Disclaimer: Everything you recognize belongs to JKR, anything you don't is mine.
A/N: Hello there! This is the much anticipated sequel to my story Change but probably could be read without having read Change. I can't promise regular updates, but I hope to try to update once a week – once every two weeks at least.
Summary: For the first time in her life after she killed Voldemort, Nicole Potter plans on living a calm, normal life with her family and friends. She should've known that wasn't going to happen. When a mass breakout of Death Eaters from Azkaban occurs and yet another wizarding war looms in the future, Nicole knows she's going to get drug into it again. But she didn't think it was possible for her to get drunk in this deep, or that Tom Riddle could, quite possibly, once again walk the earth.
Just a quick heads up – the name is liable to change later into the story, I just couldn't think of anything at the moment.
Saturday, February seventh, 1998
Chilly wind whipped my hair across my face, but I didn't bother to move it. I stared at the tall building looming over me, rooted to the spot for a few seconds. I still wasn't sure I wanted to do this, but what did I have to loose, really? I needed to get the story out there, James and Lily and countless others agreed. Scarlet had recommended which Muggle publisher to go to (she had even talked her publisher, the best and most expensive one into meeting me), and that's where I was now – standing, dressed in awkward Muggle clothing that Scarlet had insisted looked great outside a very modern looking building in downtown London.
How had I been forced into this? I still didn't understand how it had all happened. I guess it all started when I agreed to marry Regulus...
Saturday, August ninth, 1997
"James' isn't going to like this."
"Since when do you call him James? And since when do you care?"
"Force of habit. And I don't care." Regulus laughed, resting his chin on the top of my head and intertwining our fingers.
Of course I had told him that I'd marry him. The problem was, I was, technically, only fifteen. Sure, I had lived over three extra years back in the 70s, had finished my schooling at Hogwarts and lived through more than nearly everybody alive now (excluding Dumbledore and a few others, of course), but that didn't make me old enough to get married.
"How are we going to let them know that you're here?" I asked after a moment of silence.
"I don't know, babe."
"How often do you get a chance like this?" When Regulus stared at me, confused, I smiled and elaborated, "Everybody thinks you died 17 years ago, and now you're 18 and very alive. Plus, I was best friends with Fred and George for a reason."
We turned our heads to the door quickly, where James' – Dad's – voice had come from. He knocked lightly.
"Nicki, you awake?"
"Yeah, I'm awake," I called back quietly.
"You're mother's making breakfast. Are you hungry?"
"I'll be down in a minute," I called, smiling mischievously at Regulus, taking the ring off and putting it into his hand. He frowned and opened his mouth to ask what I was doing, but I said, "How would I explain wearing an engagement ring to them?"
I tried to look as depressed as possible as I slouched into the dining room next to Harry. He, James, and Lily – Dad and Mom – all became silent as I entered the room.
"How're you doing, Nick?" James asked after a moment of silent. I shrugged mutely.
"Sirius and Scarlet are coming over for dinner," Lily said. "And so are Frank and Alice, Mary and Kingsley, Remus and Tonks, the Weasleys, Severus, Draco, Astoria, and Dean." I wondered why so many people were coming over, but that wasn't what I focused on.
Instead, I racked my brain for any memories. Frank and Alice I knew were married with three kids, Mary and Kingsley were married with two kids – did I mention that Kingsley was Minister? It must have slipped my mind – Remus and Tonks had Teddy on the way, but none of the kids names were Scarlet. Who was she?
Suddenly, it came to me, and I realized that Scarlet Parker was the Muggle girl who Sirius had dated for six years and had been married to four years previously. They had two children – Leah, who was three years old, and Parker, who was only six months. Scarlet was a Muggle lawyer and had published several books in the wizarding world – a few about her life as a Muggle in our world, a few others that were made up romances that were very popular with teenagers and young adults – as well as the Muggle world – mostly romance novels (with no magic in them of course).
"Oh," I replied simply. "That's great." I paused and then asked, "Why are they coming over?" Lily shrugged.
