Oh my gosh, you guys! I hate myself for taking so long to write this! I feel like it's been two months... (that's probably because it practically has been... :/ Sorry!) I've been trying SO hard to finish this, but I just haven't had any inspiration. That is, until today! Seriously, I feel so bad that I took so long for this, but I'm glad it's finally done. :) It's always a bittersweet feeling when I finish a story. I hope you all like it. :) Thank you all for sticking with this; it means so much to me! I feel like I'm rambling, so I'm going to stop now. I love you guys so freaking much!
I sighed and looked into my nervous gray eyes in the mirror as I needlessly adjusted my robes. I shouldn't be anxious, but I was. She was all ready my wife, what was there to be nervous about? Danielle and I had decided to have another ceremony, as we hadn't been formally married in the Wizarding world. Besides that, it only felt right to include James and Remus and the rest of our friends. There was a noise at the door and I turned to see James leaning against the doorjamb. Shoving away from it, he walked over and put a hand on my shoulder.
"You look good, mate."
"Thanks. Everything ready?"
James nodded. "We're all set to go. The bloke from the Ministry is here to officiate."
Taking in a deep breath, I gave a curt nod. I tried to ignore the ridiculous nerves as I walked with James. When I reached the landing my foot faltered on the top step. I turned to James and shook my head as Peter's face flashed before my eyes.
"It feels wrong, somehow….without Wormtail. Don't you think, Prongs?"
I saw James's Adam's apple bob as he swallowed hard. He stayed silent for a long moment, before finally agreeing with a nod.
"Yeah. He'd want you to go on with it, though."
"Well of course I'm going on with it." I said, gripping the banister. "I just wish he was here to celebrate with us."
"Me too, Padfoot."
James placed a hand on my shoulder, squeezing it. Our eyes met for a moment before we both nodded and started down the staircase. I knew Danielle was in one of these rooms, putting on her finishing touches. As if she needed any. The woman would bloody perfect in a paper sack. I was smiling when we reached the first floor. I could hear the murmurs of our guests filtering through the drawing room. Tonks appeared at the top of the stairs, her hair a deep blue color. I grinned at her.
"Lovely hair," I commented, gesturing to her aqua locks. She grinned back with a wink.
"I knew you'd appreciate it. Dani liked it as well. Said it shows my 'character'." Tonks chuckled. "Dear Molly thought it was inappropriate and told me to change it back to natural. I think it'll make a nice contrast in the photos, though, don't you?"
Laughing, I nodded. Josephine leaned over the banister.
"Dani's ready when you are."
"We're ready," I said with a nod. Most of the nerves disappeared as I sucked in a deep breath. Just then Emmy wondered into the hall from the drawing room. Smiling, she skipped over to our small group.
"Daddy, the Ministry man wants to know when we're starting."
"Tell him we're starting now, love."
"Okay," she said as she spun on her heel and skipped back into the room. Tonks followed behind her, I was sure to find Remus and take their seats. I heard the Ministry wizard make an announcement and then the voices quiet down. A rush of excitement went through the crowd.
I clapped James on the arm as I stepped forward to take my place at the front of the room. When I turned to look at the crowd, I saw Lily in the front row, beaming. Little Elaine was in her arms, Harry and Emilia standing stoically to her left. I scanned the crowd, my eyes occasionally stopping on a face. Frank Longbottom was there, a smile on his face despite the slightly disheveled appearance of his hair. I'd heard he moved back with his mum after they buried Alice. She was helping him with Neville, who was the same age as Harry. I thought that sometimes Frank slipped into his own world, when his eyes glossed over and his brow twisted a bit in confusion. But it only lasted for a moment before he was back to his usual self and smiling again. I saw Kingsley Shacklebolt and the Weasleys. Remus and Tonks were on the other side of Lily, smiling happily. I focused my eyes on the entry way when the lone musician changed his song. James escorted Josephine to the front, and then suddenly Dani was there.
