Disclaimer: Characters and world are sadly not mine, but the premise of this particularly Alternate Universe and the unique situations it presents are all products of my less than hinged mind.
To tell the story of a legend, one must go back to the very beginning…
Back before their birth, and even sometimes before their parents' birth. In the year 1850 AD, it had become quite clear to many of the Wizarding world that a way of life that had always supported them had died out. To these few souls who realized it, they made a decision. To revive it the only way they knew how.
To take the role upon themselves and leave their world so that they may create a new in the foothold of an old.
The Druids were close to nature, and were muggles that had many gifts. It was often said that if was from their practices that Wizards and Witches gained their powers.
They chose to began living the lives of a seventeenth century Scottish village.
One such village, headed by a man named Duncan Potter, lay in the hills less than a hundred miles from the city of Inverness. A small community surrounded by Muggle repelling charms, it was a popular tourist spot for Wizarding families on vacation. One day in June of 1959, an eighteen year old French witch by the name of Matilda Grey and her twin sister Magdalene thought it would be a nice spot to celebrate their resent graduation from Beauxbatons Academy of Magic.
While their, the young Matilda met Duncan's son Iain and fancied herself to have fallen in love with him. He being a happily married man ten years her elder, and his wife having already given him seven children, there was no way he would have anything to do with her…
That is until the silly girl brewed and slipped the Scottish man a love potion. They had a single night together, and as they lay together afterward, she realized her mistake. It was not love, but pure infatuation that had drove her. The lust of having an unobtainable thing.
The young Miss Grey slipped away before she had to face the consequences of her actions, or so she thought. But the damage was already done, for as she left, her body was already holding the sparks of new life created in a pseudo consummation of love.
Whenever she found out, she franticly confided in her newly married sister. Because they were both Pureblooded witches, they'd never heard of Muggle termination techniques. A bastard pregnancy would have ruined any marriage prospects Matilda had, so the two concocted a somewhat risky plan that if discovered, would ruin both their reputations. But to them, it was worth it.
While she carried the child, Matilda would pose as her sister. She would be the new Mrs. Clarence Lloyd. Magdalene would be the single one of them for the duration of the nine months and therefore do her best to find her sister a proper spouse to come home to after the whole affair was over.
Luckily for both of them, both parts of the plot went off without a hitch. Matilda gave birth to a healthy baby boy, christened upon birth Philippe Jacque Lloyd for the supposed father's father and grandfather. A most happy day it was for the house of Lloyd…
The other twin had succeeded in settling a marriage for her younger sister with the Malfoys, a family of rich and influential English purebloods.
Back in Scotland, old Duncan died thus leaving his son to take his place as leader. Things had been difficult for Iain and his wife Hannah since his night of involuntary infidelity with the pixie like blond teenager. She'd given him seven bairns, six girls and a boy. She'd been expecting again when it had happen, and when she found out the next morning, the shock caused her to miscarriage.
She had been far enough along that they had been able to tell the sex and features of the fetus. A boy, perfectly formed. With a covering of his father's dark raven colored hair and high cheekbones. The shape of his mother's mouth and chin. A handsome lad he would have been, had he lived.
She vowed to Merlin and Agrippa that from then on, he would not touch her again lest her baby be returned to her.
Their only remaining son, the youngest of all, grew up spoiled. He was his father's only heir and knew it from the first he could understand.
He was a big bully, with no friends. Only followers who rushed to do his bidding, hoping to be remembers when he came to become Laird over them.
But thankfully the fates, in their infinite wisdom, saw how wrong it was to release him onto the world. And so it was that they rescued their frail creation by ending him before he truly began. The boy, Dougal, was thrown from a horse at age thirteen, and disoriented from the crash, stumbled into a deep lake of water. He drowned. He had only just finished his second year of Hogwarts, a member of Slytherin house.
It was April of 1965.
His eldest four daughters already married with children of their own, Iain was in a bit of trouble. He was being forced to name from among his son-in-laws his new future successor.
Not knowing for sure what to do, the raven haired Scotsman paid a visit to one of his oldest and wisest friends, one Albus Dumbledore Headmaster of Hogwarts School. Seeking council about the subject of his heir, he beseeched his old friend to tell him who he should pick. The four in question were all known to the Professor, so it should have been easy to pick between them.
Indeed it was.
"None of them," was the seemingly senile old transfiguration teacher.
"What?" Iain asked, not sure he had heard correctly.
"My advice to you is to pick none of them. Thomas, Michal, Aaron, and Lucas are all fine men, but they are all the wrong choices for what you seek of them. They each have their strong points, as well as their weak points for the job."
Gesturing him to follow, Albus led the other man to his office. There, he pulled down a book and began flipping the yellowing pages as he sat down behind his large desk. Finding the one he wanted, he glanced up from behind his half moon spectacles.
"A few years ago, while examining out the new list of Hogwarts bound students for the coming years, I happened upon a chance entry. A Phil J. Lloyd, born upon March 27 of 1960. It being a French name, I naturally wondered why it would appear in a book of names of those bound for Hogwarts. So I contacted another dear friend of mine, the Headmistress of Beauxbatons Academy of Magic in the south of France.
"She showed me the name in her own book of potential pupils as well. So with further research into the young Philippe, I found him and his family near Orleans on the Loire River. I was quite honestly surprised at seeing him, for he looks nothing like his father. I've a picture here…"
And he did indeed produce a small moving photograph. A little boy, about age four.
What took his breath away was that it could have been him at that tender young age. Inky colored locks that flew in all directions, even though it was quite obvious from the picture some measures had been gone too to try and control it. Hazel eyes twinkled up mischievously at him from behind round glasses. Strait teeth flashed upward in a smile. He was a bit tall for his age, and he had noticeable muscles for one so young. Dressed quite well also.
Shown with him were two familiar young pale haired women and an unfamiliar brown haired man. One of the two girls he had met so briefly not that many years ago smiled down at the little boy with quite evident pleasure and love. The other was scowling with dislike.
It could only be his son.
"A child…" he whispered, his eyes not moving from the little troublemaker's face. "That evil little harpy bore me a son, and I've not known…"
From there he began muttering in Gaelic, cursing the mother of his illegitimate son. His unknown, but welcome, heir. Now to just reach the boy, and bring him home where he belonged. After all, he was still old enough to be taught, to be groomed into a Highlander…
Finding out where the boy was, believe it or not, was the hard part. There were many families of Lloyds around Orleans, and he knew nothing of the boy's foster father's given name. As luck would have it though, the twins Matilda and Magdalene were well known as helpers of the community. Young Philippe often tapped along with his mother and Aunt to different events and benefits.
Once he knew where they lived, it was only the simple matter of a few spells and he was inside the manor. So knowing where the child was, he did the one thing that many people would not have expected. He kidnapped his own son from the only home he'd ever known and his family, to take him to a completely different country. And as it turns out, it is a very bad idea to take a sleeping five year old from his home in the middle of the night. Also, letting him wake up alone in an unfamiliar place.
When Phil woke up the following morning, not in his bedroom, he let out a frightened cry. Upon hearing it, a large bear of a man came lumbering in, thus scaring him even more. He had no idea that with their meeting, Philippe Jacque Lloyd would cease to exist. From his ashes would be a new person…
"Who are you?" he demanded in French, his voice a lot stronger than he felt.
The dark stranger smiled in approval.
"Obviously scared, yet he still stands up for himself," the Scotsman muttered to himself, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "Tell me boy, do ye speak English?" he asked, addressing the five year old.
"Yes," he said, his words a bit clumsy and his voice noticeably accented, "I speak the language of the barbaric Brits. What of it?"
The boldness the child showed gained even more approval from the kilted man.
"Good, ye'll need it in the coming years. And what of magic, are ye very learned in it?"
The child drew his frame of straight and said proudly in the foreign tongue, "Of course I am! Although I've yet to have a wand, I have been schooled in Latin since I was the age of three so that I may better understand the magical principles!"
Now his capture snorted, "Conjugated forms of a dead language will no more help ye than a stick in the midst of a fight with Ol Tommie's cronies. I see I made the right decision by taking ye from that weak woman ye call mama. Tis disgraceful really…"
It was this that got his little companions attention.
"Mama? You, a barbarian, are acquainted with my mother, the fine and honorable Lady Magdalene Ann Grey-Lloyd?" he demanded.
The taller man's eyebrow arched in surprise at his outburst.
"Aye, I am," he answered, confused as to why the little boy would identify his aunt as his mother. He had been able to easily tell the two lasses apart, and knew it was never sweet young Maggie that he had been forced to touch so intimately. It couldn't have been, for the dear girl had never truly been able to deceive anyone. Not without her twin's influence anyway.
Philippe gaped at him.
"Well then, I suppose ye will be wondering where ye are then?" the older of the two asked, turning his back on his progeny and addressing the wall.
"Yes, sir. As a matter of fact, I am," came his answer from the frightened little clone.
"I'll not reveal the whole truth now, but I'll tell ye this. The people ye know as yer parents aren't truly so. It was from my seed that you were created, and not that weak coward of a man with no spine ye insult me with by calling yer sire. I'll not tell ye the story that led to your conception and birth, but know this. Ye won't be going back to him anytime soon. I don't care if ye decide not to call me Da or not, that's yer choice. Do ye understand that, Jamie me boy?"
It was to much shocking information for so young a child at one time, so much so that the only thing he could ask was, "Jamie?"
Iain smirked arrogantly before he began to explain.
"Yer name. Tis a father's right to name his child. I winna have ye bear the name another man gave ye in pretense of my position, nae when ye've come from my loins. Yer name is James. James Duncan Potter, for my grandfather and yers. Is that understand?"
The newly named James quickly nodded.
"Now then, now that that's settled, we'll be off home. Ye have a new family to meet, my wife, yer sisters, and their husbands and babes. Ye're to be civil to them, ye understand? None of this barbarian stuff. If ye insult my Hannah, I'll give ye the sound thrashing you deserve."
To illustrate his point, he pulled off his belt and snapped it against his hand a time or two. Thus properly warned, the two set off for the man's castle fort in the hidden hills of the highlands.
As they walked through the just awakening village, they attracted many stares from people going about their early morning routine. Obvious copies of one another, and James noticeably dressed in modern robes of fine fabric. The Scottish Laird had taken them from his room in the Lloyd manor house and presented them to his son before they left the inn they'd stayed the night at in Londontown.
That's where the child had awoken earlier in the evening.
Entering the fortress, several servants stopped in their work to stare at the two of them. Their master had been missing for a little over a week, and with the recent news of the Dark Lord Voldemort, they'd been concerned with his disappearance. Especially with the fact that he had yet to name an heir. They knew something had been up when their chief had gone charging off in modern day Muggle clothing.
"Gather the household," he told the nearest man to him, which happened to be his chief groom. "Tell them I've an announcement to make in the foyer that's of the up most importance. I want them here within fifteen minutes time."
Within only a few moments, the twelve cooks, eleven maids, seven butlers, four of the six daughters of the house, their husbands, fifteen of the total twenty grandchildren, the lady of the house, and the twenty-seven other people who lived in the keep where gathered around the two males.
"Good day, m'lord," Hannah greeted him, her voice somewhat dead. It was always that way whenever she spoke to her husband.
"Hannah… How fare ye, m'Lady?" Iain asked, fighting a sigh. She was already so angry at him, he half wondered how much more she would most likely hate him for bringing further proof of his infidelity into their already cold home.
