Author's Note: Hi all, I wasn't really planning on writing this story, but one day I sat down and my beloved Potter/Black/Lupin family was complaining I hadn't spent much time with them recently, so I started writing. Nearly 9,000 words later I had the beginnings of a story. New chapters will be on Sunday's with this one, and I will post every one to two weeks. Thanks to all who might read. Please leave your opinions with me, I love to hear what you're thinking. MNF
Growing Up with Mum and Dad
(and a whole collection of Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents and Cousins)
A Harry Potter Fan Fiction
By Mutt N. Feathers
(This story begins shortly after the events of "Continuum".)
October 12, 1980
Lily Rose Evans Potter paced in the foyer of her house, Potter Manor, the ancestral home of her husbands family. She would take a few steps along the marble floor, turn and walk back to the front of the fireplace to her right, look to the grandfather clock which sat next to it, and then repeat her actions. She was nervously awaiting the arrival of her best friend and her husband best mates. Two of the three were generating most of her concern.
Anwen and Sirius Black were now living in France, a life out of the public eye while she recovered from the injuries sustained in the Great Battle against Voldemort a little over two months previous. Lily hadn't seen her friend in weeks, and was worried she might decide not to come, regardless of how important today was to Lily and her family.
James Potter entered the foyer from the lounge, holding their infant son, now ten and a half weeks old. The little boy had his eyes wide open and was taking in the room as if he'd never seen it before. James marveled at Harry's expression, wondering what the world truly looked like to his son. Catching the motion of his wife, he called out to her.
"Lilylove, you need to stop pacing. They will be here, Sirius promised when I saw him on Monday at theCouncil of Thirteen Meeting," James again reminded his nervous wife.
"I know, you've told me," she replied with an exasperated sigh, "but they've only just reconciled and..." her thought was cut off by the rather loud squeal of her son, and his gyrations in his father's arms, turning to where he heard her voice. A gentle grin crossed Lily's face as she walked the few steps to gather her son into her arms.
"Hello there my precious one," she cooed at the now smiling baby, "how's my favorite little man?"
"I thought I was your favorite man," James playfully rebuked her.
"You're my favorite man who's more than three months old," she responded matching his tone.
"Ah," he answered as he wrapped an arm over her shoulders and stared down at the happy face of their son. They were both so thankful he was here safely, and the Dark Lord was truly dead.
"I can already see the man he'll become in his face," Lily commented. James chose to say nothing now, but in the future he would need to discuss with her how the child they were raising was likely to be different from the man whom they had become friends with and who had returned to his rightful place in 1998.
Harry James Potter, an older, different version of their son, had risked everything to come back in time to end the life of Voldemort. He, along with his wife, Ginny, traveled back to 1979 to save the life of Regulus Black, destroy the items the Dark Lord had hidden bits of his soul in, and then finish the job by killing the man himself. They'd succeeded in two of their three goals. Regulus had succumb to the injuries he sustained in the Great Battle nearly a month after he'd sustained them. All three of the Black's had been trapped as the destroyed castle where the Death Eaters and their master lived when it imploded. For Anwen and Sirius, the wounds had been nearly fatal.
A quick knock on the front door followed by its immediate opening alerted the couple one-third of the company they were awaiting had arrived. Remus Lupin, their trusted schoolmate, lived on the property in what was once the gatehouse. Sirius and James had made a promise to one another they would always provide for their friend and make sure he was never in need. Unfortunately being a werewolf had it's drawbacks, even in this changing political climate. James, in his new role as Deputy Minister of Magic, was working to secure a better future for his friend and those like him.
Lily sighed when she saw him, never worried he would miss their sons baptism. The nervous look on her face told Remus all he needed to know about the situation.
"Lily, I had tea with Anwen yesterday, she'll be here, it just takes her longer to get ready now. She's very slow," he explained.
"I know, but what if she and Sirius..."
"They're not going to separate again," Remus assured her. "They probably wouldn't have in the first place if he'd simply given her a few days to relax and decompress here before he began to beg for forgiveness, of which he didn't need. She never blamed him, she was just overwhelmed by all of it." Remus was always the calmest of the bunch.
"I'll just feel better once they're here," she responded. James patted her on the shoulder, hoping to calm her. Lily went to hand Harry to Remus, but as she did, he moved back. In the weeks since his birth, neither Lily or James could get Remus to hold Harry. He was convinced he'd break the child, or do some equally demonstrative thing to him, due to his lycanthropy. Harry's parents had yet to convince him he wouldn't.
"Remus, please," Lily begged, "we want Harry to know his Uncle Remus."
"He will know me," their friend responded, "I talk with him when he's in his cot when I'm over, or when one of you is holding him. I will not take little Harry into my hands until he's a little older and far less fragile. We still don't know the lasting effects of being bit by Greyback a second time."
Lily and James both sighed. The healer's had assured there were no lingering affects of the second bite beyond the difficulties in healing he'd suffered immediately after the attack. Now, months later, he was back to his old self. A man whom they both trusted implicitly. Neither would press the issue this morning, but eventually they would get their friend to hold their son.