A gasp escaped from my lips when I saw her. I couldn't help it; she literally took my breath away. On the Hawaiian coastline she'd looked like a princess. Now she looked more like a fairy, but the effect was every bit as enrapturing. She beamed at me as she walked slowly down the center aisle. Next thing I knew she was at my side, lacing our fingers together, pressing her warm palm against mine. The ceremony passed in a blur. Once I had the comfortable weight of Danielle's ring on my finger I knew nothing in the world could ever tear us apart. Of course I knew that before, but there was just something about the ring that gave a sense of finality.
Now we swayed back and forth to the music, Dani's head resting on my shoulder. All the chairs had been pushed back to the wall and Kreacher—who I'd discovered a day after I'd read Regulus' letter—moved around the room offering drinks and hors d'oeuvres. Though we had always been little less than enemies during my childhood, it hadn't been hard to make amends. The fact that he was still bound to me was also useful, as he hadn't been able to escape once I'd ordered him to stay. But if he had refused to forgive me over the ill way I'd treated him as a child, then I would have allowed him to leave. I looked down when Dani sighed happily. She met my eyes and smiled. I leaned down and brushed my lips against hers, feeling the familiar shiver run down my spine. Curling her fingers into my hair, she kissed me back. I could get lost in her lips forever. Nothing compared to the feel of her skin against mine. Closing my eyes, I melted into my wife, forgetting about every other person and thing in the room. In Hawaii I had felt odd, almost like an outsider. But this was completely my element. I was surrounded by my friends and co-workers, all witches and wizards. I slid my hand down Dani's back, pressing her closer. I wondered if she could feel the beating of my heart beside hers. I was jolted back into reality when a hand touched my shoulder. Pulling away, I turned to see James.
"Sorry to interrupt the moment, but everyone's waiting for cake."
Nodding, we silently follow James to the table set up in the corner. I saw Emilia and Harry chatting animatedly at a table with Lily and Tonks, and couldn't resist a smile. I glanced at Dani and saw that she was still smiling as well. I couldn't imagine anything more than what my life had turned out to be. We were finally a real family—Emmy had a mother, her mother. I felt as though I could burst as I placed my hand over Danielle's and cut the first piece of cake.
"I love you, kitten. Behave for Lily and James." I kissed Emilia's forehead, lingering there for a moment longer than necessary. It was hard to believe that she was eight years old. It seemed like only a year ago when she was four, cuddling up to my side. In another four years she would be off to Hogwarts to start her training.
"I will, Daddy. Love you, too."
I smiled and straightened, doubting that she would be able to resist getting into trouble all together. She was my daughter, after all. I knew that she wouldn't do anything too terrible and that James wouldn't mind even if she did. I watched as Emmy hugged her mum, Dani kissing the side of her head before releasing her. I wrapped an arm around Danielle as I waved to my daughter and godson, who were already plotting their first adventure.
"Goodbye. And no more evil bunnies!"
Danielle gave me an odd look, but I was more focused on James. He caught my eye and grinned. Spinning around, he caught Emmy in his arms and tickled her.
"You promised not to tell!"
"I didn't!" She insisted, giggling. James let her go and she took Harry's hand before running down the hall, to where Lily waited by the fireplace in the kitchen.
"There a reason you told my daughter her rabbit was evil?"
There was a twinkle in his eyes when James shrugged and said, "Just wanted to see how she'd react."
Rolling my eyes, I shook my head, though I couldn't get the smile off my face.
"Get out of my house," I growled.
"My pleasure. Don't have too much fun, love." He said with a wink before disappearing into the kitchen.
Still shaking my head, I turned to Danielle, wrapping my arms around her waist.
"Evil bunnies?" She raised her eyebrows. I chuckled.
"It's just James being a wanker."
"I suppose I have to get used to it?"
"I don't think it's something you can become 'used to.'"
"Point taken." She said, circling her arms around my neck and putting her lips to mine.
After several minutes I pulled away and whispered, "We still haven't got a proper honeymoon. And I even knew that I was marrying you, this time."
"I don't need a honeymoon," Dani said with a laugh. "All I need is you."
On an impulse I stooped down and swept her into my arms. Dani let out a small yelp of surprise and then laughed. She wrapped her arms around my shoulders, her long brown curls flowing over my left arm.
"What are you doing?"
She laughed harder. "I don't think it counts if you have to tell me."
