Edited with the help of lovely new Beta: LaMisteriosa. Please let me know what you think of the changes, those of you who are re-reading!
Sadira Prewett was sat in her office, behind a desk that was so full of parchment it was a veritable model of the Himalayas. Her tiny feet were propped up on the desk, leather spike heeled boots tapping an impatient rhythm on the mahogany surface. She toyed with her long dark brown, slightly frizzy, curls distractedly. In her hands a sheaf of parchments made up the file she was working on. Performance reports. How profoundly uninteresting.
In her three years of Auror training she had been taught to keep her wits about her, expecting attack at every turn. She had excelled in stealth and concealment, blinded her instructors with her knowledge of hexes, jinxes and curses together with their counters and skill with potions; to become a weapon of peace and justice. Having excelled in all of these areas, Auror training had now left her sorely disappointed. Year one of active service and here she was, tapping her heels impatiently behind a desk she had no interest in keeping organized. Every cell in her body was itching for active combat. Was this the department's idea of a joke? What had she done to deserve tasks so utterly dreary and monotonous? She was almost sure this was someone's idea of a haze into the ranks of the few and brave when, early on, she noticed her partners receive just as much paperwork. Her working partner didn't seem to mind much.
Nymphadora Tonks, consummate Hufflepuff, took every assignment with an enthusiasm Sadira thought only puppies and small children possessed. Sadira however, proud Slytherin, top of every class, was rankled to have her ambitions scuppered, or at least put on the back burner. Massaging her temples, she considered the definite possibility of having a physically affliction to boredom. She craved juicier work. Little did she realise that it was about to come crashing through her office door.
"Nymphadora! How do you expect to creep up on criminals when you cannot even enter your own office in a fitting manner?" Sadira chided.
"Sod off Sadira! And I told you not to call me that. Besides ... We have a proposition for you." Tonks replied, as Kingsley Shacklebolt and Arthur Weasley walk in behind her.
"Mr Shacklebolt!" Sadira exclaimed, standing upright in respect of the superior officer, In one fell swoop, the case file was hastily dropped. Pieces of parchment littered the floor around her. She then noticed the other man. "Uncle Art... I mean Mr Weasley." She greeted, puzzled. Why would the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office need to liaise with level 1 Aurors?
"Please, Sadira," Arthur reassured, "we're here on unofficial terms."
He closed the door as Shacklebot motioned her to sit. Sadira hastily recovered the case file with a quick wave of her wand and set it on the desk as she sat down.
"To what do I owe the pleasure, then?"
"Remember you said you were bored of menial jobs?" Tonks queried.
"Did I say that?" Sadira replied smoothly, one elegant brow arched slyly.
"And you went mental at Perkins for suggesting Dumbledore was tapped?"
"Perkins is a buffoon," she defended.
"No one here will deny that," Arthur commented.
"And then there was the Knight Bus incident," Tonks mused.
"Yes, yes. Get on with it," Sadira snapped.
"Do you really believe Dumbledore is telling the truth?" Arthur asked. "That You-Know-Who is back?
Well, this came out of nowhere, she thought. Why did she suddenly feel under incredible scrutiny? Shacklebolt leaned carefully against the door with his arms crossed, a look of patient understanding on his face. She was being summed-up for something. In the time it took Arthur to cross his arms, Sadira offered a small prayer to the gods in the hopes that this was the most dangerous mission to have ever existed.
"Yes," Sadira said without falter.
"Would you prevent him from gaining power in any way that you possibly could?" Arthur asked.
"What kind of a question is that? Yes, I would," Sadira replied.
"What about Fudge? Do you think he's right?" asked Shacklebolt with his soothing tenor.
"Is this still an unofficial conversation?" countered Sadira, her gaze wavering from her files set askew to those of her partner, who seemed quite unreadable at the moment.
"Yes," Arthur replied.
"Then, to hell with what Fudge has to say on the matter; I believe Dumbledore and the Potter boy."
