Things we didn't know
Fairly early on a Saturday morning, late in April, we found ourselves in my car on the way to Potter Manor in the Western Highlands of Scotland. Sirius and I have been married for nearly four months, and I am blissfully happy. It was a beautiful drive and since we would be spending the weekend, I decided that we would go this way. Sirius was pouting, because I was driving. I had warded the car so that he couldn't drive it after he had attempted to charm the vehicle while I was away on a recent trip. He was angry that he had been caught. In my head, I know that I am supposed to share everything with my husband, but this is my first new car and I had bought it, and he was reckless. I continued to justify my actions, knowing that I was going to have to let him drive again soon, maybe even on the trip home.
Sirius and James had gone into business together, in a venture that had made Lily and I skeptical at first, but now we were quite thrilled with. They were freelance Curse Breakers and Ward Builders. We had come up with the idea, all five of us, one night while we were talking about what they liked to do. Other than mischief, they realized that they had fun cleaning all the dark magic out of Grimmauld Place, and they were better at it than the people that we had hired to do it. Lily and I had finally convinced them that they needed to do something with all of their free time, since they were driving us crazy otherwise.
The business grew fairly quickly, mostly by word of mouth. It didn't hurt that they were both somewhat famous in their own right, and as a duo, there was a curiosity factor. They worked on a sliding scale, charging people only what they thought they could reasonably afford, as money was not the motivation for their work. Lily and Remus were quite busy working with the families of the Werewolf infected children and I was still working at the Ministry. Harry was doing well in his Reception Class at the Muggle primary school as well, and it was good for him to just be another child, not "The Boy Who Lived." His biggest problem was the accidental magic that kept erupting from him. James had spoken with Albus about obliging his magic for the remainder of the school year.
I wonder if that's what James called this "family meeting" for? Lily had fire called two nights ago and asked if we could come and spend the weekend, there was something that they needed to discuss with us. Sirius and I had left London yesterday, and stopped at a small, very romantic bed and breakfast on the way. We had gotten up early this morning to drive the rest of the way. We would spend today and tomorrow there, before heading back, stopping at the same inn on the way back. I didn't have to be in the office until Wednesday morning. I had just spent the last week in Albania, freezing some questionable assets that I was sure were either Voldemort's or a Death Eaters. I also froze some of my assets in the putrid weather there. It was while I was away that Sirius had tried to play with my car.
"When are we going to be there?" Sirius complained, fiddling with the radio yet again.
"In about two hours," I replied. He continued to tinker with the radio. "Oh, stop it, I love this song, and it fits us so well." He pulled his hands away and I started to sing along to the song, drumming away on the steering wheel. I looked over at Sirius, and he had the goofiest look on his face. "What?" I questioned him.
"I love you, I really, really love you, Winnie," he said, his voice sounding happy, but yet resigned. I smiled at him and went back to dancing in my seat, drumming the steering wheel and singing away.
When we pulled into the turnoff for the Manor, Sirius sent his Patronus ahead, so that James could come and meet us at the gates, and drop the Wards for the car. Sirius and I had no problem passing through them, the car however was another story. If we had tried to drive the car through, it would be as if I was driving it into a brick wall. Once we had parked the car near the garage and got out, we were buzzed by a little boy on his broom.
"James was that Harry?" I asked him, he nodded at us. "When exactly did you let him get off the training broom?" Harry had been on a special children's broom that only let him fly about a foot off the ground since his first birthday. It was a gift from his godfather, much to the dismay of Lily and I. I couldn't believe that she would have let him up on a more conventional broom.
"Winnie, it's a Junior broom, it only let's him get about four feet or so off the ground. He'd outgrown the other one," James told me. Sirius was snickering behind my back.
"Lils knows about this?"
"Um, well, he's only on it when I'm with him, and she's not home right now, and..." James told me sheepishly.
"I wouldn't want to be you when she finds out," I responded and watched as Sirius was turning beet red trying to keep from laughing. "Oh, and you, look me in the eyes and tell me that you had nothing to do with this," Sirius tried to look at me, and then his face fell and he put on those puppy dog eyes and pouted.
"But Winnie, love, he flies so well. And James is always with him..." he said, coming to wrap his arms around me. I couldn't help but laugh at him as well.
"Well, when Lily tries to hex you, don't expect me to protect you, love," I whispered as my lips came closer and then I kissed him.
"Okay, so exactly how long does this disgusting, newlywed phase last?" we heard James groan from behind us.
"Forever, if we are lucky," I smiled back at him. There were times that I swore he and Lily were still in it, which was wonderful to see. Sirius grabbed our bags from the boot of the car and we headed inside. We were again in "our" room. We had spend many, many nights here over so many years, and it felt like a second home to us.
