A/N Sorry it has been so long, Real Life has kept me very busy. Hope to be back in the swing of things now. I own nothing, JK owns it all. I make nothing and just enjoy taking my favorite characters out for a spin. I will return them in fine shape. Please read and review. New chapters should be just around the bend. ~M
The four friends sat at the kitchen table enjoying their curry and wine. Tonks had recovered as soon as Sirius brought up the kids. Remus and Tonks explained about Dumbledore's Army and why they felt a need to support it.
"That evil bitch has her head stuck in the sand just like the Ministry. These kids will not even be able to pass their OWLS much less defend themselves. We have to give them our support. Harry will be a good teacher, too." The group nodded their agreement.
Sirius looked heartbroken, "How bad was his hand, Mooney?" His greatest fear was that Harry would be hurt. He had suffered horribly at the hands Dementors in Azkaban and they had used that fear most often to torture Sirius.
"It was mostly healed but it will scar," Remus said his anger returning to him.
"To have a wound like that, he's had to have used that blood quill for hours on hours. I've never seen anything like it," Tonks said shaking her head.
"We have to tell Dumbledore. How can he not know what's going on? The old goat knows everything that goes on in that school and we should know," Sirius said as he pounded his fist for emphasis.
"I don't know," Miriam said, "She is a sneaky witch, maybe she has some kind of block on her office that keeps Dumbledore from seeing." She had experienced first hand what Umbridge was capable of and sadly this didn't surprise her at all.
"Well we've flooed Dumbledore and Minnie to come over tonight for a drink, Molly and Arthur too. I want Molly on my side for this one," Sirius smirked.
"That is actually a great idea. I don't think we should tell them about the DA or the mirrors though, yet," Tonks countered.
"Splendid, when should we expect the explosion?" Remus asked, "Harry is going to call you after dinner."
"They probably won't be here until late, but if he buzzes while they're here, I'll just step out for a moment and ask if I can call him back later." Sirius called for Kreacher, "Could you please clean this up? If anyone floo calls, we'll be in the lounge up stairs."
"Yes sir, Master Sirius," the old house elf bowed. Remus was still shocked at the way Kreacher and Sirius now spoke to each other. If he didn't know better, he would think they were actually fond of each other.
Sirius and Remus spent the next two hours coaching Miriam and Tonks on the finer points of Wizarding Chess. The first few months after Sirius escaped, he found that playing the game would distract him from dwelling the damage to his psyche. After a few minutes they group found it was easier for Tonks to sit on Remus's lap and Miriam to perch on Sirius's because the boys were the ones really playing, the girls were just telling the pieces where to go. When Remus and Tonks's won she was excited enough to wrap her arms around his neck and kiss him firmly on the mouth.
Miriam and Sirius whooped and hollered catcalls at them. Tonks and Remus looked embarrassed for a moment, then Remus decided he didn't care. He'd wanted her for months and apparently, she felt the same way.
"I am so glad that you are all enjoying your new living situation," Dumbledore spoke as he entered the room with McGonagall in tow.
"Well it seems that Grimmauld place resembles the Gryffindor common room. In fact, I am sure that I have seen the Marauders in exactly this position before, but Mr. Lupin was never one to play chess quite like this."
"Ah Minnie, Mooney was just holding out until his perfect woman could grow up," Sirius smiled proudly.
"I just hope that they realize how wonderful they are for each other and that they deserve each other. Don't call me Minnie, Sirius Black," McGonagall said sternly but Miriam believed that she saw a twitch on her former professor's lips and a twinkle in her eyes to match the twinkle in Dumbledore's.
"Miriam, are you finding happiness here in this house?" Dumbledore enquired.
"Yes, sir, since my parents have passed, I have missed this feeling of family and friends. I have gained so much and I have to admit that I do love my new post in the Ministry. Sirius is a natural at Magic Detection, he's already improved on my system."
"Dear, I am happy for you? Now what do we need to discuss so urgently?" Dumbledore asked.
"Please have a seat," Sirius pointed to the sofa across from them before bellowing, "Kreacher!"
"Yes, Master Sirius," Kreacher croaked as he popped in the room.
"Please bring up tea for six and some of those biscuits you made this afternoon," Sirius said. Kreacher bowed out of the room to return before Sirius could begin pacing. "Sir, Molly and Arthur will be here in a moment, I'll ask that we wait for them before starting. Minnie what are the Gryffindor's chances for the house Quidditch Cup this term?"
"Well, we have no Keeper, but Ginny is quite good at chaser and with Harry and the Weasley Twins we have a fair shot," McGonagall smiled. If only they can all stay out of trouble, she thought to herself.
Molly and Arthur came through the floo presently and joined the rest of the party in the lounge.
Arthur spoke first, "Sirius, what is going on that has you in such a state. Molly said that she thought your head would fully detach when you floo called her this afternoon."