"Good," said Kingsley briskly. Did she pass the test?
"You're one of our best young Aurors, we want to invite you to join a covert group; separate from the Ministry, secret and independent of Ministry control, devoted to bringing down You-Know-Who and bringing his followers to justice." Sadira seemed to mull the offer over.
"Be aware though, there will be risks. And the Ministry must not find out." Finished Arthur.
"Yes, I'll do it. What do you need me to do?" Sadira said, determined.
"We must be careful how we go. We will arrange for you to see Dumbledore about your missions in secret. In the meantime; I was here to speak to Tonks about Sirius Black, who by the way is innocent and on our side, and Arthur here was visiting his favourite niece if anyone should ask." Kingsley said as he left the office.
"Give my love to Molly and the kids, especially the Twins!" called Sadira as Arthur followed him.
"I'm glad you're joining the Order. I know we don't always get on but I trust you to have my back in a tight spot." said Tonks, as she cleared files off her desk.
"Thank you, I try." nodded Sadira respectfully. "I trust you also." She added, almost as an afterthought.
Three days later, Tonks and Sadira Apparated to a street in a dingy area of London. The street sign read 'Grimmauld Place'. Tonks handed her a piece of parchment that read 'The Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix can be found at 12, Grimmauld Place.' As she read, the required address appeared from nowhere, a dingy windowed house with an imposing, if peeling, black door with a silver serpent knocker.
"Nice." Sadira commented, as Tonks led her into a dark, gothic looking hallway, serpent themes ran throughout what she could see of the house.
"I love it!" she gushed.
"You always were odd," Tonks joked as they moved into the kitchen.
Sadira glanced at her surroundings, absorbing the comfort she knew only she could associate with dark elegance and graceful decay.
Arthur and Molly Weasley were already there with Professor Dumbledore and a friendly looking, if a bit worse for wear, wizard with sandy hair that Sadira didn't recognise. Everyone turned to see the new girl. She was shorter than Tonks by a head, even in heels; dressed all in black with a long leather trench coat. She had a slightly larger than average curvy figure and long, dark corkscrew curls which contrasted with her too pale skin and dark green eyes.
"Sadira dear, we're so glad you're here." She gushed, wrapping the dark haired young woman in a bone crunching hug.
"Love you too, Molly. But I think the Professor wishes to speak with me." She said as levelly as she could, fighting to keep a blush from her pale complexion and patting her mother's cousin on the back.
Since Sadira's mother died, Molly had made it her job to be the mother figure she needed. The Weasleys had always been the only family she had associated with as they hadn't cared about the stigma that surrounds unmarried witches with children. For a forward thinking community, the Wizarding world could be very old-fashioned.
Dumbledore seemed amused by the young woman's discomfort at the affectionate gesture, smiling as he began to address her.
"Yes, Miss Prewett. Firstly, I am delighted you have chosen to join our group, and touched by the loyalty you have already shown for me. Indeed, not many from your former house have any great love or respect for me." This comment caused a stiff, albeit brief, pang of discomfort in Sadira's chest.
"Secondly, I would like to formally welcome you to the Order of the Phoenix, our name you see. I believe you are already closely acquainted with the members already assembled here with the exception of one. Allow me to introduce Remus Lupin; a former Hogwarts Defence Professor."
"How do you do," she said politely, shaking hands. "I remember my cousins speaking of you with high praise." Her demeanour was serious despite the presence of close family.
"May I ask what tasks and skills you require of me in the course of duty?" she enquired of Dumbledore.
"My, you are business-like Miss Prewett. So unlike the opinionated student I found in my office on so many occasions." He chuckled.
"This is a serious matter, Professor. Besides, I wasn't in your office nearly as often as I merited." She replied with a mischievous glint in her eye.