"No reason," she said, although I was sure there was a reason – probably because they knew that the real me had come back and wanted to break it to all the kids who, I knew, didn't know.
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door, and I had to cover my mouth to keep from letting them see my smile. James got up to get the door, and I could hear his intake of breath from the dining room before he sputtered out,
"W-Who are you?"
"You know who I am, James," Regulus's voice replied, and I couldn't help but notice the laughter in his voice, something only somebody that knew him as well as I did could notice. "Gosh, my brother is basically your brother and you don't even know who I am?" I noticed Lily's eyebrows furrow before she got up and basically ran into the Entrance Hall, followed by Harry after a moment. I heard their footsteps stop suddenly when they noticed Regulus.
"R-Regulus?" Lily muttered.
"That's my name, don't wear it out," Regulus said. "Say, is Nicole here? I fancy a word with her if you don't mind." When they didn't say anything, I heard him say, attempting (and failing) to sound confused, "Why are you staring at me as though I'm a ghost?" I snorted and passed it off as a sneeze.
"Sirius! That's not even funny!" Lily screeched suddenly. I heard a thump! and Regulus voice shout,
"Ouch! Lily! That hurt!"
"It was supposed to, you idiot!" Lily yelled. "Coming here, pretending to be your brother when you know Nicole was going to take the news harder than even you took it! I can't believe Scarlet let you even consider this! And – !" There were more thumps followed by more grunts of pain. "You – are – such – a – prat – Sirius – Orion – Black!"
"Hey! Lily, stop!" James said suddenly. I quickly ran out into the Entrance Hall to see James with his arms wrapped around Lily's waist, restraining her, while she flung a heavy textbook toward Regulus, who had stepped back out of her reach. Harry stood to the side, watching the scene before him, looking highly confused.
"Lily! Stop! You know as well as I that Sirius would never do this, not to himself, not to Nicole, not to anybody! You know as well as I just how hard he took Regulus' death!" After a moment of more struggling, Lily finally relaxed, but only slightly.
"Who are you then?"
"Regulus Arcturus Black."
"Nice try," James said, his voice full of malice. "We know that Regulus Black is dead."
"Oh, but that's what you think," I said suddenly. They all spun toward me, noticing me for the first time. "Ever think that Regulus just went forward in time like you had when that time-sand got dumped into that potion?" Lily, James, and Harry stared at me for a moment before James slowly asked,
"You remember when I told you that I had taken half of the vial of time sand?" When they nodded, I couldn't help but notice Harry looking more confused than ever, standing between Regulus, James, and Lily and I. I almost laughed at his face, but held it in. "Well, I told you I took it 'just in case' but I really took it to give to Regulus."
"What the bloody hell is going on here?" Harry asked.
"Language, Harry," Lily reprimanded, but nobody answered Harry.
"So this is really Regulus?" James asked, turning to look at Regulus. When I nodded, Lily turned to Regulus, her eyes wide and horror-struck.
"Oh Merlin!" she exclaimed. "Regulus, I'm so sorry that I beat you with that book!"
"Is anybody going to tell me what's going on?" Harry asked loudly. We all turned to him and James said,
"Well, Harry, it's a long story that we are saving for dinner tonight." Harry huffed and crossed his arms childishly, causing me to laugh lightly at him.
"How are we going to break this to Sirius?" Regulus asked suddenly. James turned to him, smirking.
"I have an idea."
"Hey Nicole! It's great to see the Nicki that we all knew again!" Sirius scooped me into a tight hug while a very pretty girl with long, dark brown hair – Sirius' wife, Scarlet –walked over to Lily, holding a baby and the hand of a very small girl. "How're you doing?" Sirius asked, holding me out at arms length.
"Great!" I exclaimed happily. "Honestly, I don't think I've ever been better," I said when he gave me a skeptical look. He sighed and hugged me briefly again before he went to talk to Lily and James. I followed him inside and said to James,
"I'll be right back, I'm going to get something upstairs." James winked at me and nodded, acting as though he could care less if I was going upstairs or not.