Lily and Remus returned home via floo a short time later. They had been visiting a family whose young daughter had been bitten when she was only six years old. It was now five years later, and she had entered puberty, and her monthly episodes had gotten worse with the new hormonal rush going on in her body. They had been adapting her Wolfsbane potion to better suit her blood chemistry, and had gone to see how she had fared with the full moon two nights ago.
It was an interesting and plausible idea that lycanthropy was caused by a blood infection, and while there was no cure, the Wolfsbane potion did help ease the symptoms. Remus and Lily had begun customizing the potion for the specific strain of the infection, as well as tailoring it for the chemistry of each individual. They had gotten the idea from Ewan and Anelle and had been pleased with their results. Even Remus had said that the last few months had been the easiest of his entire life. I was so pleased that he was able to find some relief.
The day passed quietly, Lily and I sat in the kitchen and talked and cooked while the guys were out back, doing something with Harry that was most likely questionable and not completely wholesome. These were Messrs. Moony, Padfoot and Prongs after all. I could tell that something was bothering Lily, she seemed distracted and upset somehow.
"Lils, what's going on? You're not yourself today," she tried to shake me off. "Hey, this isn't just anyone, it's me. Come on, tell me what's got you so upset."
"James and I will tell you tonight. We want to do it when everyone is together. After Harry has gone to bed," she sounded so serious and the color had drained from her face.
"Okay," I said, but in the pit of my stomach I knew that there was something gravely wrong. Even while they were in hiding, she never looked this way.
The afternoon passed and dinner was pleasant enough, but we all knew that there was something off. I had quizzed Sirius when we were alone walking the grounds before dinner, but James had said nothing to him. I doubted that Remus knew anything either, as he kept looking at Lily and James with a concern crossing his face. After Lily had put Harry to bed, we met in the lounge, and James shut and sealed the doors, using a monitoring charm on Harry's bedroom to alert them if he was up and out of bed.
"Okay you two, clearly there is something wrong, but none of us know what is going on. Care to clue us in?" Sirius said. He could have worded that better, but he did get to the point quickly.
"What we need to tell you isn't to leave this room. Everyone understand?" James said. That's an odd request, who would we talk to, everyone that any of us confided in was in this room. "All right, a few weeks before your wedding, I was giving an interview to the Daily Prophet and the interview posed the question about why Voldemort had gone after Harry. I didn't have a good answer, but the question got me thinking. So I started doing research, and what I found out, well, it's been disturbing."
I looked at him, his face was taught, and he suddenly looked so much older than his tender twenty-six years. "James, we were all targeted. They came after all of us at one time or another."
"You're right to a point, Anwen. All of us were attacked, but it was only Lily, Harry and I that were attacked by Voldemort personally. I knew that there had to be a reason. He rarely did the work himself, it was much easier to send out the Death Eaters to insulate himself from arrest or worse. Voldemort confronted Lily and I three times, and expressed specific interest in Harry," I looked at Remus, and I could tell that something was developing in his mind. He always furrows his brow when he's deep in thought.
"So, the big V had it out for you. Why are you worried about his now?" Sirius asked.
"I'm getting there. I did what I could on my own, but came up with very little. So I went to the one person that I knew would have better," James continued.
"Albus?" I asked him, knowing the answer before I asked.
"Yes, he tried to evade me, but finally, I got him to tell me what he knew," James stopped and took a deep breath. I could feel myself shaking. I didn't like the look on his face, or the tears that were now streaming down Lily's face. Sirius must have sensed my sudden sense of unease, for he pulled me closer to him and wrapped his arm around me.
"Before Harry was born, there was a prophecy made. It said that a child would be born that would have the power to defeat the Dark Lord. It was a power that the Dark Lord knows not and that..." James stopped, as Lily was now openly crying. He put his arm around his wife and held her close, whispering something in her ear. I too was crying and I looked at Sirius through my tear filled eyes. I couldn't even make words come to me. I just sent him a wave of fear and dread, and he tried to send me a calming one, but couldn't really manage it. James started speaking again.
"It ended with 'neither can live while the other survives'," he stopped talking as Lily started sobbing. He wrapped both of his arms around her and she cried on his shoulder. I leaned myself into Sirius and he was stroking my head, trying to calm me. Remus had gotten up, and had walked over to stand behind Lily, putting a reassuring hand on her back. We all sat there for a few moments, trying to get hold of ourselves. Lily finally got herself together, and I wiped the tears from my face.
"How did Albus know?" Remus asked when we were all again capable of speech.
"He was the one that the prophecy was made to. He has a copy of it for his pensive. I watched the whole thing," James said coldly. I could tell that remembering it was very painful for him.
"Wait, he's known about this since before Harry was born, and he never told you anything about it?" my dear husband added, indigent at the Headmaster withholding information.
