Ginny Weasley Potter had never been to the United States. She stared in awe at the tall majestic buildings, the amount of people walking on the street, the traffic, and the billboards. Times Square was a sight to see. Harry has been to New York before and so had Sirius, but in his case it was when he was 19 and things changed a great deal.
They were here to find Harry's cousin Cassie. Years ago Vernon Dursley told Harry and Dudley their older cousin from America died. He also told Cassie that Harry died and his family wanted nothing to do with her. It was Vernon's way of trying to keep Harry from knowing he was a wizard, Cassie knew and wanted the Dursleys to tell Harry so he was prepared when he received his letter.
They were staying at Trump International. The hotel was exquisite; Sirius had a two bedroom suite reserved for them. Harry felt it was too extravagant but Sirius insisted it was his money and his treat. The view was magnificent; you could feel the power in this city. Cassie's publisher had an office not far from the hotel. Sirius reasoned that was why he chose this particular hotel. They could walk to the publisher's office and take in the sights. They settled into the hotel, freshened up and had lunch before making their way to their appointment. If it wasn't for Sam Casey and Hermione's friendship with the Muggle Prime Minister, this meeting would have been much harder to obtain. He was able to contact the UK branch of the publishing house and ask for an appointment with Cassandra Evans's publisher, stating that there were questions about her family in England. He sent a letter to the publisher via express mail that explained a small bit of the story, excluding the fact that the people meeting with him were wizards and also asked that Ms. Evans not be present for the first meeting. They did not want to shock the woman.
Harry, Ginny and Sirius walked into a very posh office. Sirius looked at the collection of book covers that represented the artwork throughout the office. Cassandra Evans wrote romances, apparently very steamy romances. Mr. Franklin Morris was Cassie's publisher, his assistant a very efficient young man that reminded Harry and Ginny of her brother Percy offered them refreshments. They weren't made to wait too long and the Percy look alike escorted them into Mr. Morris's office.
Franklin Morris was a man in his late fifties, maybe early sixties. He was tall and attractive, his hair was salt and pepper and his eyes a very vivid blue. He motioned them to a seat and began discussing the situation.
"I know we were going to leave Cassie out of this first meeting but I have to tell you she will be here in about an hour." He held up his hand. "Please, I have a personal emergency myself that I must attend to immediately after this meeting. It only came to my attention this morning and I have to make a 6:00 flight to LA. Anyway I asked Cassie to be here at three so that gives you approximately a half an hour before she arrives."
"What reason did you give her for the meeting?" Harry asked.
"Mr. Potter, Cassie has been my client for more than ten years. She wrote her first book when she was 24 and hasn't stopped. I told her I had an emergency and needed to go over a few things with her before leaving. This is a very exciting time for your cousin; a producer from Hollywood is turning one of her novels into a movie. She is also starting a new series of regency era novels. We frequently meet to discuss her work and career. We are also friends."
Ginny asked Mr. Morris how he thought Cassie would react to this news.
"She will be shocked of course but Cassie will be thrilled. She has talked about you many times Mr. Potter, always wondering what could have happened if her parents insisted that you live with them. Apparently they felt you were being mistreated and tried to gain custody of you when you were a small child. She regretted not being more involved after her parents died but there was only so much she could do, she was only 20 and was still in college."
Harry had no idea Cassie's parents tried to gain custody of him. He knew that Vernon Dursley would have jumped at that offer but he also knew there was a reason he had to live with the Dursleys until he was 17. As long as he lived with his aunt he was protected from Voldermort.
At approximately 2:30 Mr. Morris's assistant announced that Ms Evans had arrived. He excused himself and went to the outer office to try and prepare her.
Cassie Evans was a beautiful woman. She was of medium height with long light brown hair that reached past her shoulders. She had her hair pulled into a very chic pony tail that tied at the nape of her neck. She was wearing a cream colored sheath dress with matching jacket and pumps. She was a very well put together woman who fit in very nicely in this cosmopolitan city.
"Frank how is Carolyn? I'm so sorry." She greeted her publisher by taking both his hands and giving him a kiss on his cheek.
"The doctors say she will be fine but in a lot of pain, she was very lucky to get out of the car alive. We're leaving for the airport soon but I needed you to come here. There is something I need to tell you Cassie. Please sit for a minute." He motioned for her to sit in one of the chairs in the outer office which surprised her; they always sat in his office. Something was wrong.
"Cassie I received a letter not too long ago from the prime minister in England. He was looking for you concerning a family member of yours. Apparently you thought this family member was dead and he thought you were dead. It's not true."
She looked at Frank trying to absorb what he said. She whispered, "Harry" and looked at her publisher.
"Come into my office Cass." He led her into his office and Cassie saw two grown men and a very pretty young woman. The younger man looked at her and she knew who he was instantly, he looked just like his father.
"Harry?" She asked and when he nodded her face broke out in a grin. She walked over to him and put her hands on each side of his face. Tears flowing she hugged her cousin for the first time in what had to be 15 years. She hugged him and looked at him again. "You look like so much like your dad, but you have Lily's eyes."
"Apparently your eyes too," he laughed.
"Well actually if we are getting technical, Grandfathers eyes. Grandmothers eyes were chocolate brown." She grinned, "Harry I have so many questions, I want to know about your life and what led you here."
"We're here for a week we have plenty of time, let me introduce you to my wife. Cassie this is Ginny, we've been married for 5 years, and we have two boys."
"I'm looking forward to getting to know you Ginny and would love to meet your children." Ginny whose tears were flowing also hugged Cassie and welcomed her to the family. It was then that Cassie took a look at the other man in the room. There was something very familiar about him. He had long black hair and a very handsome face; he looked like the male models for her book covers. There was something very familiar about that black hair and those grey eyes, and then it hit her, "Sirius Black?" She asked.
Grinning from ear to ear Sirius came over and pulled Cassie into a hug. "Hello imp" he said.
Laughing at the old nickname Cassie wiped at her tears with a tissue, turning to Frank she said "Thank you"
"Well this went well, better than I thought but I have to leave you. I need to get home, gather my wife and make the flight, have to be at the airport 2 hours ahead these days. "
"Have a safe flight Frank and give my love to Grace and Carolyn." She gave her publisher a hug and said goodbye.
Turning to Harry, Ginny and Sirius, "There's so much I want to talk about, so many questions, please come home with me. We'll have dinner, do you have somewhere to stay, I have plenty of room."
"Yes we're staying at Trump International, Sirius insisted" Harry answered.
"Very nice choice Sirius, you must be doing well." She teased. "Come on my place isn't far from here we can walk."
They left the office and followed Cassie to the street. Her home was only a few blocks away, it took about ten minutes to get to the building. The doorman greeted her with a broad smile and nodded to her companions. Sirius was impressed by the building, Cassie was doing well herself.
The elevator stopped at the 12th floor. Sirius expected a very nice apartment with a great view. He didn't expect what came barreling towards the door at full speed, brown curls bouncing.
"Mommy, mommy your home," the little girl squealed. Cassie knelt down to hug the child.
"Yes Bella don't tell me you missed me already. I've only been gone an hour or two."
The little girl just smiled and hugged her mother. "Maggie and I were having a tea party." It was then that she noticed the other people standing in the doorway. "Hello"
"Bella, this is my cousin Harry from England and his wife Ginny. And this gentleman is someone I knew when I was a little girl, his name is Mr. Black."
"Hello Bella and you can call me Sirius." He took her little hand and bowed over it. The little girl giggled. "You're silly. Is your name really Serious?"
Crouching down so he could look at the little girl in the eyes he said, "Not serious like this," he made a very grim face, "Sirius as in the star in the sky."
"Oh ok, I don't know the names of the stars yet, I'm only four. I go to preschool though and I know how to read a little."
"Bella come in and finish your snack and let your mother come in the house." An older African American woman walked into the room smiling.
"Maggie I want you to meet my cousin Harry." Cassie made all the introductions and added, "Maggie is my nanny, friend and well unofficial adopted mother. She helps me with Bella, I would be lost without her."
She invited them to take a seat and they couldn't help but admire the apartment. "Make yourself at home, I'm going to change, I'll be right back." She walked away and spoke to Maggie then made her way into her bedroom. She stood there for a few minutes taking in everything that just happened. Harry was alive, he was really alive. She couldn't believe it. She had so many questions.
She changed quickly into a pair of jeans and a white blouse, threw on a pair of flats and went back into her living room. She noticed Ginny looking at the photos on her mantle and the flag from Alex's funeral. She walked over to the other woman, "That was my husband; those are the medals he received while in the service. He was a member of the Special Forces and was killed in an ambush. That was over two years ago."
"I'm so sorry. " Was all Ginny could say.
"He was a wonderful man. We started dating when I came home from college my first year. He helped me deal with my parents deaths. We were married right after I graduated college. He was already in the military and I knew what the risks were. I knew as soon as I saw the men in uniforms that day when I opened the door."
"He was very handsome. Bella looks a lot like him." Ginny was wiping away a tear. This woman had been through so much. Lost her parents, then Harry, then she lost her husband in a war.
"She does, but she has the Evans eyes." Cassie smiled.
Cassie and Ginny walked back to the two men who were talking quietly. Maggie came in with a tray with tea. "Thank you Maggie. Why don't you go home early today? Enjoy the rest of the day. I'll see you on Wednesday."