A flash in the Floo fireplace followed by the riding boots and long legs of Sirius Black began to put Lily's mind at ease. When he was fully through the Floo, his wife tucked in his arms, she relaxed completely. In her mind she sniggered, only Sirius would wear his heavy boots with a suit and tie.
"I told you she'd be worried," Anwen said with a smirk as her husband walked across the marble floor to the settee gracing the other side of the hall, and set her down on the plush red upholstery.
"Yes, yes, my little one," Sirius sighed, "you were right." He punctuated his sentence with a gentle kiss on her lips. All three of the friends were happy to see the pair looking like newlyweds again. The months since the Great Battle had been hardest on them in so many ways.
Anwen looked around her husband to look to the faces of their friends. "We would have been on time if he hadn't been taking so long in the loo. Somebody please figure out a way to charm his hair back," she mockingly pleaded. Sirius' trademark long, wavy dark locks had been shorn from his head to repair the damage to his skull. The hair was now only a few inches long, and was trimmed into a very traditional cut. He complained his hair hadn't been this short since he was an infant. A long scar ran from near the top of his head down his forehead and to the crease next to his nose. There had been moments since his recovery his vanity about his looks was comical. This was one. The rest laughed at his wife's request.
"Sirius, man, honestly, you look fine," James attempted to console his best mate. Sirius rolled his eyes, a habit he'd picked up from his spouse.
"No, I don't," he rebuked. "My ears stick out funny and without my hair you can see them. I don't think they put my nose back into the right place, either." Anwen reached up for his hand, he immediately responded to her touch.
"You are the most handsome man in the world to me, what anyone else thinks doesn't matter," she reminded.
"What did I do to earn your love?" he inquired even as he bent down to bring his lips to hers again.
"You loved me first," she replied in their pattern. The kiss they shared was rather passionate.
"Okay you two," James interceded, "you, mate, need to be going to get your mother, Louise and Draco. We'll meet you at Lily's parents house."
"I'm on my way," Sirius grumbled back having turned to look as his friend when he spoke. His gaze went back to his wife. "You sure you're going to be alright?"
"Honestly, love, do you think Remus will drop me? I'll be fine. Get going, Louise can't handle Mum and the baby on a portkey," she reminded and Sirius kissed her crown before going back through the Floo to Grimmauld Place.
"You two definitely seem happier," Lily remarked, grinning madly as she did.
"We've only been married for four months, and two of them we were either hospitalized or living apart. We're happy again, we're going to show it," Anwen defended herself and her husband.
"Anwen, seeing the two of you happy is all any of us wanted," James responded, causing Anwen to tip her head and purse her lips as if she needed to stop tears.
"We really must be going," Lily broke the emotional moment with her reminder. "Mum and Dad are waiting for us at their house, and then we're driving over to the church. All of us just appearing would certainly alert the rest of my family to our differences. Petunia is already..." she trailed off. None of them had any doubt what thoughts Lily might have about her sister. In the words of Sirius: 'she's an intolerable wench of a woman and her husband is an oaf'. None were looking forward to their presence today. Lily had secretly hoped the Dursley's would refuse to come to the ceremony, like they had with James and Lily's wedding.
James went to get Harry's carrier and supply bag from the lounge. Lily handed Anwen Harry while she put her coat on. Since the service would be at the Muggle church Lily had gone to as a child, everyone was wearing their Sunday-best Muggle outfits. Harry began to fuss, so Anwen started singing to him, repeating one of the lullaby's she'd included in the charmed lullaby box she and Sirius had created for him. Harry immediately responded to the familiar voice and tune and quieted down.
"He's the same way at bedtime," James remarked as he took Harry and settled him into the carrier, properly securing him and then putting a mild warming charm on him. The fall air had a definite chill in it this far north.
"I'm glad," Anwen replied quietly. With Harry prepared, James and Lily walked through the foyer to the kitchen in the back of the house, and then to the garden beyond. Remus came over and carefully lifted his friend up and followed along.
"I feel so silly having people carry me everywhere," she sighed.
"Anwen, you can't walk yet, your leg isn't healed enough. Please, believe me, you're not a burden. We're all just thankful you're alive," Remus told her and she smiled up at her confidant in so many ways.
Once outside, the quartet each took a side of a battered magazine James had charmed into a Portkey. James and Lily both held onto Harry's carrier to make sure the infant made it with them. A moment later it activated and the friends entered the blueish-white vortex.
The caravan of cars arrived at Lily's family parish in plenty of time for the service, regardless of her worrying. There was little discussion as to where the service would be, which made things easier for Lily and her parents. James family had grown up Presbyterian, not surprising given their Scottish heritage. Lily had been raised Anglican and her parents were active in their congregation. Since the elder Potter's deaths in 1978, James had not been in a church. He never told his wife, but he would not be here today if it weren't so important to her. He still harbored some unresolved emotions concerning his parents deaths and God. It never made sense to him why two such good and devoted people were suddenly stricken ill and died within days of becoming sick. That it occurred only weeks after his wedding made the sting all the greater.