"I would expect no less from an intelligent Slytherin such as yourself. For the meantime I merely wish you to be private tasks will come in time, I assure you. At this very moment, almost all available members are involved in protecting a particular prophesy in the Department of Mysteries at times. You will be asked to do the same. However, your particular skills and connections will be used to greater effect as time progresses. Kingsley has informed me that, despite your youth and relative inexperience, you are one of the best Aurors the Ministry has, even if they do not recognise it. Alas, often the folly of age fails to recognise the talents of the young. I will keep you informed of what is required and when but for now, I must return to Hogwarts. Farewell."
The Order members bid him goodbye and Molly took this as an opportunity to continue fussing.
"Now dear, have you been looking after yourself? You look awfully pale and peaky."
"Yes Aunty Moll! I am pale, that's how I am. And no, I'm not drinking so much before you ask." Sadira railed at her dearest aunt as Remus raised his brow at this comment.
"Sadie was a teenage tearaway at one time!" Tonks told him.
"Oh yeah! Sex, booze and Rock n Roll." Sadira added with a dark chuckle and the Aurors nudged each other amicably. Suddenly, Sadira jumped, wand out as a pop was heard behind her.
"Sadie, we haven't seen you in a year!" Fred and George squashed her between them. They had grown taller than her now.
"Good to see you too, boys. I see you passed your test," she commented drily. "Where's Ronnikins?"
"Upstairs with his girlfriend." the twins grinned evilly.
"Ron's got a girlfriend?" she exclaimed in disbelief.
"Now boys, don't tease your brother. She's a friend who is female. Her name's Hermione and she's a lovely girl. Top marks too, just like you." Molly countered.
"Muggleborn too." Added Arthur enthusiastically as Sadira rolled her eyes with a small, knowing smile.
"What's the fuss about?" asked Ron as he shuffled into the kitchen. "Is that... Sadira?" he blinked in disbelief.
"No, it's the Easter Bunny come early!" quipped George.
"Alright there Our Sadie?" he greeted
"No; you know you're not allowed to be this much taller than me!" she said in a serious tone but smiling as she slid an arm round her cousin who she regarded as a little brother, as in fact all the Weasleys were like surrogate siblings.
"Oh! Hello." came a voice at the door and Sadira saw a frizzy haired and slightly jealous looking girl eyeing the curvy newcomer suspiciously.
"You must be Hermione. I'm Sadira Prewett, Ron's second cousin." She said offering her hand.
"I remember you. You were Head Girl in our first year." Hermione said and her glare softened.
"Yes, I remember, you two and Harry Potter stole the House Cup from us with your heroics!" she growled with a glare. Hermione stared at her in shock until Sadira cracked a grin and she realised she was joking.
"I'm surprised you remember me though." Sadira said.
"I remember you and ...well..." Hermione trailed off, embarrassed.
"Yes I'm sure you also remember all the rumours and my reputation. I have put that behind me now. I hope you can also." Sadira said stiffly, at once returning to the business-like stance and mask-like calm visage.
"Of course, I didn't mean to... I'm sorry!" Hermione stuttered.
"No matter, I also remember all the stories I heard about your exploits with Ron and Potter." She smirked at them.
"I'm sure he'd rather you call him Harry," interjected Remus.
"I'm sure he would, however Potter and I are not yet acquainted." she replied smoothly.
"Slytherins never change." Tonks teased.
"And Hufflepuffs never learn to hold their tongues." She replied acidly, stroppily seating herself between Fred and George with a pout.
"They love each other really." Molly assured.
"Not that way!" said Tonks quickly.
"Why? Jealous of my ex-girlfriend?" taunted Sadira saucily, flicking her tongue in a suggestive manner. Molly looked aghast and Remus nearly choked on his tea.
"Sadira Prewett! Not in front of the children!" Molly reprimanded as Fred and George grinned.
"It's ok Mum, we met Althea ages ago." Fred defended.
"What happened to you two? She was cool." asked George.
Althea was in fact very cool. Sadira had met the intern to the Greek Department of Mysteries last year when she had been sent to the UK on business. Sadira had been the one to show her about the place and their relationship had developed quickly.