"I fare well, and yerself?" was her monotone answer.
She inclined her head at this. "I am your servant, m'lord. Ye have but to command and I shall gladly obey."
He nodded, then turned to address the crowd.
Putting his arm around James's shoulder, he began, "The time has come for me to name my heir. And that is James…" gesturing to the shorter boy with his head.
Before he could say more, he was interrupted by the husband of his eldest daughter, Thomas. " Excuse me father, but who exactly is this…brat. I thought ye where going to decide your successor from between yer sons?"
The bear smiled in answer.
"Precisely Tom, I am. I have chosen my only remainin' male kin, my only son."
The news was taken as he had expected it would be, with blatant shock, especially from his wife. She stood frozen next to their youngest daughter Mairi, who was only sixteen. The girl seemed to be trying to do her best at supporting a bit of her mother's weight as the news sank in for the older woman.
When it seemed to have sunk in what he had said, and his wife able to move again, Hannah walked over to kneel before her stepson. She stared into his hazel eyes for a few moment before letting out a morning cry.
"My son," she whispered, pulling him to her. She glanced up at his father and whispered with tears forming in her eyes, "Ye gave him back to me…"
The whole hall knew what she spoke of. The son so many years ago that had died before he had lived. A perfect copy of his father. He too had been christened with the name James before his burial. So many similarities…
No wonder she felt it the return of her last child.
Years passed, and things began to change for the Potter household. With the introduction of young James, his brother-in-laws no longer fought amongst themselves. They had a common enemy now, for bearing the dishonor of being passed over for a five year old…
The young boy grew into a bonny young lad. He learned to handle a horse, use a sword, a bow and arrows, and he learned how to function in a kilt. He learned how to farm, and raise cattle. Distill barley into whisky and add the special herbs that created the kick that made it into the popular Wizarding drink, Firewhisky. He learned the Scottish dialect of Gaelic, and more so on Latin. He learned more of History of Magic from Bathilda Bagshot herself, the writer of the Hogwarts textbook and an old family friend. As years went on, he began to forgot the beginning of his life with his aunt and her French husband.
He broke even more from their silly traditions and learned to play Quidditch. The Lloyd family had shunned the game since it's the golden snidget had stopped being used, for they had made a large fortune in the trading of the small golden birds. They clamed it was an unsportsmanlike game and to dangerous to the human body. Beauty was, after all, one of the many things they valued… along with more money and power.
At Iain's insistence, at the early age of six he'd learned to fly a broomstick. From there, it was only a matter of time before he learned the rules and found a position that suited him. He was a wonderful seeker… but it was the chaser position that truly called to him. One of the maids, a shy young girl named Cassie, said he was poetry in motion when he played with the other lads of the village. The description stuck.
He had began calling the lady of the house Mum-Hannah almost at once. It took another year and a half, as well as a near deathly tumble off a broom seventy-six feet in the air, to get him to call Iain anything close to father. His sister's loathed him, for he took away their possible elevating in rank around the village. Their children weren't the fondest of him either, but the village children loved him. He was a lot nicer that the old heir had ever been, and the attention didn't go to his head. Not according to their definition of arrogance anyway.
At age eleven, when James started Hogwarts, he learned that the definition of conceitedness he had learned growing up and other's were completely different. To them, he had a rather large ego even though he was a descent fellow.
But more on that later…
When he was seven, Voldemort appeared. To many, it was a mystery why he hadn't turned up sooner. It was widely known, even in such an isolated community such as theirs, that the Dark Lord was recruiting purebloods to join his ranks. They were a large community of pure and half blooded wizards as was, with only a few muggles and muggleborns thrown in.
This angered the prejudice man before he even made his offer. Before the eyes of everyone, he killed Agnes (the eldest of Iain's girls), her husband Thomas, and their eight children. Thomas was a muggleborn, with not a drop of magical blood in his parent's veins. He'd followed his love, whom he had met in Hogwarts, back to the life he knew she would never leave just to be with her.
"As you've just seen, stains of filth have just been washed away from the world of Wizarding kind. A new age is forming, where waste such as these will be destroyed or put in their place. Come, follow me, and you shall have a place in this new world. Leave these shameful ways of Muggles behind and join me…"
His speech went on, and many listened. Many a man joined him, although leaving behind their families. The women were smart, at least those with bairns. A total of seventeen men and twelve women joined him that day.
Including Iain's unwed daughter Mairead. It didn't matter that she'd just seen the murder of her elder sister, as well as the her brother-in-law, nieces, and nephews. She'd never cared for them anyway.
From then on, things changed even more. The others of the Laird's son-in-laws embraced young James. They all had loved Thomas as a true brother, and to lose him was a devastating thing to experience for them, not to mention their wives loosing their sister. They felt, in their grief stricken minds, that they had judged the boy for something out of his control. Just like Voldemort was doing to those who could not control what kind of family they were born into, or if they had magic.
The men began to work with him, helping him improve his lessons and his sword work. The woman bandaged and healed his wounds after their husbands were done with him for the day, coddling him as they'd once tried to do for Dougal.
They also taught him how to have fun.
It was Lucas, better know as Luke, that set off the first prank, quickly followed by a join venture from Michal and Aaron. Many followed, until the then still seven year old could no longer stand down. He did the unthinkable and hexed the blacksmith's tools to fly after them and Mairi's husband Angus and whack them upside the head, the shoulders, and everywhere else they could reach.
It was his first prank… and it was also the first time Iain beat him as he had threatened to do that first night.
Afterward, whenever an extremely angry Hannah had been calmed down over both the prank and the whipping, the father had sat his youngest child down and explained to him what he had done.
"Listen James… I understand that the lads have upset ye a fare wee bit with all these daft pranks of late… and I understand that ye had to get them back… Actually, I encourage you to try and get them back!"
The boy met this with skeptic disbelief. "Then why-" he began to demand angrily, but he was interrupted.
"Ye were whipped because you caused them harm! Angus never did anything to ye, yet ye've given him a broke arm and a concussion from where the bellows attacked his poor head! The other three lads are so heavily bruised, they won't be able to work tomorrow! I don't mind if you prank them, but you do not draw blood! That's not the way it works! Ye do that, and ye're no better than a bully. You ken?"
He nodded, rubbing his aching bum. "No harming!"
"Good! Now next time ye do, ye'll receive every bruise you put on them, plus one. Got it?"
Two weeks later, when he was tired of them pranking him again, this time with Angus joining in, the young boy charmed his mother's chickens to fly over them, loosening feathers over them that were cursed to stick. As soon as the first projectiles hit them, they were forced to sing raunchy songs and dance suggestively for the rest of the afternoon.
Although it was only his first spanking, the message had sunk in. James vowed not to harm another person, ever, with one of his pranks. That doesn't mean that was his last switching thought. He gathered a nice collection of bruises on his bottom, for he gave cause to be hit many time…
But that's another story.
The pain of Agnes' and Thomas' death was still fresh and painful a year later. So when Iain saw an opportunity to save others the pain of loosing a child, he took it.
He saved the Minister of Magic, a man named Titus Cauldwell, and his sixteen year old daughter Lucy from a Death Eater attack on a trip to Diagon Alley with James. They'd been going to Quality Quidditch Supply as a reward for the raven haired child defeating one of the strongest and tallest lads in the village, him being a wee bit on the small side. The young boy instead watched in awe as his father battled the seven men at once, broadsword flashing at an enemy at the same time his wand had just sent a jet of light at another.
Afterward, the total death toll was twenty-three followers of the Dark Lord, two Aurors, and a single pedestrian. The dark wizard catchers had been outnumbered until Iain had joined the fray. If he hadn't, there might have been even more destruction. He had single-handedly killed eighteen of the twenty-three by himself in only a matter of minutes.
The minister invited the family to a ball in their patriarch's honor, where he was to be awarded the Order of Merlin, 1st Class, for saving just about every human or magical creature that had been in the alley that day. To everyone's shock that night, he refused it, asking instead for a different reward.
That he and his son's be awarded Provisional Peace Officer Licenses.
It was a badge given out only in the darkest of times, when Aurors were in short supply. Those awarded it where given all privileges of a senior officer for the ministry. A license to kill, go after known and unknown criminals, the ability to use the Unforgivable Curses without fear of rotting in Azkaban… They answered to the Head of the Auror Department and the Minister himself only, and received their missions from them as well. Yet the badges hadn't been awarded in over a hundred years, not even in the dark wizard Grindelwald's time.
Recipients of them where known to die young, for they didn't receive the regular three year training normally obtained with an Auror position. It was a shock that a man with such an obviously large family would have a death wish, and especially for his sons!
But it was law that a man being awarded an Order of Merlin could choose the license instead, so the minister had no choice but to grant his request…
There was something else that happened at the Ministry that night.
Invitations had gone to all the most noble families to attend the event that night… including the Malfoys. Primarily the husband of one Lady Matilda Rosaline Grey-Malfoy. She knew invited her sister, the French Baroness Lloyd, to any notable gathering she attended. The two women saw young James, who at age seven still looked much like he did at age five. Magdalene's husband saw him two…
The supposed son that had been missing for a little over two years.
As the Scottish clan departed, the woman is their colorful silk gowns, modeled after those of the 18th century English court, and the men in their somber crimson kilts, the French wizard ran after them.
"You!" he yelled at them in the black marble atrium of the Ministry, pointing at the headman's wife, who's hand clasped that of James. "I demand that you give me my child back! I know not how he came to be in your possession, but he's been missing from my house for two years! Kidnapped from his very bed. I'll thank you to give me back my heir and be done with it, or so help me I'll have you all in Azkaban!"
The small man had been followed by his wife and her sister, and his yelling brought more people flooding in from the ballroom. He was a bit louder than he had intended.
"What's going on here?" a gruff voice demanded, the Head of the Auror department, one Alastor Moody, coming into view.
"Kidnapping! Theft! Lies!" Clarence shouted out, pointing at them, more specifically at Hannah and the young boy.
Moody's eyebrow raised in question. "And that means… what, exactly?"
"These… barbarians! They kidnapped my son from my home! From his very bed at the tender age of five! I demand that they give him back to me, else I shall press charges!" he screamed at the patiently waiting man.
The gathered crowd gasped at this accusation, turning back to the Scots to find out their reaction.
Iain, the man of the night, stepped forward and glared him down. Noticeably taller than the French wizard, who only stood at about 5'6 feet tall, the six foot four inch tall Scottish wizard was a bit comical staring down at the other man with obvious dislike.
"Sir, we've not met before, so I'll give ye the benefit of the doubt. I do nae take kindly to being accused of kidnapping anyone, even less to someone that is quiet clearly my son!"
"We'll consent to a paternity test between out James and ye, if ye like," Hannah put in, drawing the child closer to her. "That should be enough to dispute this man's claim, is it not?"
"Yes," a stranger from the assembled crowd called, stepping out. Pushing the sapphire colored baggy sleeves of his gold embroidered robes up, he said, "My name's Vernous Murphy. I'm a healer at St. Mungos. I'll be glad to do the spell for you, here if you wish."
Moody nodded. "That'll be satisfactory. Go ahead and get on with it, please," he ordered, motioning with his staff.
The healer nodded and went to kneel before the boy.
"I'm going to do a spell on you son, and it's going to hurt a bit. Is that okay? It'll only be a moment, I promise…" Hesitantly, the seven year old nodded. He remembered his uncle, and living with him as his father… Quite frankly, he didn't want to go back. He much preferred his life now to his life then. He was a bit scared that this test might force him back to France.