Shortly after the family arrived, Alice and Frank Longbottom came in holding little Neville. The two infants were nearly the same age, but Neville had been baptized nearly a month ago, James standing up as his godfather and Lily as his godmother. Harry's service had been delayed to ensure Anwen could stand as Harry's godmother while Sirius and Frank would be his godfathers, as was tradition in the Church of England. Frank had been pressed into service when Remus firmly declined, saying he had no business helping to guide Harry's soul when he was unsure of the state of his own. They had all pleaded with him, but his mind was made up. None had realized just how deeply the actions of the wolf played upon his psyche until this was said.
Anwen was given a wheelchair for the day by Dr. Evans, and while she was willing to use it, she grumbled it made her feel foolish. The only redeeming quality feature was her ability to hold Harry on her lap when everyone else needed to stand during the worship service.
When it came time for Harry's baptism, Lily took Harry back from his godmother and carried him forward, followed by James and Frank with Sirius pushing Anwen behind. The priest had arranged the baptismal font so no step climbing would be required. Lily held her son through the first part of the service, the declarations and questions and then through the sign of the cross, moving her son so the men and Anwen could trace the mark on his forehead. She finally added her own, made wet by the tears that trickled down her cheeks.
Lily handed Sirius the baby for the anointing with water and oil. He was comfortable holding the infant, now. No one talked about the first time he picked the baby up, still unsteady from his head injury, and nearly dropped him to the floor. Anwen had explained the entire ritual to him the night before, and he understood the importance of his role here and in Harry's life. While the priest performed the rite, Sirius Alphard Black promised in his heart he would always be there for the little boy, regardless of what he needed. No one but his wife saw the tears collect along the edge of his eyes, unshed. Her angle below him made the glimpse possible. She reached up and placed her hand upon his, sharing her strength and love.
The priest took Harry and said the final blessing and then handed him back to his father, who proudly carried his child back to the extended family sitting in the pews. Both Rose Evans and James' cousin Alice were snapping pictures, the aforementioned with a Muggle camera, the latter with a wizarding one. The day was being well documented for Lily.
Sirius parked his wife and then slid into the pew next to her. The officiant started into his homily, and Anwen took the chance to reach over to her husband and take his hand. He looked at her and she whispered.
"Are you alright?" He smiled at her concern.
"I am," he replied. "I just realized how lucky we all are and how..." he stopped. Sirius wasn't usually at a loss for words. "Life is good."
Anwen grinned at her husband, understanding what he wasn't saying. "Yes, it is," she answered and then threaded her fingers through his. She tipped her head onto his shoulder and listened to the message about light conquering darkness through the love of Christ, and knew it was true.
A brunch was held at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Winchester Evans. They'd recently done some remodeling and Rose was happy to show off her home and garden to the family and friends who'd gathered. James and Lily made the rounds within the house, visiting with Lily's extended family and showing off their young son. Many of the were heard commenting it was a shame they lived so far away, as none of them were likely to see little Harry as he grew. The couple listened and nodded, but kept their comments to themselves. The Potter's were happy living in Scotland, and the secret of their magic was hidden well.
Nearing the end of their rounds, the couple heard the shrill voice of Lily's sister, Petunia, before they saw her. While Lily had managed to suppress hers, James made an audible groan. When Mrs. Dursley, husband and infant son accompanying, had missed the church service, there was hope they'd be absent for the remainder of the day. Apparently it was too much to ask for.
"James, be nice," Lily admonished. "She's still my sister."
"I know," he whined, "she's just so much to take. Plus, they hate me."
"They don't hate you," Lily placated, "they hate what we are. Come on, let's get this over," she suggested with a slight tug. James pulled little Harry, who was still happily looking around, a little deeper into his chest as they made their way across the house and to the front door.
Taking a deep breath before greeting her, Lily put on her most positive, albeit fake, smile and greeted her sister.
"Petunia, Vernon, we're so glad you could make it. When you missed the church service we were worried."
"Yes, well it was difficult to get little Dudley ready," Petunia explained. "It's so hard to get going with a baby in the morning. We just couldn't get him dressed and out the door in time to be at the church."
Lily looked at her sister and fought the urge to reminder she had an infant too, even younger than hers. Vernon asked where the food was, and Lily pointed the way, confirming the only reason they were here was to sample the buffet. The Dursley's passed quickly, leaving James and Lily in the entranceway of the Evans' house.
"Did they even look at Harry?" James asked.
"Doubtful, remember, no baby is as precious than their Dudley-kins," Lily added in a rather cloying voice.
"Harry, when you grow up, and are smarter and in control of your skills," James whispered to his son, "promise you're old Dad you'll hex your cousin."
"James," Lily chastised him. "Don't go giving him ideas." James looked at her with utter innocence.
