Disclaimer: Don't own Harry Potter. It belongs to Rowling.
Author's Note: I give my most grateful thanks to those kind enough to take the time out of their day to review my most humble work.
Timeline is ten years ahead of canon. Therefore the attack on the cottage at Godric's Hollow is in 1991 rather than 1981, and all dates should be adjusted accordingly.
Prologue, Part I: Carefully Laid Plans Set Into Action
A man in his early twenties walked down the snow covered streets toward Privet Drive under the light of the full moon. It had been a week or two short of three months since Albus Dumbledore had tried to finish the destruction of the closest thing he had to a family. Even if it was not the man's intent to do that, it was nearly the result of what he had done.
Lily and James had been murdered in the defense of the son. Harry, their eldest child, had become a target for most dangerous Dark Lord since Grindelwald had torn apart Europe. He had retrieved the recording crystals from the ruins of Godric's Hollow himself and grimly watched James battle Voldemort on ground he had carefully prepared and maintained. He had lasted all of two minutes. The battle, which had his best friend had fought using mostly his own specialty of Transfiguration was actually ninety seconds longer than most of the instances of single combat with the mad man.
The number of corpses of transfigured and conjured animals was actually rather frightening.
Considering James had only ever been truly skilled at transfiguration and his power hovered somewhere around the eighty-seventh percentile, that was actually quite remarkable. Lily had rushed through the a ritual that she, James, and the were had painstakingly researched and prepared, just in case the worst would come to pass.
She'd finished the complex part, yet infinitely easier, just as Voldemort was making his way toward them after having finished James. Thankfully the ritual required that she put up as much as a fight as possible against the monster. A barrier had been placed around Harry and his sister as a result of the first part of the ritual.
The fight that Flitwick's favorite student in three decades put up tore apart the upper floor of the cottage in Godric's Hollow, and lasted for three minutes. Lily was actually quite a bit stronger than her husband magically, and though he was quite a bit better in the areas of Transfiguration, she was all around more skilled, but she actually managed to draw blood from Lord Voldemort, black as it may have been.
She was the first since Dumbledore to actually draw blood, but he still had decades of experience on her and would not be denied what he desired.
The requirements of the ritual had been fulfilled, both parents had died by magical violence, both fighting tooth and nail to protect their children, both by the same hand. And when that hand had turned against one of their children, the magics meant to harm that child, Harry, had instead rebounded upon Voldemort, the power of the Killing Curse he had used increased a thousand fold. Though Harry did not come away unscathed, he had gained a lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead.
He had seen a few other surges of energy that needed to be investigated, but that would be something for later. When he had custody of his wards, and they were far from the plotting of the Headmaster. Padfoot was just too much of a goddamn hothead for anyone's good.
He just had to go off half cocked and try and kill Peter. Padfoot had never been the most controlled member of the Marauders, but goddamn it, this was a new low. And no one was going to believe it when a werewolf said that the Potters had switched Secret Keepers at the last moment. So now Sirius Orion Black III had blown up Peter and a street full of mundane men and women in his rage, with the result of landing himself in the maximum security wing of Azkaban, never having even had a trial. And Dumbledore, as Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, had allowed it, when he knew that Peter was the actual Secret Keeper.
Thinking of that Rat, he had tried to speak Pettigrew's actual Marauder name when referencing the man, but couldn't. That meant the pacts that the four of them had made had worked, and because of his betrayal, Peter would now be referred to as the derogatory Wormtail, rather than being a reference to the mouse shadow on a moon in a Frank Herbert novel.
Further more, possibly under the mistaken belief that the magics that had protected Harry were blood based and sustained, the aforementioned meddling old man had placed Harry with the last people his parents had wanted to end up with custody of him. He believed so strongly in the innate goodness of people that he believed simply because they were related that they would become family.
And little Ginny. Their family already a target, the birth of their second child had been kept such a secret that the number of people who knew could be counted on both hands with fingers left over. And Dumbledore, in his infinite wisdom (and possibly dementia), had decided that it would be best if Harry was thought to be the last Potter, and their secrecy had back fired upon them.
Remus paused for a moment trying to remember just whose idea it was to get Gin-gin's birth a secret. His amber eyes narrowed as he generally excellent recall failed him. So he turned to a maxim he had developed in the past few weeks of hindsight.
"When in doubt, blame Dumbledore."