"Are you sure Cass? "
"Go, Al will be thrilled to have you home early." Cassie winked and Maggie waved her hand embarrassed as she grabbed her things to leave. She said a quick goodbye to everyone and a got a hug from Bella.
Knowing that Harry and Cassie really needed to talk Ginny asked Bella if she could see her room. Suggesting they find some toys to play with. Cassie gave Ginny an appreciative look and sat down in an armchair across from Harry and Sirius.
Cassie sighed, "I'll tell you what happened between me and Vernon. After my parents died I decided to keep in touch with you and Dudley and Petunia of course. Petunia was not always like that Harry. She wasn't always a bitter person. Whenever I stayed with her parents she and Lily treated me like their little sister. Anyway I called on your ninth birthday. I had sent a gift and wanted to make sure you got it, I wanted to continue what my parents started."
"I remember those were the only gifts I would get."
"Well I called and I spoke To Petunia, I asked her how both boys were and asked if your gift arrived. She said yes but she sounded funny. Then I asked her if she told you about what you were Harry. You see I always knew since Lily went away to school. My father and your grandfather were very close. When Lily received her letter your grandfather told my dad, just in case I received the same kind of letter. My parents were very open, and I had a lot of questions when I found out Lily was going to boarding school with her friend Severus. I remember him when I would visit. He was a good friend of Lily's but different than everyone else. He seemed so sad."
Harry laughed, "He had a tough life. He was surrounded by darkness up until a few years ago. Now he's married to my best friend and their expecting a baby."
"That's good to hear. He didn't like Petunia very much but he was always nice to me. Now where was I? Oh yes I knew you were a wizard. Petunia was stunned when I asked her about it. She told me she didn't know what I was talking about and I told her it was alright because I knew since I was very young. Before I knew it Vernon got on the phone and started yelling at me. He told me to mind my own business and stay away from his family. Harry will never know about his abnormality. I argued with him and said it was a gift. He called your parents freaks and hung up the phone.
I was furious. I couldn't tell anyone about it, not even Alex. When I spoke to him later that day he noticed I sounded upset. I told him I talked to Vernon and Petunia and I was worried you were being mistreated. He knew how my parents worried about you, and that they tried to get custody of you when they didn't like what they saw when they visited. They received a visit, from an Albus Dumbledore who was a rather interesting man. He told my parents you had to live with Petunia and explained the story about your parent's death and that you were safest with the Dursleys. He commended my parents for caring that deeply for you. I remember he gave me candy. I didn't tell Alex any of that. He never knew your secret. He asked me if I wanted to try again to gain custody of you once we were married. I thought about it and knew Dumbledore would stop it. For some reason I trusted him. I just hated seeing you suffer. I decided to call more often.
Vernon was not happy. Not at all. Then a few months after the big argument I called and Vernon answered the phone I asked how you were and he said you became very ill and died from a high fever and infection. I asked why didn't they call me and he said he lost my number and address, liar. I wanted to talk to Petunia but he said she wasn't there. And then the bastard hung up on me. Again! I was devastated. I couldn't believe we lost you too. I can't believe Petunia allowed that."
Harry took Cassie's hand. "She was afraid of him. She was afraid he would leave her with two boys to raise. They are divorced now and she is coming to terms with a lot of what she allowed. Dudley was a bully to me but something changed when I was 17. He grew up. We're friends now and he wants to see you, so does Aunt Petunia she's just nervous."
"I think I would like to see her too. So tell me your side, I want know everything."
Sirius watched as Harry retold the story about hearing the big argument on his ninth birthday and the pain he felt when they told him she was killed. He told her about the letter he received and how Dursley tried to keep it away from him, even going so far as to take him to a small cabin on a n island. He told her about Hagrid and Hogwarts and finding out he had a godfather. Then Sirius told her about his arrest and time in Azkaban and how he escaped and his time behind the veil.
Finally Harry told her about the prophecy, the time he spent with Hermione and Ron hiding out in the tent and fighting the war. He ended with the defeat of Voldemort and the beginning of his life.
"You're so young, I'm so sorry you had to go through all that." She looked at Sirius, "How did you return from that veil? You said no one ever returned."
"No idea, I just remember breaking free and gasping for air. I was at the ministry but I didn't want to be seen. I wasn't pardoned yet so I made my way out of the ministry and back to Grimmauld Place. The place was deserted and I knew it was being watched. I turned into my animagus form and went to the Burrow where the Weasleys live. No one was there, I thought that was odd. I went to the only other place I could think of, Hogwarts. I joined the fight; I think we had so much success because the Death Eaters were just as shocked to see me as the order members. I watched as Harry defeated Voldemort."
Cassie looked thoughtful for a moment; the wizarding world is quite different in more ways than she thought. She didn't know how to tell them what she was suspecting since Bella was a baby. She didn't know how to ask them if they could tell. She didn't have to because Ginny came out of Bella's room grinning. "Harry, Sirius I think you should come here and see…" She stopped when she saw Cassie's face. "Cassie you already know don't you?"
"I've known since she was an infant."
"Known what?" Harry asked.
Ginny smiled, "Bella is a witch, or will be. She levitated her doll."
They decided to order in for dinner. Cassie knew of a great place for Chinese food. They sat around the dining room table talking and laughing. Cassie excused herself and went to put a very tired Bella to sleep. She tucked her in and read her one of her favorite stories, watching as the little girls eyes began to close.
Once they all finished dinner they went into the living room and Cassie asked harry if he would like to see photo's of the family. Harry had never seen pictures of his grandparents. He never saw pictures of his mother when she was younger. He was thrilled.
Cassie went to her entertainment center and took out flat box. She opened it and they saw a flat disc, Harry knew it was a DVD.
"A few years ago I scanned all the family pictures and put them on DVD's, it was a project I needed at the time to keep myself occupied. It was right after Alex died and writing at that time was not an option." She turned on her television and put the DVD in the player. Music started and there in front of Harry was a family picture. It was taken before he was born. He saw his mother and father, two elderly people, Vernon and Petunia and a young Cassie. Then the pictures changed and he saw Cassie's parents, holidays, and his parents wedding. There was a young Sirius, Remus and even Peter Pettigrew. It was amazing. There were even pictures of him as a little boy up until he was 9.
"I'll burn you a copy so you have your own."
Harry didn't know what to say, he was overwhelmed. He reached over and hugged his cousin for this incredible gift.
"Well since you are here for the week would like to see New York with your own personal guide?" Cassie asked.
"We don't want to impose."
"Harry you're not. I have the luxury of making my own hours and I haven't done enough research to start my next novel, so I'm free. Anyplace in particular you would like to see?"
Ginny answered, "Everything!" she laughed.
Harry had a request, "I would like to see Ground Zero."
"Sirius any requests?" she looked at the handsome wizard and he grinned mischievously, "I would like to once and for all find out what is so great about baseball."
She laughed remembering the conversations she had about her favorite sport. "Well I think I can arrange that. They are in town this week, I'll get tickets."
"What team are we going to see?" Harry asked.
"Harry there are two Major League teams in New York but only one worth seeing."
"Who?" he asked.
Sirius snorted, "The Yankees, that's all she talked about when she was a kid."
The next few days Cassie and Bella showed them the highlights in Manhattan. They went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Guggenheim, American Museum of Natural History, the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and so much more. Their days were packed with sightseeing. Ginny especially loved the shopping. Bella proved to be a very good tour guide; she had already been to all those places except for The Guggenheim.
On Thursday that week Cassie had tickets to go to the Yankee game that evening. In the morning they went to see Ground Zero. It was a sight Cassie would never get used to. That day is as embedded in her memory as the birth of her daughter or the death of her husband. She'll never forget what it was like to watch it all enfold on TV. They were living near base in New Jersey when the towers were struck. She never in her life had a more helpless feeling.
Harry stood there shaking his head. "You know when it happened I thought it was some kind of dark forces at work over here, it was something Voldemort would have done. I guess evil exists in all forms wizard and muggle alike."
"Someday, maybe not as soon as we would like, terrorism will be defeated. It was why Alex went to Afghanistan; it's why so many young men and women are defending freedom in a faraway place," reflected Cassie.
Cassie took them to South Street Seaport after that for lunch and then they went back to her home to get ready for the game. Maggie was babysitting that night. Bella had to take a nap because she wanted to stay up and watch the game; she had her mother's thirst for the game. She was telling Harry and Sirius about "Cutie Pie" and how he was her favorite player.
"Does "Cutie Pie" have a real name?" Sirius asked.
" His name is Derek Jeter but we call him "Cutie Pie" because he's soooooo cute."
They all laughed and Ginny couldn't wait to see what "Cutie Pie" looked like. Cassie had her computer on and showed Ginny a picture of Jeter, "Oh yes I see, "Cutie Pie" it is" she agreed. Harry and Sirius didn't seem to see what all the fuss was about.
Cassie had great seats, they were behind the Yankee dugout a few rows back. She tried to explain the game the best she could to her group. When some fellow fans heard her they joined in with the explanation. Telling Harry, Sirius and Ginny that baseball was similar to Cricket which is a sport only Harry really knew about since he lived as a muggle until he was 11.
Cassie added that baseball was not a fast moving game like soccer(Football in England). She explained it was a game of skill. A game could be high scoring but that didn't make it a great game. She also explained tonight the Yankees would be playing their rivals the Red Sox. You could feel the electricity in the stadium.