"He did. We most definitely had words about it," James said firmly. That would have been something to see. "Turns out that it could have been another child that the prophecy was made about."
"Who?" I asked.
"Little Neville Longbottom," James answered quietly.
"Well, maybe this whole thing is about him and not Harry," Sirius pipped up.
"It doesn't work that way. Basically, because Voldemort tried to kill Harry, the prophecy is about Harry. The whole prophecy is this circular logic thing, and I guess that the Dark Lord didn't know the whole thing, and by acting on it, made it come true. Look, if you want to see the it, you can go over to Hogwarts and watch it. Albus knows that I was going to tell all of you, so I don't think that he would be surprised to see any of you," we were all quiet, processing things. Sirius continued to stroke my shoulders and kiss my temple.
"Look, we told you for two reasons. First, you are our family. Until Harry is of age, we are going to have to protect him. Second, I know no one that can help us understand this mess and how to get out of it, better than all of you. Remus, you are the theoretician, you see the big picture and see how the pieces fit together. Anwen, you're the intellectual, you're brain is capable of understanding that the rest of us cannot even begin to grasp. I also know that you can read Harry's magic and locate him, even over great distances. That skill may become important as Harry ages. Sirius, brother, you're the passionate one. You love Harry and would fight for him the way that his mother and I would. We are going to need you to help keep him safe. Plus, together you and I can break just about any Curse and Charm nearly anything; two skills that might become important in the years ahead.
I had so many questions in my head, but looking at my best friend, I knew that this wasn't the time to ask them. She seemed so lost, so sad, I didn't want to pay her any more grief. I need to see the whole memory, Albus will have to show it to me. Plus, if there is an actual prophecy, there will be a record of it down in the Department of Mysteries. While I can't take it, I can talk with some of the Unspeakables that work down there. There is much that can be learned about the reliability and the accuracy of the person who gave the prophecy, as well as it's magical strength. I was lost in my own planning, and didn't realize that everyone was looking at me until Sirius kissed my cheek.
"Huh? Oh, sorry, just thinking," I said sheepishly.
"Clearly. Care to share anything that's rattling around in that brain of yours?" Remus asked me.
"No, it's nothing concrete at this point. I was just making a mental list of people I need to talk to at work who might be able to illuminate this for us," I said, still a little distracted. "Are you going to pull Harry back out of school?"
"No, James and I have talked about this, and we think that it's important that he have this time away from the Magical community, especially now that we know what lies ahead," Lily answered me. "Additionally, I always thought that there was something missing in the kids who grew up strictly magical, they didn't know things that you and I know Anwen; like science and literature. Voldemort played on that, convincing otherwise intelligent Witches and Wizards that Muggles were somehow bad, just because they didn't understand them or their culture. I want Harry to know Muggle things. I think that we may need to supplement his schooling, even beginning his magical education before he goes to Hogwarts." I nodded at her. I was sometimes amazed at the basic things that Sirius did not know, even to this day. I would talk about very famous Muggle books, or proven scientific theories, and he knew nothing of them.
"What can we do, Lily?" I responded.
"First, I need you to continue to take him out on Saturday's, just like you've been doing with him since he was three. He needs to see works of art and dance and understand music. We need you to work with him on languages; he may need to travel someday, and being able to speak something other than English will be helpful. You're so much better suited at that than either James or I are. I am going to work with him on science. Most Witches and Wizards don't understand physics or any of the natural sciences. I think that it may help him in the long run. James wants him to have an understanding of the world around him; how well off we are. This isn't a guilt thing, it's just a desire to make sure that he knows that he has to be responsible for his actions and how they effect others. What was it your grandmother used to say Winnie?" Lily asked me.
"To whom much is given, much is required." I responded.
"Remus, you're the best read in Wizarding materials. We want Harry to understand Magical history, and if we depend on Hogwarts to do it, he'll just be bored," James cracked his first real smile since we had sat down, and I was sure that he was remembering Professor Binns. We all had relaxed enough to smile, just a little.
"Lastly, Sirius, you've got the hardest job here," James confessed. "You need to make sure that Harry still enjoys his childhood. It would be so easy for us to put too much onto him, to smother him. I, well both Lily and I, still want him to have a childhood. You're his godfather, you need to help keep the rest of us in line," I looked at my husband, and there was a sense of deep understanding in his face. He nodded at his best friend.
"James, you know I will. Maybe I'll even teach him some really good pranks, so he's ready when he gets to school." That's the man that I know and love.
"We also made a decision. James and I want to make our family larger," Lily said, looking up at her husbands face. "We want Harry to have little sisters or brothers," I smiled at her. I had known for years that she had hoped to have another baby it just wasn't practical while they were in hiding, but it was wonderful to know that it might finally happen. Maybe their baby could be friends with a baby that Sirius and I hope to have, someday.