So three month old Ginevra Rose Potter had been given to a family that had six other children, all red heads whom she could easily be passed off as one of their own, and her name had been changed to Ginevra Molly Weasley. Getting her back would be easy anyway, the Weasleys had paper thin wards, and both parents were crap duelists. It was Harry that he was most concerned about at the moment, the Weasleys would take care of Ginny. Harry would have no such luck with his Aunt and Uncle.
He had been so very close to finally gaining control of his transformations, like the Lycans of legand, when Halloween and its tragedy had come to pass. He had been hollowed out by it, emotionally dead and physically exhausted for a period of two weeks. He had then gone to the headmaster and asked where the children were. Dumbledore said that the children he, Remus Lupin, was supposed to have care of in the event that Sirius was unable, were 'safe' and that he need not worry about them, sliding in a few subtle hints and barbs that he, as a werewolf, would not be able to care for them any way, no matter what the Potter wills said.
Which was one of the items of the ever growing list of problems he had with the Headmaster, and the development of his new maxim in life. He had sealed the Ministry held copies of the wills of James and Lily Potter. The copy that Sirius had kept in his flat had been 'accidentally' destroyed when it had been raided following his arrest. That left only the Gringotts copy, and Albus most like believed, mistakenly, that Sirius was the executor of the estate. Just like he had probably believed that the Marauders had stopped trusting Remus when rumor started spreading that most werewolves in England had flocked to Voldemort's banner and those that hadn't were forced through the use of a spell meant to specifically enslave werewolves.
More disturbingly, Dumbledore had also made over two dozen attempts to gain access to the Potter Vaults under the guise of being appointed Harry's 'magical guardian'. Thankfully the Gringotts held copies of all wills are executed internally immediately following the death of the writer, and had prevented the former. They had also repossessed James's invisibility cloak for him. He had no clue how Dumbledore had gotten his hands on that particular heirloom, the only people that James had ever let anyone use it were Lily and the Marauders, and the later were only allowed that after they had been friends for six years, and Lily hadn't known about the cloak until after the two had been engaged.
The latter was actually something Remus had no worry about, due to the fact that while Sirius was both of the children's Godfather, and should have therefore been their guardian, at law, Remus was the one who had undergone the rituals and oaths needed to be Harry's magical Godfather. Sirius was Ginny's Godfather in both cases.
More importantly, if he could get the wills executed, he would be able to by pass Albus's borderline illegal actions. The purebloods loved their laws to keep those they viewed as beneath where they belonged, but what they loved even more were the loopholes that allowed them to continue to do whatever they hell they wanted. And Potters' had worded every last thing in their wills perfectly, citing chapter and verse of the countless laws on the books that would allow their children to go to exactly who intended, bigots be damned. And they had laid out other plans, both in the event of the war continuing too long or their sudden deaths. Just because both Lily and James had been Gryffindors didn't mean that they were completely without cunning.
But Remus could not allow himself to take custody of two of the only people he still had left when he could be a potential danger to them. So he had brought his attention back to calming and accepting the beast within him in the manner similar to that in which Animagi gain control of their transformation. There had been a few hiccups, but nothing that would make him give up what he could gain. He did occasionally wonder why no one had tried anything some simplistic, but the reasons had always eluded him. It had been years of mental and emotional wrestling with his inner animal, something he had started shortly after his friends had revealed their own transformations (which had been the proverbial light bulb for his quest), but he had been inching closer. He had been set back by the emotional upheaval, and it had cost him a few precious months, but he had finally done it. He was now for all intents and purposes a wolf Animagus who was more deeply connected with his inner animal than anyone had ever been before.
So now here he stood in Little Whinging, staring up at the full moon with human eyes for the first time he could remember. He had been so young when Grayback had infected him... As soon as he had been certain that he was not going to change, he had apparated here, ready to set in motion the plan he had started laying as soon as he had figured out where Dumbledore had hidden Harry. He was going to be getting his cubs back, and woe unto those who tried to get in his way.
He reached into the pockets of his thin coat pulling out a rune carved stone of left hand side and a thin pair of wire rim spectacles out of the right. The stone was roughly triangular in shape fit comfortably in the palm of his hand. As he took the corner onto Privet Drive, he brushed one of the larger runes located by one of the corners of the stone.