By the fourth inning the Yankees and Sox were scoreless. Cassie's guests were getting into the game; you couldn't help it with this atmosphere. Cassie told them it wasn't a true baseball experience unless they had a hot dog or pretzel and a beer, since she was the driver she had a soda.
There were some close calls and Arod made some spectacular plays from third base. The pitching was great that night and there were very few walks. Finally Jeter got things started in the bottom of the fourth inning. A line drive single, stolen base, and Matsui hits a home run. They scored one more run and were leading 3-0. Then the Sox scored in the fifth and came within 1. They tied it in the seventh and the fans were groaning.
With true Yankee fashion the game was won in the bottom of the ninth with a walk off homerun from, yes you guessed it, cutie pie himself. The crowd went wild and sang along with Frank Sinatra to New York, New York. What a first baseball game experience that was.
As they were walking out of the stadium Cassie looked at Sirius with a questioning glance, "Well? What did you think?"
Putting an arm around her shoulders Sirius whispered in her ear, "Not bad love, still love
Quidditch but I can see the attraction." He kissed her on the cheek and said, "Thanks"
Cassie tried to ignore the butterflies growing in her stomach. Butterflies, what the hell was that. She hadn't felt like that since Alex. She shouldn't be feeling like that, it was too soon wasn't it? It's been over two years shouldn't she mourn longer. She couldn't let herself even think about it, Sirius was a friend, a drop dead gorgeous friend, but one that lived in England. That literally made this impossible.
Sirius kept his arm around Cassie as they made their way to the car. This did not go unnoticed by our resident match maker Mrs. Ginny Potter. She nudged Harry and motioned for him to take a good look at his cousin and godfather. He looked at his wife, "Stop Gin, I know what you're thinking. Leave it alone." Harry knew what he was saying was falling on deaf ears because his wife was a hopeless romantic.
Cassie took them back to the hotel and then went home. Maggie had fallen asleep on the couch and Cassie gently shook her awake. They talked for a while then sensing something Maggie asked her what was wrong.
"I feel guilty."
"What could you feel guilty about?"
"Being attracted to a man."
Maggie looked at the younger woman, "Cassie, you're a young beautiful woman why wouldn't you be attracted to men. Two and a half years you have been alone. I think it's time. And that Mr. Black is a handsome one."
"How did you know I was talking about him?
"Cassie that man would turn a dead woman's head."
He sat in his hotel room staring out of the window at the view. Harry and Ginny went to bed after calling home to talk to the kids. They went to bed shortly after the call and left him alone in the large sitting area. He had never thought in his wildest dreams he would be this interested in a woman, not just a woman but a muggle. At first the attraction was strange to him, he knew her when she was a child. The age difference wasn't that big, Snape and Hermione were 20 years apart and perfect together. If he was truthful to himself it wasn't the age difference that bothered him. It was competing with a dead man. He didn't think he could compete with a war hero. Her husband must have been the perfect man for her. And how do you woo a woman who lives an ocean away? Sunday they were going home, back to London and he didn't know when he would see her again. He couldn't get involved knowing it would be one night. He wouldn't do that to her.
They had two days left. Friday they were going to see a play on Broadway. Ginny wanted to see Wicked. Sirius was able to get great seats and was taking Harry, Ginny, Cassie and Bella out to dinner. After dinner they would take Bella to Maggie's for a sleep over with her granddaughters. Sirius had hired a limousine for the night.
Harry rang Cassie's bell and waited for her to answer. When she answered the door she was on the phone, she motioned for him to come in. "I'll be just a minute Harry, where is everyone else?"
"In the car, I told them I would come up to get you, I'll just help Bella get ready."
"Thanks," she said and then began speaking on the phone again, "what no Frank I wasn't talking to you. Yes, yes I know I have a deadline I just need to finish my research, I won't write about an era I'm not too familiar with. It takes place in England but I haven't been there in a while. What? No I can't just go there for research, what about Bella?" she glanced over and saw Harry holding Bella's hand and her little suitcase in the other.
"I don't know Frank I'll think about it. Give my love to the family. See ya." She looked at Harry "Thanks Harry. We better go."
They left the apartment and harry asked her what was wrong.
"I have a deadline for my first 10 chapters of the series. It's part of the contract. The problem is I need to complete research on the Regency era in England. I like to be thorough about culture and facts in my stories and this will be the first book I write that takes place in an unfamiliar era and a country I haven't visited since I was a child."
"Why do it then?" he asked.
"I always loved Regency novels; they are the best kinds of romances. I have the characters and situations outlined but I need to understand the culture more."
"Cassie, why don't you come to England for a while and do your research there. Bella can go to school there with my boys."
"That's what Frank suggested, stay in England for a month or two. I don't want to move Bella around too much. I have to think about it."
They continued the conversation in the limo. Bella wanted to sit next to Sirius, he was her new buddy. He put her in the car seat the limo provided and buckled her in. He joined the conversation after Bella was secured.
"What are you talking about?" he asked.
"Cassie's has to have 10 chapters of her new book in by a certain date. It's in her contract. The problem is she does not feel comfortable with her knowledge of the era her book takes place. I suggested she come to England to study the Regency Period since the book takes place then. There have to be plenty of experts in London on the subject matter," Harry explained.
Sirius's face brightened, "Brilliant Harry, the portraits in Grimmauld Place will be able to supply an abundance of information. You could come and stay with me and Remus. There's plenty of room and now Remus spends a lot of time at his girlfriends so it's just me." He saw Harry ready to protest and watched Ginny nudge him. "Harry your place is too small and I have an extensive library."
"Portraits?" asked Cassie curiously.
"My ancestors Cassie, the portraits talk.
"Oh ok," She looked at Bella. Her daughter was paying attention to the conversation. She wasn't sure how much they should say in front of Bella about magic.
"Sirius paintings can't talk. You're being silly again." She laughed.
"Well Bella I like to think the paintings tell a story when you look at them."
"Ah Sirius maybe we should talk about this later," suggested Ginny.
They had a great dinner and Bella was a perfect little lady. It was apparent she accompanied her mother often when she went to fine restaurants. Cassie was very quiet at dinner thinking about what they suggested. She didn't have any family left here in the states. She had family in England. Alex's parents weren't living in the states; they were living on base in Germany. It would be a short plane ride to Munich from London and Bella could see them. It wasn't a bad idea. She would keep the apartment in NY and Maggie could check on it for her. She would miss Maggie and so would Bella but she would be able to give Bella an extended family. Once her book is done she could move back to the New York, if she wanted to. She wondered if she should take Sirius up on his offer. It was very generous of him. She certainly had enough money to rent a flat in London but then they would be alone in a relatively unfamiliar city. She looked at Sirius, again there were those butterflies.
Sirius was thinking that this could be what he was hoping for. Cassie could move into Grimmauld Place and he would be able to spend more time with her and Bella. He looked at Cassie, she was exquisite tonight. Her dress was black and looked like a soft material it was sleeveless and was formfitting. Sirius had to admire her curves; they were all in the right places.
After taking Bella to Maggie's they went to the theatre. They thoroughly enjoyed the play. The story of the Wicked Witch of The West and Glinda was a fun tale. The music and performers were spectacular. Ginny and Sirius wanted to know about the story of the Wizard of Oz. They had never seen the movie. Harry and Cassie tried to explain the plot.
Sirius walked Cassie up to her apartment. He told the driver to take Ginny and Harry back to the hotel. He wanted to talk to Cassie about her work.
Cassie offered Sirius coffee or wine and he opted for coffee. He sat at the counter while she made a pot. "Cassie I meant it when I offered to have you come and stay with me. I have a great deal of resources in my home. I will be able to introduce you to some experts, both muggle and wizard. I would love to have you and Bella stay with me and I think it would be good for you and Harry to really get to know each other. It would also be good for Bella to get to know our world."
"Sirius is there a school like Hogwarts in America?
"Yes in Salem but we can get Bella into Hogwarts, I know the Headmistress very well. We all do."
Cassie thought about it. She needed to get going on the book, she needed to begin moving on with her life. If Bella truly had magical abilities then she really should be surrounded by people who can help her adjust. She wondered what her straight laced very conservative husband would say if he knew his daughter was a witch. Cassie smiled to herself, he would think it was a joke.
"What's so funny?
"Nothing, I was just thinking about how nice it would be for Bella to have cousins around her."
They took their coffee into the living room and talked some more. He asked her about her marriage and how things have been as a single mother. He really wanted to know if she was ready to move on.
"We were married when I was 21, as soon as I graduated college. He had been in Kuwait for the first war with Iraq. When he returned he proposed. Our wedding was small, I had no one here and it was mostly his family. We lived in so many places in the country; he was transferred about four times before we were settling back in New Jersey. Alex was use to moving since his father was in the military also. We lived in North Carolina, Texas and California before that. It was a good marriage, I loved him and I wasn't alone anymore. I was happy; I had a career, a husband and a home. Then we had Bella and she is the light of my life."
Sirius put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer to him. She put her head on his shoulders. "You're not alone anymore Cassie, you have a family now. Come and live with us."