"Oh, it was never going to work out. I knew she'd have to go back to Greece so I was prepared for it to end. I'm fine about it." she replied breezily. Molly looked unconvinced.
"Oh come off it Molly. You know I still have my suspicions your darling Percy bats for the other team." She added conspiratorially. At this, everyone in the room seemed to stiffen.
"Percy is persona non grata right now." George informed her at the sight of hios mother casting cleansing charms on the dishes in the sink with ill-disguised anguish."We'll tell you all about it later." he whispered.
"Ah, sorry for bringing it up then." she said, standing with tea in hand and patting Molly on the shoulder. "I think that's enough revelations for one day don't you?"
"Except for revealing who this lovely young woman standing in my kitchen is." came a rich voice from the doorway.
Sadira turned to see a tall elegant man with long curly dark hair. Her jaw dropped, as did the cup she was holding, shattering on the tiled floor.
"Y, You!" she stammered.
"Now Sadira, remember Kingsley said Sirius was proven innocent." Tonks said carefully but Sadira didn't seem to hear her. All she could hear was her own breath and the blood rushing in her ears.
"She said you were dead, she swore you were dead." She pointed at the confused wizard coming toward her. He was about to ask who when she drew out a small silver locket on a long fine chain from her pocket and thrust it into his hand. He recognised that locket. Opening it with shaking hands, he found a photo of his younger self with a red haired girl, smiling.
"Delilah," he whispered. Looking at the young woman before him he finally understood. "They told me you died. I never saw her again." He choked, welling with tears. She shook with the effort of holding back her own tears.
And like a man holding on to the last happy memory on earth, he wrapped his arms around her before a few silent tears rolled down his face into her hair. This was a somewhat uncomfortable if not sudden display of affection from the man she understood no longer existed.
"My daughter," he whispered just loud enough for the others to overhear.
"So it really is you?" she asked not daring to believe it.
"Yes and I didn't know. I am so, so sorry." He replied looking into her face.
"So! Sirius Black!" Molly began in her most threatening tone. "You're the reason my favourite cousin was pulled out of school before her OWL's? You have no idea how much shame and hardship that poor woman went through as an unwed mother, sent off to live as a Muggle, barely of age!" Molly roared at him. She had gone an ugly shade of red and the twins had scarpered, Ron and Hermione swiftly following suit. She was shaking with rage.
"Molly it was a long time ago. And they told me she miscarried; I wasn't allowed to contact her at all. They never told me where she went." Sirius defended.
"What were you thinking? You were fourteen!" she bellowed.
"How is she now?" he asked Sadira tentatively, as she seemed to be coping with the news better than her aunt.
"Fine. She's dead." she said flatly.
"No! I'm so sorry." He said honestly.
Thankfully, Tonks and Remus escaped the premises leaving Arthur to lead a livid Molly out of the kitchen and allow for private conversation.
"It's fine. We didn't get on." She said without remorse.
Sirius gestured to the table.
"Please." They both slowly sat, unsure of what to say or ask.
"All of those pictures they posted in the press," Sadira started, "they look nothing like you." Sirius grinned warmly.
"Azkaban has a way of doing that to a man," he commented. "How did you know? That it was me in the picture?"
"I didn't. I had my suspicions – fed mostly by the few pieces of information I managed to glue together – and the resemblance was notable albeit hard to determine. When I pulled out the locket, you confirmed any uncertainties I may have had."
"Am I that easy to read?" Sirius asked.
"No. I'm just hard to fool," Sadira answered honestly. There was a small silence between them as those words set in. She felt uneasy and nervous at having said that, even if it was true.
"I really am, you know?" Sirius spoke, his eyes dwelling on the locket between his fingers. "Sorry."
She nodded in acknowledgement but had nothing to say. Sadira was summing up every ounce of willpower she could muster to restrain her emotions. He wasn't entirely to blame for her death, nor could she expect him to have prevented it, much less changed both their lives.
"How did she die?" he asked.
"Suicide," she answered flatly. Another small silence.