I ran up the stairs two at a time and poked my head into my room, where Regulus was sitting on my bed reading a book – or, perhaps, pretending to read a book. "Hey," I said to him. "You coming?" He jumped up and followed me out of the room instantly.
"Scarlet is Sirius's wife," I explained to him as we headed down the hall. "She's a Muggle law enforcer – kind of like the wizengamot – it's called a lawyer. And she has several published books in both the wizarding and Muggle world. They have two kids – Leah is three and Parker is six months."
"Got it," Regulus said, nodding. I stopped at the top of the stairs and turned to face him.
"Ready?" Regulus sighed.
"As ready as I'll ever be."
"I wonder what's taking Nick so long," I heard James say as he walked by the bottom of the stairs, winking at us as he pretended to look up the staircase for us. "She said she'd be right back." He walked back over to the table. "It's strange – she usually doesn't make those types of things up."
I smiled reassuringly at Regulus as I went around the corner and leaned against the wall, bringing one foot up against it slightly. Regulus had followed me quietly and I put my arms around his neck and pulled him closer to me, smiling at him as he put his hands on either side of my shoulders just as we had planned.
"I'll go check," Lily offered. I heard her light footsteps coming our way, but only for a second before Sirius quickly said,
"Now, now, my fair lady, let me do this." Now I heard his heavier footsteps on the stairs, and I counted each one. One, two, three...
When I had counted until fourteen, Regulus leaned closer to me and put his lips on mine. I almost started laughing, but kept my laughter in as I ran my fingers through his hair, trying dearly to keep my eyes off of Sirius – I had to close my eyes to do so.
Suddenly, I felt Regulus yank away from me. I opened my eyes to see Sirius with him pinned against the opposite wall, his wand against his neck. Regulus' face was red – whether from repressed laughter or from shock, I still, to this day, don't know.
"Who the hell are you, you bastard?" Sirius snarled. "Who the hell are you?"
"Sirius!" I exclaimed. "Chill out!" Sirius turned on me, his wand still on Regulus.
"Do you just go around snogging every guy who looks slightly like Regulus now? He's dead, Nick, get over it!"
"Obviously," I said calmly, "you still haven't gotten over it, or you wouldn't be reacting like this."
"I got over it before you were even born," Sirius sneered quietly before turning back to Regulus, who was eying the wand that was now pointed between his eyes and smoking slightly fearfully.
"Sirius! Stop it!" I exclaimed. I heard several pairs of footsteps on the stairs but didn't look to see who it was, at least until I heard several people exclaim several things at the same time.
"Sirius!" Scarlet yelled.
"What do you think you're doing?" Lily asked.
"Padfoot!" James exclaimed.
"Put your wand down, you're going to hurt somebody!" Remus called.
Sirius didn't reply to any of them. Finally, after a moment more of silence, I walked up to him and put my hand on his outstretched wand, pushing it down lightly.
"Sirius, you wouldn't want to curse your brother, would you?" Lily said softly.
"He's – not – my – brother! Regulus is dead! He died seventeen years ago."
"Remember the time sand?" I blurted. Sirius turned toward me slowly. "How I'd said that I'd taken some of it just in case? Well, I actually gave it to Regulus to take." I saw something close to understanding how in Sirius' face for a moment before it was gone again and he shook his head, still disbelieving. "After I came back here, a week after the final battle, he took a potion with the time sand in it and came here."
Sirius stared at Regulus, who smiled a small, crooked smile at him, as if daring to believe that Sirius wasn't going to curse him.
Then, quite suddenly, Sirius pulled Regulus into a tight hug, nearly chocking him. I let out a sigh of relief – he was not supposed to react like that, although James had warned us that he might. We had all figured, however, that he would be ecstatic and run to give Regulus a hug.
"What's everybody doing?" Harry called from downstairs, sounding confused. "The Shacklebolts are here! Oh, and here comes the Longbottoms and Dean and Astoria!" Sirius slowly let go of a chocking Regulus and turned back to us.
"We better go back downstairs," he said before he led the way down the stairs.