She picked her head up and looked at him; she looked in his eyes and nodded yes. Sirius hugged her and couldn't help himself, he kissed her. It was a sweet kiss, a gentle brush against her lips, a brief taste. He pulled away and leaned his forehead against hers, "I won't deny that I'm attracted to you. I am. But I promise if all you want is friendship then that's what you will get. If you want more than you'll get more. It's all up to you, but I better go before Harry sets out looking for me." He smiled and got up and walked to the door, Cassie followed him.
She put a hand on his shoulder, "Sirius, thank you." And she kissed him.
The nest day Cassie had everyone over for brunch, it was the last day before they had to leave. She wanted to tell Harry that she was going to except Sirius' offer and stay at his home to do her research. She wanted to talk to Bella first before anyone came over.
Maggie brought Bella back in the morning on her way to church. Bella told Cassie all about the sleepover and the fun she had with Maggie's granddaughters. They sat down together on Bella's bed and Cassie told her about moving to England for a while.
"Honey I know you have school here and we'll miss Maggie but I think you should meet your other cousins and family. It would be like an adventure."
"Are we going to live with Harry and Ginny?"
"No, Harry and Ginny really don't have the room right now. Sirius has a very big house and he invited us to stay with him for a while. If we stay in England we will find our own home eventually."
"Mommy I like Sirius, he's funny." Cassie laughed, she liked Sirius too, and he is funny and very easy on the eyes.
At brunch Cassie told Harry she and Bella were going to take Sirius up on his offer. He was beyond excited. Harry for the first time felt like he had his own family. Not one by marriage but by blood.
"When do you think you will be able to leave?" Harry asked.
"Well I really better get started on the research, I can't wait too long. Monday I have to call my accountant and lawyer to let them know I will be living in England. With technology today it won't be too hard to keep on top everything. The most difficult thing will be packing."
Ginny tried to suppress a smile, "I think I can help with that. We can use a little magic to get most of your things packed. You tell me what you need and I'll take care of it."
"Well than I guess we could leave as soon as next Saturday."
That's what they did the rest of the day. Harry and Sirius took Bella out to the park and for ice cream so she didn't see Ginny performing any magic. She would see enough living at Grimmauld Place. They started with Bella's clothes and toys. They left a few things out so Bella had clothes to wear and toys to play with. Next they packed Cassie's clothes. Ginny admired Cassie's wardrobe.
"Oh my goodness!" Cassie heard Ginny exclaimed. She walked over to the closet where Ginny was holding up a dress Cassie had never worn. It was a sapphire blue strapless dress. It looked formfitting with, the very top shirred in organza, it was a knee length and very pretty.
"I bought that last month for a party I was suppose to go to two weeks ago. Bella had a stomach flu so I didn't go. I don't think I need to bring that."
"Why not? Its stunning."
"Where would I wear that? I'm already bringing some dresses. This is not an everyday dress."
"Well maybe there won't be an everyday event, we do have parties in the wizarding world and I would love to see the reaction from some wizards when they see you in this. It's coming" Ginny didn't mean some wizards, she really meant Sirius. She saw how he looked at Cassie and Ginny was a notorious matchmaker, just ask Hermione and Severus.
They continued to pack; Cassie had 3 large suitcases filled with miniature clothes. She had to laugh, "Ginny any woman would love to be able to do this. It's amazing."
When the men returned with Bella, Cassie put her down for a nap. Sirius asked them how much they got done.
"We packed clothes and Bella's toys. I will need my computer and my office materials."
"Sirius you need to get that internet connection Sam was talking about, and maybe a television. Bella will want to watch her shows." Harry explained.
"When we get back I'll ask Sam to help get it set up." He explained that not until recently Grimmauld Place did not have the modern amenities of the muggle world. Only recently advances had been made to allow electronics work around magic. He himself had never used a cell phone or computer.
"Thanks to you I will be brought into the 21st century." Sirius smiled and Cassie felt those butterflies again only lower. He really was handsome.
A week later Sirius Black was driving them all crazy. It was Friday night and he wanted Grimmauld Place ready for his guests. Their flight would be arriving at noon the next day. That meant he wanted the place immaculate. His friends said they would help along with the two house elves. They had come here every day after work to help. He decided Cassie and Bella should be on the third floor since there were two free bedrooms there next to each other. It had nothing to do with the fact that his bedroom was there as well. Bella's room had to be perfect. He asked Ginny to try and recreate Bella's room in New York. He wanted the little girl as comfortable as possible. Hermione was given the task of getting Cassie's room ready. He trusted Hermione to make sure Cassie had all the amenities she needed. Harry and Sam were in charge of equipping the house with the technology needed.
The other men had their duties as well. Concerned that the library had entirely too much dark magic books he asked Severus and Remus if they could secure those books somewhere safe where an inquisitive Bella would not come across them. They were able to place the dark books on one wall and had it disguised with an outer wall that had a portrait on it just like the ones in Hogwarts, a spell was cast that would allow only an of age witch or wizard access with a password. The wall would then disappear and the books would be available. Once the witch or wizard would step away the wall would return. Remus and Severus were very proud of themselves as they relaxed in the library after completing the task.
"Why are you two sitting there as if you have nothing to do." A very flustered Sirius was standing at the door hands on his hips.
The two men looked at him and then the newly built wall. Remus got up and walked to the painting of, who else Albus Dumbledore and gave the password, "Lemon Drops". Albus winked and said, "As you wish Remus, I assume you are of age" and instantly the wall around him disappeared and behind it were the dark books. Sirius couldn't help noticing the smug look on Remus and Severus' faces.
"Not bad, nice touch with Dumbledore. Where did you get the portrait?"
"Minnie offered it when I asked if we could have a portrait from Hogwarts of someone trustworthy. When I explained what it was for she said she would give me the most trustworthy person she knew. He was ecstatic, probably thinking of ways to meddle." Severus explained with a wink at the portrait of his friend and mentor.
"Now Severus I haven't meddled in years. Minerva makes sure I behave. And I do enjoy seeing you young people living in a Riddle free world."
At that point Harry, Sam and Hermione walked into the library announcing that Ginny had dinner ready. Harry and Hermione said hello to their old headmaster and Remus introduced Sam as his girlfriend. Sam was now use to the moving and speaking portraits.
"You do know he will be excessively nosy now. I was almost going to ask for Cadogan instead."
"Severus you wound me. I am not nosy, I just like being helpful. Hermione dear, congratulations on your baby. You two will be wonderful parents."
"Thank You sir." She said blushing and walked over to her husband who put a protective arm around her.
"What an interesting man," Sam whispered to Remus.
He took her hand and walked with her to the kitchen, "You have no idea."
Sirius was worse Saturday morning. He stalked around the house checking the rooms, making sure everything was ready for his guests. He went into Cassie's room to see if everything she would need was there. He stepped into Bella's room smiling at the little doll house he had bought her just the other day. Ginny told him Bella had a doll house in her room but Cassie didn't think they should bring it. The room was pink and white with some lavender accents. It was very girly and very Bella. He had to laugh; Cassie was not very girly when she was a kid. Oh you knew she was a girl, but she wasn't the frilly dress and pinafore kind of girl. Something definitely changed after the Potters wedding.
Finally he went to the library checking the new fake wall. The portrait of Dumbledore was just stirring.
"Ah Sirius, good morning my boy. Your guests are arriving today aren't they?"
"Yes Albus, Cassie and her daughter will be here this afternoon. You met Cassie didn't you?"
"She was very young at the time. I think she was about 13 and blossoming into a young lady. You care for her Sirius?"
"She's Harry's cousin, of course I care."
"You know what I meant."
They heard the door to the library open and saw Remus walk in, "There you are Sirius, good morning Albus. Sirius breakfast is ready."
"Thank you Remus," he nodded to the portrait and went to the kitchen.
Sam had stayed over the night before and cooked breakfast this morning. They sat at the table eating, Sirius was antsy. He kept glancing at the clock, his foot was tapping, he seemed completely distracted. Remus couldn't help himself, "What is wrong with you?"
"What are you talking about?" he sneered.
"Sirius the time hasn't changed much since the first five times you looked at the clock, you're barely eating and that incessant tapping is driving me crazy. Relax already, they'll be here safely and the house is perfect."
Sirius was about to answer with a snide comment when the front door opened and he heard Hermione's voice as she thanked the house elf for letting her in. "Thank you Kreacher." Moments later Hermione and Severus entered the kitchen. Sam offered them breakfast but they had already eaten, they accepted the offer of coffee.
Hermione noticed Sirius was very quiet and asked him if everything was ok. He said he was fine and Remus was snickering. Sam nudged Remus in the ribs and the other couple in the room couldn't help but notice.
"He's anxious," Remus smirked
"Anxious about what Sirius?" Hermione asked.
Sirius didn't answer, he just glanced at the clock and sighed. "Do we have enough of those muggle drinks and snacks in the house? I'm not sure of if Bella will like pumpkin juice."
"Sirius don't worry everything will be fine, Harry is picking up Cassie and Bella at noon and they will be here soon." Ginny joined the group in the kitchen.
"Where are the kids Gin?" asked Hermione.
"They are with mum. They will meet Cassie and Bella tomorrow at brunch."
Sirius glanced at the clock again. Two more hours until the plane landed. He decided to take another walk around the house. This time he wanted to visit the portraits to make sure they didn't in any way scare young Bella. He announced this to the small gathering and left the room.
