Chapter 72

A Peculiar happenstance

Potter Manor - James, Lily and Albus Dumbledore

"James, what is the problem?" asked Dumbledore, stepping through the flames and into Potter Manor. At least this summer he wouldn't need to convince the Wizengamot to allow James and Lily to remain at Hogwarts again. They were not happy with his requests two years in a row that was putting it lightly. He'd had to trade in favours and demand his own in turn to accomplish it. He hadn't minded really, since it made sure Nick was safe within the wards. Looking around, he frowned in confusion; Lily was sitting on the sofa practically catatonic. He hoped he hadn't been brought here because of an argument they were having. It wouldn't be the first time James and Lily had disagreed about something, or asked his advice. Unfortunately these days, he was too busy trying to accomplish everything he had to in a short space of time. It didn't help that he couldn't get in touch with Severus, Eileen had simply told him Severus was out. The same five hours later at dinner time, either she was lying to him or Severus was off somewhere - who knows where. He had to figure out what he'd done to the resurrection stone.

"There's something…peculiar happening to Lily's magic," said James, his eyebrows drawn together as he tried to put the pieces together himself without anyone's help. As an Auror he'd heard and seen a lot of things, but this baffled him…magic just didn't stop working for no reason. It hasn't stopped, he reminded himself sternly, it was just certain spells, and two had worked fine, one he saw the other Lily said she cast.

"Peculiar? Care to explain?" asked Dumbledore flummoxed as he stared between them, at least his mind had been taken off Severus and his disappearance.

"Lily's magic…well, there's no easy, professional or rational way to say this, its acting oddly. She can cast certain spells, such as the summoning spell. However when she tried to cast a first year spell…it didn't work or react in any way…the levitation charm just wouldn't work for her." said James, "I know its difficult for people coming out of Azkaban to build their magic, but I haven't heard of someone being unable to cast one thing and successfully cast another."

"I see what you mean by peculiar." said Albus thoughtfully, stroking his beard as he sat down, having to do so himself since neither Lily nor James had the decency to ask him to sit, as all good hosts did. "Lily?" he called after thinking about it for a few minutes.

"Lily?" he called again more firmly when the woman didn't respond.

"Yes?" croaked Lily, jumping out of her wits staring wildly at Dumbledore, her green eyes wide with pure unadulterated fear. Nobody could blame her, she'd been magical all her life, known about magic since she was eight years old and been performing it since she was eleven. The thought of losing her magic was too much to bear, actually any one person to bear. "Can the Ministry stop your magic?" she asked, desperate for it to be them, and not something she'd never figure out.

"No, magical bindings are illegal," said Albus soothingly, trying to calm the terrified witch down, he totally understood why she was so scared.

"Magical bindings? Could that be what's happened to me?" asked Lily wide eyed.

"No, it removes all your magic, it doesn't just limit it, certainly not just to certain spells." replied Albus, of that much he was positive. He didn't understand it; he couldn't tell Lily what had happened. Although something was niggling at him, as if something familiar about it had happened before…but when? He couldn't remember it fully; it must have been a very long time. Perhaps asking around might prove informative, Merlin why had this happened now? He had so much already on his plate.

"Failed partial binding?" asked Lily, just basically hoping for a quick fix.

"I am sorry, Lily, I cannot give you an answer to what you seek." admitted Albus, his blue eyes puzzled. "I shall do my best to find out what is going on."

"Thank you," whispered Lily, tears running down her face, building up at her chin to plop on her knees. This was supposed to be the happiest day of her life! She was free, out of Azkaban, seeing her family again but it was turning out to be anything but. She couldn't fully use her magic, she hadn't seen her son yet, and to top it off James was cold and distant. When the Floo activated, Lily stared at the ground, hastily wiping away her tears, trying to appear composed and normal, easier said than done.

Sirius and Remus stepped into Potter Manor, their faces filled with awkwardness when they sensed the tension built up in the room. Glancing at one another knowingly, they'd been ready for it, although they hadn't expected Dumbledore to be there so soon.

"Is everything alright?" asked Sirius, ever the inquisitive one.

"Fine," said Lily tersely.

"Alright," said Sirius awkwardly, part of him just wanted to go back through the Floo and continue searching for the Horcruxes. It had always been awkward between them, although the past year had been less awkward. It had almost been like having the old James back, the one from his school days. Now they were back to square one, or what felt like it anyway.

"Nick will be down in a minute, why don't we all settle down have an early lunch?" suggested James, feeling the tenseness as well.

"That would be most welcoming." said Albus inviting himself to stay. "Sirius you are on speaking terms with Harry are you not?" knowing from reading the Practical Potioneer that it was true, there had been pictures of every single one of Sirius' Animagus forms.