Saturday, February seventh, 1998
The publishing company's building looked even more foreboding as the sun drifted behind a large, dark cloud. A storm was coming. A big one. I could feel it in the air, I could taste it in every breath I took. Was this such a good idea? I wondered as I thought back to why, exactly, I was publishing this.
Sirius hadn't been the only one to not believe that it was Regulus. Both Mary and Frank had threatened to curse him if he didn't reveal his true identity (with their spouses, Kingsley and Alice, trying to get them to chill out on the side). Molly and Arthur had merely been thunderstruck but had believed us as soon as we had explained it. The children, Bill and younger, stood to the side, confused, although I thought that Bill and Charlie looked as though they might understand.
Severus was the only one to come in and greet Regulus like the old friend that he was – his way of greeting him had been patting him on the shoulder.
When everybody had finally arrived and we were all crowded around a long picnic table outside (all thirty-four, if I counted correctly, of us), we knew we had to break it to everybody who didn't know. Lily started, and we slowly got them all the full story.
It had been little thirteen-year-old Daniela Longbottom who had asked the question – how are we going to get this out to the rest of the wizarding world? We can't keep it a secret forever. And it was Scarlet who had suggested it – writing a book. I wasn't for it – me? An author? Who'd ever heard of such a thing? – at least, at first. It was Regulus, the next afternoon while he and James were reading the paper and I happened to walk by, that convinced me to do it. And he wasn't even trying to...
Saturday, August ninth, 1997
I had told Harry that I would play a one-on-one Quidditch game with him for who would have to clean the broom closet when I walked by the drawing room and saw Regulus, James, and Lily in it alone. James was reading the paper, Lily was reading a book, but Regulus was staring blankly at the newspaper in front of him.
"Mr. Potter – "
"Call me James please, Regulus, I feel old when you call me Mr. Potter," James said without even looking up from his paper. I noticed Regulus gulp and wondered what he was doing.
" – James," he corrected himself. "I would like to ask you something – something rather important." James folded his paper up and set it in his lap and Lily looked over her book to listen in. "I – I'd like to ask for permission to marry your daughter."
I had to bite my bottom lip to keep from gasping – so that's why he wouldn't give me the ring back when I asked the night before!
"You – you what?"
"I want to marry your daughter."
"She's only fifteen, Regulus, surely you know – ?"
"Yes, I know that," Regulus interrupted. "But she's almost sixteen and she lived an extra three years in our time. Surely that counts for something?"
"Yes, I guess, but still – "
"Oh, James, just let the girl get married," Lily said suddenly. "They're obviously in love. They're like we were when we first got together, only they've been together for a longer time than we were." I heard James sigh and say,
"Alright. But not until at least next summer, when she's sixteen. And she hast to agree, of course – "
"Oh, she already has, I've already asked her."
Saturday, February seventh, 1998
That's how I was convinced to do this. I wanted the story out there so I wouldn't be marrying some guy that nobody knew, and for Regulus so he wouldn't be so out of the picture, and so those who had known him but thought that he was dead knew how and why he was suddenly alive again.
First, I had published it in the wizarding world. It was a big hit – at first, people thought that it was a joke, but slowly people realized it was true. I became a celebrity – from what I had done and from publishing a book. But my fame was short lived as people had other things to worry about.
I hadn't been forced to go back to Hogwarts (although on Hogsmeade weekends I would go down to see my friends and would sometimes sneak back in and join the next potions class just to annoy Sev) and the Underage-Wizard restriction had been taken off of me – I was a special case. Regulus and I had both landed positions in the Auror department of the Ministry, where Sirius was the head Auror with James a close second and Frank bringing up third.
And now, Scarlet had convinced me to publish it in the Muggle world under the alias N. Sawyer and to convince Muggles that it was fiction and not real.
Finally, I manged to enter the strange Muggle building to get this book published.
A/N: Like it? Love it? Hate it? Leave me a review to tell me your opinions! Constructive criticism is appreciated! You can even tell me what you'd like to see happen later in the story if you want.