A/N: And for the last chapter of this volume...
Mia regained consciousness slowly, wondering what had happened. Had she fallen asleep? She didn't remember going to bed and she was fairly certain she was currently lying on one. Suddenly, she moved and the pain felt awful everywhere, mostly her left shoulder and knee, reminding her of the battle. She remembered Bellatrix throwing curses at her, one hitting her and making her fly all the way across the room. She also remembered glass, loads of it, and hitting the floor, shocked by the pain. She'd thought she was going to die.
Had she? Could she be… on the other side? Had she been separated from Sirius, from her family, forever? Had she died without telling Sirius she'd forgiven him? No, it couldn't be, could it? Death was supposed to be peaceful, painless. That wasn't. She had to be alive to have her body hurting that much.
She could hear a voice nearby and something… no, someone, touching her arm – the pounding in her head wouldn't allow her to make much sense of anything yet. She needed a few moments to get used to it too. To get used to be conscious…
"…got to wake up now, Mia," a voice, Sirius's, told her. "We need you here with us, not up in dreamland. Molly says Alex's been calling for you. We all need you." He grasped her hand and she winced. Apparently it was hurt too. "Mia? Mia?" he called, his tone hopeful.
She took a few seconds before opening her eyes, letting all her other senses flood back along with her consciousness. The room was dark as at least half the windows of the room that she recognized as Hogwarts's Hospital Wing were covered with thick curtains. She tentatively turned her face to side, in order to see her husband. His face was a mixture of fear and relief as he looked at her.
"Merlin, I thought you'd never wake up…" he whispered. "Are you in pain? Do you need me to call someone?"
"My hand…" she whispered.
He let go of it, giving her an apologetic look. "Sorry, I forgot."
She'd have shaken her head to tell him it was alright if she wasn't fairly certain it would only worsen her headache. "It's okay," Mia mumbled, feeling her throat dry. "I'm thristy. Need to sit up."
"It will probably hurt," he warned her, knowing it from experience. She gave him a little nod, telling him to go ahead, anyway, and he carefully helped her sitting up against a bunch of pillows he quickly conjured. He was especially careful with her shoulder, which Elizabeth had warned him that might be the injury that would take the longest to heal before she'd placed Mia's arm on a sling a few hours ago.
Then, he reached for a glass of water by the bedside table to give it for her to drink. After she was done, he placed the glass back where it had been and sat on the edge of her bed, waiting for her to say something.
She looked at him more closely, this time, her eyes struggling to focus on his form while the headache tried to force them shut. He looked tired, like he hadn't slept in a while… Suddenly, a question came to her mind. "How long was I…?"
"You were out for nearly twelve hours," he said before she could finish. "Elizabeth said you were conscious for a few seconds while they treated but you might not remember it."
Mia nodded briefly – she knew she had important things to worry about and to tell him but her mind couldn't quite focus yet and they were still an annoying blur. She went for the general questions at first, hoping they'd clear her mind. "What happened after I… Did anyone get hurt? Harry? Is he okay?"
"Harry's just fine, Mia. He went after Bellatrix because of what she did to you but she escaped. Some stuff happened but he didn't get hurt. Some of the others did, though. Madam Pomfrey set Hermione, Ron and Luna loose a few hours ago – they were the ones who got the most hurt out of the kids. Dumbledore was here and said there was some sort of attempted escape while they were rounding up the captured Death Eaters and Tonks had gotten cursed during it – Remus is with her at St. Mungos. They say she'll stay there for a week, at least, but she'll make a full recovery." He paused. "You and Tonks were the ones who got hurt the most…"
She glanced at her own arm in a sling and her eyes looked sideways at her shoulder which, even hidden by the sleeve of her pyjamas, looked awfully swollen. Judging by the generalized aching, she seriously doubted that was the end of it. "So, how… how bad am I?"
Sirius took a deep breath. "Not as bad as you might have been, Mia, but not great either. You had a bunch of broken bones including your kneecap, bruised ribs, a skull fracture and a separated shoulder. Elizabeth healed the breaks already but she says the shoulder will take a few weeks to get better and that you shouldn't try to walk on your knee for a few of days because it probably won't be very steady. Apart from that, there was also plenty of bruising and cuts, but no permanent damage, thank Merlin."