Motioning the other man to come over, the Vernous began moving his wand in a slow L shaped pattern while muttering a spell under his breath. He pointed at the boy with his wand, causing a point just above his heart to glow gold. He then quickly flicked the point toward Clarence and a spot above his began glowing as well, although his silver.
A thin beam of light began to form, connecting the two glowing positions.
It burned copper, pulsing every few seconds.
Another beam started growing from the middle of the first, forming a small pool. The outline of a ruin began to form in it, glowing black. Two thin lines in the form of an X, two dots hovering above it, and one below. Another dash mark meeting the middle of the left side of the cross.
The crowd awaited patiently the verdict, what the mark meant. If the man they'd come to honor tonight, would in fact be arrested.
"There is no blood relationship between these two. I'm sorry sir, but he is not your son."
Iain smiled condescendingly at him, knowing in fact who this man was.
"Ye see?" he snapped, before turning to Moody, "I assume we may go now?"
The man nodded, smiling grimly at them. In the few moments of their meeting, he'd taken a liking to the kilt wearer.
Turning to the healer, Hannah curtsied. "I thank ye for yer services sir. If ever ye be needen' a place to rest yerself from the rigors of our world, yer are welcome at our fire," she told him gratefully.
The strange man smiled at this and inclined his head. "Thank you Madame, I might just take you up on that offer one of these days."
The lot turned to go, and managed to escape before Magdalene cried out to them, ready to tell the truth and get her nephew back.
From then on, their lives turned a bit quiet. A brief time of excitement had flared when the healer Vernous turned up, about three years after the incident at the Ministry. He was made welcome, although his name was shortened.
Vernous was a bit awkward for the younger children to pronounce, so they took to calling him by his middle name of Haden. He was an Irish wizard, raised on the banks of the River Shannon. He played a large part in patching James up after several somewhat severe Quidditch injuries and thus made it possible for him to survive childhood.
On his eleventh birthday, he received two letters along with his usual presents. The unexpected powder blue envelope, inscribed with the crest of Beauxbatons Academy of Magic in the corner. The two golden wands crossed over one another, each shooting three stars. The letter was signed by the school headmistress, Madame Olympe Maxime, and invited Philippe Jacque Lloyd to attend the French magic school.
The other was the familiar cream colored parchment envelope, written in emerald colored ink, and held closed by the badger, raven, lion, and snake emblem. His letter, inviting him to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
It was an easy question of where he would go.
To be under the tutelage of Albus Dumbledore, without a doubt the best headmaster the school had ever seen. Besides which, Lloyd was dead. He would never live by that name again, not if he could help it.
As he sat on the train on September 1, 1971, he couldn't wait. The vehicle hadn't even left the station yet.
All four of his sister's, as well as their husbands and children had come to see him off at the platform, all promising he would have a wonderful time away at school. His father had taken him aside and given him a stern talking two before giving him a special gift to take along.
"James, I'm warning ye now. Behave yerselves at school, else ye'll feel my belt when ye get home at Christmas. Is that understood boy?"
He smiled and nodded.
"Yes Da," he assured him, "I'll be good."
Nodding again, the older man pulled out a brown paper wrapped parcel from the pocket of his traveling cloak and held it out for him to take.
"Open it when ye spot the castle," he advised, making him put the relatively light package in his robes.
After a last tearful hug from his mother, and an embarrassed cry of, "Mum!" he was on the train.
He was in his compartment now and trying desperately to sit still. After so many years of rough, homemade, woolen kilts and hand-woven shirts made of rough linen, the modern robes, of such an obviously more expensive fabric, were a little hard to get used to. The collar of his robes were itchy and tight.
The only redeeming quality for them was that they provided a hidden pocket in the sleeves that was highly suitable for hiding his dirk.
Just as they began to move, the door slid open and a handsome, obviously aristocratic, boy he might have noticed on the platform leaned in.
"First year?" he asked curiously.
James nodded in answer.
"Brilliant," he muttered, stepping in and offering a hand. "Me two! I'm Sirius."
The smaller eleven year olds eyebrow rose in question as he reached over to shake his new acquaintances hand.
"I'm sure you are serious, but what's your name? I'm James…"
The other boy quickly shook his head.
"No not serious as if you were serious about something. Sirius as in the star. S-I-R-I-U-S," he explained.
"Oh… okay," James muttered, a light blush crossing his face. "I knew that. It was just a joke. Ye know Serious/Sirius? Get it?" he asked, trying to regain some dignity.
Sirius blinked for a few moments, then seemed to think. "Serious/Sirius," he muttered, rubbing his chin.
A large grin spread across his face.
"That's bloody brilliant mate!" he said enthusiastically. Plopping down in the seat opposite the other boy, he demanded, "Got anymore?"
The two began talking, not even noticing the redheaded girl wander in and sit next to the window. They didn't notice when she started weeping silently until her friend came bounding in and said something about her being in Slytherin.
"Who wants to be in Slytherin?" he demanded, turning to his new friend, "I think I'd leave, wouldn't you?"
But Sirius was no longer smiling.
"My whole family have been in Slytherin," he said, sounding a bit put out.
"Blimey," he muttered, a little sad. He'd been looking forward to perhaps being friends with this lad, "and I thought ye seemed all right!"
Now he grinned, somewhat uneasily.
"Maybe I'll break the tradition. Where are you heading, if you've got the choice?"
He smiled happily, already knowing his answer. As if they needed to ask!
He pantomimed lifting his sword. "'Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart!' Like my dad."
Dad, mother, sisters, brother - in - laws, cousins… everyone in his family had been in the house of the lions! They were descendents of Godric Gryffindor himself, if the family legends were true! That's why the family tartan was gold and crimson, along with a little splashes of blue and black.
When the greasy haired boy who'd first mentioned the snake house snorted, James turned to glare at him.
"Got a problem with that, do ye?" he demanded, his voice daring him to say something about his heritage.
"No," the other boy snapped, sneering at him. "If you'd rather be brawny than brainy-"
"Where're you hoping to go, seeing as you're neither?" Sirius interrupted, slightly curious. James couldn't help but feel a slight rush of affection for the other boy. That had been an excellent comeback! He couldn't help but laugh.
The girl sat up, no longer crying. She glared at them with dislike, giving James his first real glance at her. She was beautiful!
"Come on, Severus, let's find another compartment," she commanded, turning to the grease ball.
"Oooooo…" Sirius imitated her; James trying to trip the newly named Severus as they stalked past. Lucky git…
"See ya Snivellus!" his companion called after them as the door slammed shut, his silver colored eyes flashing with laughter.
" 'Snivellus…' That's perfect for him!" James exclaimed, joining in with the laughing. "Although," he muttered in all seriousness. (No Pun…) "Is it really okay to insult someone that could be your housemate?" he asked.
That sobered the other boy instantly.
"Ye said yer whole family has been in Slytherin, so… doesn't that mean you'll most likely end up there as well?"
"No…" he growled. "I'm different from those… people. If I'm sorted into that house, I'll-"
Whatever he was going to do was lost as the door banged open again, and a blonde headed boy, about fifteen entered.
"Sirius," he said, "Cissy and Bella are looking for you. They're waiting for you up front, with the rest of us."
"Who are you?" James demanded, already not liking the older teen.
"Lucius Malfoy. Mr. Black's cousins have asked me to help find him before he met any of… lesser, shall we say, descent. Someone such as yourself perhaps…"
His head snapped back to his cabin mate, his hazel eyes widening behind his round glasses. "Ye're the Sirius Black? The heir to the Blacks? That pureblooded family that thinks they're better than everyone else, and who hates muggleborns? Who tried to get muggle hunting legalized a few years ago?" he demanded, a bit of disgust creeping into his voice.
The Blacks were known supporters of the dark, it being said that most of their souls were as black as their name. To think he almost suggested they should be friends… the heir no less!
Almost reluctantly, the boy nodded. He actually looked ashamed to admit it, much to the future Gryffindor's shock.
"Yeah," the most likely future Slytherin muttered, standing up. "I'll just leave you alone then… it was nice talking to you though…"
With that, the two left. He noticed Lucius drop his hand protectively on the younger boy's shoulder, and saw his almost friend's flinch at the contact. But he didn't try and remove it… which just served to confuse him more.
He glanced up and exchanged a confused look with his midnight colored owl. She was named Cé, or Cream in Gaelic, for her cream colored underbelly.
"Well my pretty," he muttered in the Scottish tongue, "what do you think of the yon wee laddie? He's a bit more than he seems, I would guess, for he says he's not like his kin?"
The bird hooted in answer and hid her head beneath her wing.
"Aye, that's what I thought as well," he muttered to himself, turning to watch the landscape fly by. Doing so for awhile, he didn't notice the other boy that poked his head in until he cleared his throat.
His attention on the other child, he had to fight back a gasp. The lad's face was covered in scars.
"Um, I'm terribly sorry to bother you, but is anyone sitting here, and if not, would you mind if I do? Everyone else is a bit full…"
He nodded absentmindedly, not taking his eyes off the marks that crossed his face.
"Have a seat," he mumbled, gesturing towards the seat Sirius had vacated earlier.
His new associate sat down, and an awkward silence fell over them.
"I'm sorry to bother you again, but is there a reason you're staring at me like that?" he demanded when the looks finally got to him, his cheeks flushing in embarrassment and anger. That snapped the other boy out of his examination.
"Oh, sorry!" he said cheerfully, reaching up to ruffle his hair, also in embarrassment. "I just found the scars a bit unnerving is all. Ye're lucky, you know. My Da has seen many a battle, and even he isn't blessed with so many… He'd kill for a mug like that, as would my brothers. The closest they have is Aaron, who has a mark from a dragon goin' from his left cheek, to his ribs…"
The sandy haired boy gaped at him in disbelief.
"It's true, I swear!" he insisted, holding up both hands to show he wasn't crossing his fingers. "They're Provisional Aurors!"
That caused the sandy haired boy to gape even more, before smiling at the statement.
"Alright, I believe you," he admitted, his voice a bit wary. "But if I find out you've been having me on…"
"I'm not, I swear!" he repeated, answering quickly then gesturing to himself with one hand and offering the other, said, "I'm James, by the way. James Potter."
"Remus Lupin," the scarred boy reply in return, and took the hand. "Nice to meet you."
The two spent the rest of the trip talking, stopping only when the trolley lady stopped and again when the Slytherin prefect popped in again to demand if they'd seen Sirius. Apparently he'd disappeared again.
Yet another part of the mysterious Sirius Something He Didn't Know Black.
When the train began to slow down, the two eleven year olds quickly changed into their school robes. Remus's were noticeably shabby, and a bit threadbare. He hadn't bought anything off the trolley either, even though he was obviously hungry. He had gladly taken the Pumpkin Pasty he had offered, although he had been embarrassed by it…
He had a feeling that his new friend was a bit poor off, and didn't like to admit it. Something to keep in mind for the future, if they continued on as pals.
The next hour was a blur to him. He already knew about the half giant gathering all first years from his cousins and siblings' stories, and while he was happy to finally meet the gentle man, he was anxious to move on. Next came the boats. He and Remus claimed one together, followed into it by a young Asian boy and girl who looked to be twins.
"Hello," the girl greeted them, blushing a little when James smiled at her. "My name is Arina, and this is my brother Hibasha," she said, introducing herself and their other companion. "James," he said, gesturing to himself and then his friend, " and this is Remus. Pleased to meet ye."