"Sirius, if you'll allow me," Remus started. "Tonks and I had lunch with the kids today in Hogsmeade. The Twins were discussing Professor Umbridge's method of punishment during her detentions."
Molly looked up and the 'Momma Bear' came out when she heard her childrens' names, "What did they say, Remus? What is she doing to them, Albus?"
"They said that Lee Jordan has wounds on his hand from her making him write lines with a blood quill. Then Harry tried to hide his hand from us, and he has scars that read 'I must not tell lies.'" Remus continued.
"WHAT?! Albus how can you let her physically abuse our children with illegal means?" Molly was beside herself and Arthur made no attempt to calm her.
"Molly," Dumbledore started.
"Albus, if you say anything other than you are working to get her out of that school, you should just keep your breath," Molly fumed.
"Molly, I can assure you that we did not know what she was doing. I knew that Lee and Harry had detentions with her but neither of them have come to me. Why wouldn't they come to me?" McGonagall rarely looked so heart broken.
"I was unaware of her using the blood quills. I knew she was using lines, but not the blood quill," Albus shook his head.
"How can we stop her? She is protected by Fudge. You have been asked to step down from the Wizengamot. What do we do?" Molly asked near tears.
The rest of the room saw when it hit her, "Oh my God, the twins. They are always in trouble. Minerva, Albus we have to do something, they'll feel like they need to get at her to avenge their friends. Especially Harry! I told them to watch out for him. What are we going to do?" She looked desperately to Arthur.
"Molly, we are in constant contact with the Harry and Hermione, we would be happy to include Ron, Ginny and the Twins," Remus tried to calm her.
"Albus, can we speak to the kids tonight, we need to implore with them to stay out of trouble until you can come up with a solution," Arthur spoke with more determination than normal.
"Yes of course," Dumbledore said turning to Sirius, "You will have to stay here, but Remus can go in your place."
"That's fine, I trust him with Harry," Sirius nodded knowing that he would have fought like the dickens if he didn't have the mirrors. The group rose and headed out to the kitchen to use the floo to go to Dumbledore's office.
Molly stopped and turned back to Sirius, "Thank you for telling me, for demanding something be done, for thinking of my children too. I know that I give you a hard time sometimes about treating Harry like he is James, but this time you acted like a father and I am proud of you." Wrapping him in her arms and hugged him near to death she whispered, "James and Lily would be proud, Sirius," then she left Miriam and Sirius in the lounge alone.
"Mim, I need to call Harry would you stay with me? I don't think Mooney is ready to let go of my dear cousin's hand yet," Sirius asked with a smirk. He would barely admit it to himself much less anyone else, but his mind and spirit were still a little off from the years of torture. Having someone he trusted near him offered him that extra bit of support to keep it together in trying situations.
"Of course I will Sirius. I am here for you, just as you were for me," she tugged at his hand to sit beside her on the sofa.
Sirius removed his mirror and called Harry. Within seconds he was staring into the face of his godson and he could tell the others were all piled around him, "I thought you were going to call after dinner."
"Well there was a minor complication with that, it wasn't until just now that we could get to a room where I could use the mirror without being obvious. Seamus and Dean are having a row in our dorm and the common room was crazy."
"Look son, Moony, Molly, Arthur, Minnie and Albus are on their way to have a meeting with you. You must all listen to them and do as they ask. If you need to or want to talk afterwards I'll be here," Sirius said.
"Ok, oh Professor McGonagall is coming, we have to go. I'll talk to you tomorrow if not later tonight. Thank you for the heads up and the mirrors," Harry said before closing his case.
"I could kill Umbridge, normally I wouldn't kill a woman but she falls into a very special class of evil that I thought only my mother and cousin Bellatrix could occupy," Sirius said with his head in his hands. He could feel the dark fog seeping into the recesses of his mind.
Miriam stood to kneel down directly in front of Sirius. She placed her hands on his and pressed her lips to the top of his head. He gripped her fingers and moved his forehead to rest on her shoulder, "I am just so worried about Harry. She's out to get him, she is and I can't protect him."
"Shhh, Sirius, you are not alone, we are all trying to keep him safe. With the mirrors, he won't have to go it alone or make risky floo calls. He can contact any of us directly. From the way you all have spoken of Hermione, you should enlist her and Ginny to keep you informed if he is about to do something rash. If they love him as much as you all say they do, then they will give you the opportunity to intercede."
He looked up at her and she smiled at him. "How did you get so smart?" he teased.
"I don't know, but I just know it will work out. This is really nothing compared to some of the horrors you three have told me about. He will be fine." The two friends sat there in comfortable quiet waiting for Remus and Tonks to return.
An hour later, they did return, "Apparently Umbridge is having all of the floos, even Dumbledore's, monitored because she and Fudge showed up with in minutes of us, demanding to know why we were there pulling the kids out of their common rooms at all hours," Remus started.