I shrugged as I went up the stairs to the first floor, to our bedroom. I dropped her gently on the bed and kicked off my shoes before crawling beside her. Wrapping an arm around her stomach, I brushed my lips over her neck, making a trail up to her lips. I had longed for this so long, but it only made it that much sweeter. Dani turned into me, a hand sliding over my chest. I moaned and pulled her closer, tangling my fingers in her hair as I deepened the kiss. She broke away for breath, her forehead pressed against mine.
"Would now be a bad time to mention my parents are flying in next week?"
"Yes," I replied breathlessly, finding her lips again. I felt her nod against me as she kissed me back fiercely, her hands slipping to the hem of my shirt.
Sometime later, I lay on my side, tracing random patterns over Dani's bare back. The fact that we were here, as husband and wife, still amazed me.
"Don't stop," she whispered when my hand stilled.
"Sorry. I didn't know you were awake."
She nodded tiredly, turning on to her side and looking up at me. Pulling the sheet higher over her chest, she snuggled into my arms. I kissed her shoulder, the same time she reached up to touch a faint scare on my chest.
"What's it from?"
"It can't be from a raid. It's too old. These are from the battle…." She trailed off, her finger brushing across my skin to where I'd been cut by the castle blowing up. Her hand went back to the first.
"Do you remember?"
I was silent for a long time, long enough for her to look up and say, "Sirius?"
I sighed, unable to refuse those entrancing brown eyes.
"I was sixteen." I started slowly, my tone measured. She frowned slightly, her finger still brushing absently over the long, thin scar. "It was the night I left this house, actually. I….er, let's just say my mum's aim was spot-on."
Danielle gasped. "Your mother did this to you? I knew she was verbally abusive, but you never said—"
"It was just the once."
"And she cut you? With a curse?"
"No," I said, shaking my head. "She threw a vase at me. Then she hit me with the Cruciatus Curse."
"I'm so sorry, Sirius. And I made you come back here….How can you stand it? We can leave, if you want. I know you said you were sure about this, but—"
She stopped and looked up, her eyes questioning.
"This isn't the same house as it was. It's the same building, but….we've made new memories, we're redoing most of the floors. I wouldn't have decided to stay here if I wasn't certain I could handle it. I've always liked this house. It was the people in it I couldn't stand. Trust me when I say I don't have that problem now."
Danielle laughed and pressed her lips to my bicep. "Oh….I believe you."
September, four years later
I knocked on the open door of Emmy's room, where she knelt before her open trunk.
"May I come in?"
Looking up, Emmy saw me and nodded.
"Yeah," she smiled. I returned the smile as I sat on the edge of her bed. As I looked at my daughter, it was hard to believe that she was leaving to her first year of Hogwarts in little under an hour. She'd grown so much and my heart ached seeing it.
"C'mere, love," I told her, gesturing for her to sit beside me. Her large brown eyes looked up at me curiously as she swept her long brown hair over one shoulder.
"I know that you've been waiting for this day for years and I've been dreading it just as long. But now that you're finally off to Hogwarts I want you to promise me one thing."
Emilia rolled her eyes impatiently, a smile on her pink lips. "I know, Dad. No getting into trouble, do good in all your classes, et cetera."
Putting a hand to my heart, I faked being offended. "What? How could you say that?"
".…You weren't going to tell me that?"
I laughed and wrapped an arm around her, hugging her to my side. "Of course not. I came in here to say you'd better break as many rules as you can and don't be afraid to go on an adventure. You're a Black and the daughter of a Marauder. I expect nothing less than mischief. I had better get a letter once a week about how you've been chucking wads of parchment down the toilets."
Emmy doubled over in laughter as I began tickling her.
"Daddy, stop it!"
I finally relented after a few moments and pulled Emilia into my arms. Sighing, I shook my head.
"I'm going to miss you, love."
"I'm gonna miss you too, Daddy." She said, wrapping her arms around me and resting her head on my shoulder.
"What is going on in here?" Danielle stepped into the doorway, a grin on her lips.
"Nothing," we replied together.
Looking at each other, we both started laughing once more. I could practically feel my wife rolling her eyes at me.
"Well you'd better hurry up doing nothing, because we've got to leave in ten minutes."
