Chapter One: Family Life
Harry Potter walked in the door of his home, aptly named Marauder Mansion one evening, exhausted. He was one of the Ministry of Magic's best Unspeakables although to most Ministry employees he was known simply as Hunter. Only his team in the Unspeakables, and his bosses knew his true identity. His family, consisting of his wife, Hermione, and his three children, Daniel, Sirius and Lily, knew nothing about his job beyond that it was at the Ministry. Harry sometimes suspected that Hermione knew more than she was letting on but if she did she hadn't confronted him about it.
"DAD!!" screamed three voices and Harry turned round, smiling widely as his three children all assaulted him at once. The twenty-six-year old went down under a merciless attack by his four-year-old twin sons and two-year old daughter.
"Mercy, mercy," he finally called, and the kids crawled off him, still giggling. Harry sat up and mock-glared at them. "So what did you three terrors get up to today before you attacked me," he enquired, wandlessly healing the minor scrapes he'd got from his collision with the floor.
"Lots Daddy," Lily said, grinning at him.
Harry raised his eyebrows. "Lots huh. What did you do and why are you all green?"
"We painted the walls Dad," Sirius said proudly. Daniel chimed in with "Yes, we painted them bright green. It's the same color as your eyes."
Harry grinned. "Green you say. Which room did you paint green?"
"Your study. We also painted Mum. We tried to paint Hedwig too but she scratched us," Sirius complained, showing a large scratch on his arm.
Harry examined it before tapping his son's arm gently with his wand and healing it. "Hmm. Well, next time you're painting, remember that owls don't like paint. Hedwig is supposed to be white. Now, where's your mother?"
Lily giggled. "We tied her up Daddy."
"Tied her up where and how did you do that?" Harry asked, having to fight to keep from laughing. He got to his feet and allowed himself to be pulled to the sitting room where he discovered Hermione tied to the couch with lots and lots of duct tape. He smirked, very nearly losing the battle against hilarity as he saw that Hermione was bright green in addition to being tied up. "I see. Kids, how did you do this and why can't your mother free herself?" He silently Vanished the duct tape surrounding Hermione's mouth so she could speak as well. Fortunately the children hadn't duct taped her nose so she had been able to breathe.
Hermione interrupted him. She glared at her husband and fumed, "Because your little Marauders kicked my wand out of reach and you know my wandless magic skills aren't as good as yours."
Harry now laughed outright. "What about silent magic? As I recall, you were far better at that than I was at school. It was only after I started my job that I got really good at it."
Hermione hissed at him, sounding rather like Crookshanks. "Silent magic only works when you've got your wand in your hand as you know very well Harry Potter! After they did this they decided to paint your study. I hear it's a very fetching shade of green."
Harry chuckled. "Not to mention you my dear," he said, before silently Vanishing the rest of the duct tape bonds. He and Hermione walked towards the study to see the extent of the damage. "Now that you're free, how has your day been? And why are our children suddenly only mine?"
Hermione glared at him once more before allowing the humor of the situation to present itself and she chuckled ruefully. "It's been fine. I don't know about the state of your study though. They went in there with cans of green paint and came out covered in it. I shudder to think of the state of the room. As for the kids, they are yours whenever they've been up to mischief. It's a Potter family trait I swear."
Harry shrugged. "I was planning on redecorating anyway. They just saved me the job of…." He stared as they reached the door of his study. Everything was green. The walls were green. His desk was green. The papers he'd left on his desk were green. The windows and curtains were green. He groaned, sinking down to the green carpet and then began to laugh.
"Do you like it Dad?" Daniel asked. Harry and Hermione looked round to see their children staring anxiously at their father. Harry held out an arm and all three crowded into his arms. "Yes I like it. But next time, could you please allow your mother to help. I like the walls, the carpet and," he looked up as a drip of paint landed on his nose, "the ceiling, but she could help you with the tricky spots. Now, how about I get all this dry and return a few of these things to their previous color."
With a few waves of his wand the desk, papers, windows and curtains were free of paint. The ceiling received the same treatment, returning to its previous cream color. The walls were left alone as Harry actually did like the emerald green color. They just got a super strength drying charm fired at them. The carpet was changed to a deep gold, with a green fringe round the outside. When he was finished he turned round and said, "Well, how do you like it?"
After approval was given by all the family, Harry found himself dragged to the sitting room. He was then pushed down into his favorite armchair by the fire and the three kids jumped onto his lap. Harry did some discreet rearranging of limbs when Lily accidentally stuck her foot in a sensitive area, and rescued his neck from the stranglehold the twins had on it.
