." He said, smiling at his friend's concern. "Just met an interesting student is all, and wanted to talk to her a little."
"Oh, really? What student?"
"Charlotte Weller. You know her?" Harry asked.
"Charlie! She's a Gryffindor second year, and a pistol if you ask anyone in the place." He said affectionately, accidentally knocking over a stack of paper as he leaned on the desk behind him. "Reminds me of you sometimes, with the mouth on her, or Hermione with the brains she's got- probably a muggle-born, too, just like Hermione. She's really something at every subject, but Katie Bell tells me the work she does in Defense Against the Dark Arts is really something."
"D'you know what her mum is like?" Harry asked. "Where does she live?"
"Yeah, her mum's name is Tawny Weller," Neville said as he leaned to pick up the papers. "I was the one who went to tell her about Charlie being a witch and all, you know that policy we have about talking to the parents of muggle-borns instead of just sending an owl. Lessens the shock. Tawny seemed all right with it though. Couldn't tell if she had thought Charlie was a witch of if she just wasn't that excitable. A real laid back lady. Couldn't be less like Charlie if she was trying."
"She told me she didn't know her father." Harry said frowning. "Said he died."
Neville shook his head. "He might have, but Tawny wouldn't know. The bloke didn't marry her. He stepped out around the time he found out Tawny was going to have a baby. Gentlemanly of him, right?"
"That type is always lurking somewhere," said Harry, his insides churning again. He felt nervous. "Real shame. Think you could give me the address? I'd like to talk to her."
Neville wrote something on a piece of paper and turned to hand it to Harry, jokingly pulling it away at the last minute. "Ginny'll kill me if I happen to be giving you the means to find a mistress," He chastised. "So you better have a good reason for needing this."
Harry laughed hollowly and pulled the piece of paper from Neville's hands, setting off toward the entrance to the school.
- - - -
That night, after James and Albus had been put to bed, he relayed the story to Ginny as they'd sat in bed while she drank tea and read The Prophet. She'd peeked up from her newspaper now and then to give him her full attention, but said nothing when he'd finished.
"Well?" He said, expectantly, staring at her. "What do you make of it?"
"I have no idea what to make of it Harry." She said carefully, putting her paper and tea cup on the bedside table. "Couldn't it be just a coincidence? Maybe the father was related to the Black family, the blood line is pretty large."
Harry sighed, laying on the bed and placing his hands on her belly, which was now obscenely large. "I don't know Gin, I thought that too, but…" He shook his head. "You have to see the girl, she's his replica. She even had the same barking laugh. What are the odds of a girl like that?"
"But even if…" she stopped. "I just don't think he would have. The mother was a muggle, Harry." Ginny said, brushing the hair from his eyes. "He couldn't have known her, Sirius wasn't even allowed to leave Grimmauld Place back then, remember?"
Harry was silent for a moment. "But what if he had?"
Ginny said nothing for a long time as she lowered herself in the bed. She pulled Harry down under the covers with her and touched his face gently. "Do you think there's a chance he did?"
Harry took her hand in his, brushing it against his lips. "I'm not sure. Why would he disobey Dumbledore? And the mother… she was a muggle, after all."
"It was probably just a coincidence, Harry." She said softly, and Harry could tell she was falling asleep. "Don't think too much about it."
Harry tried to take stock in what she was saying as he pressed himself against her, but every time he tried to fall asleep he heard it again- that barking laugh, light and feminine, but Sirius' all the same.