With that, little Harry started to stir. Lily looked at the clock and deduced he was ready for a meal. She took him from his father and made her way to the small sitting room, off the main lounge. She was surprised to see it occupied by Alice, feeding Neville and Anwen holding Draco, singing and rocking him to sleep. It had become a makeshift nursery of sorts. Lily settled herself down next to her girlfriend while James went to retrieve the rucksack of supplies from where they'd laid it upon entering from the church. By the time James returned to his wife, Harry was searching for his lunch, even through Lily's blouse. She took the blanket her husband pulled from the bag and threw it over herself and let her son feed.
"Anwen, I have to say, the sight of you rocking Draco is quite surprising," Lily remarked. Anwen shrugged.
"Louise looked a little overwhelmed with him, so I told her I'd rock him to sleep. He isn't his father or mother, he's a sweet little boy," she whispered to the infant. "Sirius moved us into here so it would be a little quieter," she explained. "Anyway, I need the practice. We're going to be parents after the first of the year." If Alice, Lily or James found it surprising to hear Sirius and Anwen intended to keep the child he'd fathered, while under the Imperious Curse andwith another woman,none of them showed it.
Anwen looked at them. None were speaking, nor moving, nor perhaps even breathing. "What?"
James walked over and knelt in front of her and the now slumbering infant in her arms. "We're just surprised after the way you reacted over the summer. You've done quite a turnabout."
The young brunette sighed and nodded. "I did. I think if the only crisis I'd been asked to deal with this summer was the mess regarding the child, I wouldn't have overreacted so. But, it was the end of a very long parade of them," she paused, a rapid succession of memories littering in her mind. "That baby is still half Sirius, and it didn't ask to be created the way it did. Anyway, the healers aren't convinced I will be able to have any of my own. Everything was rather crushed inside. This might be our only chance," she explained. The rest were understanding. James leaned forward and kissed he crown.
"You, little cousin, you're a remarkable woman." The young wife just blushed and looked down at the compliment. Her acceptance of the impending infant, their conception such a painful situation for her, was typical of the grace and faith the witch had shown them all at some point in the past. None doubted the baby would grow up loved and cared for in the Black home.
James settled down next to Lily, wrapped an arm around her as she fed their son, and joined the quiet discussion between his wife and two cousins as all three of the babies settled down and were content.
Late in the afternoon, after most of the guests had left Frank and Remus were afraid they'd need to restrain Sirius. His trademark temper was rearing itself, and just like when in his Animagus dog form, you could see his hackles being raised. Vernon Dursley had made a disparaging comment regrading Sirius' wife being little Harry's godmother, rather than his Petunia. This followed a string of comments regarding how many of "them" were in the house. "They" were all still here, waiting until the Dursley's left to activate their Portkey's or to Disapparate home.
"My wife," Sirius spat back, emphasizing the word with hopes it would make the irritating man realize making derogatory comments about another persons spouse was tactless, "has been there for Lily, including helping her get ready for her wedding to James." He hoped the statement would make an impact, since Petunia had skipped out on the day. "Also, she's James's cousin."
Vernon grumbled at the comment, saying something which sounded like "Of course they stick together." Sirius was at the end of his patience, not there was ever much when it came to someone saying anything remotely critical of Anwen, even when they were merely friends. Remus was able to catch James eye as he moved from the small room the girls were in, back into the main lounge. It took him all of ten-seconds to assess the situation and come closer, standing between Vernon and Frank, across from Remus.
"Don't even see how those two can possibly make ends meet. Does he even have a job?" Vernon asked and James let a sly smile sweep his mouth.
"Why Vernon, how nice of you enquiring after me," he was answered, James surprising his brother-in-law. "I recently started a new job, I'm now the Deputy Minister of Magic." Vernon sputtered in response.
"What our modest friend here left off, was explaining the equivalent of his job in the Muggle government," Frank interjected before either man could speak.
"Oh, and what would that be?" Vernon haughtily asked.
"Deputy Prime Minister," Remus remarked. Vernon looked green with envy, his usual ruddy cheeks becoming a nasty brownish hue. Sirius curled his lip up in what his wife called his "dangerous smirk" and decided to add to the ingratiating man's covetousness.
"My best mate here is also too proud to tell you of this other title," Sirius announced. "When his father passed two years ago, James was made Lord Potter, and sweet Lily is his Lady. Thankfully, he lets us just treat him like a normal bloke."
Vernon had taken a sip of his scotch to cover his disgust at the "freak" being more important than him. At the words Lord Potter, Vernon nearly choked on the contents of his glass. James gave him a strong pat on the back, hoping to help him swallow the liquid down. Instead he spat the contents of his mouth all over Sirius, further irritating the wizard. Remus quickly handed his friend a napkin to dab at his leisure suit jacket and leather waistcoat Anwen had made, at least until Sirius could pull out his wand and clean up the stain. A slight growl emanating from his chest put the portly gentleman on notice.
"My, my," Vernon cackled, "look at the time. I truly must be going, important things to get done. Petunia," he bellowed, moving toward the kitchen where he'd last seen his wife and mother-in-law attempting to get little Dudley to eat some porridge. A comical and hasty gathering of items and collision of bodies precipitated the Dursley's departure. Even in the lounge, the four friends could hear Vernon not so quietly whispering to his wife.