Long story short, she'd been lucky not to break her neck, she thought. Though relieved she was going to be okay, Mia couldn't help feeling frustrated for still not being able to remember those important things she needed to say or ask or whatever. What were they? She knew she'd be alright, that nobody from the order had been killed or critically wounded, her family… Then, like the word 'family' was a switch that she'd just pulled everything came back to her: the fight, the need to patch things up… "The baby," she whispered. She couldn't believe she hadn't thought of the baby before – it was so small and helpless. She was supposed to protect it. How could she have forgotten it? "What happened to the baby? Is it okay?"
"You mean Alex? He's fine. He's still with Molly and Arthur – I flooed them a few hours ago to make sure he was fine."
"No, not Alex. The baby…" she said, her voice trembling with fear as she shook her head and reached for her stomach with her unharmed hand. "This baby." She paused, recognising the surprise in his eyes. "You didn't know. They didn't tell you I was… I am pregnant."
Sirius shook his head, his mouth half hanging open. It took him a few seconds to find his voice again... "When did you find out?"
"A couple of days ago," Mia said hurriedly. "Sirius, I need to know if our baby is okay. Please!"
He started to get up, half shocked, half fearing. "I'll go ask…"
"No need to," someone said from behind him just as Elizabeth stepped in, standing by the side of this chair. "Calm down, Mia. Your baby is okay."
"Are you sure?" Mia asked as hand still covered her stomach protectively.
She nodded and went on healer mode. "Look, at first I was a worried because the baby's heartbeat was a little faster than usual but I cast a protective spell around your womb and it normalized the heart sounds. This early in the pregnancy, trauma is either deadly for the embryo or barely affects it all. I've triple checked already and there is no reason to believe your baby isn't completely healthy, Mia."
"You knew?" Sirius asked her in disbelief, as he sat down again. "So that heartbeat you were listening to at the Department… Why didn't you say something?"
She gave him an apologetic look. "Because I saw the baby was alright and I wanted to give Mia a chance to tell you herself." Then, she turned to her friend, who was looking at Sirius a bit guiltily. "I was hoping you'd do it in a much… ceremonial way but well, too late, I guess. Well, just listen to this. I suppose it will make up for any poorly-told news." The healer carefully brushed the covers and Mia's two-piece pyjamas out of the way to reveal her abdomen and murmured a few words, pointing her wand there. Just as she did it, the familiar sound of an unborn heartbeat flooded the room.
Relief washed over Mia once again and her unharmed hand reached for Sirius's as they listened to the beating of their baby's heart. "Thank you," she whispered to Elizabeth.
Her friend smiled back and waved her wand again, making the sound of the heartbeat disappear. "You can pay me back by taking better care of yourself. If I see you on a battle again while pregnant, I will put you on forced bed rest. Mark my words." She circled the bed and approached a little cupboard that was bolted to the wall, removing a bottle of a pinkish potion, which she poured into the glass on Mia's bedside table. "Pain-blocking potion. This one should help you with the aching and won't hurt the baby."
Mia nodded and, with the healer's help, drank the whole thing. She was glad to find out it didn't taste very bitter or sickening sweet and started to feel her head less achy just seconds after drinking the potion.
"I'll leave you two alone, okay?" Elizabeth said. "I suppose you have plenty of stuff to discuss."
"'Kay." Just as Elizabeth disappeared, Mia turned to Sirius and sighed, her good hand still gripping his. "Are you angry at me for not telling you about the baby before? I wanted to, it's just… it didn't sound right bringing it up when we were so… distant." She sighed. "The whole fight just sounds so meaningless now."
He gently brushed a strand of hair away from her face. "I could never be angry at you over this – I know you'd tell me about the baby as soon as we fixed things," he whispered, looking her in the eyes with such love… and a bit of guilt. "It wasn't a meaningless fight, Mia. I did something awful and you had every right to be angry."
She shook her head. "I… I shouldn't have demanded that you promised me not going after Wormtail. Not after what we'd learnt about what he's done. I understand now. I just didn't want you to get hurt…"
"I could have refused to make that promise, Mia, but I didn't. This one's on me. That said, I'm really sorry for hurting you that way," he told her as he touched her slightly bruised cheek with his hand carefully. "Watching you this whole week, Mia, so miserable, made me regret it more than I can ever tell you. And I promise I'll never make a promise that I don't mean again. Or lie to you…" he paused, weighing his words "…unless you're having a hormonal rampage and ask me some sort of trick question that I'll only survive if I tell you a little white lie, whose content I won't specify for my own safety."