"There, now. Have you had dinner yet?" he enquired. Enthusiastic nodding greeted this question and Harry smiled. "Good. Was it up to standard?"
"Yes Harry. You know Dobby and Winky wouldn't cook substandard stuff for our kids," Hermione commented, examining her now green free hands. She'd cast a cleaning charm on herself and the children as soon as she'd got her wand back. Harry just chuckled at her comment.
"True" he murmured in reply, enjoying simply holding his children. All three were precious to him, along with Hermione. He'd do anything short of becoming like the very much deceased Voldemort to keep them safe.
An hour later it was the kids' bedtime and predictably, they didn't want to go. Finally Harry got tired of the debate. "You three are going to bed whether you feel tired or not."
Daniel glared at him. "Why? We want to stay up with you and Mum!" This was punctuated by a long yawn.
Harry knelt down so he was at eye level with them all and replied, "Because despite your wishes, you are tired. That yawn should have told you that. Go up to bed, and in the morning we can play a game."
"OK Dad. Can we play lion hunt again?" Sirius mumbled.
Harry smiled gently and replied, "Of course. Now, all of you, upstairs and in bed. Don't forget your teeth."
Hermione followed them upstairs to supervise the teeth brushing and then tucked them in as Harry relaxed downstairs. Dobby popped in with dinner for both him and Hermione which he accepted gratefully, tucking in rapidly as his stomach protested its lack of food.
"So how was your day Hunter?" Hermione asked calmly as she sat down opposite him. Harry waved his fork around as he answered "Fine" before her words penetrated his brain fully. The fork clattered onto the plate as he stared at his wife.
"You know?" he asked.
Hermione gave him a slightly exasperated look. "Yes love I know. I've known for a while now." She gave Harry a slightly hurt look. "Honestly Harry I realize the necessity of keeping it from our children, but does that secrecy clause thing they had you sign really prevent you from telling your wife? I am trained in Occlumency you know."
Harry sighed. "I know you are Mione, but I didn't want you worrying every time I went out on a mission. You know there are still some Death Eaters out there and my team and I are at the forefront of the search for them. Most of them refuse to come quietly, hence the fights I've sometimes been in."
Hermione sighed too and leaned forward to hug him. "I know Harry but I was at your side during the fight with Voldemort. I'm not exactly going to break if you tell me you're off on a dangerous mission. I understand the danger element to it and I think the job is suited to you. Far better than Quidditch at any rate."
"Still annoyed about the training brooms I got Dan and Siri last Christmas?" Harry teased.
Hermione snorted. "No. I'll be more worried when you get them proper brooms. As I recall, Siri wanted you to teach him to dive first and foremost."
Harry shook his head. "And I told you, he can beg and plead all he wants, I'm going to teach all of them to fly safely. None of them will be learning to dive until they're at Hogwarts and if they try it on their own I'll ground them, OK?"
"OK. I know you won't endanger them needlessly but they are your children. They're bound to get into mischief at some stage."
"And we'll be here to extract them from it."
A chime from the Floo alerted them to a call and Harry threw some powder into the flames. "Hey Draco," he said, grinning as he saw his former rival who had turned into one of his best friends. Draco had been best man at Harry and Hermione's wedding, and he was also the Head Auror.
"Hey Harry. Are the kids in bed yet?" Draco enquired.
Harry nodded. "Yep. It's a battle more and more often as they get older. When they're a bit older we might have to increase their stay up time."
"Yeah well, they'll learn. You're a bit of a pushover you know. All they have to do is give you the puppy dog look and you cave in," Draco grinned as he came through the fire.
"I do not," Harry retorted indignantly. "I just give them a certain amount of leeway in what is and isn't acceptable. They know where the boundaries are."
"Yes and every time they cross one, you have to really work at remaining firm with them dear. I've seen it," Hermione said with an impish grin.
Harry groaned. "I can't win with you two can I? I give up."
"Finally. So, what's got the great Hunter all tired and worn out tonight?" Draco enquired, sinking down onto the couch.
Harry shook his head. "Training new recruits. My team was given a rest but I was pulled in to give the newbies some dueling training."
"Are they any good?"
"Not really. Put them up against a Death Eater and they'd die in seconds. The worst of it is they think that I don't know what I'm talking about and that they're the best in the world. I heard one of them bragging about how he could beat Harry Potter in a full duel. I had just run him into the ground a few minutes earlier and I seriously thought about revealing myself just to give the arrogant sod a reality check."