"Yes, ma'am." I said with laughter still sparkling in my eyes. After Dani retreated I kissed Emilia's temple and then stood up.
"You finished packing?"
She nodded and clicked the locks shut for emphasis.
"Uric's all ready to go?"
She nodded once more, placing her owl's cage atop her trunk carefully. I reluctantly nod, trying to fight the water filling in my eyes.
"Okay. You promise?"
The mischievous grin she'd inherited from me spread over her face. "Of course. What kind of a Black would I be if I didn't?"
Chuckling, I hugged her to my side once more. "That's my girl."
I couldn't stop thinking about Emilia as I started breakfast the next morning. I knew that she would do perfectly fine, but I was going to miss her. The holidays couldn't come fast enough. Still, I thought with a small grin, having the house to ourselves has some benefits. The soft sound of footsteps had me turning and I smiled when I saw Danielle. Her brown hair cascaded down her back and for a moment I was stunned by her beauty. I would never get over how amazing that woman was. She wore only my button-down shirt from last night over her underpants. Padding into the kitchen, she pushed herself up onto the counter.
I put the kettle down on the flame and stepped closer to Dani. My hands slid up her bare thighs, scraping over the fabric of her pants and coming to rest on her hips. I leaned in and brushed my lips over her jaw, slowly making my way to her luscious pink lips. She wrapped her legs around my waist, pulling me closer and linking her ankles together. Dani's fingertips trailed down my bare back, leaving a burning, tingling sensation in their wake. I sighed happily against her mouth and kissed her again. My hand slipped up a few inches. I would never get tired of this, of loving Danielle with everything that I was and everything I had.
"Good morning," she murmured against my neck. I smiled and pulled away just enough to capture her chocolate gaze with mine.
"I'd say so." I replied, catching a lock of hair in my fingers and tucking it back into place. I put my lips again to hers and lost myself in her embrace.
"I think I quite like having the house to ourselves," I said softly into her ear. Dani laughed and took my hand in hers, linking our fingers together.
"Is that what last night was for?"
"No," I chuckled. "Last night was because I'm helplessly in love with you."
I was suddenly grateful for magical cooking. Otherwise, I'd never been able to make breakfast while actually paying more attention to my beautiful wife.
"Well that's good." Danielle said, pausing to kiss me sweetly. "Because I have something to tell you."
"Oh?" I asked distractedly, rubbing my thumb against her skin.
"I planned to tell you last night," she grinned. "But you had other plans."
I laughed. "Are you going to tell me or not?"
"Yes." Dani took my other hand, resting against her side, and laced those fingers together as well. After a long pause, during which she beamed at me and practically bounced up and down, she said, "I'm pregnant!"
It took a moment for that to sink in. "You…you're pregnant?"
Dani nodded vigorously, her face glowing. "Yes! I had an appointment yesterday and had it confirmed."
A sudden, fierce joy exploded inside of me and I wrapped my arms around her. For a long moment I simply held her, Danielle hugging me back just as fierce. Laughing, I kissed her and then held her out at arm's length.
"Wow…I can't…this is amazing!"
She laughed along with me, nodding eagerly. The thought of more children had never really occurred to me in the past four years, to be honest. We had the perfect family already. But now….now that I knew I was going to be a father again, I couldn't imagine anything better.
"Emmy's going to have a brother or sister!" With a sense of awe I put a hand to Dani's abdomen. It was difficult to imagine that such a miracle as a baby was growing inside of her. I couldn't stop smiling as I briefly pressed my lips to her stomach. Dani laughed and slipped down from the counter.
Waving my wand, I set the table for two and then sent the food to serve itself. "I'm just glad we'll do it right this time." I said as I pushed Dani's chair in for her. "With a mum and a dad and a big sister to love them."
"And not to mention all those mischievous uncles and cousins."
I chuckled just as an owl shot unexpectedly out of the chimney. I immediately recognized the markings and knew it was from Emmy. Uric landed on the table beside my plate and I offered him a strip of bacon as I took the letter from his leg.
"It's from Emmy," I said excitedly and Dani leaned in. I looked up, grinning.
"I can't wait to tell her the news."