They all looked at each other and then Severus and Remus couldn't contain themselves, they burst out laughing.
"What's so funny?" Sam asked the two grown men as they were grinning and giggling like school kids.
"Ha. He's got it bad. Finally we get to see the great Sirius Black, Casanova extraordinaire, falling over himself to please a woman." Severus answered with an amused look.
"Two women actually, he wants Bella as happy as Cassie." Ginny added.
"You do know he will be hell for the next two hours. What could he possibly be talking to the portraits about? Remus wondered.
"Lord Fitzroy I would appreciate it if you would be helpful to Ms. Evans when she is here. She may have some questions for you about the period you lived in. I know you were friendly with muggles and attended many muggle balls during the Regency."
"Yes young Sirius I didn't hold well with the family prejudices and just like you yourself I rebelled. Thank you by the way for resurrecting me from the attic, your dear parents did not particularly care for my muggle sympathies."
"Nor mine Lord Fitzroy. You were one of my great, great grandmother's favorite uncles. She was a muggle sympathizer as well. Looks like we are few and far between in this family."
"And we were all removed from the family tree."
Two hours passed by too slowly for Sirius. He stayed away from the kitchen though. The incessant chatting and sidelong glances irked him. What did they care if he was anxious? Finally around noon he relaxed a little and went to see if anyone started to prepare lunch for his guests.
Sam, Hermione and Ginny were the only ones in the kitchen. He was pleased to see Remus and Severus were not there. They were just too annoying today. One with his constant speculation and the other just quietly observing and sizing up matters, the old bat.
"Sirius we have everything under control for luncheon, the men are in the library why don't you join them."
"No thanks Sam I would rather stay here with much more attractive company." He said winking at the beautiful brunette. He was really thrilled for Remus. Sam was probably the best thing that ever happened to Remus with the one exception of his son. He wondered if someday he would have a son. It was something he didn't realize he wanted until recently.
The ladies had the table set and the food was ready. Sirius was actually in a conversation with Hermione about the muggle technology that was added to the house. He hadn't looked at the clock in a while. Remus and Severus had joined them in the kitchen and asked Sirius if he had a good chat with the portraits earning a scowl from Sirius and a snort from Severus.
Sirius was about to give him a very rude answer when he heard the front door open and froze.
"We're here," they heard Harry call.
"In the kitchen dear," Ginny answered.
They heard what was unmistakably little feet running down the stairs and saw a little angel run into the kitchen headed right for Sirius.
"Sirius, Sirius we're here." The little girl ran up to Sirius and he picked her up and twirled her around. Both were smiling and the little girl hugged her new friend. "I missed you"
"I missed you too Bella. But now you're here and we're going to have a lot of fun."
Bella saw Ginny and gave her a big hug also and asked where her cousins were.
"Bella, Harry told you we would meet the boys tomorrow." Everyone's eyes turned to the woman at the doorway standing next to Harry. Sirius walked over to Cassie and gave her a hug and brief kiss on the lips, which did not go unnoticed. He walked her into the kitchen and was going to make introductions when her face broke into a broad smile.
"Severus! I haven't seen you since I was 7." She walked over to the man who was the dungeon bat, the greasy git until he was released from that role when the war ended. Cassie knew Severus Snape when she was a child before he became the angry Potions master. She gave him a big hug and called Bella over.
"Bella this is Mr. Snape, I knew him when I was your age and spent summers with Harry's
Grandparents." The little girl walked over to Severus who did not look or act like the dreaded potions master anymore and smiled. He bent down to look at her and in a gentle voice no one but Hermione and Cassie had ever heard welcomed Bella to England.
Cassie looked up and noticed the other man in the room and recognized Remus Lupin. "Remus? She walked over to Remus and gave him just as big a hug as she gave Severus. Once again introducing Bella to someone she knew a long time ago. Severus and Remus introduced Hermione and Sam.
"Sirius, let's show Cassie and Bella their rooms? Then we can all come downstairs for lunch." Ginny took Bella by the hand and took her to her new room.
"Well be right back" Sirius said as he led Cassie up the stairs.
Severus and Remus shared a knowing look and both looked smug yet again. Their respective partners nudged them and told them to behave.
Bella was squealing when she saw her room. It looked just like her room at home. There was even a doll house like the one she had to leave behind. She ran over to Sirius and gave him a big hug again. Ginny laughed and asked Bella if she wanted to go get something to eat and drink. Ginny really wanted to give Sirius and Cassie a moment alone before they joined everyone else for lunch.
Cassie's room was lovely; it had its own bathroom and was decorated in pale yellows and green.
"Do you like it Cass?" Sirius asked.
"It's lovely Sirius, thank you for everything. " She looked up and gave him a kiss which was meant to be a brief touch of the lips and quickly turned into something deeper. He pulled her closer and she looped her hands around his neck. She parted her lips and he invaded her mouth with his tongue. The kiss became deeper and he found he wanted more, so much more. He broke the kiss.
"We better get down to the kitchen before the two old ladies come up looking for us."
She gave him a questioning look, "Old ladies?"
"Remus and Severus"
They joined the rest of the group in the kitchen. Bella was already sitting between Harry and Ginny talking about her home in New York. Cassie still hadn't talked about magic to the little girl. She didn't know how you discussed that with a 4 year old child. She had hoped Harry and her new friends would help her.
"Mommy guess what?" asked the little girl, eyes sparkling.
"What Bella, you look very excited."
"Harry and Ginny were showing me the house and we went into the library and there is this painting of an old man and he said hello. He was moving and I thought it was a strange place for a television but it wasn't a TV it was a painting and he talked to me. He said he knew you when you were a little girl. Mommy its magic. Harry explained that there is real magic in the world."
"Sorry Cassie, I forgot about Albus' portrait and he knew who Bella was right away. I had to explain quickly before she went into shock." Harry explained with a worried look. He didn't know how much Cassie wanted to tell Bella.
"Well she had to know soon because the magic in this house is overwhelming. Besides you solved dilemma number 1 for me. Its solving the next one that I'm worried about." She and Sirius sat in the two remaining chairs; Sirius was at the head of the table. Cassie was at his right side and Severus next to her.
"Would you like us to help you explain her magic? " Severus Snape asked Cassie quietly enough so that Bella wouldn't hear.
"Isn't she too young to know?"
"Most of us born into wizard families knew as soon as we could talk. Cassie will be surrounded by magic here, especially tomorrow when the rest of the "Family" arrive for brunch." Severus answered.
"Family?" asked Cassie wondering who else would be joining them.
"Since the ordeal we all shared the last decade or so some of us still see each other on a regular basis. We went through a lot together and were able to defeat pure evil so every Sunday we meet for brunch here to keep in touch with each other's lives. We became a family." Sirius explained.
"Severus how do I tell my 4 year old daughter she is a witch? She will have hundreds of questions." Cassie looked at Severus and Sirius for help.
"We'll answer those questions, I'm use to questions. You should have known my wife when she was younger." This earned him a poke in the ribs from said wife.
Gaining her mother's attention Bella said, "Mommy did you know that Lily was special because she was born with magic but her parents weren't wizards? Some people are special like that."
"I know honey Lily use to show me some magic when I was little. Petunia use to get mad but I thought it was neat. She use to touch rosebuds and then the rose would open up, or she would make things float."
"But mommy I can make things float too. Like my dolls. Why?"
It's now or never Cassie thought. She looked at Sirius.
"Bella you have the same gift your cousin Lily had, you have magic. You my little angel are a witch, just like Ginny and Hermione. Sam is like your mom, though very special in their own ways they aren't witches. Harry, Severus, Remus and I are wizards."
"Mommy is magic real?" sweet little green eyes looked into hers and Cassie couldn't help herself, she let her tears fall.
"Yes Bella magic is real. Maybe Sirius, Harry and their friends will show you."
After that Bella was amazed when she saw Remus lift a wand and turn his napkin into a beautiful rose. Harry accioed the pitcher of pumpkin juice from the other side of the table and Hermione turned her blue dress Gryffindor red.
Bella was giggling when Sirius transformed into Snuffles and padded over to where she was sitting. He transformed back into Sirius Black and gave the little girl a hug.
"That was cool, can you all do that?"
"No, Sirius is the only one. It takes a lot of work and concentration to transform. My father could transform into a stag and we had a professor who could become a very imposing tabby cat."
After a few more questions Bella yawned and Cassie took her up to her room to put her down for a nap. It wasn't long before the little girl fell asleep. Cassie made her way down to the kitchen to help clean up. When she got there she watched in awe as the dishes were washing themselves and Sam, Ginny and Hermione were sitting at the table drinking tea. When they saw the other woman they told her to join them.
"I came in here to see if you needed any help but I see you have it under control." She laughed as the dishes magically dried ant put themselves away. "Now that's magic I could get use to."
Cassie asked Hermione how she and Severus got together and laughed when she found out about the cruise Ginny set them up on. She then asked Sam about Remus and was surprised to find out they hadn't been together more than a month. They seemed like they belonged together. It wasn't long before the other ladies asked Cassie about her novels. They wanted to know about her heroes in the stories; they were all such strong interesting men. Hermione was especially fond of the hero in "Where Evil Lurks" because he reminded her of Severus. He was very tall, dark and unconventionally handsome. He was a reclusive man with a secret and only opened his heart to the young woman who fell on his doorstep in distress. It was Cassie's first book and launched the series of books that made her a very successful author. Sam loved all the heroes noting they were all damaged in some way but were incredibly seductive and sexy.