Sympathetic casting combined with symbolic casting. It had taken days of work to get the arrays on all of the power transformers in Little Whinging, but it had been more than worth it. Now with a simple touch and a spark of magic, the entire town lost power. Remus grinned broadly. Such marvelous chaos could have been wrought in Hogwarts's hallowed halls with these techniques, but quite frankly Remus didn't want anyone in the school knowing his full bag of tricks, and he had only told his brethren what he was fully capable of after they had graduated, because if he had told them before, he would have been brow beaten into using all of his tricks in some prank.
The only reason that Lily had gotten the top spot in their year uncontested was due not to the fact no one could match her prodigious intellect, but rather because the only one who could had to drag three reprobates kicking and screaming through exams every year. Even when Sirius and James had manned up for OWLs and NEWTs, he had still been run ragged and exhausted ensuring the three would be able to pass by the time the exams had taken place. He had been lucky that he stayed awake long enough through both sets of exams to make the straight Exceeds Expectations that he had gotten.
Moving toward Number Four, putting the glasses on his face, glasses which brought magic into the visible spectrum, he scrutinized the ramshackle wards surrounding the Dursley's home one last time, absolutely despising Dumbledore for having thought that the Blood protections he was ready to believe in would appear out of thin air. The man must have finally gone around the twist... Or...
Remus shuddered at the concern that passed through his mind. The possibility that Dumbledore was doing all of this fully aware that he was leaving Harry wide open to attack, and in what would probably be an abusive environment was truly frightening
The wards that were present were not even proper protections, they were a legion of monitoring spells that were probably hooked up to countless little delicate devices in the man's office. A simple press of a larger rune in one of the second of the other corners of the stone in his hand caused a prepared loop in the wards reporting functions that would leave the old man clueless to what was going to happen here. Quite possibly clueless for an indefinite period of time.
Seeing the wards react as he had expected them to, he slipped the spectacles off, and crossed the street toward the house, pressing the last large rune on the stone before tossing it away. A simple sleeping spell would keep all present in the house at its casting in a deep, dreamless sleep until the rising of the sun.
Pulling his wand as he walked up the path to the door he cast a pair of charms, the first directed at the front door and the second a human revealing charm directed at the house in general. The front door unlocked and swung open of its seemingly own accord, while the last charm told him that three non-magicals, one male child, one male adult, and one female adult, were on the first floor, and one wizard child was on the ground floor. Checking all of the rooms one the ground floor, Remus could not find the one he was looking for, so he then checked the coat closet and finally the cupboard under the stairs.
There, in the dark space under the stairs, the one and a half year old was laying on a crib mattress with only a thin blanket to cover him. He sighed, this should have been the first place he had looked considering Petunia's opinion of her sister, and the fact that her husband Vernon, though Remus had only met the man (and that is using only the broadest biological definition of the word) once at Lily's wedding, seemed to hate magic with a passion only make Dumbledore's choice of guardians worse.
He cast a few simple diagnostic charms while he looked Harry over. Only two months and he was looking a little thinner, no injuries consistent with physical abuse, though that only meant it would probably be mental and emotional. It had only been a few months, so Harry would hopefully only remember this in a nightmare or two later in life. His inner wolf growled angrily, and he had to resist the urge to go injure Vernon and Petunia. He sighed as he scooped the young boy up and gently carried him off. He would be retrieving Ginny in the morning, after he had left Harry with a pair of the Potter house elves who would have orders to kill anyone who was not him or with him.
He smiled grimly at that thought as he exited the house. Even though the elves rarely used their magic for violence didn't mean that they couldn't. If just mean that anyone and everyone was completely unprepared for it when they did. The fact of the matter was that House Elves drew all of their power from the bond they had with their Family, and one of the largest sources was the latent energy that built up over time as the family continued to reside in the same residence. There was also the fact that House Elves were significantly more powerful when they were treated in line of what they viewed as part of the family.
Given the general age of the Potter Family, the fact that few homes they lived in all saw major use, that the wards around all of the homes were of all older than two centuries, and the two elves that would be protecting Harry had been the personal elves of both Lily and James, thus having been personally bonded to a magic user rather than impersonally bonded to a family, all of those points made Remus fairly certain that Mippy and Rippy were among the most power House Elves on the planet, and he actually pitied anyone who would attempt to harm Harry. Not that that would make him show mercy to anyone. He ran out of mercy on October Thirty-first, Nineteen-hundred-and-ninety-one.