Mia had to chuckle at the last statement. "I suppose I can live with that," she said, smiling at him. "Honestly, I'd forgiven you already. Gabe and Lulu talked to me. They helped me understand what those things Rodolphus said made you feel. I was going to talk to you yesterday, hoping to fix things and tell you I was pregnant – I'd just decided to do it before Kreacher warned me about Harry." She paused, looking into his eyes, no pain, no sadness. Just joy from having him back. "I love you."
"I love you," he replied. Sirius leaned forward, intending to kiss her, but instead found himself simply holding her against him, carefully not to hurt her much, though, and burying his face against her hair. Every thought and fear he'd held back since she'd woken up flooded back into his mind, terrifying him in a way that words couldn't describe. He'd never been that close to losing her. "Oh Merlin."
"I'm alright. Don't worry, Sirius. We're alright. All of us are," she whispered to him.
"You have no idea what it felt like watching you lying there on the floor, hurt and unconscious. For a moment I thought that bitch had killed you. I couldn't bear thinking that you might be gone… It killed me."
"You weren't the only one," she whispered, making him pull away slightly to look her in the eyes. Mia understood exactly what he'd felt while he'd been unsure if she was alive or dead – after all she hadn't been the only one who'd nearly died at the Department. "That archway with the veil, Sirius… I saw you falling into the part where it was and I thought… it was a miracle you didn't fall into it."
Sirius shook his head. "It wasn't a miracle – it was Gabriel. He sent Goyle into the pit to block my way to the archway. He saved my life."
"Gabriel…" she whispered. She hadn't even seen him – she hadn't seen anything but Sirius falling and then, before she could even think, Bellatrix had gotten to her. Twice in the same day Gabriel had gotten Sirius back to her: one time by helping her forgive him, another by literally saving his life. "We owe him a great deal," Mia told Sirius softly. She promised herself to let him know how deeply thankful she was to him, next time she saw him.
"We do," he agreed. Sirius supposed the shock of nearly losing her had forced him to brush off that chilling sensation that was a near-death experience. But now that she mentioned it, he actually got the true meaning of it. "It was too close last night. For both of us." He was all for a fight but maybe they should rethink their battle strategies from now on.
She nodded soberly. "If both of us had died, Harry, Izzy and Alex would've been parentless – they still need us."
"And this baby, our baby," Sirius mumbled, placing a hand on his wife's flat abdomen, "wouldn't have even gotten a chance to live…"
Maybe back when they belonged to the first Order of the Phoenix it had been right to risk it all because they didn't have people completely dependent on them. Now, their lives were different. Sirius didn't want Alex to know him and Mia by photos and other people's reminiscences like Harry knew James and Lily. He wanted to be the one to walk Izzy down the aisle when she got married one day and then sit with Mia as she cried through the whole ceremony and drink himself stupid the day Harry got himself his first kid, only to be scolded by his wife when he got home. He wanted it all and he wanted it normal… but he supposed that might be asking for too much. Times were risky and war had officially started in the moment Fudge had been forced to acknowledge Voldemort was back – he supposed it was only a matter of time before the deaths started… "One of us will have to stay back during battles from now on," he stated.
"And, let me guess, you want it to be me," Mia said flatly.
He nodded. "It's not for any sort of chauvinistic reason, Mia. Look, for now it is because you're pregnant – let's not put that kid in more danger than it has already been through. But, overall, it is because I just go stupid when I think you're in danger. When you got hurt, I completely ignored Bellatrix, didn't even see Harry going after her and probably acted like an idiot all around because all I could think of was if you were going to be okay."
She looked unimpressed. "And you think I didn't do just the same? I knew I was pregnant, Sirius. Duelling with Bellatrix Lestrange couldn't be farther from what I intended to do, knowing in how many different ways she could kill me. Look, I'll spare us from another fight and tell you this right now: I won't go into a fight while I'm still carrying this baby but not even you will be able to keep from doing it after it is born. We're a team, Sirius. From now on, we'll just be an even better team – we'll make sure we always fight together in battles, we'll watch each other's backs and we'll make sure none of us gets killed. Don't bother trying to change my mind because it won't work."