Blushing Cassie said that one of the heroes, Jack Pearson in "Friendly Fire" was based on her husband. The hero was an Air Force pilot who came home damaged from war. He spends time at his old home with his parents and realizes the little girl next door grew up in the years he was away at school and war. Ginny saw the resemblance remembering the picture of her husband on the mantle.
Sam thought about her favorite book by Cassie and laughed when she realized the hero was a lot like Remus. Strong, handsome, sexy and incredibly intelligent. He also had sandy hair that was just a little too long and shaggy. She gasped, she wondered if her suspicions were true.
"Cassie, you modeled these heroes after men you knew didn't you."
Blushing again Cassie said "Yes".
"Anyone we know?"
"Could be." She laughed, Hermione and Ginny didn't catch on at first, then Hermione remembering the other novels she read by Cassie and suddenly said, "Oh".
Ginny was the last to realize what they were laughing at and joined in. Hearing the commotion the men came into the kitchen and when the ladies saw them they started laughing even harder. Tears were streaming down faces as the men looked on very confused. Harry had to ask.
"Uh Ginny what is so funny?"
Getting herself under control she told Harry they were talking about Cassie's novels and her inspiration for her heroes. Still confused Harry asked her who her inspiration was.
"Harry you never read any of Cassie's books have you? Asked Hermione.
"No, their um romances, not my kind of book."
"Well if you read "Come Fly With Me" the hero and heroine would seem very familiar. And the hero in "Where Evil Lurks" would remind you of someone else you know." Hermione explained.
"In "Dancing in The Dark" the hero would be someone else you know." Sam added as she stood and put her arm around Remus waist.
"Cassie who is your next hero based on?" asked a very curious Ginny.
"He is someone I have been trying to find the right story for. It's taken me time to find the right way to portray him."
Curious Severus went to find a copy of one of the books. He stepped out of the room unnoticed. No one noticed Severus when he came back in with his wifes favorite book by Cassie. He had apparated home and quickly retrieved the book returning in minutes. He opened the book and found the first description of the hero. He read aloud:
The dark man brooded in his library, the only light from the fire burning in the grates, a glass of scotch untouched in his hands. His business was a success, he had an apartment on the Upper West Side and a home here in the country that rivaled any others built in America. Why wasn't he happy? Woman weren't a problem, there was never a lack of female companionship but Marcus knew it had more to do with his wallet than his looks. He wasn't handsome. He wasn't ugly either, more of a cross between the two. He was very tall with broad shoulders. His black hair was a little longer than what was conventional for a man of business and his complexion was pale. He had black eyes and a nose that for lack of a better word was large. He looked at the dancing flames, he was lonely.
The doorbell rang. He stood and wondered who would be there at this hour on a stormy night. He walked to the front of the house; the ringing of the doorbell was followed by an insistent knock on the door. Cursing at the intrusion Marcus swung open the front door to see a young woman standing there in the pouring rain. Her coat was torn and Marcus saw a gash on her neck and what looked like blood staining her white blouse. She looked up at the man and said, "Help me" before collapsing in his arms.
"Anyone you know dear?" asked Hermione
"Cassie?" he said
"Yes Severus, Marcus is modeled after you, and Nick is Remus, Brian and Tory are James and Lily, and well Jack was modeled after Alex."
"You modeled your heroes after us?" asked Remus.
"If it fit the story. I needed a dark brooding hero for "Where Evil Lurks" and there was only one man I knew who fit the description. I needed a scholarly sexy hero for my next book and you fit the description. I may have been 11 the last time I saw you but I did remember what you all were like. In "Come Fly with Me" I needed a pair that fit the description of young lovers and that was James and Lily."
Sirius looked left out, "What about me, I don't have a book?" He tried to look offended but really wasn't.
"Your next Sirius, you will be the model in the new book, a rogue in the Regency period who mends his wicked ways for the woman he loves."
She looked around the room. "I needed my heroes to be realistic so I had to use people I knew in order to build their character. You have to admit you gentlemen are rather striking."
"Which book are they making into the movie Cassie?" asked Hermione.
"Dancing in The Dark" is the first one, and then there are talks about "Where Evil Lurks"
"Did they pick the leading men yet?" asked a very curious Sam.
"No but I do have someone in mind." She looked at Remus, "Would you like to have final approval?"
"To pick the guy who plays the guy I inspired, why not it should be fun. I better read the book first though. Please don't tell me you write sappy romances."
"What other kind are there?" asked Severus who was still reading the book. He was curious to see what kind of love scenes she wrote.
"Cassie's books unlike many romances have an element of drama or mystery, there's always more than romance in the story. In this book the woman at Marcus door is being pursued by a man who wants to kill her because she heard a conversation she shouldn't have. He protects her and they fall in love."
"Holy mother of…," Severus found what he was looking for, "you write porn!" he said looking at Cassie.
"She does not! Her scenes are very sensual and tasteful." Hermione protested.
"You read Porn!" he said grinning.
Remus grabbed the book from Severus and read the scene, "I agree with Sev."
Next Harry took the book and blushed, "Whoa."
Finally Sirius took the book and read the passage, "Nice" he said and winked at Cassie.
"Rogue," was all Cassie could say.
Remus and Sam had to leave, they were having dinner with friends of Sams from the office but promised to be back tomorrow for brunch. Remus decided he was going to spend the night at Sams, giving Sirius and Cassie some privacy. Hermione and Severus were leaving to have dinner with her parents and also promised to see everyone the next day. Harry and Ginny were going to stay and have dinner with Cassie, Sirius and Bella. When Bella woke up from her nap Cassie knew immediately because a small portrait of a young ballerina went to visit another portrait that then alerted Dumbledore who in turn told the people in the library that the young miss was awake. So Cassie went to get Bella and brought her to the library.
Sirius showed Bella the bottom two shelves of books on one of the walls and told her they were books he had when he was a child and books that were there for harry and Ginny's children as well as Teddy. She saw one of her favorite stories her mother would read to her. Sirius did not recognize the book and realized it was one of the muggle books that belonged to James or Albus. It was called Strega Nona. Bella asked Sirius if he would read it to her. So that's where Cassie and Ginny left them, Sirius and Harry sitting on the floor with Bella reading the story about an Italian witch. The two women went into the kitchen to make dinner. It turned out that Cassie was a pretty good cook. Of course she did things the muggle way. She explained to Ginny that her mother was Italian and she grew up learning how to cook the way her mother and grandparents did. Her mother's family was still living in Italy. She had visited several times with Bella and loved cooking with her aunts. Ginny told her one of her favorite things was pasta. So that's what they made, pasta Bolognese, one of Cassie's specialties. They also made garlic bread and a large salad. The smells brought the two men and Bella to the kitchen where they all sat and enjoyed the meal.
After dinner Harry and Ginny had to leave to pick up the kids from the Burrow. Bella was still tired and Cassie put her to bed. She told the portrait she would be in the sitting room off the kitchen with Sirius if Bella woke. Sirius and Cassie sat together to watch some television. He really enjoyed the new large screen television he had bought. He also had a great satellite connection and was able to get television programs from the states. They were watching a talk show that Cassie said she watched at home on BBC. The host was very funny, this evening he had a British comedian on who Cassie never heard of and Hugh Jackman. Sirius couldn't help but notice the silly grin on Cassies face.
"You fancy him?"
"Sirius there aren't many woman who don't. And a great deal of men I should think. He's gorgeous, funny, and sexy, sings and dances and he's straight." She was laughing and then she added. "I guess that would describe you also, except for the singing and dancing part. Unless there are talents you haven't shared."
Sirius moved closer to Cassie and put his arm around her back. "So you think I'm sexy?
"I would also say gorgeous and funny too" Her smile faltered as a heat made its way up to her face and she blushed. She hadn't been this nervous with a man since her first time with Alex. But that was different because Alex was comfortable, Sirius is something else. The man was the definition of sexy.
"Your pretty hot yourself Cassie, what happened to the tomboy I knew all those years ago." His lips were so close to hers now, she was waiting for him to just kiss her.
"She grew up," Cassie said as she licked her lips.
That did it for Sirius, he met her lips with his and she melted to his touch. The passion in their kiss set them both on fire. Cassie brought her hands up to his hair and ran them through his silky locks. Sirius trailed kisses from her lips to her neck, stopping only to nibble her ear. He brought his lips back to hers for another searing kiss and his hands found themselves under her shirt. Not one to stay idle Cassie took Sirius's hands and brought them up to her breasts, giving him unspoken permission to fondle her. Her hands then found the bottom of his shirt and slipped them under to find that Sirius a man in his early forties had rock hard abs. Sirius found the clasp of her bra and undid it freeing her full breasts. He then lifted her onto his lap and she straddled him feeling his arousal under her own.
"Cassie, God are you sure?" Sirius asked in a husky voice. "Are we moving too fast?"
"Sure about what Sirius?" she teased and then ground her body closer to his.
"Vixen," he said as he started to pull her shirt up.
"Uhhh excuse me Mr. Black, Miss. The little miss is awake and needs to use the potty ." The voice came from the portrait in the sitting room.