He may have been completely out of mercy at this point of his life, but Remus Romulus Lupin could still pity those he would be forced to destroy. The beast within him made a pleased sound at the thought of killing those that would oppose his pack.
Using the same spectacles he did the night before, he watched the wards surrounding the Burrow one last time, confirming his suspicions. He wasn't sure, but he thought that one or two of the constructs with the platform had given way, and the defenses were now weaker than they had been a week ago. He'd timed his visit so that Arthur would be on one of his rare days off from work at the Ministry. He left the glasses on as he opened the gate and took the path to the front door. Who's brilliant idea was it to base every last ward at the property line, and then make a corridor in the wards to allow people access to the front door? Remus couldn't hold a candle to James's power, being only somewhere in the sixty-second percentile, but even he could bring the wards surrounding the house down from where he stood, and it would barely take the wind out of him. But then again, he could have kicked these wards down from the outside given the state of them.
Slipping the spectacles in his pocket before he knocked the door, he thought about what he knew of this family as he waited for someone to answer. He was acquaintances with the parents, Arthur and Molly, having been a few years behind them in Hogwarts. They had six sons, the eldest of whom would be starting at Hogwarts in September of this year.
Speaking of that, a boy looking to be ten or eleven years old opened the door, and asked, "Can I help you sir?"
"My name is Remus Lupin, and I need to speak to your mother and father, William."
The boy turned from the door and yelled, "Mum! Dad! There's a Mr. Lupin at the door for you!"
A minute later the tall, thin, bright red-haired frame of Arthur Weasley was ushering his eldest son away from the door, greeting the werewolf jovially, smiling, "Remus, this is an unexpected visit! Come in, come in! What can I do for you today?"
Remus wasn't going to waste time, and as he entered the Weasleys' home, told the man exactly why he had come, "I'm here to collect Ginevra Potter."
Arthur's face fell, and then quickly moved on to an expression bordering on horror, "The Headmaster never said who her parents were, just that they had been killed in the last days of the war and needed a good home..."
Remus resisted the urge to roll his eyes at the trusting and gullible man, and replied, "And he had no right what-so-ever to place Ginny anywhere. Not only were his actions illegal when he sealed the Ministry copies of the wills of Lily and James Potter, I believe he did so that he could have his own way with their children."
The Weasley patriarch's face paled at the mention of Albus Dumbledore doing wrong, and quickly said, "So I suppose it was you who was supposed to get custody of Harry and Ginny?"
"In the event that... Sirius was unable to, yes I was, and I've already rescued Harry from the extremely poor choice of where Dumbledore had decided to place him."
"And just where did the Headmaster send him?"
"A place that both wills explicitly stated that neither of there children were to ever go."
Arthur nodded and said, "Molly isn't going to be happy about this..."
"And I can't find it withing myself to care that she will be displeased."
"She's in the kitchen... Both of them actually."
As they walked into the cozy kitchen of the Burrow, Molly Weasley was bustling about, cooking something, while a bassinet sat on the table, the aforementioned little girl laying in it. Molly turned to see who was entering the kitchen and said, "Remus, what brings you around the Burrow?"
"I am here to collect my ward, Ginevra Rose Potter."
Her face was almost comically blank for a few moments before it dawned on her who Remus was talking about. She shrieked out, in a voice that while not understandable to the rest of the house, would easily be heard, "You are not taking my daughter! She is ours now no matter what you..."
She had started to move towards Ginny during her diatribe, but had been cut off in both movement and voice when Remus stepped in her way, his wand already out, the tip glowing with the light of some spell. And he spoke to her in a tone that was so cold it dripped icicles.
"She never was, and never shall be, your daughter. By the wills of Lily and James Potter I was to have the care of the children in the event that Sirius was unable to. The only reason I waited as long as I did was to ensure that I would be able to properly care for them."
As he stopped and watched the woman move her mouth up and down like a fish out of water, he heard a child pad into the kitchen, he glanced at the approximately seven year old boy who was holding a rat in a cage before turning his attention back to Molly as the boy asked, "What's Mum yelling about, who is she yelling at, and why does he have his wand pointed at her?"