He sighed – he could see by the look on her face that she wasn't kidding at all. Even with a sling around her arm, an aching body and lying on a hospital bed she could be all firm with her ideas – likely had gotten that from Lulu. And, well, he really didn't feel like causing another fight now… "I suppose I can deal with a mutual protection deal."
"Good. Fighting about it would only make my headache worse, honestly." Though the pain-blocking potion seemed to be doing its job well enough, that little sting was still there.
Sirius's face shifted to worry. "Do you to rest a little more?"
"No, I've slept more than enough," Mia told him, smiling warmly at his worry. "What I really want now is to see the kids – Harry, Izzy, Alex… I just need to see them."
He nodded, getting up. "Alright, I'll go fetch the Izzy and Harry and then swing by the Burrow to get Alex. It's still early but I doubt they'll mind. But in the meantime, you might want to see Lulu and Gabe – they've been camping outside all night long waiting for news."
"All night long?" she asked in surprise. "Merlin, they didn't have to stay."
"They'd have gone mad if they had to wait at home," Sirius said, knowing exactly how the waiting felt like. "I'll send them in when I go out okay?"
She nodded. "'Kay."
Sirius smiled and leaned down to kiss her forehead. "Now, you behave while I'm gone." Then, he stopped for a moment before leaning down further to press his lips against her abdomen. "Keep an eye on Mummy, little one."
Mia couldn't help chuckling at the little expression of affection – how she'd longed for it while they were at odds… "Come here," she said just as he was straightening up again. He leaned to her a few of inches and she wrapped her right arm, which didn't seem to have received anything more dangerous than scrapes in the battle, around his neck.
He held back in return, carefully, just glad to have her close. "I missed you," he heard her whispering in his ear.
"The feeling was mutual, love," he assure her before pulling back just enough for their faces to meet, allowing him to kiss her softly. It was soft and yet hungry at the same time – such a whirlwind of contrasts… The need to show each other their love in that kiss, that all was well now, was mingled with that Sirius's effort not to go too far, afraid he'd accidentally hurt her still injured body in his passion. Merlin knew all he wanted was for her, and their child that she was carrying, to be alright. I supposed I'm able to balance the scales, he thought as his lips came apart from her soft ones. "I'd love to stay and kiss you some more but if I do, I'll have two teenagers and a toddler not so happy with me for keeping them waiting."
She chuckled slightly and leaned further against the pillows, where she loosened the sling around her arm a bit, as it felt rather uncomfortable. "I suppose my healers wouldn't approve of their patient snogging in the Hospital Wing, anyway."
"I'll try not to take long, okay?" He kissed her brow one last time before getting up and walking out of her sight quickly.
Her hands, both of them, rested on her stomach. There was relief and happiness inside her, despite the dark times that were coming. For now, she was just glad to be alive, glad not to have lost her baby and glad her family was alright. "Your daddy is pretty great," she whispered to her unborn child. She'd missed them being a unit. Maybe it was selfish feeling so happy now but she just couldn't help it …
"Oh, here she is," Mia heard Lulu saying before glancing at her. Her mother was shaking her head at her in disapproval as Gabe appeared behind her and gave her a relieved smile. "Now, look at that. Bandages, bruises, broken bones. Merlin, Mia, we gave you that body to use, not to ruin. Try to keep that in mind, would you? 'Cause there are no replacements there."
She rolled her eyes. "Here I thought I'd get a tearful hello from a desperate mother instead of a lecture. If I didn't know this was your way of telling you're glad I'm okay, I might be offended."
Lulu sighed and sat down on the edge of her bed, lightly slapping her daughter's leg softly. "Don't ever give us a scare like that, you hear me? I was okay with you getting a scratched knee or a few bruises while you played when you were a kid but flying across a room and hitting a bloody bookcase doesn't sound so mild."
"Yeah, it doesn't feel so mild either," Mia told her, before looking up at Gabriel, who still hadn't said a word. "I can't thank you enough for what you did… for saving my husband's life."
"I've already told him there's no need to thank me," he stated before letting out a breath – as much as he felt like it would be wiser not to step into that territory, he couldn't help doing it. He sat on a chair by the side of her hospital bed. "I saved him for you, Mia. True, I'd probably try to save from death anyone who fought side by side with me but I don't think I would have found the strength to move so fast if the person in question wasn't so important to someone I love… to my daughter. And this has made me realize a thing: as much as I try to just be your friend, Mia, I'll always feel like your father. I'll never be able to think of myself in any other way. If you want me to stay out of your life because of it, I'll respect that but I can't just stand in the backstage and not try to play my role."