"Bloody weirdo is a Lord! Royalty my arse," he complained, even as the door slammed shut, prompting the four wizards to expel ruckus laughter.
"I'm sorry mate," Sirius said, looking to his best friend. "He was being such a pig about things, when Frank started to set him straight, I couldn't resist." He pulled his wand out of his inside jacket pocket and cleansed himself, the only Muggles in the house being Dr. and Mrs. Evans.
"That's fine," James answered with a chuckle. "I'm surprised he hadn't offended anyone before this."
"He was hovering over the buffet until Rose put the food away," Frank remarked causing another round of laughter. Mrs. Evans hoped it would convince Vernon to leave. He simply followed her into the kitchen.
"Sirius, I was headed in here to tell you Anwen needs something from her bag. She said it was time for her potion. I offered to get it for her, but she said you'd know which one it was time for," James explained. Sirius pulled his pocket watch and caressed the inscription as he looked at the time.
"Dammit," he exclaimed, "she's nearly an hour late for it. Why doesn't she say something before she's in pain?" He hastily left the room, going into Dr. Evans office to retrieve her emergency bag, comparable in size to Harry's nappy bag. He rushed back into the sitting room and saw his wife lounging, cradling young Draco, still slumbering. Her raw looking right leg was lifted up onto the couch, as straight as it went now and her left bent and resting next to it. Her long skirt left only the slightest hint of ankle expose. She looked peaked and drawn to her husband.
"Why didn't you tell someone earlier you needed your potions?" he asked gently. "Is it time for the salve as well?"
"I'm not in much pain," she explained. "It didn't occur to me to ask until I heard the grandfather clock chime a while ago. We can wait to do the salve until later. I'm sure no one wants to see my wounds." Sirius looked at her with a combination of worry and frustration before choosing to simply uncork the phial and hand it to her.
"Mother wanted to know if we'd like to have dinner at her house," Sirius told her. "Kreacher is making a roast."
"That's fine," she replied after swallowing. "She doesn't look well, love. Louise looks overcome as well. Perhaps we should stay overnight, let her get a good night's sleep. We'll take care of little Draco and be available should your mother need us." Sirius smiled at the suggestion.
"I think it's a very generous offer and I agree wholeheartedly. I'll Apparate home, get us each a change of clothes as well as pick up your full compliment of potions and come back to help all of you get to Grimmauld. I'll invite Moony for dinner as well, and he can get you there in one piece."
"Thank you, sweetheart." She tipped her head up and her efforts rewarded with a gentle kiss.
"Are you quite certain?" Louise asked Sirius for the tenth time in the last few minutes. "Anwen isn't very strong yet."
"Auntie, she's the one who suggested it. Take tonight off, you've been caring for both of them for months. Let us take care of Draco for tonight. I'll charm Mother's room, and I'll know if she needs me as well. Go, take a bath in the tub across from your bedroom and then settle down for a nice lay in. I'll have Kreacher bring you some peppermint and chamomile tea." Louise Malfoy smiled at the young man. She was more thankful for his offer than she'd let on. Caring for the ailing Walburga and her four month old grandson was more than her old bones could keep up with. She'd refrained from complaining for fear of someone suggest either of her charges be moved from the house. Neither had many other options, and all of them were undesirable in her eyes. She watched Sirius climb the stairs, headed to his childhood bedroom on the fourth floor as she turned and looked at the loo which held the huge claw-footed tub and decided to take him up on his suggestion. As she closed the door behind her, she heard son greeting mother on the floor above.
Sirius checked in with his mother, assuring her he would know if she needed him during the night. She looked so old to his eyes, the death of his brother and the residual effects of her poisoning had aged her quickly in the last year. He'd still not told her about the mess his cousins Bella and Cissy had created to get their hands onto the Black family fortune. All his mother knew was the girls were both in Azkaban, he'd declined telling her of Bella's receiving the Dementor's kiss recently. After leaving the master suite of rooms, Sirius bent his knees and slid down the wall, running his hands over his all too short hair. He wanted a moment to collect himself before he saw his bride. Anwen would worry about him if she saw any distress in his eyes, and she had much bigger issues of her own to be worried about.
Seeing his mother looking so frail had halted the man. He'd only reconciled with her a year before, and now he was fearful she'd be lost to him. Also pressing upon him, he had been asked to go to Azkaban on Wednesday to see Felli Seduiré, the mother of his child. This was the mess his cousins had made. After Imperiousing him, he was forced to impregnate this girl he knew only socially from his school years. She had carried a torch since for him since their third year when he'd snogged her once and blamed Anwen for keeping him away from her. The revelation of what had happened nearly ended their month old marriage. The summons was regarding his plan to keep the child and raise the baby with his wife. Felli would be notified of the arrangements while he was there.