"So why didn't you?"
"The press knows me as Hunter. I don't want the news that I'm an Unspeakable being splashed on the front page of the Prophet thank you very much."
"Skeeter still being a pain?"
Harry smiled grimly. "Not so much now. No, it's the regular writers I'm worried about. I make just enough public appearances and give enough quotes to keep them happy but they still want more. Did you know they wanted photos of Dan and Siri only a few hours after they were born?"
"No. Can they do that?" Draco asked, outraged. Hermione was quietly simmering too, the birth of the twins had been a hard one, and there had been complications with Lily's too.
Harry shook his head. "I went to the editor and complained and got him to agree to leave my family out of the spotlight. No photos of Hermione or the kids will appear in the paper unless I personally approve it."
Draco nodded. "Good. Look, this wasn't just a social visit. I was hoping that you'd give a talk to the Aurors about what it was like to fight the old snake, and how you finally beat him."
Harry stayed silent for a few minutes, before he smirked. "Would you mind one of our Unspeakable trainees sitting in? That brat who proclaimed he could beat me in a duel for instance?"
Draco smirked back. "Perfect. I know some of our cadets are longing for a chance to duel the Defeater-of-Voldemort too. Perhaps a mass duel? You versus anyone willing to duel you?"
Harry smirked again. "Alright. When's the talk being held?"
"Two days from now. We'll sort out the details later. Now that that's out of the way, how are you?"
Harry smiled sadly. "Every time one of the kids does something new, or begs me to teach them something, or even tonight, with the argument over bedtime, I can't help but think of all the things I missed out on. Things which you and Hermione probably took for granted but which I never got."
"You mean cuddles and bedtime stories and being held and fussed over if you hurt yourself?" Draco asked.
Harry nodded. "Yes. I'm trying to be a good father to them but I'm learning that sometimes, being a good parent doesn't always mean that you're a very popular one."
Draco snorted. "If your kids are anything like you were then you'll have grey hair by the time they graduate."
Harry nodded ruefully. "Yes. I can't help but wonder though what my parents' reaction would have been to my adventures."
Draco choked and almost fell of his seat laughing. "Harry, I think their hair would be permanently white. You definitely wouldn't have got into as much trouble as you did if you'd had parents around. They'd have really chewed you out over that flying car in second year."
Harry frowned. "Most probably. Remus once told me that second year was the year I should have been glad that Mum and Dad were dead, otherwise I'd have got two Howlers."
Draco chuckled, imagining the scene. "The Great Hall windows wouldn't have survived the explosion if you'd got two at the same time that Ronald got his."
Harry scowled at the mention of his former friend before chuckling at the mental image of the Great Hall windows exploding. "I suppose so.
"Has McGonagall contacted you about the DADA job?" Draco asked casually.
Harry nodded. "I don't want the job. I don't want to teach all day, every day. I want to be able to come home to my family every night, not be stuck at Hogwarts for a whole year. Besides, you know what happened in our seventh year. Why would I want to go back? No, I think you'd do a better job than I would."
Draco snorted. "I do know what happened in our seventh year Harry. I also know that McGonagall's very attached to you, and even Sev misses you at times."
Harry grinned. "He just misses being able to insult me," he smirked.
Draco looked at the ceiling, pretending to be thinking up an answer. "Most likely, but he does have a lot of respect for you. He just hides it well. As for McGonagall, you're one of her lions and will always be so to her. Not to mention you're the bloody Heir of Gryffindor."
Harry shrugged. "So. That doesn't mean I'd be a good teacher. You take the job. And tell Minerva that if she misses me so much, she should come to tea more often. Invite Severus too, I'd like to see him more. The quality of my verbal sparring opponents just don't match up to him."
Draco chuckled at the answer and fell silent. The only sound in the room for a while was the pleasant crackling of the fire as the three were content to sit in comfortable silence, just relaxing.
"What's that?" Draco asked an hour or two later. Harry and Hermione both listened intently before Hermione rose. "It's Lily. She's probably had a nightmare or something. I'll go calm her down."
Before she could reach the door, running footsteps announced Lily's arrival. The three-year-old launched herself through the open door and into Harry's arms, where she clung, crying almost hysterically.
Harry had automatically wrapped his arms around his daughter and was now trying to calm her down to no avail. He looked up when Hermione passed him a half-strength dose of calming potion.