"How did you two happen?" Sadira asked. Sirius looked at her unsurprised.
"She never told you, did she?"
"She said many things, most of which were elaborate contradictions at best."
"You speak of her with disdain," he remarked. The comment held no judgment, just objective comprehension. Maybe that was why she felt a sudden familiar pang of guilt in her chest. "Can't say that I blame you. Would you believe me if I told you she wasn't always like… you knew her to be?" She nodded. Sirius took in a deep breath.
"I'm sorry," Sadira started, "it isn't fair of me to expect you to know about… everything."
Sirius gently placed his hand over hers; it was warm and comforting. Neither of them had any idea of where this conversation would lead them, and it certainly wasn't getting any easier. The one juncture they could connect on was their grief: hers buried under years of closeted memories and his newly kindled and somewhat raw.
"It seems the proper question to be asking right now is do you want me in your life?" Sirius asked. It was a tough question to answer. He knew that well enough to ask it in the first place.
"Hard to say…" she mused. "Technically, you're all I've got left." She gave him a weak smile but the gesture was genuine.
"The feeling is mutual," he replied in earnest.
"Thank you," she whispered after a short pause.
"For not asking about my past," she said.
"We all have our demons, darling," he consoled. "I doubt we would be ourselves without them."
"I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours." The tension in the room seemed to dissipate a bit. It was times like these Sadira truly appreciated having someone to share her sense of humor with.
"We met at Hogwarts. I was around fourteen or fifteen at the time. Good grades. Good looks. Great friends. There was really no reason whatsoever for me to join the Astronomy study group, except perhaps for your mother. She was a year older than I was at the time. I was a cocky little shit, gallivanting around Hogwarts with girls fawning over my cheek bones or my hair of all things and there she was, completely impervious to my charm."
"I feel so sorry for you," she feigned.
"Well," he chuckled, "believe what you will but she truly was impervious to all of my advances. I was much too young to have fallen so deeply in love with her. But I did. Age was certainly an issue since she was ashamed of being in love with a fifth year but eventually we started to see each other secretly."
"In Hogwarts? That's quite the achievement," she commented with genuine awe. He nodded in agreement.
"It was hard but we were addicted to each other. She was smart, witty, stubborn, and downright beautiful. One thing led to another and a few months after we had slept together, she disappeared and left Hogwarts without a word. I tried to reach her in every way I knew. All of my letters went unanswered. Rumors started spreading around that she had miscarried. That she had fled the country. That she had transferred to another school. Her parents saw to it that no one ever knew what had become of her or them, for that matter." He handed her the locket back.
"It was a birthday present." Sadira saw the shame and regret behind her father's gaze.
"We all have our demons," she started, "I can't blame your for yours. But I certainly don't blame you for mine."
"We were children," Sirius noted soberly. "Neither of us expected life to get so completely out of our control."
"It wouldn't be much of a life if everything were within your control," she mused. Sirius took her hand in both of his and took her in with a sigh. She knew he was searching for something to ease his guilt and remorse but felt completely inadequate for the task. His gaze slowly turned from longing to appreciation.
"Tell me about you."
"Well, home was hell, Hogwarts was a breeze. I was Head Girl, very good NEWT marks." She told him with a hint of pride.
"Gryffindor?" he asked hopefully.
She laughed, "No, Slytherin. Mum was horrified." Sirius' smile faded a little.
"My mother; your grandmother, would have been proud. Another Pureblood Slytherin to add to the wall." He said distastefully, gesturing to the family tapestry.
"Not all us Slytherins are bad you know." She said defensively.
"Of course not, I'm sorry," he soothed. "What do you do now?" he asked, changing the subject.
"I'm an Auror, with Tonks. She's my partner. We were in the same class at training."
"Auror, eh? Top of the class indeed!" he remarked with pride.
His display of fatherly pride was not altogether lost on Sadira, having earned himself a small smile from the young witch. She looked into his dark eyes. Staring back at her was a man that had lived lot of life and she felt an inexplicable curiosity surge within her. She wanted to know. That was a decent start.