Laughing Cassie stood up and went upstairs to take care of Bella. Shaking his head Sirius turned off the television and followed her up to the third floor. He peaked into the room as Cassie put Bella back in bed and the little girl fell asleep almost immediately. He thought about what almost happened in the sitting room and right then and there decided he would not take Cassie on a sofa, against a wall or on a kitchen counter. She deserved a bed of roses, candles, music; she deserved to be made love to not shagged. Cassie came out into the hall and walked right into Sirius's arms.
"What will Bella think if she saw us together?"
"Sirius she adores you. All I heard the past week were questions about when we were coming to see you and Harry and Ginny. She fell in love with all of you, especially you."
"You don't think she would feel like I'm replacing her father if she sees us together, and I really don't want her to see us in the middle of something intimate. " He walked her back down to the sitting room. They sat down on the sofa.
"She never really knew her father. He went to Afghanistan when she was about a year and a half. Yes she knew him then but she has forgotten the times she spent with him. She knows what he looks like but she doesn't have any real memories of him. If we're careful she won't walk in on us. If a relationship is what you want." She said finding the hem of her shirt interesting.
He took his finger and raised her chin to look into her eyes. "If all I wanted was a shag I wouldn't be concerned about how your daughter will look at me. I want more than that Cassie. I'm a forty four year old man and I spent twelve of those years in a prison for something I didn't do and three of them behind a Veil that no one believed anyone could return from. For the past six years I have tried to put all that behind me and yes there have been woman. One night stands, nothing that I wanted to make permanent. I have never met anyone that has made me want to settle down, have a family. When we found out you were alive I had no idea I would fall for you. I remembered a little tomboy who stole my heart all those years ago when she was upset about wearing a dress. But when I saw you for the first time in your publisher's office I was stunned. When I met that little angel who is sleeping upstairs I knew I wanted a family. I won't lie I want you. What I don't want is to replace your late husband; I want to be the only man you think about when I make love to you. I know it's only been two weeks since we found you but I have wasted too many years of my life not to take a chance on something that could be as incredible as this."
Cassie didn't know what to say. For a writer trying to find the words was near impossible.
"Sirius you took my breath away when I saw you in the office two weeks ago. If there was any man who left an impression on a young eleven year old girl it was you. Not then mind you, I had not discovered the opposite sex then. When I was about fifteen and starting to date I would often think about what my ideal man would be like. And that's when I thought about the men I met when I use to visit my family in England. You all had left an impression on me. Out of all of you the one I kept comparing my admirers to was you. You were my perfect ideal man. But there was only one Sirius Black and the boys I dated well let's just say they paled in comparison to the original. Then I met Alex. He was intelligent, handsome and he was there when I needed him. I was no longer alone in the world. He was a good husband, it was a good marriage but Alex is gone and I have to move on with my life. I want to explore this thing we have, if you're willing to take a chance with me"
Sirius took Cassies hand and pulled her up from the couch. "He called, "Winky" and for a moment Cassie thought he was using some kind of code word for sex until she saw a rather interesting creature pop into the sitting room.
"Yes master Sirius? What can Winky do for you?" the creature squeaked.
"Winky I want you to watch over the little girl in the pink room we prepared upstairs. I want you to watch over her but don't let her see you she doesn't know about houselves yet and I want you to meet her properly. If she wakes during the night you must let me know immediately, is that clear?"
"Yes Master Sirius" and with a snap of her fingers Winky was gone."
"Sirius what.." but he stopped her. He apparently wasn't done.
"Kreacher" another one of those creatures popped in and asked Sirius what it was he needed. This time Sirius took the small houself aside and spoke to him quietly.
"Sorry about that love, now come with me."
"Sirius what were those, those…"
"They are houselves, servants. Kreacher has been in the family decades, Winky is a freed houself but needs a job and she gets paid. Houselves are powerful magic beings but have no rights really. Once released by their masters they have no way of taking care of themselves. Yes and before you say it I know its barbaric but I treat them kindly, Kreacher has no worries and he can roam around all he wants."
"I'm not judging it's just that they are very peculiar looking. Sort of like Yoda."
"He's a character in a muggle movie, sorry." She explained.
"Come on I want to show you something." He led her upstairs to their floor and brought her to
his bedroom and opened the door. He hoped Kreacher got it right and she liked it. Looking around the house elf did indeed get it right and judging by her gasp she did like it.
Closing the door behind them Sirius put up a locking and silencing charm. Only Winky could get in there if there was an emergency. He then looked at Cassie.
"Oh my God Sirius. How? When? Who? How did you do this?" The room was lit by candles, too many to count in all different sizes. There were rose petals strewn all around the room. The bed was covered in what looked like silver silk sheets. There was music playing, Cassie didn't know where it was coming from and really didn't care. She was dumbfounded.
"Was this all done for me?"
"All for you love. If you're not ready for this yet I understand but I want you to know I do know what it takes to romance a lady."
She looked at the gorgeous man in front of her. All this was for her. She turned to look at Sirius. She had no words to say to him, all she could think of was to show him how much she wanted him. She placed her hands on both sides of his face and brought her lips to his in a fiery kiss. Backing away from him towards the silk covered bed she slowly lifted her shirt over her head revealing a black lace bra that a short while ago was unclasped. Keeping eye contact she unbuttoned and lowered the zipper of her jeans and pushed them past her legs leaving black lacy panties.
"Sirius don't you think you are a little overdressed?" She watched as he removed his tee shirt and jeans in record time leaving only his boxers. Crooking her finger she beckoned him over to her as she made herself comfortable on the bed.
Not wanting to look like an over eager school boy Sirius made his way over to the bed and stared down at the beautiful woman lounging there. He trailed his fingers from her ankles up her leg to her thigh grazing over her hips to her stomach and breasts to finally reach her cheek. He lowered himself to the bed and took her lips in a gentle kiss. He covered her face in soft kisses slowly making his way to her neck, nibbling on her ear, and reaching behind her to unclasp her bra for the second time. Removing the bra he took one nipple in his mouth while finding the other one in his hands. He was pleased to hear her moaning his name and continued his ministrations giving the other breast the same attention. He followed that with soft kisses down her stomach to the top of her panties and lowered them with his teeth touching his tongue to her skin eliciting another moan from her. Removing her panties he paid extra attention to her center with that wicked tongue of his. He loved the sound of her moaning his name as she bucked her hips in orgasm.
Rising above her again he took her mouth in a passion filled kiss allowing her to taste herself on his lips. He looked at her eyes again before he thrust into her finally joining their bodies. The ecstasy he felt entering her was incomparable to anything he had ever experienced. He made love to her that night the way he had never made love to anyone. Taking and giving pleasure. Loving and being loved.
Waking in a tangle of sheets and limbs Cassie tried to pull herself away from Sirius but found herself being pulled close to the man. She looked at his face and he was watching her. She gave him a smile and a kiss and got up to use the bathroom and refresh herself a bit. When she came out Sirius gave her a kiss and went to use the facilities himself.
She was waiting for him in bed when he came out and they made love again that morning before getting up to take a shower, together.
Cassie went to her own room to dress and when she was done she went into Bella's room where Sirius and Bella were having a very interesting conversation with the two little creatures from last night.
"So you see Bella Winky and Kreacher work here, they take care of the house and help cook the meals. If you ever need anything and no one else is around you can call one of them and they will come to you immediately."
Cassie walked into the room, "Did something happen?"
"No not at all, Bella woke up while you were dressing and needed to use the bathroom. Winky popped in to help and Bella was a little frightened but now she understands they are her friends."
"Yes mommy it's ok."
"Well if that's the case little lady I think it's time for a bath for you."
"Mam Winky will draw the bath for the young miss and have it ready for her" and the little elf left with another pop.
Giggling Bella got out of her bed and went to hug her mother. Sirius told Cassie he would put on a pot of coffee and meet her downstairs. Bella's bath didn't take too long and the two houseguests joined Sirius in the kitchen. Sirius and Cassie were drinking coffee and Bella was eating cereal. They were sitting there looking like a very happy and contented family when Sam, Remus and Teddy came in.
"Good morning." Remus said with the signature marauder smile.
"Good morning Remus, Sam and you must be Teddy." Cassie was smiling herself and Remus recognized again how beautiful the little tomboy became. He also noticed the content and happy look on his friends face. There was a calm there that Remus hadn't seen in years. He introduced Bella to Teddy and the two children went to the backyard to play supervised by Winky and Kreacher.
Sam started getting things ready for brunch. She explained to Cassie how everyone had a job. Molly Weasley and Ginny brought most of the food. The other ladies would bring a dish or two to the brunch and help get everything prepared. Today Sam was making cinnamon buns, a favorite of Remus'.
Cassie got up to help Sam.
Remus Lupin couldn't help himself, he had to do it. Sitting down next to his best friend he said, "Did you sleep well Sirius?"
Glaring at Remus, Sirius looked at him and said, "Not that it's any of your business but actually yes I did." and he gave him his own marauder smirk.
"Remus behave," came Sams voice admonishing her boyfriend. He did notice a blush on Cassies cheeks and gave his friend another look.
"Yes love I will."
It wasn't too long before the Potters showed up with their two boys James and Albus. Harry took the boys out to the back and introduced them to Bella. It didn't take long for the children to start playing together. Sirius went out to join Harry and transformed into Snuffles running around with the four children.