Mia accepted those words more easily than she'd have predicted. "You know, in the past days, not to mention during the rest of the time I've know you, you've done more things for me as a father for me than Phillip Davis did in those two decades he was supposed to have acted as one."
"Piece of crap, that bloke was," Lulu said under her breath. "Him and his wife. Would never forget their precious meetings for the ministry but weren't even capable of sending a bloody card for your birthday. Careless little…"
Mia coughed, interrupting her, before she turned to look at Gabriel. She knew well enough Lulu didn't like them even dead. "My point was that you most certainly won't have to fight anyone else for the role of my father. I don't really know what it is like to have one but, well, I'm willing to give you a try."
He smiled. "You have no idea how much that means to me."
Lulu looked away, biting her inner lip. Her eyes burned as things were set right but she held back the tears – crying out of joy would completely ruin her badass image, wouldn't it? "Oh, just hug and be done with it. We're not getting any younger."
They chuckled lightly but did as she told them and hugged carefully. The last time he'd held his daughter in his arms, Gabriel recalled, was when she was still a newborn baby. It felt like it was just yesterday.
When they pulled apart, Lulu spoke again. "Well, I suppose it's time you knew that Gabe and I… well, we're… together… as in a couple. There, I said it."
Mia raised her eyebrow. "Do you actually believe that's news to anyone? It's pretty obvious."
"Obvious? How's it obvious?" her mother inquired in surprise.
"Well, you live together, you go out together, you let him take you on a date for Valentine's day… might as well stamp it to your foreheads."
"That's what I've been telling her for months," Gabe pointed out
"Okay, first, that Valentine's day thing," she made a face as she said it, "was a walk, not a date and how do you even know about it?"
"I was out with Sirius and saw you guys. I didn't say a thing because I assumed you were getting a kick out of keeping it a secret… not that it was very well-kept. But congratulations, anyway."
"And here I thought I'd be surprising you," Lulu mumbled.
That reminded Mia of something that might be a good idea to break to them now. "Well, then why don't I surprise you instead?" she said. And then, she proceeded to inform them they were going to become grandparents again in a few months.
Albus Dumbledore had dared that moment for seventeen years. Ever since Sybill Trelawney had sat opposite him and, in a trance, made the ultimate prophecy, he'd dared the moment when he'd have to voice it out loud. The mess at the ministry and the emergency disciplinary hearing against Fudge had been a good excuse to allow him to procrastinate but he knew the time had come: Tom had tried to get it for himself, to learn the prophecy from its record at the Department of Mysteries. It shamed him to feel such but he was glad Harry had fallen into that trap – that way, he'd gotten the prophecy himself and it had ended up broken. Now, nobody with bad intentions would get a hold of it.
Harry had questioned him about it only a few minutes before, right after supper in the Great Hall. His curious mind wanted to know if he knew anything about the prophecy and why it had his name and Voldemort's on him. Dumbledore had told the truth and confirmed that he knew exactly what it said, promising him to reveal it when they were in more private surroundings. Truth was, surroundings weren't the problem – he just needed to inform someone else first.
He stepped into the Hospital Wing very silently and, at the opposite side of the room, Sirius and Amelia didn't even notice his presence. Sirius sat on a chair by the bed where his wife was lying awake, with their young son, Alex, asleep and cuddled against his mother's side in the bed. Both parents talked calmly, their tones carefully low not to disturb the little boy's sleep. The smiles that covered their faces made him envy their ability to experience such bliss in so tense times.
Dumbledore had always been fond of both of them, even when they were only his students. They had always been rather different from the other students, though that didn't keep them from fitting in. Complicated family lives had made them more mature in some ways, though it wouldn't be safe to say in all of them – Sirius's long detention records were more than enough proof that they still conserved the typical immaturity of their natural age. Dumbledore had seen them slowly being drawn to each other and, eventually, becoming a couple and later a family so different from the ones they'd had before. It had been Amelia's job to raise Harry Potter away from fame, away from home, and, Dumbledore had to admit, she'd done a good job. It was with amusement that he recalled Harry mentioning earlier that she'd condemned him and Isabelle to be on dish-duty for the first week of their Summer break just for the single fact that they'd given her the scare of a lifetime. He'd trust nobody else but her and Sirius to stand by his side when he informed Harry of his fate…
"I hope I am not interrupting anything," Dumbledore said, after having made his way closer to them.