Hibasha nodded at them, then turned to face the front. The boats had began moving across the lake while they were talking, and the castle had come into view. Even though he had known what to expect, the sight still took his breath away. When the boats landed in an underground chamber, he clamored out and looked around, stopping only to help the frail seeming Remus up.
Through the crowd of students, he spotted a grim seeing Sirius. Their eyes met, and the other boy seemed to lighten up some. He ventured a wave, but someone stepped in-between them so he couldn't see if it was returned.
Hagrid knocked on a big set of doors, which swung open to reveal a fierce looking woman he knew to be the transfiguration teacher. A black haired woman dressed in violet robes, somewhat familiar, but who's face he couldn't quite place right at the moment.
"The firs' years, Professor McGonagall," Hagrid said proudly, gesturing to them.
"Yes, thank you Hagrid, I can see that. I shall take them from here," she replied, motioning for them to follow her. She led them inside, and across the stone hall lit by torches. They stopped before the big oak doors as the giant disappeared through another passageway off the hall.
McGonagall turned to address them, allowing her glare to sweep over them. "Welcome to Hogwarts School," she began. "In a moment, you shall pass through these doors and be sorted into your houses. While you are in attendance in this school, your house will be like your family. You will go to classes together, eat together, play together, and live together. You shall earn points together, and loose them together. At the end of the year, the house with the most points will win the house cup. Is that understood?"
There were a few scattered nods, and a few echoes of 'Yes…', but for the most part it was silent.
"I see we shall have to work on that…" she muttered to herself before addressing them all. "When I address you, I expect an answer! Now try that again please!"
"YES PROFESSOR MCGONAGALL!" they all cried together, their combined voices echoing on the stone hallways.
"Better," she told them curtly before turning and stalking into the hall.
A stool, a list, and an old hat awaited them at the other end of it, before the staff table. In the middle sat the headmaster, recognizable from his chocolate frog card. He scanned all of them as they assembled before him, his blue eyes twinkling behind half moon spectacles. He wore long bulky robes the same color as the Beauxbatons letter had been, with a peculiarly shaped hat perched on his head.
A rip at the brim of the hat opened up on it's own, and a voice came forth from in, surprisingly in a rather nice tune. Again, something he expected so he tuned it out. He let his gaze wonder around the hall, taking in the columns, the arches, and the four house tables. The staff table and it's odd collection of teachers, and the enchanted ceiling alight with stars and candles.
It was breathtaking…
He was brought back to the present when McGonagall's voice cut into his daydreaming.
"Adams, Marianne!" she called out, a blonde girl near the front raising forward to perch on the stool. The hall drew quiet as the hat was sat on her head.
The brim tipped open again and called out, "HUFFLEPUFF!"
One of the tables broke into cheers.
As she quickly took the hat off, and ran towards it, the next name was already called.
The silver eyed boy walked up, his shoulders hunched over. Whispering had already broken out as the hat descended over his head. Right before it covered his eyes, James noticed the fear.
There was silence for several minutes. When the better part of ten passed, Sirius stiffened, and his hands began to clutch the edges of the stool. Several people on what he assumed was the Slytherin table, for it was a large ugly bunch, seemed to be staring at him expectantly. Finally, the hat called out,
This was met with silence, before the group under the large scarlet banner let out a happy roar. A now smiling Sirius took the hat off and held it up to a shocked by slightly smiling McGonagall before trotting over to his new house. He sat down and glanced over at the other first years. James met his eyes again and flashed him a smile. This time, the boy returned it.
Seven more names were called. Including Chang, Arina and Chang, Hibasha, whom were both sorted into Ravenclaw, when,
It was the redhead girl from the train…
Lily…her name was Lily.
He was glad to know that.
Before it had even touched her head, the hat had called out "GRYFFINDOR!" as well.
She ran to join Sirius, scooting away from him a little when she seemed to remember him from the train.
Next came a "Longbottom, Frank," and Remus called after him. His sorting also took a long time. He was placed in Gryffindor as well. After him, he listen patiently to "McDonald, Mary," who he vaguely remembered from one of the neighboring villages, and "McKinnon, Marlene," a nice pureblooded girl he'd met once at a Ministry party whom he was fairly certain was from a village on the other side of the hills. Both went to Gryffindor as well…
After "Pettigrew, Peter," was called, he heard,
His name too was met with silence, just as Sirius's had. His family was famous by now, with the number of Death Eaters Iain, Aaron, Luke, and Michal had brought in for the Ministry. There was hardly a week that didn't go by when at least one of their names didn't appear in the papers.
He hurried up and perched on the stool. He caught sight of several pairs of eyes watching him with curiosity as the hat sank down over his eyes.
"Courage…lots of courage I see," a small voice spoke in his mind, almost contemplatively. "Loyalty as well… I would say Hufflepuff, but you're much to impatient for that… Not a bad mind either, by you wouldn't work in Ravenclaw. That's too tame… It better be…GRYFFINDOR!" is said, calling the last word out for everyone to hear.
A smile crossed him face as he quickly set out to join his new house. Wait until everyone heard…Hufflepuff indeed!
He sat down across from Sirius and Remus, who sat beside each other. Lily had moved whenever some of the other girls had been sorted.
"Well, looks like ye broke family tradition after all," he said with a smile, addressing Sirius. He only received a smile in answer.
"By the way, Sirius Black, meet Remus Lupin," he said, gesturing to the other boy. The two nodded to each other and shook hands.
"Nice to meet you," they muttered to each other.
"So, if we're going to be friends," James went on, "I figure we need a group name. Any ideas?"
They just stared at him.
"What? I'm just sayin'!" he muttered, turning away.
The other two just laughed.
That night, they stayed up late in the common room, talking.
Sirius told them how he used to be like the rest of his family. How he had hated muggleborns and muggles, how he had been trained in dark magic from a young age. How he had been the light of his family's eyes then, and how it had all changed. When he was nine, he'd ventured out to Diagon Alley one day to get his father a birthday gift from Knockturn Alley, and the fact that he had been attacked. How he would have died, had it not been for a Muggleborn Auror by the name of Jackson Carter.
From there, his outlook had begun to change.
The rest of the Black family had found out about the rescue, and disliked the idea that their heir was indebted to filth. They'd attacked the man, and demanded that Sirius kill him. He had been barely ten years old. He refused, but they murdered him anyway. From then on, he had been shunned by everyone who used to hold him so dear. It was then that he realized it was all a sham. His whole life.
The whole happy family charade put on by the Blacks.
He had been loved because he was powerful, and because he was beautiful. He had been cruel and merciless, and the one the best candidates they'd ever had for the position of family head. He'd loved only himself, and been completely devoted to his family. Then all their hard work had come apart because of a single selfless act from one of those they hated.
His only comfort had been his cousin Andromeda, who was different from the moment she had fallen in love with a Muggleborn wizard at school, and his little brother Regulus. Now that he was no longer their to protect the boy, he feared that his family would get to him.
When he fell silent again, he dared them to show sympathy for him.
It was that that brought him a little closer to them, although he didn't completely admit everything. Not yet anyway. He told them nothing about the beatings that had began the morning after poor Jack was murdered. Almost daily he was hit, and almost daily he was a mass of painful bruises. It was not yet time for them to know that…
It was Remus's time next. He told them almost nothing about himself, for if he did than they would flee from him and his education would be over before it even began. They said they were his friends now… but if they knew…
So he told him only the basics.
His mother had left them when he was four years of age, taking his two older siblings with her. He had grown up with only his father, with no news of that…woman.
He lied a bit, and said he had no clue as to the reason why she left. He knew why. He remembered how much she had loved him before the bite. He had been her baby after all. She had been unable to deal with the aftermath of his folly. She, Jonas, and Mathew had left before he'd even awoken in St. Mungos.
They were relatively poor, yes, for his father had a hard time holding a job. But they had love and that was all they felt they needed. His father and he had been unsure if he could even attend school, because of his health he told them. But Dumbledore had said as long as they took certain precautions, he didn't see why he could not come along to study…
James came last, and although he had practically nothing to hide, he too omitted certain facts.
He told them that he lived in the Scottish highlands, in one of the role playing villages so famous as vacation spots. Of his many exploits with his brother-in-laws, his cousins, and his sister's. Of Agnes's and Thomas's murder before his eyes, and the closeness between Morag, Fiona, Iseabail, Mairi and he. His early lessons…
From there he trailed off.
He told them nothing of his birth as Philippe, and his kidnapping from the French manor. Of young Mairead's betrayal, and her casting out from the plan. He mentioned little of Dougal and nothing of the first James, and omitted completely his future headship of the family and village. He said only that it would be his life a long time…
So a bit closer, they went on to bed, each promising themselves that they would tell their secrets to the others in the near future.
Before he actually fell asleep, a thought occurred to the new first year that rendered him wide awake. In all the excitement of the evening, he'd totally forgotten about the package his father had given him.
He quickly jumped out of bed and rushed to his trunk, where the gift was still sitting in it's wrappings. He eagerly pulled his dirk from the bedside table and slit the twine holding it shut.
The paper fell away to reveal a cloak made of some sort of silvery colored material. It felt smooth to the touch, softer than silk, and when held up still holding gleaming folds.
An invisibility cloak, he was sure of it.
But why would his father be giving him one? Where had he even gotten it? While it didn't right now, it might come in handy sometime in the near future…
Time passed from then, but sadly the boys didn't keep their promises to themselves. Although they didn't do as they had sworn, the three, along with another fellow first year named Peter Pettigrew, grew extremely close. They quickly made a name for themselves, easily climbing the social latter of Hogwarts.
The first morning of classes, a familiar fire red envelope appeared at the Gryffindor table, in front of Sirius.
It was from his mother.
"SIRIUS ORION BLACK!" the intensified voice screamed, "HOW DARE YOU ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE SORTED INTO GRYFFINDOR! THAT YOU ALREADY BRING SHAME ON OUR NOBLE FAMILY WITH YOUR BLOOD TRAITOR WAYS IS BAD ENOUGH…BUT THIS! THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! IF YOU DON'T GO TO THE HEADMASTER AND DEMAND TO BE PUT IN THE NOBLE HOUSE OF SALAZAR SLYTHERIN, DON'T EVEN BOTHER COMING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS! IF YOU DO, YOU CAN FULLY EXPECT TO FIND OUT THE EXTEND OF OUR DISAPPOINTMENT IN YOU!"
With that, the howler burst into flames, the owl that brought it lashed out to bite his thumb before flying off.
Every eye in the room watched it go. When the brown bird was out of sight, the silence broke. Loud and rather rude laughter broke out among the green and silver table.
"You heard your mummy dear Siri!" a voice called from the Slytherin table, the tone female. "Don't come home for Christmas! Else you'll be punished!"
Sirius grimaced at the voice, then shrugged. "My cousin Bellatrix. She's a right nasty piece of work, if you can believe it. Last year was suppose to be her last year, but she failed some of her NEWTS. Aunt Cassie made her come back and retake them, as apposed to going ahead and joining the Death Eater's ranks," he explained.
They glanced over at the table where the messy haired, but rather attractive girl, was still imitating the screaming letter. She would have been beautiful if not for the cruel sadistic expression on her face.
"Believe me Sirius," Remus muttered, staring at her over James's shoulder. "I think we can believe it quiet easily."