"That Molly is something though, she went on a tirade about how she had the right as a parent to see her children whenever she pleased and that she had requested the presence of an Auror and a friend," Tonks giggles.
"You should have seen it, when she accused Umbridge of using a blood quill on the kids, I thought Fudge was going to turn purple. He tried to defend her but you could tell he was furious. The kids weren't there yet, and Fudge dragged Umbridge out of the floo and to his office at the Ministry before McGonagall was back with them."
"We have begged them to not instigate anything and not to antagonize her right now. I think that we may have gotten across to them exactly how dangerous that could be, but I'll be honest, the twins are ready to leave. I think it is just a matter of time," Remus shook his sandy hair.
"They are almost ready to open their joke shop, I even considered being an investor, but stopped for fear Molly would kill me. If they do leave to start one up, I'll be happy to help them financially to get it up and running," Sirius said sincerely.
Miriam pulled out her mirror, "Hermione and Ginny."
"Yes?" two cute heads popped into her mirror.
"Hi, I am Miriam, Tonks said she told you about me. I want to speak to you two directly. I need for you to be on your best watch of all the boys and if they are about to do something rash or dangerous, or if they do, do something rash or dangerous, you must notify one or all of us immediately. This is not to get them into trouble, actually the opposite, it is so that we can protect them. Can you do this? Molly and Sirius are out of their minds here and Hermione, if your parent's knew what was going on, well I am sure they would be worried about you too," Miriam said with out waivering.
"Yes, I promise and thank you," Hermione said. "I look forward to meeting you during Christmas break."
"Me as well," Miriam nodded.
"I can do that too, but I don't have as much time with them. I think that except for the Twins during their class time, we can be with them pretty much all the time," Ginny replied. "I'll recruit Neville and Lee to let us know about them if they try to sneak out at night."
"Thank you, ladies, I bid you good night."
"Night" the girls returned.
"It's been a ridiculously long week, I think I am going to retire now," Miriam yawned.
"Me too," Tonks agreed. She kissed Remus on the cheek and then headed up the stairs.
"You boys going to be alright without us?" Miriam smirked.
"Yes of course, thank you again for just being here," Sirius said drawing her in for a hug before watching her walk up the stairs.
Sirius and Remus sat up and strategized for a solid hour before wandering up to bed themselves. Sirius was in no great hurry, since he knew he would spend most of the night either living through nightmares or trying to avoid them. When he was upset about something, they were much worse. He was certain that after this fiasco, he'd be in for a long night.
The next few weeks followed with little action. Remus and Sirius spent most of the day processing the files in Miriam's war room. They had already processed most of her files and were working on detecting odd patterns of magic use.
Each day, after spending a few hours at the Ministry, she brought home copies of the previous twenty-four hours reports. Tonks kept them up to speed on what was going on in the Aurors' office.
Molly served Sunday lunch at Grimmauld for all the eldest Weasleys and Fleur Delacore often joined them. Sirius and Miriam's friendship was flourishing, they flirted shamelessly with each other but didn't seem to grasp that the other was serious. They were in fact too busy keeping Tonks calm about Remus's concerns of not being worth her time and affections. He felt he couldn't give her what she deserved, but he was so in love with her he couldn't stay away either. Sirius and Miriam along with Molly became their personal counselors and relationship cheerleaders.
Sirius found out over time that Miriam suffered from nightmares as well. Many nights they would find the other in the library reading. Often they would dose off in the wee hours of the morning leaning against each other.
One particularly gruesome night, Miriam was woken up by a loud commotion in Sirius' room above her. In a panic she ran up the stairs and flung open his door, wand brandished, expecting to see Death Eaters. Her heart melted when she realized that Sirius was thrashing around violently in the throws of what she could only imagine as a horrid battle. She went over and sat gingerly on the bed, softly calling his name. When he seemed to be calming down she put her hand on his and he stilled. She spent the rest of the night, sitting in his bed propped up on pillows brushing his hair with her fingers or tracing the worry lines on his face. He never fully woke up, but slept peacefully the rest of the night.
As the holidays neared, the tensions in the Order were becoming so thick you could cut them with a knife. Concern for the children at Hogwarts as Umbridge was promoted to high inquisitor and mandate after mandate was passed and posted making Molly a wreck. Miriam was taking Snuggles out almost daily so that he could run off some of his nervous energy. She admitted that it was good for her too, but that she had never really understood the point of running before she met Snuggles.
When Harry and Fred were banned from Quidditch for life after fighting with Malfoy, they all knew it was just a matter of time before one of the kids snapped and did something dangerous. According to the girls, at least Fudge had stopped Umbridge from using the blood quills. This did nothing to improve on her attitude towards the Weasley's and the Golden Trio. If anything, it made her hatred of them more obvious.
The month before end of terms was approaching, news from the DA was splendid. Some of the kids were able to produce full-bodied patronus and all were able to produce at least silvery whisps. Harry was doing a great job teaching.