Arthur closed his eyes for a moment to gather his thoughts and was about to speak, when Remus's head whipped back around to star at the caged rat, a look of predatory hunger on his face. A rat that started squeaking and running circles around his cage. Remus could almost here the thing that he had thought of as a monster for most of his life howling for the Rat's life blood to be spilled by its claws.
And the last free Marauder only had a few reasons not to listen to the urge to destroy Peter.
"Remus, why are you staring at my son's pet like it owes you money?"
"Because Arthur, that is no normal rat. It is an unregistered Animagus and a traitor. But it is still very much a rat."
"How do you know this Remus?"
"I went to school with the bastard. It wasn't Sirius that betrayed Lily and James, it was Peter. And the only reason I haven't spent the last two months hunting the little blighter was the fact I though Sirius had dealt with him... You do know that in addition to Ginny, I won't be leaving without the rat."
Poor little Percy was most puzzled by what was going on, and it seemed to him that after the man had left, the Weasleys had gotten a very raw deal, they had lost their new little sister and he had lost his new pet rat.
Remus sat in the sitting room of a home owned by the Potter family in Southern Wales, reading the latest edition of the Daily Prophet. The Potters no longer owned any larger residences since Potter Manor, which had been located in Kent, had been damaged beyond repair when a German bomber had crashed into it during World War Two. The family had never felt the need to rebuild such a large estate, and so instead had moved into one of the more comfortable and less ostentatious homes that they had.
This particular home was built on a the intersection of two minor laylines and the current ward platform were more that three-hundred years old. A more than adequately defensible position.
He had first wanted to get out of England at the earliest possible convenience, even going so far as to prepare to end a relationship he had been in since a few months after he had graduated from Hogwarts, but when he had found Wormtail, he had been force to choose between waiting and seeing if Sirius could be freed, or getting out of Dumbledore's reach as soon as possible. He could not abandon his last remaining brother to the Dementors, and so he had holed himself up with the children and a pair of house elves in one of the more heavily warded properties owned by House Potter.
He would take two months and see what would happen. Now all he could do was wait and hope, and maybe see if his girlfriend was willing to marry him and run off from Britain...
He had told her about his 'furry little problem' as James put it, and she had expressed her opinion about the bigotry surrounding that topic. So, maybe, just maybe, he would be able to salvage a relationship with a woman he cared very deeply for.
The wolf in him hummed happily at the thought making the situation with the one it thought as its mate permanent.
A woman of medium height, an athletic build, rosy cheeks, with black hair in a pageboy cut knocked at the front door of the house the next day and was greeted by Rippy the House Elf, and Hestia Jones was led into the sitting room, where she greeted Remus with a massive hug and a rather soul-searing kiss. Then she slapped him across the face.
"Remus, I know you've written me almost every other day, but your lack of explanations since the deaths of Lily and James has gone too far. You either start talking right now, or we are finished!"
Remus grimaced and replied, while rubbing his reddening cheek, "I'm going to need your oath that you will not reveal anything about the conversations we have in this house except to those I allow... which at this moment amounts to me, you, a pair of children whose collective age is less than twenty-four months, and the Potter House Elves."
She froze for a moment as the gravity of what he was asking, and that gave some rather serious implications of how important what he wanted to talking about was. "Is it really that important Remus?"
"Part of what I want to talk about has to do with the fact that Albus 'I think I know best for the everyone' Dumbledore placed little Harry with Lily's sister."
Hestia paled the mentioning of that. She had been on very good terms with Lily, and the one time she had talked about her sister had been following her wedding to James, where Petunia and her husband had showed a rather disturbing number of manaphobic behaviors.
She slipped her wand from her pocket and intoned, "I, Hestia Rowan Jones, hereby swear on my magic that by no action of my own will anything Remus Romulus Lupin speaks of in this house be known to any he does not wish."
"Thank you luv..." He stands and runs a hand through his hair, "This is going to be a bit of a long tale..."
Hestia stared blankly as her boyfriend finished his explanation of what he had been up to for the past few months and some of the things he and the people he referred to as family had been planning before then... And the fact that Sirius Black, who everyone knew was the Death Eater who betrayed the Potters, was actually innocent was a bit unbelievable.
In response to her saying that, he brought her down to the basement where he showed her a stunned and bound Peter Pettigrew, with a Dark Mark clear on his forearm.
"So, 'When in doubt, blame Dumbledore'?"