"Yes," said Sirius, looking at Dumbledore as if he was nuts, he knew that good and well, he'd remained in Prince Manor when he'd left after that damn Horcrux overload of information. It wasn't Dumbledore who was inspiring them to hunt them down and destroy them, no; it was a seventeen year old boy. One who was hopefully enjoying a luxury holiday.

"You don't perchance know where Severus is?" asked Dumbledore, sounding deeply concerned. "I haven't been able to get in touch with him all day. I hope the Death Eaters haven't captured him, it's bad enough they have Kingsley without adding another casualty."

Sirius and Remus looked at each other, silently communicated; did they tell Dumbledore or keep quiet? What could it hurt really? Yet they didn't want to betray Harry's trust, so they decided to keep quiet. He obviously wanted Severus for a reason, and they didn't want Harry's holiday interrupted. The damn war, the Horcruxes, the manipulation and questions could bloody well wait a fortnight.

"Have you heard anything further about him?" asked Remus suitably distracting the wizard. Kingsley was a very good friend to both Sirius and James. They put their lives in each others hands when they are called out, or even just fighting. It creates a bond, one that normal people couldn't understand. Brother in arms, trusting each other to have their back, it would last even after they left the Auror corps. You never stopped being an Auror, there was no such thing as an Ex- Auror, but a retired one you could be.

"I have not, I'm beginning to think Severus is right, perhaps the Imperious curse is too strong." said Albus, hating to admit he was wrong, which seemed to be happening more often these days. They were useless until Voldemort made a move, they didn't know where his hideout was. He was no longer using the one in Little Hangleton, not that he was surprised it had just been a temporary move while he took everyone by surprise. He'd hoped Shacklebolt would be able to shake it off, get help, but no, he wasn't so lucky. "I have three Order members in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade at all times. I will double the amount when the students go to Hogsmeade."

"Shouldn't you stop them going?" asked Remus frowning in concern. The students would be sitting ducks if anything were to happen. The knowledge they had should be used, to prevent loss of life no matter how long it took for Him to attack.

"Everything will work out for the best," said Albus soothingly.

Remus was about to open his mouth to protest, which he knew to be a futile exercise. Albus was a man who never changed his mind, he did what he thought was best and nothing could convince him otherwise. However, they were all distracted by Nick coming into the room; he had changed a lot in the past year. While Nick had always been confident, Remus had realized quite quickly, that it was not confidence but a feeling of smugness and overconfidence in his abilities. The past few years had wiped that out of him, especially when his magical core split. Now it was more of a quiet confidence, being the focus of one on one tutoring seemed to be working well for Nick. He was certainly learning magic at a much brisker pace, perhaps because he had nothing around him to distract him? Or people fawning over him who knew?

"Nick," breathed Lily, gazing at her son in awe, he'd gotten so tall and without his school uniform on he seemed so much more mature and older. Standing up, she walked over to him and threw her arms around him, trembling in relief she at least still had her kids. They would always love her, and it was just the matter of helping James remember why he'd fallen in love with her in the first place. A frown made itself apparent when her son didn't respond to the hug; he merely stood there stiffly his gaze looking over her shoulder as if he didn't want her there. Well he was a young man; he wouldn't want hugs from his mum, no matter how long she'd been away, typical boys. "Oh I've missed you. You've gotten so big!"

James watched the reunion just as tense as his son; he would love to have welcomed Lily with open arms. Unfortunately everything was different now, and he had noticed she had yet to ask about Roxy, not once had their daughter been mentioned by her mother. Why wasn't the therapy helping her? To him she seemed to be in a sea of denial. He couldn't enquire about it, husband or not there was a lot of confidentiality in mind healers they took it very seriously. Did he sit her down and let her know how the kids felt? Or did he leave her to find out herself and talk to her when she is ready to acknowledge it? Maybe he should take a few sessions with a mind healer, they had to each year to continue being an Auror to make sure they were 'sound of mind'. Although this wasn't about being an Auror, this was about being a father; he'd already lost one son he didn't want to lose his other kids.

"This is perfect, the House Elf is really good at cooking!" said Sirius, as he dug into the food.

"I agree, perfectly succulent!" beamed Dumbledore, as if he didn't have a worry in the world. Which of course wasn't true, he worried about a lot of things, none of which was an easy fix. He had noticed Sirius hadn't been able to answer him about Severus, but considering Severus and Sirius didn't get on it wasn't a real surprise. He was also worried about what Voldemort was doing to his Order member, Shacklebolt knew a lot of information it was a daunting thing indeed. He had no idea where the Dark Wizard's hideout was, so there was no way to save him. He'd asked Dung to ask around, but so far no luck whatsoever.

