Title: Apples, Trees and Roots
Author: Jmaria
Rating: FR-15
Disclaimer: J.K. and Joss own all. I own battered copies of their collected works.
Spoilers: Season 7, book 5, my ficlet Numb the Pain.
Summary: Faith never thought she'd become somebody's family or The collected Black family reacts to their newest 'misplaced' member.
A/N: This is it - the Battle at the Department of Mysteries. Also, this is incredibly AU if you're reading this for the first time. Timeline starts in Buffy'verse right after Chosen, and near the end of OotP (which means Faith is older than Harry).

Apples, Trees and Roots
What Have I Become?

Faith didn't know exactly what she was expecting to see in the bed when she stepped over the threshold. Regulus, sitting upright in bed, with a cup of ice chips sure as shit hadn't been one of them. By Andromeda's shocked gasp, it hadn't been her expectation either.

"Marni -"

"She's dead, Uncle Reg," Faith felt her spine stiffen, her jaw jerking up to dare him to say her Momma's name one more time.

"Faith," A pained smile stretched his scarred jaw. Huh. He hadn't been that fucked up in her dream/vision thing. "Andromeda. How are you?"

"I'd be a sight better if my cousins and sisters weren't all complete idiots these days, but I suppose I'll survive," Andromeda glared at him, stepping closer to Faith, in a show of support.

"Wow, you're all kick ass conversationalists," Esteban rolled his eyes.

"No one asked you to butt in, cuz," Faith glared at him.

"Oohkay, I'm gonna step outside. Wanna join me, Weasley?" Esteban stepped out without even waiting for Charlie to answer him. Charlie glanced between them and Regulus and quietly followed Esteban out. Regulus stared after Charlie for a minute, as if trying to place his face.

"He's Molly and Arthur's second oldest boy," Andromeda supplied, seeing the recognition in her cousin's eyes.

"They made it out then? Through the war?" Concern was apparent on his face, as if he actually gave a fuck. Which from what Faith had gathered on the little she knew about the old war, was kind of odd.

"Molly lost her brothers," Andromeda straightened her spine, not about to ignore elephant in the room. "Just as I assumed I lost both of my cousins. You to - to whatever death Voldemort had concocted for you and Sirius to Azkaban. What the hell possessed you two to be such raging idiots?"

"Youth and folly," Regulus' jaw tightened painfully, stretching that kick ass jaw-scar. "Talia -"

"You have no right to even speak that witch's name," Andromeda snapped at him, which drew both Faith and Regulus' shocked gaze. "You did that poor woman a huge disservice, and I am ashamed of what you put her through."

"I -"

"You signed her up for something she wasn't even aware of," Faith found her voice again. "And judging by my track record, I sure as fuck wasn't worth it."

"Faith! That is not what I meant!" Andromeda spun back on her. "You were worth protecting and that failure to not do so was on your grandmother. Regulus should have come to me, or better yet, Sirius."

"And Sirius would have believed me?" Regulus gave a broken chuckle. "Or his dearest friends? Peter would have wet himself at the sight of me, Remus would have ripped out my throat on sight, and dear James was in hiding. You were excommunicated from the family -"

"For the same damn action that you were protecting Faith for! My daughter is only a few years younger than Faith. Did you not think I would be the most logical choice in the damn family to come to for help? But no, Regulus turned to Talia, the girl who mooned over him for ten damn years. That girl would have thrown herself to the Deatheaters to please you, and you damn well knew it. You could fault Sirius and I up and down for betraying our blood, and then you seduced her that way to help your cause? How is that not a betrayal of 'pure' blood?"

"I have no excuse. There is no apology I can render to undo all that I have put in motion."

"You robbed us all," Andromeda shook, angry for them all. She left the room, unable to look him in the eye any more.

Faith stood there for a few seconds, trying to comprehend what the hell had just happened. Nobody had expected Regulus to be awake, so Andromeda, who'd been as solid as hell just venting on him like that had not been expected for sure. Especially since she'd been the goddamned voice of fucking reason since this all had gone down.

"You fucking broke Andromeda, yo," Faith shook her head at Regulus.

"It appears I broke a lot of people."

"Wounded lover, dead paragon, con for a bro, fuck-up first class for a niece," Faith ticked off on her fingers. "You fucked up good."

"We do things spectacularly well in our family. All or nothing," Regulus' arms shook as fought to keep himself upright.

"Spectacular fuck-ups," Faith cleared her throat. "Should be the new family motto."

"Yes, it should," Regulus set his cup aside. "You became the slayer?"

"That's your pressing question?" Faith cocked a brow at him.

"Seems the easiest to tackle."

"Yeah. Girl named Kendra got her throat slit and I put my foot through a concrete wall. Highlight of my day. Sucked for her, and the other slayer."

"Other slayer?" Regulus frowned.