This caused them to erupt with laughter, and James to clap his new friend on the back. "Tell ye what Sirius," he assured him, "If yer family still hates ye come the holidays, ye're comin' home with me."
This caused the silver eyed boy to smile gratefully and nod.
"Thanks mate," he muttered, ducking his head and shoving a piece of bacon from his plate into his mouth. Professor McGonagall reached them by this time and started handing out their timetables.
"Yer welcome…although I hope ye don't mind wearing a skirt. My Da is rather insistent about everyone wearing kilts at home, even if ye are just gonna be a guest. Ye should have seen my brother-in-laws reactions when he told them it was a requirement to marry my sisters. Funniest thing I ever saw, especially Angus's meltdown. I think he fainted at one point. Very nice view of his privates at the wedding."
This caused yet anther round of laughter to break out at their end of the table.
For the rest of the week, the Slytherins would quote the letter to Sirius, asking if he needed a tissue. It was easy for anyone that knew the boy that he had a rather short temper, and didn't take kindly to being provoked.
They knew that a little more goading towards him, and he would explode. So, to save his friend from a detention alone so early in the year, James proposed a wonderful solution, to both get it to stop, and to get them back.
The same way he used to get back at his brothers.
It was in this way that their friendship was cemented together, and their reputations made.
The Great Hall was deserted that early morning, the students and teachers not yet up. The sun had not even risen yet, but it was the perfect setting for what they had planned.
When he had first suggest his plant, he got mixed reactions.
Sirius had been for it immediately, in his opinion the perfect way to extract revenge. Remus, on the other hand, had taken some convincing. The headmaster going to such great lengths to allow him to attend school, he didn't want to repay him his second day here by getting into trouble. Or at least that was how he felt in the beginning.
But they soon brought him around, primarily by finding and extorting his biggest weakness.
Lots and lots of chocolate, supplied to him via a weekly delivery courtesy of Messieurs Black and Potter. That and the promise that if any punishment befell them, they would take the rap for it.
A fine setup, in the first year's opinion, to help his new friends. In fact, it was a bit surprising for him that they would actually want his help. In his mind, he was convince they would have sensed something unusual about him and begin to avoid him already. That they were actually willing to go to such great lengths to secure his participation…
It was surprising, to say the least.
The prank itself was rather simple, and therein lay the brilliance in it.
Above each house table where banners portraying each of the houses' mascots. The one for Slytherin, a green silk expansion of clock decorated with a large silver snake, was to be the trigger. James and Sirius, coming from pureblooded families, already knew quite a bit of magic. Among the many spells known between them, they used their knowledge to turn it bright pink.
Whenever the banner was put to rights, it would start a chain reaction with the chairs. Any student who sat down in them in the next thirty minutes would begin to sprout the same shade of pink hair and many others, the spell not wearing off for the rest of the day.
It wasn't the best they could've come up with, but for such a short time and their limited resources, it was perfect. While James focused on changing the banner, Sirius taught Remus the spell needed to link each individual chair and the hangings. It was done within the hour, and they hurried back to the common room to await breakfast. They didn't know they were being watched by a pissed off redhead, who sat snuggly in a corner chair with a book in her lap…
Who promptly told her head of house that something was up.
That morning, Professor Griffin, the DADA professor, quickly put the houses' flag back to the correct colors and Professor McGonagall, who thought that that was all the three had done, let out a sigh and decided she could rest hair later began sprouting different shades, she knew she had counted them out to soon. After dealing with many complaining children, and trying many unsuccessful times to reverse the effects, she had no chose but to call the three first years in.
"I suppose you three know what you're in here for?" she demanded angrily, ashamed that it was members of her own house so freshly sorted.
"No ma'am," they all said together, two of them doing their best to fight smirks.
"The Slytherins have all came down with the same mysterious ailments, and I assume you've seen it?"
The three nodded in union, having in fact seen the effects of their handiwork in their first potions lesson that morning. Professor Slughorn had been quite put out by it, him being the head of the house. The other Gryffindors, with the exception of Miss Evans, couldn't quit laughing about it though, thus making for a rather interesting class period.
"Professor, why exactly are we in here?" Remus asked cautiously, feeling his dread began to mount.
"You are here, Mr. Lupin, because I have an eye witness who stated that she saw you three sneaking back into your dormitory this morning, 'laughing like lunatics,' being her exact words to describe your behavior. She also heard you congratulating each other on a job well done. Now, either you three snuck into the library this morning to finish homework, or this prank was of your conception. Now which is it?"
"Neither," Sirius said, sounding quite sure of himself.
The old woman's eyebrow arched.
"Are you quite sure of that Mr. Black?" she demanded.
He nodded happily. "Yes ma'am," he said, finding it prudent to point out, "and you have no real evidence in the first place that we did do it in the first place. Only the word of a girl who saw us returning to the common room and, if it is who I think it is, has had a grudge against us from day one!"
This now being said, she knew it was the truth. Up until then, she had used the tactics she had always used to get children to confess know transgressions.
Fear and intimidation.
They had always been her best tools against troublemakers, getting them to confess what they had done. Even if she was unsure if it had truly been them, it got the job done to finding out who had truly committed the crime. That, and the fact that most students felt the need to brag about getting away with breaking the rules. Two of these three were confident in themselves, and not yet scared of her as others were when faced with her stern gaze.
She knew she couldn't prove it was them who had cursed the Slytherins, and therefore this meeting was worthless.
"Fine," she said at last, waving them away. "Get out, and stay out of trouble. But know this, if I found out you three had something to do with, then the consequences will be severe. Do you understand?" she demand.
Nodding, the boys went on their way, not able to keep the grins off their faces when they entered the hall. They'd almost gotten caught red handed, yet they'd still gotten off. A very good dose of good luck for them, so early in the year. Especially for James, with his father's threat of a whipping hanging over his head whenever he got home.
Despite their being no evidence against them expect the word of a muggleborn, the rumors spread like a wildfire. Their fame grew. Three first years that pranked the snakes and got away with it.
They were hero's to the vast population of Hogwarts.
The ones who got away.
But sadly, there were repercussions.
The staff, not just old McGonagall, watched them like hawks. The serpent house, not one for standing down and taken a beating when something was done to them, listen to the rumors and attack them covertly whenever they could. Soon, the first years were taken even more abuse than they pranked for in the first place.
It was time to pay it back.
They weren't as restraint… And they got caught.
It was only the beginning of a six year long battle.
Seasons come and seasons go, time passes and things go on. After they were caught in their second prank, the boys included a new member into their party to act as a lookout. A small lump of a boy, pudgy and a bit of a coward, their dorm mate Peter Pettigrew. While they would have preferred Frank Longbottom, but they saw him as to much of a brownnoser. Peter, on the other hand, had no friends and they knew he wouldn't risk loosing them.
He didn't do his job well, but he still warned them. It just wasn't in time…
At the very least, they had been able to do some of the worst of what they planned to the greedy dungeon dwellers.
True to their words, both Potters kept their promises. Iain gave James his deserved beating, for the first two pranks and the seven they'd played after. To his great surprise, he also consented to him having friends over for the holidays. So Sirius came home with James for Christmas, and to his infinite surprise, Remus as well. They'd grown closer to one anther, and the poor boy had found himself trusting enough to admit to them that it was because of him his father had a hard time holding a job.
Without him around, he'd found a steady job at the ministry in the maintenance department. The sandy haired child didn't want to cause his father to loose his job by being around. Although confused of why being frequently sick would cause his father to lose his job, and they knew him to be sickly for they faithfully visited him in the hospital wing every month, they were horrified that he would have to spend the yuletide season by himself.
They insisted he come along, even though he refused. He didn't want to be a bother. They told him he was a moron, kicked him in the rear, and packed his worn trunk for him.
Early on in their year together, he had told them they would be expected to wear kilts, and he was right. As soon as they walked into the stone fortress the Potter clan called home, they were sat down and given a rather stern talking to.
"Listen up ye two, and listen good. As guest, you're excused from the chores around here… but it's still a working farm. I expect ye two to be respectful towards everyone here, and stay out of trouble. Is that clear?"
They quickly nodded.
It was then, and only then, that the raven haired patriarch smiled in welcome.
"Good," he announced, his teeth showing, "Ye lot head on up to yer room Jamie, and get them presented with suitable attire. When ye're descent, go on and see yer siblings and your mum. She'll be mighty glad to see ye after all these months.
Leading them up a stone stairway, they quickly went down a hallway, up another round staircase, and through a large wooden door. They emerged into a large circular room at the top of a tower. Two canopied beds sat on either side of the room, along with a camp bed made up with thick blankets in the middle of them. There were richly woven tapestries decorating the walls, depicting a large field and what appeared to be a Quidditch game. On another, two people, a man dressed in crimson and a dark haired woman dressed in sapphire, stood surrounded by darkly swaying trees.
When he was asked about them, James explained, "Oh… Mum made them for me a few years ago. I've been obsessed with Quidditch since I was five, and the others a scene from a family legend I've loved to hear since I was little."
He then presented them with several yards of fabric each and a strange looking shirt. Seeing their confused faces, and he quickly clarified.
"It's a great kilt," he explained, as he demonstrated how to don the garment by wrapping his own length of wool around his waist and gathering it with a with a wide leather belt and throwing the end of it over his left shoulder. Underneath the kilt, he wore a long-sleeve white shirt which tied at the wrists with small pieces of string. It was also laced up at the neck, the ties crossing several times before being secured. From the belt he hung a sheathed dagger, positioned so that it was within easy reach. Into this, he placed his wand as well.
Before their eyes, their friend changed into a different person. Some weight seemed to life from his shoulders, and he settled into himself. The mischievous boy they'd come to know turned into a somber man.
A proud Scotsman.
They exchanged nervous glances before going back to trying and figuring out the mechanics of their new garments. The woolen tartan was a dark red, shot through with criss-crossing black and gold lines. Unlike James's though, theirs didn't have the thin lines of blue.
When they were dressed, they were both hit with the strange sensation of open air around their legs. It took a little getting used to, and their discomfort showed on their faces.
"Don't worry," their bespectacled friend assured them, smiling at their predicament and removing his glasses, "ye get used to it after a couple hours, trust me. I felt the same way when I first wore one."
It was the first time they noticed his normally present light lilt had transformed into the full Scottish bur they'd heard the others around here speaking with.
Their first Christmas with the Potter family was one of many, and by far one of the best either had ever had. After realizing that his family was wrong, Sirius had come to the realization that he had never truly had fun at any of his family functions. Christmas was a formal affair, designed in the Black's opinion as nothing more than something for Purebloods to get together and show each other up on how rich and powerful they were.
For Remus, the yuletide holiday hadn't been celebrated, not truly anyway, ever since his mother had deserted them. There was either no money, it was a full moon, his father had to work, or they just weren't up for being merry and celebrating.
They were in awe at the large castle and it's workings, shocked even more about the new person their friend had become. Instead of the arrogant berk they had met and liked, he turned into a more kind hearted soul. He automatically did his chores everyday, and practiced with the large sword he owned with practiced ease. They enjoyed watching him spar with his brothers.
The other of the Scottish clan were a little anxious around them at first, but they were soon included into the day to day life of the village. It even went so far as for Iain to offer them lessons with the sword.
While Remus politely declined, not being a fighter at heart, Sirius eagerly took him up on the proposal. They soon found out that James had a tutor at school, his brother Aaron coming by every day to work with him on his footwork. It turned out the Black would now join them. It would be a long while before he was up to their standards, but he showed great promise.