"The problem with the more subtle memory charms that are necessary for those that want to alter the memories of those who are either capable of Occlumency or have minds that are not entirely human is that the subconscious is still partly aware that something has been changed. So if the old man was trying to pull our strings that way, it would explain our paranoia. Plus there are a few unexplainable... glitches in my memory. Besides you can't tell me that all of his actions over the past few months, when lined up in a nice little row are not questionable."
She sighed, she had the same picture as most of wizarding Britain had of the man, and here the man she had been with for a few years had all but taken a sledgehammer to it.
"No, I can't... So you are going to see if you can spring Sirius from Azkaban, and then you are going to take the kids to the United States..."
"Yes. Do you know that it is actually legal for werewolves to marry in the U.S.?"
She shook her head, and said, "No, I did...," she froze partway through her sentence, "Are you asking me...?"
Remus smiled softly, "No more 'furry little problem', going somewhere it is actually legal... Yes, I am asking if you'll marry me Hestia."
The werewolf was driven to the floor by the flying tackle/hug from Hestia as she chanted, "Yes, yes, yes!"
Both he and his inner furry howled in victory at this, while she calmed down enough to say, while jabbing Remus in the ribs, "You should just be thankful that being a trained law enforcement officer is a very viable career no matter where in the world a person lives."
It was Monday over two weeks later that Remus let out a shout of joy upon reading the front page of the morning edition of the Daily Prophet. He picked up Harry, who was playing on the floor with a set of blocks, and held him in the air while they spun around.
"Marvelous news cub, your Uncle Padfoot is a free man again!"
Harry giggled and said, "Moo'y, Pa'fot!"
Hestia walked into the room, groaning, "Remus dear, you know I do not like getting up before the crack of noon on Mondays... If the wards are not being brought down by Dumbledore himself, you are going to find yourself sleeping on the couch."
The werewolf grinned from ear to ear saying, "Paddy's a free man! Sleeping on the couch is well worth the celebration!"
Shaking her head and watching as the were then carried Harry over to where one of the elves was keeping a close eye as Ginny played with some colorful, oversized plastic keys. God he loved the mundane world's baby toys. "You hear that littler cub? Padfoot's coming back!"
The red-haired baby girl giggled as well, the atmosphere in the house brightening by several degrees.
"Mippy!" Remus called out as he set Harry back down by his blocks, "I am going to need you to take some letters to the Owl Post Office!"
Not an hour later, the front door of the house burst open with a cry of, "Honey, I'm home!"
"In the sitting room, Sirius!"
"Moony, you won't believe what that git Dumbledore told me when I asked where Harry and little Gin-Gin were. He told me that," he began a mocking parody of the Headmaster's voice, "'They are perfectly fine my boy, and completely safe. Surely someone who was just released from Azkaban should not be around small children.' Right pompous bastard. Have you used the crystals Lils left to scry for them the maps yet?"
"Just get your ass in here Padfoot, if Dumbledore is trying to keep you away from the children that means he doesn't know I took them back yet!"
With a mad cackle, Sirius rushed into the room, saying, "That can only mean one thing, because I know you well enough to understand that you wouldn't take custody of the pups until you had your furry little problem under control! Congratulations! And I must also applaud what you did to Peter, even if you didn't kill him..."
"Well, leaving him in his drawers in the middle of the Ministry Atrium with a sign saying 'I betrayed the Potters and framed Sirius Black! Ask me how!' And you figured my little victory out all on your own? My gods Padfoot, did spending time with the Dementors improve your intelligence?"
"I was already intell-a-mig-ent my friend, how else would I pass the NEWTs? So how far into which plan are you?"
"You passed the NEWTs because I worked my ass off to ensure you knew the theory you were too busy being a man-whore to learn in the first place. As for the plans, the Gringotts copies of the wills should hit the Ministry sometime Thursday. Hopefully the goblins will send off a package with identification and papers that will arrive tomorrow, and we'll then contact Lily's cousin Anna about helping us and the kids get out of the country."
"Anna... Anna... What was here surname again? I know she sounds familiar..."
"Smith. She was fourth on the list of guardians, after Alice. If you and I weren't available, it would mean we were dead, and quite frankly Lily didn't want to trust Peter with the kids if either of us weren't around..."
"Now the rat is a traitor, and is going to get to rot in Azkaban instead of me!"
He cackled again before he was hit in the with a water balloon.