"There were two when I came on the scene. Now we number in the thousands," Faith shrugged.

"You're going have to explain how that all came about to me -"

"No, you're gonna have to explain how you could keep me hidden from them all these years. And why."

"You were in danger Faith, and my mother would have seen you sent to an early grave because you were Sirius' bastard child and the child of a Squib. Your mother's family wanted nothing to do with you -"

"Bullshit," coughed through the door.

Regulus glared at Esteban's shadow, while Faith merely stared at her uncle. Esteban moved away from the door and left them alone again.

Word had just come in that McGonagall had been injured. That meant Hogwarts - and Harry - were vulnerable. Sirius paced the halls of his mother's home, going crazy with worry. Over Harry, over Faith, over everything. Kreacher had been hiding all day, glaring at him and pouting because Faith was off looking up Regulus.

What bile would his once-beloved little brother spew about him? Would Faith believe him over Sirius? His head dropped to his hands. He never knew that Kreacher had intercepted Harry's frantic call over the mirror. He never knew that Kreacher had reported it to Bellatrix.

But then he never knew, in a random burst of job dissatisfaction, Kreacher had popped himself off to warn Faith. By then, word that Harry wasn't on campus had hit. The cavalry was gathering and Sirius could finally be of use.

Faith was sitting cross-legged in the chair in Regulus' room as the sun started sinking lower across the sky. He'd tired out quickly, and Esteban had popped his bubble that Marni's family had completely disowned her. They'd tried to reestablish contact, but by then, Marni'd grown a damn thick shell.

Andromeda had come back in eventually. She'd shown him a picture of her daughter and husband. She'd even shown him a picture of a sullen blond boy. She'd been sad when she'd shown him that.

"Narcissa's boy. He's in for a very rude awakening when the school term ends," she'd shrugged.

"Bella never -"

"Dear Merlin, no," Andromeda had shook at the very thought of her sister procreating. "Can you imagine what that child would have had to endure?"

"Worse than any of the Black cousins?" Regulus had said tiredly.

And now Faith was just sitting and watching over the man who'd risked his life, the life of his unborn child and of it's mother for her. Had he asked for help, Talia might have been a mother. Faith might have known her father. In the end, was she worth it? Was the good she'd done been enough?

There was pop in the room loud enough to shake Faith from her thoughts. She was on her feet as Kreacher stared blindly at Regulus' sleeping form. Tears formed in the house elf's eyes as he tiptoed towards his Master.


"Mistress Faith has brought Master Regulus back!" Kreacher's face nearly broke as the crooked grin was leveled at Faith.

"Um, yeah," Faith's body rocked as Kreacher launched himself at her legs. "What are you doing here, Kreach?"

"Mistress Narcissa ordered Kreacher to report all goings on. Kreacher couldn't reach Mistress Narcissa - but Mistress Bellatrix answered."

"What's going on? Kreacher?" Andromeda stood still in the doorway. He didn't speak until Faith asked him.

"Master Harry is searching for Master Sirius. He believes that Master Sirius is at the Department of Mysteries with the Dark Lord. But he is not."

Andromeda gasped and Charlie swore, rushing away to communicate whatever it was going on. Faith stared between the house elf and her cousin.

"It's a trap for Harry," Andromeda shook.

"Who's Harry?" Regulus' voice spoke up from the bed.

"The Potters' fifteen year old son. The Boy Who Lived."

Sirius felt more alive than he had in weeks. His magic zapped out at the Death Eaters and he was dancing back and forth with an ease he barely remembered. Bellatrix, her dour mate & in-law were going after the teens. He needed to stop them. Tonks and Remus were on his sides, battling away with him.

And then he was facing off with his much-hated cousin. He laughed as she ducked one of his spells. He barely felt her final spell on him. His last sight was of Harry's shocked face, but his last thought was of Faith.

Andromeda had demanded Kreacher take Faith back immediately to Diagon Alley. Kreacher had shook all over, stiffened for a moment and had looked up at Faith with a mournful gaze. Regulus had called the house elf's name, and finally shook him out of his daze. Kreacher wouldn't answer to Andromeda, but he would answer to Regulus.

Faith felt her feet shake as she was standing in the doorway of the pub she'd been in with Andromeda and Ted just days before. The patrons stared at her as she looked around.

"Kreach, bring Andromeda here."

"Mistress -"

"Do it, Kreach, for me?" Faith asked quietly. She'd never had to pretty up a request for anyone, but she was feeling off-kilter and Andromeda would know why.

Not that she needed long for her answer. Remus was in the pub, his eyes shadowed in hurt. That Harry kid had been in trouble. Sirius was his godfather. And with the look on Remus' face, it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that some serious shit had gone down. Remus had barely reached her when she spoke.

"It's Sirius, isn't it?"