"Here love, can you drink this for me," he said softly, trying to get Lily to drink the potion. Eventually she drank it and soon calmed enough for Harry to comfort her.
"Now, what's got you so scared little one," he murmured. Hermione and Draco withdrew from the sitting room into the library next door. "He's so good with all of them," Hermione said after casting a silencing charm so she and Sirius could talk without disturbing Harry and Lily.
"Yeah he is. I remember he was so nervous about becoming a father, he was worried about ending up like that pathetic Muggle uncle of his," Draco commented. Hermione nodded. "He got advice from Arthur and Molly, and my parents too. He needn't have worried really; he's a natural at it."
Draco snorted. "He is. It's like he was born to be a father. Has he finished yet?"
In the sitting room, Harry had finally managed to get Lily to talk. In broken sentences, interrupted by hiccups and the odd sniffle she told him what had scared her.
"Mean, really mean man. Red hair, like Uncle Fred an' George but darker. He didn't like you, and he hurt us. There was also another man."
"Hurt you how love and who was the other man?" Harry questioned, keeping his tone gentle, while his mind searched for any red haired men that he knew that didn't like his family. The only one he could think of was Ron, who had been very jealous and angry when Hermione had married Harry and not him. Abruptly Harry's mind recalled one of the reasons Hermione had chosen him over Ron.
"You can't talk to any other guys Hermione, they'll try and steal you" Ron yelled at her in the Gryffindor common room in the Trio's seventh year. Harry looked up from his Transfiguration homework with a frown, not liking where this was going.
"I'll talk to who I want Ronald Weasley, just because I'm your girlfriend doesn't stop me from talking to other guys. Would you be this upset if it was Harry I was talking to?" Hermione snapped back.
"Yes!" Ron snarled. "You're mine Hermione, no one else's."
Hermione had gone quiet, and was shaking with a combination of fear and anger. "I am no one's property Ronald, least of all yours. We're through!"
Hermione turned to go up the stairs to the girl's dormitory and Ron snapped. He caught her by the wrist and raised his other hand, pushing Hermione back against the wall. As his hand descended Hermione flinched, but the blow never landed.
"Let. Her. Go." Harry growled quietly. He had Ron's wrist trapped in a vice-like grip and wasn't showing any signs of letting go. A slight twist of the captive limb had Ron letting Hermione go and she scrambled back out of reach, watching as Harry shoved Ron back against the same wall.
Harry's voice was quiet and menacing as he hissed, "If you ever attempt to strike Hermione or any other witch ever again Ronald Weasley then you will have me to answer to! I know your parents raised you better than this. Leave Hermione alone. Never come near her or me again. Our friendship is over."
He dropped Ron's wrist and walked away, not looking back. Ron stood there for a few minutes, gaping, before storming out of the common room.
"Hermione?" Harry asked quietly, sitting down next to his best friend. She clung to him, crying, while Harry just held her and let her get all her emotions regarding the incident out of her system while he planned how best to help her should Ron try to attack her again.
Harry shook himself out of the memory and returned his attention to Lily. "He killed Siri and Dan, and then he killed Mummy. He killed me last but I saw you Daddy. You were trying to save us but you couldn't. I heard you say Ron. I didn't hear the other man's name but he looked funny."
"Funny how love?" Harry questioned, trying to get as much information as possible.
"His face looked like a rat," was the shaky answer.
Lily dissolved into sobs again and Harry held her tightly, giving her as much love and comfort as he could. Not for the first time he cursed how little he knew of his family history. He had looked through all the records he could find and as far as he knew, none of the Potters were Seers, and his mother was Muggle-born so there were no Seers in her family either. Yet this nightmare didn't sound like just a nightmare.
Harry had very carefully kept all his children away from Ron and didn't mention him around them. He was at a loss to explain how Lily could have heard that name; everyone that visited the house knew not to mention him to the kids. For Molly and Arthur, whom Harry was still on good terms with, as well as Fred, George, Bill and Charlie, this was hard but they had done so.
He had a pretty good idea of who the second man was though, the only Death Eater still at large that looked like a rat was Wormtail, who, much to Harry's disgust, had managed to evade capture for a number of years. Harry had once bitterly joked about rounding up every rat exterminator in the country and getting them to hunt for him.
"Hey Lily do you want to stay with me for a while, until you go to sleep again?" he asked. The only response was an up and down motion of the small brown haired head tucked into his shoulder so Harry arranged her comfortably on his lap and cast a localized silencing charm round her. This ensured that he could still talk to Hermione and Draco without disturbing her. It was a running joke in the Potter family that Harry's sons had inherited his hair and their mother's eyes, while Lily had inherited her mother's hair and his eyes.