Once things between the newly married pair had settled down, Anwen promised Sirius it was the best for them to raise the child. She swore she'd love the baby, regardless of how they were created. Before her announcement, Sirius had tried to figure out what he'd do if she couldn't bear having the baby in their home. He wanted to know his child, love them and be a father, but doing it without his wife would have created some difficult complexities. Thankfully, it was for naught. Anwen surprised him again with the generosity of her spirit. With another pass of his hands over his frustratingly short hair he stood and took the stairs two at a time to the fourth floor.
As he opened the door to his childhood room, he was greeted with a beautiful sight. Anwen was sitting in his childhood bed, holding Draco and feeding him. She'd only put him down today when she absolutely had to. He loved how she was enamored with the child. The pillows were propped up behind her, brown hair flowing over them, the baby happily sucking down on the bottle. Sirius childhood desk was covered in nappies, changes of clothes, burp rags and other supplies including several bottles charmed to keep them cool. His bureau had been shoved against the desk, in the back corner of the room so Draco's cot could be moved in. Sirius barked out a loud laugh when he saw how Anwen had charmed extra baby blankets to cover the Muggle posters of girls in swimming costumes around his room.
"Interesting re-decorating you've done, love," he sniggered as he closed the door and moved to sit on the end of the bed, removing his boots from his feet.
"Yes, well," she then paused and sighed. "I didn't need to be reminded how inadequate I am physically, sweetheart. They all have two beautiful, functioning legs." Sirius shook his head at her. "Not to mention their breasts are nearly as large as my head," she quietly added. Sirius only heard the first part of her statement.
"If you can call me handsome, then you need to believe me you're as beautiful as you ever have been. Two, one or no legs, you are the only woman I desire," he promised as he crawled up the bed to kiss her. The action must have dislodged Draco's bottle, and he let out a yelp of a complaint. Sirius backed off, let the infant find his bottle again and settled against his wife, relishing this all too normal family moment and smiled.
November 13, 1980
"Remus, can you please pick up Harry?" Lily yelled from the kitchen into the sitting room where the Marauder was making faces at the infant in his bouncing seat. He was attempting to stop Harry's crying by entertaining him. It was a miserable failure. The werewolf baulked at Lily's request and yelled back to her.
"Can't I just Patronus James to come in and do it?" Lily chuckled in the kitchen at his suggestion.
"James is out on the lower half of the grounds, deciding which trees need to be removed. We're having issues with the protections on the property back there," Lily explained. Harry's screaming was getting louder and more persistent. "Please, Remus, I'm brewing a potion and I can't stop stirring."
"Harry, please be quiet for your Uncle Remus," he pleaded with the child, but the four month old wasn't going to be reasonable about this. Harry wanted what he wanted, when he wanted, and right now he wanted to be picked up. The volume and pitch of his cries only increased. Finally, with no other options apparently available, Remus put his hands around Harry's midsection, reluctantly, and lifted the baby. The man's arms were stiff, holding the baby straight out, away from his body. This was the first time the man had ever handled a baby, let alone one as dear to him as his nephew. Harry was stunned by the action for a moment, temporarily halting his cries. It only lasted a few seconds, and he began to cry again.
Remus had watched James and Lily with the baby numerous times. He started to bounce up and down like he's watched James do when he wanted to quiet his son. Harry reacted to the motion, his cries beginning to still. The man thought a moment about what else he'd seen the child's parents do, but all of his recollections involved holding the baby to them and cradling him in their arms. He was not going to do that, he might crush the precious little one, or drool on him, or otherwise create a catastrophe. Harry sensed the fear and unease rolling off his uncle, and reacted accordingly by crying out again.
Panic was now over taking Remus, and he wondered how he could duel Death Eaters without pause, by silencing one so small had him vexed. He then attempted to recall the things he'd seen Sirius and Anwen do when they were with Harry. Sirius often turned into a Padfoot and chased his tail, distracting Harry from whatever was upsetting him. Since he couldn't turn into a werewolf on demand, that was out. The fear he'd be near Harry when fazed over were the stuff of his nightmares. Back to his recollections, he considered Anwen, who did some different things to quiet Harry. She'd hold him over her arm, his chest in the palm of her hand, his legs on either side of her forearm and do an airplane motion while rubbing his back with her other hand. Since it wasn't something which required him holding Harry close to his chest, he was willing to attempt it.
Carefully moving his arm under Harry, he mimicked the position. Harry immediately responded, growing quiet. Remus breathed a sigh of relief and began to walk around the sitting room, bouncing and "flying" his nephew. When the infant began to fuss again, Remus realized he'd forgotten one of the crucial aspects of Anwen's actions with Harry when he was like this. She sang to him. Anwen had a remarkable singing voice and not only did she soothe little ones when she crooned, but often silenced and transfixed adults as well. When she was the one to come and heal him the mornings after a full moon, it was her dulcet voice to which he awoke. Not being as vocally adept as she, Remus was hesitant; however, he owed it to Harry to try. He chose a nursery tune he remembered his mother singing to him when he was small. Back before he'd been bitten and she was afraid of her only son. Taking a shaking breath, Remus began:
"London bridge is broken down,
Dance over my Lady Lee,
London bridge is broken down,
With a gay lady.