It was a happy time for the two, who's lives had been anything but. For once, they were jealous of their friend. Peter, while mad that his friends for going off without him, he was eager to hear about their break.
When they returned to school, it was back to classes, pranks, and rivalries with the Slytherins. They pranked Lily Evans and her friend Severus "Snivellus" Snape more so that anyone else, simply because they could.
Speaking of the redhead, James finally realized his weird obsession for her for what it was.
He had a crush on her!
One he kept to himself, knowing his friends (AKA Sirius) would tease him mercilessly if they found out. So although he didn't like it, he went along with it. First year went on with many detentions, pranks, Quidditch games, tests and blown off homework.
Before they knew it, their first year of school had ended.
When departing from the train, they were met with the large clan of Potters. Just as they had all come to see him off, they were all their to welcome him home. It was their first time meeting Peter, and it was obvious that they didn't think much of him.
Iain drew his boy to him, and they had a quick conversation the other three twelve year olds couldn't understand. When it was over, the two came back to the large group and he re-greeted his son's friends.
"Good day to ye," he said, his accent thick with the now familiar cadence. "I'd like to issue each of ye an invitation to visit us in Loch Mora this summer. Peadair, ye and I've not met, but I look forward to getting to know ye. Cailean, Ranulph, I find it wonderful to see ye again, and I apologize for my boy getting ye in so much trouble. Ye're all three welcome at anytime, for however long ye'd like to stay."
Having said his peace, he and the rest of his group stepped back so that the boys could say goodbye. Once alone, they demanded to know what his father had called them.
All he did was laugh.
"It's not so bad," he assured them. "He's just callin' ye by yer Gaelic names. Peadair means Peter, plain and simple. There are nae any words that mean Sirius or Remus, so he's decided to call ye by what yer names mean. Remus was one of the twins suckled by a wolf that founded Rome. Ranulph means shield-wolf. Cailean, on the other hand, means young pup. For someone named after the dog star. Ye see?"
Remus, at the first hint at what his names meant, paled a bit. Wolf. Always the wolf. Would he ever be free of his curse? It didn't help that he was now known by it, even if the man was not aware of his condition. If he was, there would be no way that he would have included him in the invitation. He would have most likely told James not to be friends with him anymore, if he didn't tell him outright was his supposed friend was.
"Come visit!" the dark haired boy called to them, heading in the directions his large family had left in. Walking out, he couldn't help but pause a few moments to watch the lovely Lily greeting her parents…
The following years went by quickly, but not without mishap.
In second year, James and Sirius both joined the Quidditch team as a chaser and a beater. Sirius had already spent more than three fourths the summer in the highlands, escaping his dreadful family. He was welcomed with open arms, and had been told on his first day to refer to Hannah as Mum. To her, he was just another of her children.
By the end of the holiday, he was considered by all family. They presented him with his own wool Potter kilt, complete with the family lines of blue, this being after he'd finally mastered the art of wearing it. He, like his friend, found himself changing in the cool mountain air of the hills he was quickly learning to love. It was quiet, so different from his home in London…
He learned much, even some knife fighting and basic Gaelic words.
That was also the summer that Jamie finally met his aunt, his father's only sister. Someone he had known, and had somewhat disliked, for the past year.
The Transfiguration teacher at Hogwarts, Professor Minerva Morag Potter-McGonagall, widowed wife to the late John McGonagall of the Isle of Skye. They'd been married for thirty-seven years, sadly with no children. That's why she had turned to teaching in 1963, just a few months after her husband had died of Dragonpocks.
They called her, much to her annoyance, Aunt Minnie.
Shockingly enough, she was no were near as fierce as she seemed at school. In fact, she was a bit of a softy. She had a great love for her nieces and nephews, as well as a passion for Quidditch. She'd played professionally for a time before settling down, and wasn't biased about giving pointers when she was asked. She also wasn't above giving help with their homework.
The two boys had also began doing research on Remus. They knew something was up with him, having many suspicions. They knew by now he wouldn't tell them outright, even if they asked. The only way they would know for sure what was wrong with him was if they found the answer themselves and cornered him about it.
With the vast Hogwarts library, it didn't take them long.
After filling in Peter, the three confronted him. His reaction to their knowing was more of a surprise then what was actually wrong. When questioned on why he thought they would no longer want to be his friend when they found out, his answer nearly broke their trust in man, yet also gave them a lot of insight into the mind of their still somewhat secretive friend.
"Because that's what my mother did, when I was first bitten. She left my dad and me, taking my older brothers. She couldn't handle having a werewolf as a son. Why should you three be any different, when not even my own mother, the woman who gave birth to me, could bear to stay?" he demanded, tears beginning to form in his eyes.
"Because mate," Sirius told him, grabbing him in a hug with James right behind. "We're your friends, and we care about ye," the other boy finished.
It made the group closer to each other, and set them down their future path. They began learning how to be Animagus, with a little help from a book Aaron smuggled to them from the family library. He knew nothing though, just thinking it was for a school project.
If only he knew…
In third year, a few days before the first Hogsmeade visit, James finally got the courage to do something he'd only dreamed about since he first met her. He asked Lily Evans out for the first time, shocking both her and his friends.
Even with her firm no, he didn't let that get him down.
He kept asking… and asking… and asking…
At the end of the year, with still no date, and a few quite spectacular curse marks, he told his friends, "My mum once told me there are no woman more stubborn and headstrong than a lass born and reared in the Highlands. But when her favor's won, however hard fought, there was never a woman more true to those she loves. Be that as it may, I'm beginning to think Lily-flower can give them a run for their money."
It had caused no end of amusement.
Fourth year passed relatively quietly, and fifth would have to but for certain incidents. The summer before the term started, Sirius ran away from home. He moved in permanently with the Potters, to their ultimate joy. They had considered him a son forever.
Peter, James, and Sirius finally figured out and achieved their Animagus transformations, transforming into a dog, a stag, and a rat. They finally gave their group a name as James had suggested the first night they met, the Marauders.
And then the Snape incident.
After the O.W.L's, his making the greasy git call Lily that awful name, thus ending their longtime friendship. More surprising than that, she actually thanked him for it later.
"Potter, I would like to thank you. I've been realizing for awhile now that Sev-Snape is leaning closer to the dark side. I just didn't want to believe it. So thank you for giving me the push I so desperately needed. I appreciate it," she told him, the failing light flashing across her flame colored locks.
"No…no problem, I guess…" he stuttered in shock, not sure how to process this. To think the girl that had so loathed him for so long was actually thanking him…
It should have been the ending of. It would have been if he hadn't followed her…
But he couldn't just leave it at that.
This new Lily was so strange to him. She should be hurt, yet she kept such a cool head on her shoulders. There had to be something up…
And for once, his instincts were right.
He had waited to long to follow after her, so had lost her. He had to cheat and use the Marauder's Map to find her. She was on the third floor, hidden away in an alcove usually used by snogging couples. When he reached the hallway, he heard the unmistakable sound of sobbing.
His beloved lassie was crying.
Before he knew what he was doing, he was beside her. His arms were around her shaking form as he grasped her to him. He felt her freeze momentarily, at she felt his skin against hers, but she soon relaxed into him. He felt her tears wetting his shoulder, but he really didn't care. It may have been a highly inappropriate time to think it, but it felt amazing to hold her. To have her in his arms…
What seemed like hours passed before she was finally ready to calm down. She slowly retracted herself from his grip, almost reluctant to.
"Thank you James…" she whispered, so fain the almost didn't hear her. But it didn't really matter, because before he knew it, her lips were on his. He could taste the salt from her tears it the kiss, mixed with the taste of vanilla. She had to be an angel, for this was heaven…
And all to soon, it was all over.
The wrenched herself from his grip, gaping at him. He couldn't seen his own expression, but he was pretty sure it was something along the lines of just being hit in the head with a mallet.
"I… I… I really shouldn't have done that…" she muttered, just loud enough for him to hear before she turned around and ran.
She successfully avoided him for the last three days of the term.
Despite what she thought, he wasn't stupid. He got her message loud and clear. She wanted nothing to do with him.
So he gave her that.
From the first day of sixth year onward, he said and interacted with her as little as possible. It broke his heart to do so, but it was what she wanted, he was sure of it.
Proof came when he found out she was dating Amos Diggory, a Hufflepuff in the year above theirs'. He was also one of James' worst enemies, his father being a vassal to the leader of clan Cameron. By now, the population of Hogwarts knew of his feelings for the redhead. They couldn't figure out why he was ignoring her, and her relationship. They had grown used to him threatening off potential boyfriends of hers. He wasn't even batting an eye at the couple.
At Christmas of that year, Iain called his son into his office. A small squat man who was dressed in the beige colored robes of the Ministry law section was there as well. In his hands, he held a quill at the ready over a blank piece of parchment.
"Seumas, sit down please," he instructed, calling his son by the Gaelic form of his name and motioning at a nearby chair, "There's somethin' I must discuss with ye. I dinna wanna do this to ye lad, but ye've given me little choice. Secretary Jones is here to draw up a marriage contract for us. Ye're to be betrothed to a girl, and married to her when ye've both reached the age of seventeen. That is unless ye find a girl of yer own choosin' who's willin' to be yer wife before then."
It wasn't really a shock for him. His parents had been on him since he was fifteen years old to find a suitable match. He was the future laird of Loch Mora, and was required to have an heir as soon as possible.
And the only girl he wanted, he couldn't have.
"There's no one, Da," he assured the grey haired man. "I'll be joined with whoever it is ye've selected and have done with it, if ye do nae mind."
After studying the younger copy of himself for a few moments, the Scotsman nodded. The Ministry worker, who had been scribbling down the words of the contract, held the quill out to him, to which he hastily took and scrawled his name.
"Very well… yer bride has already been chosen. I believe ye know her, as she's in yer year at school…"
His heart seemed to stop when he heard her name. He was willing to marry anyone…
Anyone but her.
Every member of the Marauders understood that of all the girls in the Wizarding world, she was as off limits as Lily Evans. Sirius had been nursing a soft spot for her in his heart ever since the Christmas of fifth year, whenever they had almost shagged each other in a broom cupboard. She was the only girl to ever say no to him in the midst of such activities, his feelings erupting from the mix of shock and lust.
Every one of them knew the signs well enough by now to know he was in love with her, even if he hadn't admitted it to himself yet.
This would kill him…
"Just out of curiosity, if she finds someone else before the contract goes into effect, does it have the same rules for her?" he asked quickly, trying to make it sound like a passing thought.
"No…" was the bear's prompt answer.
So much for that idea…
He was not able to plan a way to break the news to Sirius, the gossip of the maids beating him to it. The day after he signed the contracts, it was all over the house who would be the future mistress of the fortress.
At first, he gave no visible sign that it even effected him. He shrugged off the stag Animagus's apologies, saying it wasn't his fault and that he didn't care. When they returned to school, and he saw her, there was no doubt that it had broken his heart. No one but James seemed to catch the look of pain that crossed his face whenever the brunette greeted him with an enthusiastic kiss the first day back.
It was that pain that was most likely the catalyst for Sirius's ultimate betrayal…
Telling Snape how to get passed the Whomping Willow on the full moon, when Remus was already transformed into his deadly alter-ego, the wolf.