"So what happened?" Draco enquired.
Harry frowned. "Hermione, you don't happen to know if anyone's mentioned Ron to any of the kids do you?"
Hermione frowned back. "No I don't. I certainly haven't, and I know Fred and George wouldn't have either. Why?"
Harry explained the dream/nightmare and both Hermione and Draco frowned, considering the information. "Do you want me to assign an Auror protective detail to the house?" Draco asked.
Harry shook his head. "No. My team knows who I really am, if I explain the situation then they'll have one of them here with Hermione and the kids all the time. Between two Unspeakables, Ron shouldn't have a chance to hurt them. It's just rather shocking though."
"Do you think she's a Seer?" Hermione asked quietly.
Harry looked up. "I don't know. If she is though then you'll have to suspend your disbelief of the subject. Lily will pick up on your dislike of it and think that it's her that you don't like. She's still a bit young yet to completely understand the concept that dislike of her actions doesn't equal dislike of her although she is learning it."
Hermione glared at Harry. "I know that, I just want to know if she is or not and what sort of strength the gift is at if she is a Seer."
Harry shook his head. "I don't know love. I don't think there's a test for this sort of thing. Given that it's the first time it's occurred though, let's wait and see. I won't let anything happen to you or the kids, I promise.
Hermione kissed him, knowing that he would keep his promise, and went up to check on the twins. Being four-year-olds, they had a habit of bouncing out of bed, meaning that they got up several times a night before they actually went to sleep. This time though, both twins were fast asleep. Lily had fallen asleep downstairs, still curled up on Harry's lap, safely held by one arm. He had also fallen into a light doze so the scene which Hermione was greeted with when she returned made her reach for the camera. Harry was curled up in the chair, his head bent over Lily's, and both of them had their eyes closed.
Harry woke at the small flash of the camera and blinked, realizing what Hermione had done. Looking down at his daughter he thought of the picture they would have presented and smiled. Shifting his position, he rose from the chair and carried Lily upstairs, tucking her into her bed, hoping that whatever the dream had been, it would not return that night.
"Ready for bed love?" he asked. Hermione nodded and turned to go to the master bedroom. She stopped and frowned, looking outside to the front garden. Harry looked too and shook his head. "You go Mione, I'll find out what Draco is doing," he murmured.
Walking outside he cast a mild warming charm as the air was getting quite cool. "What are you doing Draco?" he asked.
His friend looked up and smiled grimly at him. "Not leaving your family's safety to chance. I've put an alarm ward round the perimeter, if any hostile spells are cast here, myself and my best team will be here in seconds. I'm not letting you do this yourself."
Harry merely looked at him. "I appreciate it Draco, but what if you're not there when the alarms go off?" he asked quietly.
Draco glared at him. "I'll tell the whole Auror department that there's a possible threat leveled against you and your family, and what the alarms mean. Even if I'm not there, the on-duty team will respond. Between the Aurors and you and your team no attacker would stand a chance."
"True" Harry replied, feeling the unconscious tension inside him which had been present since Lily's dream easing somewhat. He smiled at Draco. "Thanks mate," he said softly.
Draco shrugged. "No problem. I'd hate to lose my best sparring partner after all."
Harry snorted. "Yeah right. I could wipe the floor with you any day of the week."
"Oh yeah?" Draco fired back.
Harry chuckled and shook his head. "Lets get back inside, it's getting cold. Thanks for the ward."
Draco smirked at him. "Don't mention it. Now, I hear you've instigated a little game between you and the kids known as Lion Hunting. Care to elaborate?"
They walked back inside, chuckling as Harry related details of the game. Neither noticed the silent watcher lying almost hidden in the tall grass in the field opposite Marauder Mansion. The watcher's eyes narrowed before he got up and Disapparated with a small pop. He would return.
Hello everyone. I know my profile says that this story won't be posted until it's complete and it's nowhere near complete yet, but I thought I'd start posting it anyway. I have been having terrible trouble with the epilogue for Dark Apprentice, both because of lack of writing inspiration for it and also real life interfering. My original fic which I'm also working on is well underway, the first book is complete and undergoing the final edit and polish while I wait for insipiration to strike with regard to its title and the second book is started. Hopefully you like this story, if not, well, there are plenty of others to read. Don't bother flaming if you don't like it. Constructive criticism on the other hand is always welcome.
May the Force be with you