"Where do you live now?"
"I sold Mum's old house in Manchester when she died, my last year in Hogwarts. I bought a little flat in London to be near the Ministry when I started Auror training. I'm hardly ever home so I didn't see the point in getting anything fancy. I love this place though." She said.
"You do?" he asked incredulously.
"Yes, I love anything dark and gothic. It matches my dark and brooding nature." She joked with a dramatic air.
"A true Slytherin eh?" he joked back.
Sirius led her through a tour of the house while she made appreciative noises and comments on the decor and the occasional family trinket. He found her interest in the darkness all too familiar, but kept needing to remind himself that she wasn't his mother. As far as Slytherins went, she was practically a fluffy-coated bunny. Other than Harry, he had no other family left. He'd be damned if he let this opportunity slip between his fingers.
"The Weasleys will be staying here for the summer but when school starts it's just me. I'm a wanted man so I'm under orders not to leave." He said bitterly. Sadira felt a pang of sympathy for the man who had sired her.
"I think we have a lot of lost time to make up for. If you like, I could spend my weekends here and we can get to know one another." She suggested. His face lit up.
"That would be wonderful." He clasped her hands in his.
"Oh, by the way. Don't believe everything the Twins say about me. I'm not sure if they still have their silly Prank War on." She warned him with a chuckle.
Sirius let her have a room just down the hall from his room, which was comfortable if a little dusty. They cleaned it up together. He wanted to make her feel like she could call the place home, like a proper family.
"My poor Mistress, her best rooms given up to a nasty girl. They say she's the other Master's child but she's no Black." came a wheezy voice from a corner. "Bastard brat she is, shame upon my poor mistress' house."
"Kreacher! My daughter is a descendant of the house of Black and her blood is pure. You will address her as Mistress and show her proper courtesy."
"Of course Master, Mistress." He muttered, slinking away.
"Ignore him, crazy old elf," Sirius said distastefully.
"Oh, don't worry. It's just like First Year all over again. I have a thick skin." She said unfazed.
"I truly am sorry that you and your mother had to endure such hardships and slanders," he said softly. "If I had known, I would have given you both the name of Black." He insisted.
She looked thoughtful for a moment. "I need to go," she said as she swiftly turned towards the stairs. She stopped at the first step and turned back. "I meant what I said. Weekends." And with that, she was gone.
Once outside, she briskly Apparated to her flat.
Heading to her desk, she rushed a note to Dumbledore and tied it to her Barn owl, Xerxes who set off with a hoot that sounded like a grumble. Then she sat down at her kitchen table and pondered all that had transpired over the last few hours. Her father whom she had been raised believing was dead is really alive but a wanted mass murderer.
Which was worse? Ok, he wasn't guilty but without proof he was never going to be able to be like a real father. He had welcomed her with open arms though which was more than she could have asked for. And what had she let herself in for with this Order business? Sure, she wanted to be doing something worthwhile and interesting but what exactly did Dumbledore have in store for her? He mentioned her 'skills and connections'. What did that mean?
A few hours later; after Sadie had managed to cook, eat and clean up, Xerxes returned. She hadn't expected a reply so soon.
'My dear Miss Prewett,
Your request itself is not a difficult task, even with my influence diminishing under the wake of the Ministry's vendetta. However it will take time. I shall not dismiss or forget it I assure you and will achieve it as soon as I possibly can. I look forward to seeing you again and hope you are well also.
Well, a speedy response and positive too! She put it in a drawer as she moved to the cupboard for the cat food as Nightshade, a fat black shorthair, wound her way around her legs, yowling for her dinner.
"Great! Here I am; single twenty-one year old woman, in on a Saturday night again with no-one but my greedy old cat and an uppity owl for company. How sad is my life?" she muttered aloud to herself. Nightshade just blinked at her.
"May as well just go to bed." she grumbled.