Looking out the window Cassie watched as her daughter played with her cousins and she knew she made the right decision coming to England. She shook her head when she saw the transformed Sirius circle around the children.
"I see the mutt can't help but show off." Severus said jokingly coming up alongside her.
Cassie looked at Severus and smiled, "Hello Severus, how are you today?"
"Better now that Hermione is over the latest bout of morning sickness." He said running his hands through his hair. "How long does it go on for?"
Laughing Cassie said, "It's different for every woman, mine lasted until I was five months. Most women are fine after the first trimester. It's ok Severus you'll survive." She patted him on the back and went to say hello to Hermione who looked fine as far as Cassie could see.
The rest of the Sunday brunch group arrived and Cassie was introduced to the Weasley family. They were an interesting family; all had the same red hair Ginny had. They were a fun group and Cassie liked them all immediately. She noticed how Molly Weasley mothered everyone there, including Remus, Sirius and even Severus. Sirius had explained to Cassie in a whisper that Hermione use to be married to Molly and Arthur's son Ron. Apparently the man cheated on Hermione publicly and it wasn't the first time. It seemed the Weasley family accepted Hermione and Severus as a couple without any resentment.
Brunch was delicious and the company interesting. They were all filled in about Bella and her magic and were pleased to help Bella adjust to her manifesting magic. It was almost three in the afternoon when the Sirius, Remus and Severus were in the library sneaking fire whiskey.
"Cassie and Bella seem to be very comfortable, like they were always here," remarked Snape.
"Yes and our friend here seems to be more chipper than usual." Remus added.
Raising an eyebrow Snape smirked, "And why is that Sirius?"
"That is none of your dam business." He looked at both men.
"I recall an interrogation of sorts from you when Hermione and I came back from that cruise Ginny sent us on. Harry wasn't even that nosy and she is his best friend. You were annoying as always."
"Yes and I recall you following me around this dam house wanting to know any small tidbit about me and Sam, so what makes your personal life so sacred?"
"Fine you two bloody old ladies, what do you want to know? Was it good? Hell yes it was amazing. Will I give you details? No I won't. Have I fallen in love? Yes the moment I saw her in New York. Now mind your own bloody business." He laughed at the look on both men's faces.
Remus and Severus looked at each other mouths open. Sirius was in love, and admitting it.
"The great Sirius Black, Casanova, ladies man, confirmed bachelor is in love. This is news worthy of the Daily Prophet." Snape announced and Remus agreed.
"Ha very funny, I remember when you and Hermione got married and that Skeeter woman hounded her for days before the wedding." Sirius countered.
"Yes but my Hermione handled Skeeter very well now didn't she."
Remus laughed, "Especially when Rita Skeeter asked her if your large nose got in the way when kissing her and she asked Skeeter if she knew the old adage about the size of a man's nose in relation to other appendages."
All three of them laughed remembering the look on Skeeters face and the curious glances Severus would get from witches for weeks.
Three very curious woman walked into the library to find their respective partners laughing like teenage boys. When the gentlemen were asked what was so amusing they refreshed Hermione's memory about the vision she gave to Rita Skeeter and other witches regarding her husband's many physical attributes.
The rest of the day went by uneventful and by the evening after everyone went home and Remus retired to his room Sirius and Cassie sat by the fire in the library talking.
"Sirius tomorrow I want to start working on my research, where do you think I should begin?"
"Lord Fitzroy on the second floor would be a great source to start with. I already spoke to him and he said come visit him any time and he would be very happy to answer any questions you would have."
Cassie had to suppress a laugh. It was so strange to her to think of talking to a portrait for research. "That should be very interesting."
Talking to Lord Fitzroy was in fact very interesting. The man turned out to be a wealth of information on the aristocracy in that period. He was able to tell her about the culture of the period and even told her some rather racy stories about those country house parties the rich would have. It wasn't long before Cassie was able to start her new book. She felt like she had enough information on the Regency period to build her story. All of her books are more focused on the relationships then on their surroundings.
Cassie wasn't lying when she said Sirius was the inspiration for her next novel. She had read enough romance novels to recognize Sirius fit the profile of a rogue of the first order. She was also sure Sirius could be reformed.
Cassie and Bella settled in nicely in Grimmauld Place. Bella spent her days in pre-school with Harry and Ginny's son Albus. The school was run by a group of friends they had at Hogwarts. It was part of a new way of thinking in the wizarding world about education. There were things children should know when they begin their first year at Hogwarts. Other than some general magical education the children are taught reading, writing, math and general muggle history until they are ready for Hogwarts. It was something Harry and Hermione felt was lacking in a witch or wizards formal education.
While Bella was in school and Sirius and Remus were working Cassie was able to get a great deal of writing done. She spent the mornings and early afternoons researching and writing and developing her story. She was also involved with the first movie based on Dancing in The Dark and choosing the actor who would play the character Remus inspired. Part of the deal Cassie made for the movie was to maintain some control over who would be cast in the roles and any script or plot changes. In the end Cassie was pleased with the actor chosen to play a younger version of Remus. Remus laughed when he saw the picture of the actor stating that he was very flattered but Cassie must be delusional because he didn't look that good at any age. Sam however disagreed and told Remus he was better looking than the younger actor and those scars he had were very sexy.
It was also during this time that Cassie spoke with Petunia for the first since she was twenty. After many tears the cousins decided to move on and rebuild their relationship.
After a few months Cassie was well into the book and progressing well. Her relationship with Sirius progressed as well. She never slept in her room, she did keep her clothes there but she and Sirius shared a bed every night.
It wasn't long before Remus had moved out of Grimmauld Place and into Sam's apartment. They surprised everyone and eloped one weekend, neither wanting a big wedding. They did however have a big party celebrating their nuptials thrown for them by Sirius. Everyone from the order was invited as well as friends from the ministry. Sam's father made the trip from Boston and was thrilled for his daughter. He had made quite an impression on the ladies in attendance. was a very handsome man and at 58 was still turning heads. He did not at any point in time lack a dance partner that evening.
It seemed Ginny had been right about that dress she made Cassie pack all those months ago in New York. She wore the dress for the party and blew Sirius away. He couldn't take his eyes off of her. He was so in love with her but had not found the courage to tell her yet. He was going to tell her tonight. Then he was going to ask her to marry him. Sirius Black had never been more frightened of anything in his life.
Cassie was in his arms and they were dancing to a very romantic song. When the song ended he asked her to take a walk with him on the terrace of the banquet hall. It was November and cold outside but Sirius being a talented wizard performed a heating charm and they were able to stay outside without freezing.
He took Cassies hand in his and took a deep breath.
"Cassie I don't know how to say this without sounding like a lovesick puppy. I have never said this to anyone. I'll just come out and say it and if I look like a fool then so be it. I love you. I love you more than I thought I could love any woman. You have stolen my heart and soul. I don't know how you feel about me but I am giving you this mutt's heart, will you take it."
Cassie was overjoyed. She had fallen in love with Sirius that first week she was here. She knew he loved her and knew he would tell her when he was ready. "Yes Sirius I will take your heart and I give you mine. I love you."
"Thank the gods!" he said. He looked at her and then to Cassies surprise got down on bended knee. "Cassie will you marry me? Will you be my wife and allow me to be your husband and Bella's stepfather?"
She was not even trying to stop the tears from flowing. "Yes." Was all she could get out. Before she could catch her breath Sirius picked her up and twirled her around. Setting her down he placed a diamond ring on her finger and took her lips into a passionate kiss.
Once they were back in the ballroom they told their friends about the engagement. They were all thrilled for Sirius and Cassie.
The next morning Sirius and Cassie sat down with Bella and told her they were going to get married. Bella jumped from her seat and ran over to Sirius and gave him a big hug.
"Sirius?" she asked.
"Yes angel." He said smiling at the little girl.
"Can I call you daddy?"
Sirius thought his heart was going to burst. He had never in all his life felt this much love. Not even when he was in school and surrounded by his best friends. This was a kind of love he had never thought possible. The love of a child. He looked at Cassie and she nodded her head.
"Angel I would be honored if you would call me daddy and thrilled to call you my little girl."
One Year Later
It was Sunday brunch again at Grimmauld Place. There were old and some new faces. No one, especially Harry would have thought he would see his Aunt Petunia sitting at the table in Grimmauld Place talking to Molly Weasley about the newest recipe she discovered. But here she was chatting and laughing and cooing over Hermione and Severus's little girl. Sam's father had also come to Sunday brunch since accepting a position at Oxford this spring. He had made the decision to move to England after finding out his daughter would be giving him a grandchild in the summer. He was sitting next to Petunia who had lost that severe overly thin look and now was an attractive woman in her late forties. The two had started dating recently and Harry was truly happy for his aunt. Dr. Casey was as opposite Vernon Dursley as one could get.
Sirius and Cassie were married that spring and were expecting a little boy early the following year. Bella was thrilled she was going to be a big sister and wondered if the new baby would have the same gift she has. She promised she would teach him everything she knew about magic.
Once again sitting in the library three men who two years ago were bachelors and lonely sat together sharing a drink talking about their wives and families. Three men who never thought they would have what most took for granted. On the wall opposite the men was a portrait of an elderly wizard whose eyes twinkled. He cleared his throat and looked over at his former students and raised his own glass in salute congratulating them on a job well done.