"I see your girlfriend is here wolfy."
He was beaned with another balloon from the woman, which was accompanied by a yell of, "Fiancé now, you mangy mutt!"
The yell was followed by a third water balloon, though he paled as he remembered something and didn't even seem to notice the water balloon.
"Oh that reminds me, I need to write to Septima! She probably thinks the absolute worst of me..." he said in a rather depressed tone, "either because she hasn't heard from me in almost four months or she heard the news across pond that I was thrown into Azkaban..."
Remus shook his head and asked, "She still studying for her Arithmancy Mastery at the New York University of Magic?"
Sirius nodded glumly.
"Good because one of the more likely locations we'll be staying is in the general vicinity of Manhattan. So write your girlfriend, Paddy, see if she still will have you," Remus said grinningly, "though for the life of me I cannot figure out why she wanted you in the first place!"
The two Marauders, the two Potter children, and Hestia (formerly Jones) Lupin spent most of the next four years and some odd months living in Staten Island, New York.
Hestia and Remus had been married a few months after getting settled in, and were quite happy, while the relationship between Sirius and Septima Vector had dissolved at about the same time. She didn't know about the Potter children, having not trusted Sirius enough to give a secrecy oath. Since then he had had a rather large number of what could only be called 'relationships' though most of them only last a few weeks at the best.
It was a rather good thing that the house was one of the best warded properties in the world, though the fact that Padfoot was not allowed to bring any of his conquests home was probably a good thing...
Remus had both of the children reading (and by proxy learning) early, while it was Sirius's job to made sure that they played. Though with Harry, the play was done in such a way that it kept him fit, and sharpened his reflexes. Water balloons, small family games of football (not that game Yanks confuse with it, but the one you actually play with your feet, why the hell they need so many pounds of padding to play rugby was confusing to them anyway), and of course the random prank here and there.
They both felt rather poorly about that fact that the both the wills stated that even if it appeared that the Dark Tosser (which strangely enough was Lily's name for the dark lord) was dead, Harry was still to be given every advantage in case other Dark Wizards (or the seemingly obsessed Dumbledore) targeted him.
Remus had started homeschooling Harry when he had turned five he was very much like Lily when it came to learning. Ginny had wandered in on the lessons once or twice, but could really care less about it, as had been James's opinion of eduction, unless it had been transfiguration or he was trying to impress Lily. In his free time, Moony took up some classes at various universities and other institutions of eduction.
Padfoot was more or less a stay at home parent, taking care of both of the children... It was really bizarre that out of the four Marauders he was both the best cook and the most capable at household spells. For the big kid of the Marauders to be the homebody was something that Remus always found (inwardly) amusing.
He wasn't going to say anything about it, because if he did, someone else would have to do. And as much as he liked having Mippy and Rippy pick up the slack and help Sirius, he didn't want to have to rely to heavily on them. Though he did enjoy watching some of the fights between Mippy, Rippy, Paddy about who was going to cook what meal.
Hestia had gotten a job in the magical section of the NYPD, and worked the graveyard shift, but she was doing what she loved while she lived as a part of a household where all the adult members could afford to do what they wanted to for a living, without caring what it payed. She was slept in a silenced room in the mornings, but she spent a lot of time with Harry and Ginevra in the afternoons, and was the closest thing that either of them had to a mother.
Out of respect for James and Lily, all three of the adults were known as Aunt or Uncle, and none of them could see themselves taking the place of either of those two.
Harry was a mad little ball of energy when he wasn't learning something, and even when he was learning something that energy translated countless questions asked about. The adults were ever-thankful that they had been able to get a house on an acre and a half of land, and the wards they had placed on the property line(along with the eight foot tall privacy fence) let them feel secure enough to let him run around outside with one of the Elves watching over him. Though one of the few times he sat still outside of lessons was when he was reading a storybook. But as much he loved watching Moony and Padfoot have at each other with pranks, he rarely ever participated himself.
Ginny on the other hand was a much more sedate child. She would sit around, coloring, drawing, or playing with her dolls, but she would often join in with one of the adults when they would prank each other. She was also the only one other than Sirius who watched an appreciable amount of the telly. Sesame Street, Teletubbies, and Barney. Harry, no matter that it was meant for his age group, felt like he was getting a toothache whenever he watched them with her. She couldn't understand why Sirius wouldn't let her watch his 'stories' with him.