"Her name is Tish," commented James, and he made sure to compliment her now and again. What better way to win their loyalties than being kind to them? Its how his parents had been with the House Elves when they were alive, before he had done a stupid thing and gotten rid of them because Lily didn't approve. Thankfully though they'd all gone to Hogwarts for sanctuary and Albus had taken them on.

"Still good," said Sirius, smiling in sympathy to his godson who sat next to him and Remus and across from his father. Nick had been quieter since he began learning but not to this extent, you could see he was troubled, mostly around the eyes.

Nick grimaced at Sirius as he begin to dig into his own 'brunch' since he always slept through breakfast, his first meal of the day was always bigger than he would have usually eaten at say Hogwarts. The creamy chicken and mushroom pie was fantastic, since Tish had come all the meals were just amazing. He had a lot of pies though, but he didn't mind because they were filling and kept any hunger at bay until seven o'clock when he stopped for dinner.

"How are you feeling my boy?" asked Albus, trying to cut the tense silence.

"Fine," said Nick, he'd never really forgiven the headmaster for trying to force him back into training before he was ready. What couldn't be denied though was the fact he was learning things, he was good at that if nothing else. He'd always looked up to Dumbledore, thinking to be like him when he grew up. This wasn't the case anymore; he was finally content with being just Nick for now. He was terrified of letting everyone down, especially his dad. Growing up it had been fun, being the Boy Who Lived, the attention and the adoration. He hadn't once thought about the consequences of it, and why should he have done? Nobody had told him otherwise. He'd used it to get his own way, quite happy about it. Now though the burden on his shoulders was intense, it had overwhelmed him when they tried to train him as well as him trying to keep up with his normal workload at school. With his dad's support it was easier to deal with, he just hoped it remained that way.

"Good, good." said Albus, he'd tried to raise Nick's spirits about telling him about his own adventures over the past year but it seemed to draw Nick away and into his own little world. Everything he did lately was wrong on some level, and it was beginning to irritate him. Nobody was looking up to him like they had done in the past, even the Order if it was to be believed. They were taking the war into their own hands, he kept trying to think where he'd gone wrong but he wasn't coming up with anything concrete that made sense.

"Can I come and see your training today, Nick?" asked Lily hopefully; she just wanted to get back to normal, what was more normal than spending time with her son. She was hoping that once things got back on track with her kids, James would remember why he loved her.

"I'm not training today," stated Nick firmly.

"Nick?" questioned Albus, "Are you unwell?"

"No, I just don't want to train today, I've not had a day off since we started." said Nick.

"Are you feeling any strain on your magic?" asked James, his brown eyes gazing into the mirror image of his own. He never wanted that to happen again, the thought of his son becoming a squib was as horrifying as the first time he'd heard about it. So he always made sure that he never pushed Nick too far and always made sure he didn't want too much too soon.

"No, honestly I'm fine." said Nick, "I just want a break, and I'll start again tomorrow."

"Nick your training is extremely important, I know some people have greatness thrust upon them, all we can do is do the best we can." said Albus.

"I'll begin again tomorrow." snapped Nick.

"Nicolas," said Albus exasperated.

"Don't call me that," groused Nick, it wasn't even his full name; on his birth certificate it was Nick Sirius Potter not Nicolas Sirius Potter. "I want a day to myself today."

"Alright, I'll take you out shopping," said James in agreement with his son.

"Very well, it seems I am being out voted, so I bid you adieu." said Albus standing up his blue eyes glimmering with disappointment. He was giving up his day, to help and train him and it was just being thrown back in his face. When had everyone stopped doing what he thought best?

"Albus! There's no need to leave." said Lily her green eyes beseeching Albus' own; she didn't feel nearly as awkward with him there. However when he wasn't there she felt as if she was intruding in on her own family, in her own home it was terrible.

"It's alright my dear, I have a lot to do and not enough time to do it, I will see you tomorrow Nick. In future please let me know when I won't be needed. Do not worry Lily, I shall do all I can to figure out what is going on." said Albus formally, before he disappeared through the Floo feeling very let down indeed.

The rest of the meal was in silence, but it wasn't a completely overwrought one.

Potter Manor - James, Sirius and Remus - The Hall Way

"What's wrong with Lily?" asked Remus, watching her from the doorjamb, as James got ready to go out with Nick. She was sleeping on the couch; she wasn't able to do much without being physically exerted. All she had done was walk around the manor for a few minutes before conking out. Having been in Azkaban, stuck in a tiny cell unable to do any exercise well it was to be expected.