James had barely gotten wind of it, of what his best friend and brother had done…
He went after Snape of course, and barely got him out of danger. But not before the greasy haired snake got a look at Moony's true form, the secret of his nickname.
Almost immediately, the two Gryffindors and the Slytherin were in front of Dumbledore's desk, standing side-by-side as they awaited the verdict of what was to happen to them.
Snape was given a month's worth of detention, and lost 100 points from his house. He was sworn to secrecy about what he now knew, the punishment being that he would be expelled if he told another soul. James was given two days worth of detention, and 150 points for saving both Severus and Remus's lives.
Sirius on the other hand… Sirius lost no points. He was given detention every other night for the rest of the semester, as well as half the next. Visits to Hogsmeade village were prohibited until further notice, and he was to be placed on probation. If he stepped one toe out of line, he would be in for even major repercussions. All this, and Iain was called in. The two talked in private for two full hours, and although they refused to tell what had been said, they all knew it was something of a series issue.
The rest of the Marauders shunned him, for he had blown one of their biggest secrets. Although they knew somewhat why he had done it, he had nearly ruined Remus's life. He had nearly bitten another wizard, which would have brought him to the attention of the Ministry's Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Force him to leave school and be tracked down by the Werewolf Capture Unit, most likely to be imprisoned or put down.
It was to much for their relationship to bare.…
The time passed slowly for all of them, Remus and James because they missed their best friend. Sirius because he was alone…
He had no one, yet again. All he did was go to class, to detention, and to study in the Library. Things were silent in their still shared dorm room, the laughter that had once flowed so easily like water was now dead to the world. The camaraderie that had been shared turned into mistrust. All faculty and students could feel the strain, and wondered what could have happen that could separate Sirius and James.
It was almost summer before any sort of reconstruction was made.
Remus, tired of the unease in the dorm room and the obviousness that James was unwell without his other half, made the first step towards forgiveness.
All of Gryffindor was surprised to come back from their final classes that faithful day, to find the two formally estranged boys laughing together as had been so normal of them before. It wasn't long before the bespectacled boy joined them. Not many heard the awkward words of apology offered by the aristocratic looking boy, but everyone knew they were okay with each other afterwards. It might of helped that they gave each other a manly hug, and had a long heart-to-heart later, in private…
Summer would be the time he and his betrothed would formally meet for the first time. They knew each other of course, for they were in the same house at school. She just didn't know the identity of him yet, and wouldn't until face-to-face with him at the meeting. The curses of an arranged marriage.
The conference would take place two weeks before the Summer Solstice, or the holiday of Litha. The longest day of Summer's magic was needed for the bonding ceremony which was to take place. As was pureblood tradition, the future bride, as well as her chosen attendant, must be still pure. The two women were to stay in the Potter's home until the ritual.
It was they that James and his best man, in this case Sirius, were required to protect in that time frame. He was proving that he was an able defender by shielding her virtue as they stayed within his home of men. The four would be released from school early and taking their exams in private, overlooked by Ministry officials. The bridal couple would not be returning to school until the beginning of their seventh year.
Sirius' Uncle Alphard had died around Easter and left all his processions to the dog Animagus. He planned to look for and move into his own flat after the wedding. It would be lonely without him around, but James would be busy enough. Part of the marriage contract was that a child had to be conceived as soon as possible.
At school, Lily was still dating Amos, and their relationship seemed to be heating up. To everyone's surprise, it was reported in the rumor mill by several people that one of the sixth year Ravenclaw prefects had caught the couple snogging in a broom cupboard. It was also said that the prudish redhead had had her shirt off.
When James heard, it was said that he hadn't batted and eye.
"Lord Iain, thank ye for meetin' with us," Rupert McKinnon said formally, before sinking into a regal bow. "May I present my daughter Marlene Grace McKinnon, and he friend and chosen Maiden of Honor, Lily Rosaline Evans."
Now introduced, the redhead followed Marley's example and swept herself into a low curtsy. She stumbled a bit at the unfamiliar gesture, hindered by the multiple skirts and the tightened corset she wore. That she had been required to wear for the last two days and was still not used to. Catching her first glance at the groom's father, she couldn't help but compare his looks to those of her crush. The two did look suspiciously alike…
And that's where that train of though derailed.
The inky haired man was always in her thoughts now…
After "The Kiss," as she had taken to calling it back in fifth year, she had been forced to realize, and come to terms with, her long denied feelings. The whole summer, she had spent cooped up in her room trying to figure out when and why she had fallen for him. By the end of the two months, she had gotten used to the idea enough to want to admit it to him. When the train had departed from Platform 9 ¾, she had already been checking every compartment she could to find him.
Only to find out he was avoiding her.
She missed him! Her heart ached for him to be near her, but he acted as if she were the plague. It was all she could do now to get a glimpse of him during the day.
"It's nice to meet the two of ye!" Iain commented, his voice a booming Scottish bur.
"Come forward please, and let me getta look at ye lassies," he instructed, motioning them toward him, "Mr. Jones has agreed to do the tests for us, if ye both consent."
"Aye, they have," the McKinnon patriarch advised.
"Very well, if the girls will step forward, it is only a simple incantation…" the ministry worker said, taking charge of the situation as he pulled out his wand.
Lily and Marlene both took a few steps forward, their skirts swishing around their ankles.
"Ready?" he questioned, waiting for their nods, "Alright. One…two…three… Santas Vigintam…"
As the words left his mouth, a thin stream of lavender colored light was emitted from his wand. It split in two, each transparent glow heading towards one of them. The women were then enveloped in clouds of swirling lemon colored mist…
These hovered a moment before Lily's turned a pure snow white, Marlene's, while still white, had a darker tint, almost gray…
"They are both still virgins," Mr. Jones said reluctantly, after studying them each for a few moments. "Miss Evans is as pure as the day she was born, hence the pulsing glow of the color. Lady McKinnon on the other hand…"
He trailed off.
"What about Lady McKinnon," Rupert demanded, glaring at his daughter.
"Let us just say it has been an extremely close call, sir," the ministry official declared, sounding uncomfortable.
"So the wedding can proceed then!" Iain called, smiling. "I suppose ye'd like to meet the lads then, aye?"
"Aye, if ye dinna mind," Marlene answered before her father could, speaking for the first time since the meeting had arrived.
"Cailean, Seumas, come!" the large man yelled up the stairwell, motioning someone out of their sight to come down. A small woman, who's flame colored hair was now mostly gray, descended first. She was closely followed by the two men they were in love with.
Sirius Black and…
It just had to be her, didn't it? Lily… his precious flower. Here to witness his union to the girl his own best friend, his own brother, felt so strongly for. Out of all Marlene's roommates, she just had to pick the redheaded beauty.
"Laird McKinnon," he intoned, his voice stronger than he actually felt, "ye do us joy by comin' here today. 'Twas most honorable of ye to offer yer daughter in marriage. We'll make sure her life'll be a happy one."
"I thank ye, Laird Heir Potter, for this news. It gladdens my heart to know I dinna have to worry for Marlene's future… And what of her attended, Miss Lillian? Can you swear no harm shall come to her here?" Lord McKinnon answered, demanding a question answered in the end.
These formal introductions were always a pain…
"Aye, Miss Evans will be safe here. Not a hair'll be touched on her head while in the Potter's keep," he answered in turn.
"What of our groom's man? Sirius is like a brother to James, a son to Hannah and I. Is he satisfactory to ye?" Iain inquired politely, gesturing to the temporarily forgotten teenager.
"Aye, he'll do. He'll do jus' fine," Rupert agreed, considering the boy's aristocratic looks.
"He'll do jus' fine…"
Midsummer day was the first and longest day of the year. It's a time to celebrate the light and the sun, without which there would be no life on earth. It was a time of rejoicing for the strength on man and the accomplishments they've had in the years past.
The service was to be a combination of two, the ancient wizards' rite of marriage and that of a Scottish wedding. They were planning on staying up all night on Solstice Eve, and welcome the rising sun at dawn. During the night they would dance to the music of drums and bagpipes around a blazing bonfire, which was to be kept blazing until the first light of dawn was spotted on the horizon.
On the morning of Litha, they would part ways to dress for the joining ceremony. They would gather then on the steps of the keep, the bride's father walking her to were the groom, his best man, and his father would be waiting. Iain, as father of the groom, would be presiding over the ceremony.
The bride wore white, as befitting a pure virgin on her wedding day, her father and the rest of the men, wore their tartan kilts. Lily, as the single attendant of the bride, wore a dress of the McKinnon tartan of deep blue, white, and emerald, the skirt poofing out with the number of underskirts she was required to wear.
Marlene's dress was a strapless off the shoulder number, the shear lace of the robe she wore over it had been hand-stitched by her mother as she had grown up. Like her maiden of honor, her wedding robe was weighted down with fabric, flaring out in wide sweeping skirts. It fastened just below her bosom, the back trailing down in a train. Her hair was pinned to the crown of her head, a small portion of the thick brunette mass dangling down her back to mix with the trailing veil.
The silky satin of her bodice covered in small silk roses, which were also in the bouquet she carried. The shear sleeves of her robe broadened as they traveled down her arms, the ends trailing delicately down her skirt mixed with the overspill of the heather and roses she held. Lily's dress was a simple skirt of tartan, worn under a tight black vest and puffy sleeved white chemise, the square-cut bodice a bit low for her taste. They both wore many layers of petticoats.
At the bonfire, Sirius watched dejectedly as the woman he loved and his best mate danced seemingly joyfully around the blaze that signified the start of their life together. In a dark corner, the melancholy bride's companion tried desperately to wipe the last traces of tears from her eyes. She had been trying to track James down in hopes of a private chat with him ever since they'd arrived, but it was no luck. She had only cornered him once, and that had ended with him forcing her out of the way. When they parted ways to dress for the joining, it was all she could do to hide the redness around her eyes.
As Rupert escorted his daughter down the aisle, many of the gathered audience could see the father seemed to be conflicted. His inner turmoil was not revealed though, not until Iain called for objections.
"Blessings and merry meet to ye. We're here today te join Marlene Grace and James Duncan together in holy matrimony, and they've asked you here to share in their joyous time of alliance …
"What is your desire?" he asked the bride, his voice gentle as he took in the shaking bride.
"To be made one with James…" she answered.
"What is your desire?" Iain demanded again, this time the question directed toward his son.
"Te be made one with Marlene…" James answered, his voice somewhat weak.
"Who gives this woman to be wed?" he asked.
Instead of giving the traditional response, Rupert stayed silent. The Potter patriarch asked his mouth to ask again, but the McKinnon beat him to it…
"Iain," he whispered somberly, "ye know I have the utmost respect for ye and yer family, and that ye're one of my oldest friends… but I canna give Marlene in Marriage to yer son."
The gathered crowd gasped, dirks and wands emerging everywhere in case of a fight.
"I see McKinnon," the graying man answered evenly, "and may I ask why nae?"
"Of course sir… but firs, I must tell ye this. I'll consent to the marriage to go forward, and happily… but only if ye'll put a true answer to a rumor I've only recently heard, which truthfully makes me a wee bit uneasy."
"And that is?"
"Simply put… that young Jamie here is an illegitimate child of yers. A bastard ye've fostered in yer home, treated as if yer wife gave birth to him."
At this accusation, many of the Groom's relations jumped up angrily and began screaming insults at the group. A curse flew up at them, thankfully off centered by the groom's brother-in-law Lucas tackling the man who sent it at them. Lily watched them all in shock, surprised by such an accusation and it's defense.