It was now two days after Harry's sixth birthday, very early in the morning, Remus was sitting at the kitchen table, staring into his tea. Sirius walked into the room, yawning and stretching, barely getting out an understandable, "Moony," before he reached for his morning cup of coffee.
"How the hell can you drink that sludge Padfoot? Your supposed to be English. Have a cup of tea!"
Sirius glared at his best friend and said, "This stuff is basically liquid caffeine, and I need plenty of that if I am going to be active by the time the pups are up and about."
"You never were a morning person, Sirius."
They sat in silence for a while before Sirius ventured, "You are usually reading the morning paper by now Moony, what's wrong?"
Hestia walked in and slung her uniform cloak over a chair, saying, "Sirius, asking someone what's wrong? Dear merciful heavens, the mutt is getting observant, isn't that one of the signs that the world is coming to and end?"
Remus rolled his eyes at his wife's attempt at humor, though he grunted when she dropped herself into his lap, "Harry's magic has stabilized."
Sirius, having just taken a sip of his coffee, spat it out in a spray and Hestia nearly fell off of Remus's lap. He spluttered for a few moments and then said, "Most kids who stabilize early only do so at or around their eighth birthday! He's just turned six! I know that James told me that he stabilized a little before he turned ten, which is the average isn't it?"
"I know... and yes, it is Padfoot. Your retention is getting better in your old age."
"I am not old! Any ways, I guess this is the end of our spending most of the year in New York is coming to an end."
"Not really, I've been poking around, and I think we'll be able to get our hands on enough international portals that we can link up this house with one in each of the countries we'll be needing to go to. I'll have to do a lot of traveling to get it all set up..."
His wife glared and jabbed him in the ribs, saying, "You'd best not stay away from home too long dear, or you'll find yourself relegated to a couch."
Remus sighed and muttered a 'yes, honey' before continuing, "Just be glad that Lily and James had already set up the arrangements for Harry's teaching with all the Master they lined up, and that they are all renowned as teachers. Also be thankful for the fact that they picked the ones who either owed them personal favors or come from families that owed House Potter large favors or even life debts. I wonder how the cubs will feel about spending a few months in Germany..."
Padfoot put a puzzled look on his face and asked, "Why is Germany first again?"
"The wandcrafters that House Potter has contracted for all of their custom wands since the fifteen hundreds reside in Munich. James was quite specific that Harry's first wand was crafted. Lily said push for him to have two."
"What is the difference between Ollivander, who is a famed wandmaker, and this family of wandcrafters?"
"Padfoot, how many times have James, Lily, and I explained this to you?"
Sirius looked properly shamefaced for all of a moment, and then he rubbed his chin thoughtfully with a smirk on his face as he replied, "This will be the fifth time I think."
"Well I was obviously wrong about you ability to retain information. Now pay attention mutt..."
"Why does everyone insist on calling me a mutt? I'm a Grim!"
Hestia laughed and said, "When the Kennel Club starts issuing pedigrees for Grims, we'll stop calling you mutt."
Moony chuckled softly at his wife's sense of humor and pushed forward, "Now as I was saying, the difference between wandmakers and crafters is that a wandmaker uses a narrow selection of most compatible woods and cores in order to get the best 'fit' possible for the largest number of people possible. A wandcrafter makes each wand individually for each witch and wizard, and the wand will always respond to its owner in the best manner possible."
Sirius dropped his forehead to the table making a decent sounding thump. "And as you explained it..."
"You remembered it. Honestly Sirius, what am I going to do with you?"
He grinned cheekily and turned into his Grim form. Remus sighed ruefully, and scratched his friend behind the ears when the dog padded over to him.
"Well we can't put you out to stud since that bastard Rodolphus cast that curse that sterilized you in seventh year..."
Padfoot whimpered at the mention of that event and Hestia sighed softly at it. Her and Remus had had a number of conversations on the fact that male werewolves were generally far less fertile than the norm. She cuddled a little closer to the man she loved so much.
"Hey, if you ever find a woman who would put up with you who wants children, you could always adopt."
The Grim growled at his friend.
"Hey don't blame me that you are so afraid that you'll always be left alone when she, no matter which relationship it is at the time, finds out it is almost impossible for you to father children."
Padfoot whimpered and laid his snout on Remus's knee. The Were began scratching Padfoot behind his ears.