How shall we build it up again?
Dance over my Lady Lee,
How shall we build it up again?
With a gay lady."
Harry had stilled, his eyes wide as he stared at his uncle. It even appeared he was smiling, although Remus was aware it was probably only gas bubbles needing to be released. The infant seemed content.
"So, you needed a song, eh?" He asked the baby. "Don't tell anyone how bad I sing."
"You're secret is safe with us," James said from the doorway between the sitting room and kitchen. Lily was standing with him, grinning madly. They'd tried everything they could think of to get Remus to pick up Harry since his birth. All their previous attempts had failed. Despite their reassurances of Harry being perfectly safe in his arms, Remus had been obstinate. Deception had been the only option left to the couple.
"I told you, it isn't in you to hurt him," Lily added as she left her husband's side and moving to her friend. She gently kissed his cheek. "You sing quite well. Perhaps you and Winnie should do a duet for the holiday?" James laughed at the sentiment, while Remus looked at her with mock indignation. Their success in getting Remus to finally hold Harry had made the Potter's slightly smug. Lily took her son from Remus and snuggled him close.
"Hey, I was just getting comfortable with him," he complained.
"Well, if you'd like to go change his nappie and feed him, then by all means, you can have him back," Lily replied. She was still breastfeeding and none of the guys willingly dealt with the nappies, even James.
"On second thought, you can have him back," Remus hastily answered, his tone light and jovial. "Maybe, though, I could have him back later?"
"Absolutely," Lily replied, punctuating it with a gentle pat of her hand on his before walking across the foyer to the large table in the library which was serving as a main floor changing table. An odd application for the centuries old Mahogany surface. She wondered what James relatives would think of their actions.
"Sirius and Anwen should be here soon," James said as he glanced at the clock. "You're being rather cryptic about why you wanted to talk with us all."
"I know, but I'd rather do it once, rather than talk with you and Lils and then Sirius and Anwen. I'm having a hard enough time with what I'm going to do as it is," Remus continued with his perplexing behavior. James watched as his friend went to look out the front window. No one would have ever called Remus carefree before, but in the months since the Great Battle his friends had witnessed Remus slip from his usual melancholy to a deeper despair. His four closest friends had all spoken with him about it, but none knew what to do for their lonely companion.
Unlike James and Sirius, who had dated a wide variety of girls while at school, Remus had only one girlfriend in his entire Hogwarts stay. Eva Ettinger. She was in their year, a Hufflepuff who had long curly blonde hair and deep brown eyes. Eva was the daughter of a siren, her voice partially enchanted. When she spoke, you could swear you were hearing waves crash against the shore. When she sang, men would stop and stare at her, putting them in a highly subjective state. While Moony had exceptional hearing, a side effect of being a werewolf, he was immune to her powers. She had come to accept what he was and knew he was with her because he cared, not because of her voice.
Their relationship had been on and off for years, their first split coming in the days after the Snape and the Shrieking Shack incident. She broke it off not because of his being a werewolf, but instead because he never told her about it. They reconciled a few months later and then broke up repeatedly, mostly due to Moony's keeping her at arms length. He felt he was too dangerous and not good enough to have her in his life. She would tell him she was old enough to make her own choices, and she chose him. They'd reconciled at Christmas last year and it seemed like it would be permanent this time until her father was murdered by Death Eaters and she fled the UK to protect her mother. The Dark Lord was interested in using Orashin Ettinger's voice as a weapon. They'd left under cover of darkness, telling no one where they were going or how to reach them.
Remus had taken her sudden disappearance hard. It didn't help his friends had paired off and married each other. It was difficult for him not to think about what's missing from his life when love flourishes everywhere he looked. Time alone, surviving the war and watching the obstacles his friends had overcome to be with the ones they loved had made him miss the one woman he was certain he could build a life with.
Lily walked back into the room, a blanket thrown over her front, Harry's little stocking feet the only part of him visible from under it. While he'd initially felt embarrassed to see her feeding, he now barely registered here doing it. It helped that she was exceptionally discrete with the action. She sat down in her favorite rocking chair, brought over from her childhood bedroom, and continued to let Harry sup. James put a hand on her shoulder, giving it a squeeze as he bent to kiss his little boy's head through the blanket. He gave Lily one as well.
"I'm anxious to see Anwen," Lily remarked. "She was fitted with her leg brace yesterday. It'll be good to see her up and standing."
"Definitely," James responded. Remus continued to stare out the window into the lengthening shadows on the lawn. The husband and wife shared a pointed look. They wondered if there was anything to lift their friends malaise.
The tell-tale whoosh of the Floo being used, followed by heavy footfalls alerted the adults to Sirius's arrival. A distinct sound of metal connecting with the marble floors suggested Anwen had Flooed on her own. Before anyone could go to greet them, the Black's were entering the sitting room, Mrs. Black walking on her own for the first time since July.