"She's tired, she'll probably be like that for a while." said James quietly, as he clipped on his cloak waiting on Nick retrieving his own cloak and money pouch.

"No I mean with Albus, what is he looking for?" asked Remus giving James a pointed look.

"Oh that," said James, "Her magic is acting out, she got up this morning and was fine casting a spell to shrink her jeans and summon things, but the moment she tried to levitate something it well…wouldn't. It's obviously not the power behind the spell since we learn the levitation spell in first year, the Accio charm is a fourth year spell!"

"That is highly irregular," said Remus frowning.

"It is," agreed Sirius thoughtfully, as he stared at Lily. Now if anyone had come up to him say seventeen years ago and told him the family would be in bits he would have laughed at them. Lily and James' love had been whole, pure and it wasn't a sight you saw very often. Despite the fact they hadn't gotten on for six years at Hogwarts, they acted as if they'd been together forever. He would never have imagined the Potter family would have been reduced to this.

"Maybe you should make an appointment with St. Mungo's they might have a better understanding of it," stated Remus. It was true, St. Mungo's had records and journals dating back before the birth of Merlin, written in very old Latin but translated to modern language with precision and care.

"I think I will, she has an appointment soon anyway," said James nodding thoughtfully, he hadn't even thought of that if he was honest. It was a good idea, the more people that were aware of the problem the quicker a solution would be found.

"Why?" asked Sirius, confused. "To help her with her exercises so she can get fit again?"

"No, to see her mind healer, she has to go for the entire duration of her probation, so that's four years." said James.

"You should write to them and make an appointment, you know how busy they are these days." said Remus, they had first hand experience during the battle of the old Ministry. They'd been rushed off their feet; the least they deserved was the courteous of James not just showing up demanding an appointment on the day.

"I think I will," said James conceding the point.

"What else does she need to do during her probation?" asked Remus, he wasn't an Auror he didn't know the exact specifics.

"Staying in the same place for four years, that's always one of the important terms," said Sirius, knowing because he was an Auror and knew about it though his work. Not all people were evil, some were just misguided, ending up with a lapse of judgement, like when they attack or hex Muggles for some reason. He'd heard everything over the years, nothing surprised him.

"But is she allowed outside?" asked Remus.

"Yes, but she's always got to be back in the manor before seven o'clock it's her curfew. It's connected to her wand, so they will know if she breaks it." explained James, Remus knew a lot of information but sometimes it surprised him when he found himself explaining things to him. Remus was by far the smartest and bookish of their group, in fact if anyone could figure out what was wrong with Lily he'd bet it was his best friend. The wand is one thing no sane wizard would ever leave home without, or even just putting aside for a moment. A wandless wizard was a vulnerable wizard, and a vulnerable wizard was indeed a dead one.

"I see," said Remus it was better than being trapped in a manor for four years. She had gotten off extremely lightly; Lily had used an Unforgivable Curse for Merlin's sake. If she had been anyone else, he knew deep down she would still be in Azkaban perhaps for a further fourteen years or for life.

"Do you guys want to come?" asked James as he heard Nick bounding down the stairs; this had been a good idea. His son needed to let his hair down from time to time, as important as it was to train, not everyone gave up their life every moment to fight or learn. Nick despite how vital he was to the war effort, shouldn't be forced to give up all his time either.

"Only for five minutes, I need to purchase a book, we have something we need to do." said Remus. He didn't want to let Harry down, he was so adamant they could do this, and he wanted him to be right. It might even help his relationship with Harry in the long run. He didn't blame anyone for what happened, he'd allowed it to go on, and he had ignored Harry like the rest of them. So he had given Harry his space, but since Sirius was getting another chance, he hoped it was on his cards too.

"What do you need to do?" asked James curiously just as Sirius spoke, causing him to grin wryly.

"You and your books," sighed Sirius in mock exasperation. Well not completely mocked, he hated reading, even when it was for his Auror training. He was just so impatient, he wanted to be on his feet all the time, and doing something reading was boring in his opinion. He didn't understand how Remus had ended up in Gryffindor to this very day; he was Ravenclaw to his very core.

"I'm ready," said Nick making his appearance.

"Let's go!" said James completely forgetting what he'd asked Remus just five seconds earlier, excited about spending more quality time with his son. Holding onto his son, he Apparated them both to Hogsmeade which was rather lively. Although there was a notable age gap in the children there, from the ages eleven to seventeen was absent obviously at school.

Sirius & Remus - Tombs and scrolls - Hogsmeade

"So what are you looking for?" asked Sirius, following his partner into the bookstore, watching him wandering around the store intriguingly.