"Anwen, we also will need to be kept abreast of any developments that you might hear about at work. You're liable to be the first to know if there is movement on the other side," James said solemnly. Lily began crying again at the mere suggestion of the topic, so I simply made eye contact with James and nodded my head.
We stayed up talking for a while longer, but it was well into the evening by the time the conversations had finally ended. Sirius and I went upstairs to our room, and quietly got ready for bed. Once I was safely wrapped up in my beloveds arms, I started discussing the evenings events.
"Anwen, love, do you think that he is still out there?" Sirius finally asked me. We didn't discuss my work often, or what I knew of Voldemort or his former followers. To be honest, Sirius found the financial aspects of the work dull. I was thankful for this, it meant that we had never had to have this particular conversation, until now. I took a deep breath and started sharing what I knew.
"Yes," Sirius went to question me, but I just started talking again. "Look, I have personally reviewed everyones memories from that night, even Albus'. There was something left behind. He wasn't obliterated. I just don't know what to call what was left," I told him. Sirius pulled me closer to him.
"I wish you didn't know these things," he whispered as he stroked my back.
"I know, but I do. Sirius, the reports we gathered while we were in Albania last week, the drawings, the accounts; it was..." I stopped remembering what I had seen and a chill traveled down my spine, "...it's just disturbing. There isn't anything like it in the Magical world, or even the Muggle one," I curled myself tighter against my husband. I didn't want to have to think about it anymore.
"He'll be back, someday, won't he?" Sirius said, much more serious than I was used to hearing him.
"I think so. Someday he'll figure out a way to restore himself, and when he does, it sounds like little Harry will have to go up against him."
How was a little boy supposed to defeat a powerful Dark Wizard? Would he be strong enough? Would he need to know magic that none of us understood? Who was going to train him? What if it happens before Harry is of age.
"Love, we're not ready," the realization buried me in despair. "If he were to come back today, we wouldn't be ready." Silent tears started to fall.
"Winnie, honey, it's okay. We did fine the last time, we'll be fine again. Please, don't cry," he said, pulling me so that I was lying on top of him.
"No. It's not like last time. When was the last time that you were in a real fight with anyone? Had to rely on your spell work to get yourself out of a situation?" I asked him.
"I don't know? When was yours?" He asked sounding somewhat amused.
"Thursday, at about three in the afternoon. I was dueling King," I told him honestly.
"You were dueling your partner? Why?"
"Um, we duel at least three times a week. Sometimes against each other, sometimes against other sets of partners. We've even taken on the entire training class, but that wasn't much of a fight. We had them all subdued in about ten minutes."
"So, what exactly do you consider a fight?" Sirius said, sounding a bit surprised. "Why do you fight so much?"
"Well, it's my job love, never know what you might find out in the world," he looked at me confused. "When you take away someone's money, their home or land, whatever, they tend to get a little upset. The best fights, the hardest ones, are when King and I duel each other, no holds barred, everything except Unforgivables."
"You fight with him regularly, like that. Anwen, he's huge and you're so small. I don't want anything happening to you," he took his hands and pulled the hair away from my face, and held both of his hands on either side of my head.
"Love, it's usually me that wins. Last week, I accidentally sent King to St. Mungo's. Hit him too hard with a dizzying hex, and he couldn't stand up straight for a few hours," my husbands eyes flew open in shock. "We usually try to just use half strength curses and such, disarm and disable, not do damage."
"Wow. I had no idea."
"I have a rather unfair advantage now. I can see what he's sending at me, as well as cast independent spells from each hand. Sometimes I handicap myself by using a wand. Limits me by fifty percent. I also run three miles, four times a week, as well do yoga and ballet classes at the dance studio around the corner from our house," I told him.
"How did I not know any of this?"
"Well, you're usually still in bed when I get up and get going in the morning. Sirius, I've been running for years, like since just after I left Hogwarts. I added the yoga a few months ago for balance. I had stayed with much of my ballet exercise over the years, so that I could remain flexible. Which, if I am not mistaken, is something that you appreciate," I said with a glint in my eye, and he returned the look.
"This is true. So, do you think you could take me?"
"All things being equal, I could have you disarmed and immobilized in about two minutes. However, with our magic bound as it is, I don't know how much curse or hex work I would be able to use. That would require creative spell casting as well as hand to hand, so it might take as much as five minutes."
"What? You think that I am that weak?"
"No, I'm just that good, love. I'm not being conceited here. You're just out of practice, all of you are. If we are going to keep Harry safe, we are going to have to get each of you back into condition. Harry's life could depend on it," he nodded at me, and I laid my head on his chest. We laid there, and questions kept swirling in my head. I didn't want to think anymore. "Love, help me forget all of this, at least for tonight."
He said nothing, but rolled us over, covering my body with his and helping me get lost in his embrace.