Though Sirius had his arm around her waist, she was standing. Her mangled right leg was supported by a metal "U" shaped brace, which started at her hip, trailed down one side of her leg, became a platform for her foot, and then rose up the other side. Two leather bands secured it, assisted by charms which glowed around her flesh. Her knee didn't bend in the brace, but the healers were uncertain if her skin would ever accommodate such an action again. Her trousers covered the puckered tissue completely.
"Anwen," James happily cried, "you're up and walking!" The girl stiffly trudged over to him and gave him a hug.
"I am, though my balance is an issue. The brace is strange, but it's the first step in being fully mobile again." Anwen hobbled to the wing-backed chair next to Lily and sat down with relief. Moving her body and the brace was taxing.
"Well, you look good," Lily praised. "Just think of how far you've come already."
"I know, Lils," she responded, not quite matching her friends enthusiasm. "I am truly grateful for everything the healers have done for me."
"We both are," Sirius added. "I don't know what I would have done if I'd lost her." He sat down on the ottoman, gently lifting Anwen's damaged leg up and placing it on his lap. His hands moved over it, softly kneading the flesh around the straps. Anwen looked into her husbands face and let him know she shared his pain with a simple tilt of her head.
"It's ironic you should mention it," Remus started, still gazing out onto the pond. "Sirius, I can tell you the loss is overwhelming. Not having the one you love in your life ... everything is painful. Making it out of bed, feeding yourself, breathing is so hard..." he trailed off, closing his eyes and sighing. Both women had tears in their eyes. The room was quiet, waiting for him to continue.
"I've spent months searching for the meaning in my life," he further explained, "and there seems to be none. I have no family, save the four of you and little Harry. I have only a few other friends and I have no prospects for a true career. She was the only thing that brought a spark of light to my otherwise monotonous and mundane existence. Even when we'd parted ways before, she was still in my life. Now ..."
"Remus," James began, but realized he had nothing to say. He could say something consoling to placate his friend, but any sentiment would ring hollow. He knew if he'd lost Lily there would be nothing but a large hole in his gut which nothing could even attempt to fill. Looking at Sirius, he summated his best mate was thinking the same thing.
"I've made a decision, but I'm going to need your help," Remus explained.
"Anything, Remus, you know that," Lily said gently.
"Just ask Moony," Sirius added. "Marauders stick together." Remus smiled at his friends enthusiasm. He wondered how he'd even passively questioned Padfoot's loyalty in the days between the attack at Grimmauld and the Great Battle.
"I want to find Eva. I want to bring her home and marry her, if she'll have me."
"She will," both Anwen and Lily replied in unison, making all five laugh. Harry didn't appreciate the noise or the movement, bristling under the blanket at his meal being interrupted. Lily chose to use the disruption to burp Harry. She wasn't surprised when Anwen held out her hands for him, having already summoned the burp cloth and thrown it over her shoulder. Lily acquiesced, handing Harry over to his godmother.
"How can you be so sure?" Remus asked as he left his window side vigil and came to sit on the sofa next to James. "She left without saying...anything."
"Remus, she had to," Anwen replied, alternating between rubbing and patting Harry's back. Her actions were rewarded with a large belch of gas. After kissing his cheek, she handed Harry back to his mother. "She was running for her life and her mother's. I'd guess she was attempting to protect you."
"Protecting me? I'm the dangerous one!"
"Maybe," Sirius added, "but you're not a Death Eater wanting information. You and she never hid your relationship. If someone had really wanted to find them, you would have been the logical starting place." The sentiment didn't seem to make Remus feel any better.
"I think it's about bloody time you got off your arse and went to find her," James bluntly interjected and everyone looked amused it was he, and not Sirius, skipping the niceties and getting to the point. "What do you need from us?"
"Well, I was hoping maybe you could use your Ministry connections? There might be something someone knows which can at least point me in the right direction," Remus hesitantly asked.
"Done," James firmly answered. "What else?"
"I know you're both busy with your families," Remus continued. "I mean you and Lils have Harry," he said facing James and then looking beyond him to Sirius, "and you're going to be a dad and mum in a couple of months, but I really could use -"
"If you're asking if we'll go with you, you don't even need to ask," Sirius answered the question before it was asked. "We're not letting you have an adventure like this and not come with you." Remus relaxed at Sirius's attitude, even as the others were laughing again. As it died down, Remus became uncomfortable and the room became silent.
"Also, don't let the money worry you," Sirius added. "I have the perfect account to take it from. My great-aunt and uncle, Belvina and Herbert, used to go and hunt werewolves. I think there's cosmic justice in depleting what's left of their gold to help you out," Sirius remarked as he curled his lip up. Remus looked relieved, James shook his head at the depth of "crazy" Sirius' family demonstrated. Lily clucked her tongue and Anwen tittered at her husband's way of breaking away from Black family traditions.
The five settled down to create a plan to find their missing sixth. Most importantly though, when Harry had finished his meal and his Aunt Winnie had burped him again, the little boy settled down to sleep in his Uncle Remus' arms. It made everyone exceptionally happy, especially since it produced a genuine smile on their friend's face.