"The new defence book that came out last month," said Remus, unfortunately it wasn't the newest one, so it wasn't out on full display in front of the shop anymore.

"Oh," was all the dog Animagus had to say, already bored again. "Do you think we will find it in the house?"

"I don't know," Remus replied shrugging his shoulders, knowing exactly what Sirius was talking about without him having to say anything else. "I hope so, at the very least but there was nothing in his room. I mean it's where he would have put it surely?"

"Not necessarily, if someone came looking for it…it would have been the first place they looked." said Sirius, it's what the Auror's would have done, checked within their possessions, sometimes in plain sight wasn't the way to go about it.

"For all we know it could be in that box already," added Remus, his voice extremely hopeful.

"True," mused Sirius, he doubted it, all that shit had been in his house since he was a young boy, there wasn't a piece in that box he couldn't remember growing up, he was sure of it.

"Found it," said Remus swiping it off the shelves, "Just go home, I'll only be a few minutes." he added rolling his eyes at Sirius, who was leaning against the shelve looking for all the world, extremely bored.

"I'm here now, I might as well wait," replied Sirius shrugging, plus something was telling him to stay, he didn't know why.

"Three galleons please," the assistant bookshop keeper said calmly after ringing it up on the till.

Remus handed them over calmly, accepting the book which had been covered with brown paper and string. Shrinking it he put it in his pocket just as people began shrieking outside and loud blasts soon followed it. Sirius had his wand in hand immediately, crouching down ready for battle his training instincts coming forth without him having to think. Remus removed his wand as he calmly but worriedly joined his partner, as they slowly but alertly made their way to the entrance of the store. One would think it would be safe to remain behind, but it wasn't true, shops were targeted by the 'Fiendfyre' spell. The Death Eaters didn't appreciate anything, the only shop to never be targeted of such a spell was the Potions shop, and all shops down in Knockturn Alley.

"Ready?" whispered Sirius, his hand outstretched just millimetres from the handle.

"Go," said Remus, casting a shielding charm just in case any spells came their way.

Sirius nodded before the door was yanked open, and they faced the chaos, one wizard immediately stood out to them. It seemed Kingsley Shacklebolt had joined the fray, most unwillingly, if the continued struggle he put up. The state of him was truly horrific, his face was bloody and bruised, his clothes ripped and torn, and everyone should be able to see he wasn't doing this on his own free will. He looked ready to pass out, but under the Imperious curse, it didn't matter what your physical condition was like. You could be completely beaten and bloody and still jump through hoops.

"I'll get Kingsley, you get James and Nick!" said Remus.

"No, we stick together." said Sirius gravely, he wasn't going to risk Remus' life, it had almost happened during the attack on the Ministry - never again. He had only just gotten there in the nick of time to prevent anything to happen to him.

"I'll be fine," said Remus as both of them ducked an oncoming spell.

"I mean it, Remus!" snapped Sirius, grabbing hold of him tightly as he fired of spells in the direction of the Death Eaters. "First we get Shacklebolt then we go get James and Nick, if they are still here."

"Alright," said Remus quietly, trying to calm Sirius down, if he got worried he would be more likely to make mistakes.

Sirius let go of his hold, but kept right next to him, he didn't want what happened to the Longbottom's to happen to Remus. He wouldn't be able to live with himself, no he would keep Remus safe, even if it was at the expense of his own sanity so be it. James could take care of Nick and Himself, he was a formidable opponent, plus the Order would be here in a few seconds he'd bet.

Well will everyone survive or will Harry and Severus come back to grim news that a few occupants of Hogsmeade had died? who will be included in the list? will Kingsely survive his injuries and be able to live with himself after what he does? will we show what kind of horror the imperious curse can inflict even on the strongest of minds? even an auror? if he survives will he remain in the order? or will he end up confined to St. Mungo's? will one of Harry's potions be able to help him? or will one be created specially for the victims to help make the bad memories feel like a dream? there but when you think about them they fade away from your thoughts preventing you from grabbing onto them? I know the Potters have been in the story a lot lately but its gotta happen after all you did want to see them in it again :) will next chapter just focus on Harry and Severus with a small bit about the results of the battle or would you like to see it? will Nick actually get one over Voldemort? with his dad beside him? or will Nick still slightly over confident end up hurt again? or will it be James this time? and have Dumbledore try to butt in again but James sticking to his guns and preventing it? going so far as to say he'd throw Lily out if she tried anything like it again? will there be any redemption for Lily? or Remus (who Harry barely tolerates) R&R PLEASE