Mia looked up and gave him a smile. "Not at all."
"I trust you are feeling better now," he said.
She nodded. "Yes, I think I am. Elizabeth promised to spring me from here tomorrow so I can go home."
"Home to stay in bed and rest for a few days," Sirius reminded her, making her roll her eyes. He turned to Dumbledore. "Do you have any news for us?"
The headmaster nodded. More than you would ever imagine, he thought. But he quickly decided not to start with the main matter that had brought him there – tamer themes might be better way to start a conversation. "Well, Cornelius has just lost his position as the Minister of Magic – the International Confederance of Wizards, which has invited me back to my old chair there, arranged for a emergency disciplinary hearing to be held for him and they deeply disapproved of the behaviour Cornelius had been adapting all year long. Also, the Daily Prophet had to reprint today's edition, where they admitted Lord Voldemort's return, three times, so it's safe to say that people are no longer fighting with their own foolishness."
"Took them long enough," Mia said under her breath.
"Let me guess, they managed to drag Harry's name into the news, somehow," Sirius said in annoyance.
Dumbledore nodded. "I suppose they may be feeling embarrassed, as they only reserved young Harry a single paragraph with an apologetic tone in it. But, ahead to more interesting matters, a few hours ago Hagrid and the team of aurors that was accompanying him have finally located our… dear colleague, Dolores Umbridge, in the forbidden forest. She seems to be unharmed, though in a rather… embarrassingly tall situation."
That brought a smile to Sirius's lips. "Please, don't spare us from the details."
The headmaster couldn't help letting out a chuckle. "Well, I assume young Harry has already informed you of how he and Miss Granger lured Dolores into the forbidden forest."
Sirius gave a nod. Yes, when Harry had came with Izzy to visit Mia, they certainly had indulged them with all the details of their escape, including how he and Hermione had convinced Umbridge that they had some sort of massive weapon to use against the ministry hidden in the forest, how the – certainly former by now – headmistress had dragged them there and, faced with a herd of Centaurs, insulted them and gotten herself captured by them and Hagrid's giant brother, Grawp.
Dumbldore continued. "Well, it seems somehow she'd ended up on the very top of an eighty feet tall tree and was having some trouble descending from it, as her wand was broken to pieces. Hagrid mentioned she did try to make a rope with her clothes but it ended up falling down."
"Wait… so she was up there… stark naked?" Mia asked, wide-eyed.
"I believe she still had her… unmentionables on," the headmaster stated, trying to keep a serious face.
"Please tell me someone took pictures," Sirius whispered. Oh, what he could do with those pictures… the royal amount of blackmail… the bashing…
"I don't think they had any camera within hand's reach," Dumbledore stated, nonchalant. "Well, after the aurors managed to rescue Dolores, she had to be taken to St. Mungo's, so hysterical they found her."
Why the hell couldn't I be there? Sirius thought. Watching something like that had to provide him with laughs for a lifetime. When he looked back at Dumbledore's face, he saw it had turned hard and serious and suddenly felt cold. He was done with the good news, clearly.
"I'm afraid not all news I have for you are good," the headmaster told them, voicing exactly Sirius's thoughts.
Mia's good hand reached to grip Sirius's. "Did someone die?"
He shook his head. "No, thank Merlin, no." Dumbledore let out a deep breath. "This is about something that had happened a long time ago, something that will most certainly affect the future."
"The future?" Sirius inquired.
Dumbledore nodded. "It concerns your godson. Maybe I should have revealed this a long time ago – you had a right to know… but I was hoping that, by sparing you, I'd be making your lives easier and giving Harry a chance to be as close to a regular boy as possible."
"Albus, what is going on?" Mia asked, fearful.
The headmaster let out a sigh and, soberly, started talking. "Seventeen years ago, a prophecy was made…"
THE END... for now
A/N: New volume posted in my profile under the name of 'BRAVE NEW HOPE'.
That said, I really hope you liked this fic overall - it was quite a ride and certainly very enjoyable to read. So, I'll once more say that feedback if more than welcome. Review!
*Sigh* Off to volume 2 now.