But no denial came from the burly Scotsman…
It was James himself who answered him, "Aye McKinnon, 'tis the truth. I am a bastard, claimed and named by my father as clan heir, but a bastard child none the less.
"The woman who birthed me was nae the woman I call mum, but a French whore who fancied herself in love with a married man, with Da. She drugged him with love potion, and paid the consequences. I was conned off as the natural child of my aunt, and her husband, my dammed uncle, till I was found and brought home at the age of five. Aye, I'm a bastard… a replacement. Ever wonder why I was called the substitute?"
There was silence, causing Lily to gasp. That wasn't something she had expected.
"Then I'm afraid this canna go on," Rupert admitted, " I can't marry her to him, regretfully. The alliance must be called off."
More shouting was heard, along with the relieved cries from Hannah and the bride. The older woman hurried over to her and gathered the happily tearful girl to her. Out of the corner of his eyes, James saw the joy erupt in his friend's expressionless face. It was then that he was struck with an idea.
"M'lord McKinnon, the treaty doesnna have to fall through!" he called out, hurrying up the aisle to where the man stood. The room fell silent again to here the jilted man's proposal. "What if the marriage contract was to go through, but with a different groom?"
The silence grew again, and he could feel his friend's glare.
"What if she were to marry her to Sirius Black?"
He chanced another look at the dog Animagus to see his look of pure surprise.
"Black?" Rupert demanded.
"Aye, 'twould be suitable," Iain put in, "Although he doesnna carry the Potter name, he's still our son. Officially, adopted at the age of sixteen. He's of proper lineage and age as well."
The redhead glanced at her friend, easily catching sight of the half disguised look of hope on Marlene's face as she watched them over Hannah Potter's shoulder. Rupert considered the unusually taciturn young man, also glancing at his daughter. He and his wife, Mary, exchanged glances, and she nodded as well.
"Verra well," he agreed, "Mr. Black will be suitable to marry Marley…"
Collective chatter broke out from the crowd, some surprised at the turn around the contract had taken, the rest relieved that a battle had been averted. A skirmish would have started for the slur Rupert had insinuated towards the Potters, but the insulted groom had brought forth a new option. The new future couple couldn't quit glancing at each other, both beaming happily at the prospect of spending their lives together. A future full of happiness with the one they loved instead of simply accepting a spouse they had never met or picked.
"Everyone, may I ask all of ye to wait for another hour so that we may sort this new deal out?" Iain called to the crowd.
Before anyone could answer, the four young people, the two groups of parents, and the waiting ministry official entered the castle to talk about the new proposal. When they returned, the only thing that had changed was the new and old grooms' wardrobes.
Again, Marlene was walked down the aisle by her father. Again Iain asked who gave the bride in marriage. But this time, Rupert happily answered yes.
"Sirius, please recite your vows to your future wife."
"Aye Da," he responded, turning to the blonde headed girl.
"I pledge my love to you, as well as everything I own. And to be perfectly honest, I don't own much," he said with an amused smile, looking deep into her sapphire eyes. "I pledge to you the first bite of my meat and the first sip from by cup. I promise that your name, and your name alone, will ever and always be the name I cry aloud in the dead of night. I give you my oath to honor you above all others. Our love will be never-ending, and we will remain, forevermore, equals in this our marriage. This is my vow to you my Marley."
"Miss McKinnon, do ye accept this?"
"Aye, I do…" she answered.
"Then please, answer him with your own vow."
"I'm not as elegant with words as you Siri," she admitted ruefully, grasping his firm hands securely in her own softer ones. "So I'll just say this. Tugaim mo chroí duit go deo. Tugaim mo chroí duit, mo chroí iomlán. Gealltanas Síoraí. Tá mo chroí istigh ionat, go síoraí. I come to this marriage with love, honor, sincerity, and my dower. I wish only to become one with you my new husband, whom I love. Always will I strive for our happiness and welfare."
Tugaim mo chroí duit go deo. Tugaim mo chroí duit, mo chroí iomlán. Gealltanas Síoraí. Tá mo chroí istigh ionat, go síoraí. I give my heart to you forever. I give my heart to you, my whole heart. This is my eternal promise. My heart is within you, eternally.
Iain gestured to his wife. She came forward, a swath of the family tartan in her hand. The wool was freshly dyed, the colors fresh and bright. The length of red, yellow, black, and blue was pinned onto the bride's dress, the materials both soft to the touch.
"It's with great happiness that I present to ye the young Laird Black, and his new wife. May ye both always remember the love that brought ye here on this day, and may Merlin himself bless this union. Ye may kiss yer bride Cailean…"
And finally, kiss her he did.
As their lips met, Iain said quietly to them in Gaelic, "A thousand welcomes to ye with yer marriage. May ye be healthy all yer days. May ye be blessed with long life an' peace, may ye grow old with goodness, and with riches."
Lily and James watched their friends join together in matrimony happily. Both were desperately wishing it was themselves marrying the love of their lives, their fellow attendants. They couldn't quit glancing at each other, a fact that didn't go unnoticed by the ever observant Hannah. It seemed that the foster mother of the groom had some talking to do with her sister-in-law…
The assembled audience began applauding excitedly as the newly married couple turned and began making their way down the aisle to the reception area that had been sat up nearby, first jumping over Sirius' broomstick at the base of the steps.
Now the best man, James and Lily were required to follow after them, their hands clasped together. Secretly, this pleased them both. For such an intimate gesture…
It would be heaven.
As the reel was played and they both mechanically did the easy steps, they couldn't help but gaze at each other. Their minds only on their partners faces.
"I hate you…" Lily whispered to him, her voice so low that he barely heard her over the fast paced music.
"Aye, I know," he answered her emotionlessly, the words secretly piercing his heart, "Why do ye not tell me something I dinna ken?"
"Alright," she agreed, "I hate how much I love you."
She whispered even softer than before. So soft, that James wasn't positive that he even heard her correctly.
"Lily?" James questioned, noticing that somewhere in the mitts of the dance, a sprig of her hair had escaped it's bun. Reaching over, he brushed the loose strand behind her ear.
"I love you," was all that she said. "I love you James Potter. I was just to blind to see it until it was to late. My heart broke into a thousand pieces whenever I saw you coming down those stairs, when I realized it was you marrying my best friend.
"Whenever Laird McKinnon stopped the wedding, it was as if Merlin himself was answering my prayers. It doesn't matter though, for when we get out of here, you'll go back to your friends and I'll go back to Amos. That's how it will be, for that's how it's always been," she spat angrily.
"This stupid world we live in won't allow us to be together. We come from two different worlds. We don't belong with each other it seems, no matter that that is all I want right now. It really doesn't matter anyways, because you hate me…"
"The hell with what the world says! We can write our own rules," the young Scotsman half yelled, gaining several disgruntled looks from nearby dancers.
"Do ye really not know?" he questioned her in disbelief, shocking her with his smoldering scrutiny.
"As long as ye love me as much as I've loved ye, that should be enough to make it through together. Lily…" he assured her, gazing deep into her emerald green eyes. He should have known, that after all this, she would put the world between them, a wedge to drive them apart.
"I've loved ye nearly since the first moment I met ye! Ye're all I've ever wanted and more, but I've long since accepted that ye're the one thing I canna have. I acknowledged tha' fact, and I've done my best to accommodate what I've thought ye wanted!"
"Did you know," she said at last, turning away from him unwavering stare, "that I really hate Amos? I'm only going out with him because you've moved on from me, and I figured I should try and do the same. I only chose Diggory because he reminds me of you, with his lilt and all that I adore so much when it comes from your tongue?"
She might have said more, but she was stopped with yet another of his silent stares. Hazel eyes met emerald, and he saw the undeniable truth so plainly written there.
He leaned down, and for a moment she was convinced he would finally kiss her again. Sadly though, that was not to be. He continued onward, stopping next to her ear.
"Prove it," he whispered gently, commanding her. "Prove it to me… Let me marry ye, here and now. Tha's wha I've wanted for so long, and to know that ye've feelings for me is to much to bear without ye being bound to me. With my name as yer's. Lily… let me spend the rest of our lives makin' you happy.
The proposal was so unexpected that it brought forth a gasp and a sob. So many things stood in their way. She knew practically nothing about him or his family. They'd never actually dated. Her parents would kill her…
But she didn't truly care…
Reaching up, she let her arms snake around his neck. She hugged herself to him, her body flush with his. He felt her cool tears wetting his shoulder as they began to fall and she began to nod enthusiastically.
"Yes…" she whispered finally in answer, lifting his bared heart.
"Yes, I'll marry you James Potter…"
"Da, we need to talk!" the newly engaged teenager called happily, his voice barely reaching the older man over the din of the wedding music.
"Aye Jamie, what is it lad?" Iain answered, turning from talking to his wife to find out what his son wanted. The woman had been telling him about the boy's longtime soft spot for the bride's maiden of honor.
"We'd like to be Handfasted," James exclaimed cheerfully, gesturing towards the redhead who's hand he clasped. The very same redheaded lassie his wife had been telling him of. Hannah, upon hearing the news, squealed in joy. Having talked to her sister-in-law earlier, she knew all about their long time courtship. She had also gotten to know the girl a little over the last few days and agreed with her step-son's judgment. Miss Lily Evans was a bonny lass.
"What- Handfasted?" Iain sputtered, "But… but… Handfasting? With no bands read, or any other engagement ceremony to speak of?"
There was silence, until, "The wee lassie's breeding, isn't she?"
"No," Lily burst in, speaking for the first time in this encounter, "I'm not pregnant! I'm in love with James, and he loves me! He asked, I accepted, and now we are asking you to perform a ceremony for us. If you won't though, we'll be more than happy to find someone else!"
Both Potters males gaped at the small girl, one in shock for her audacity to proclaim such a thing and the other proudly for standing up to his father.
"Why handfasted instead of a normal marriage ceremony anyway? James, I thought ye told me that their wasnna anyone ye wanted to wait fer…?" Iain asked at last, sounding resigned to the girl about to become his daughter-in-law.
"We've never formally dated," James admitted, "and until now, we've both believed the other's hated us. Seeing as handfasting only lasts a years and a day, it seemed the perfect test run fer us. If we can't stand each other at the end of it… we at least have an escape."
The issue now properly explained, Iain instructed them to meet him in his office while he rounded up a couple of witnesses… and people who would kill him if he didn't bring them as well.
Twenty minutes later, Remus, Minerva, Hannah, James's sisters, his brother-in-laws, Sirius and Marlene were gathered around the young couple. Peter wasn't there because his mother hadn't given him the needed permission to leave school in the first place. She felt he could use the quiet time to study for the coming exams. Sadly though, it would be a miracle if he even passed his exams without the other Marauders there to help him out.
"So, are ye two ready?" the burly Scotsman demanded, coming up beside them.
"Aye da, we are," his son answered, glancing around at the assembled crowd. Blushing, he scowled at the suggestive grin and wink his best friend was sending his way.
"Stop that, husband of mine," Marlene scolded him when she noticed what he was doing and bashing him upside the head. "Leave poor James alone, or ye'll nae be consummating yer marriage tonight or anytime soon… not with me anyway."
Needless to say, the newly wedded dog Animagus behaved for the rest of the night.
"Alright then, if there are no more interruptions… do ye, Jamie, take Lillian to be yer wife, to be her constant friend, her partner in life, and her truest love? To love her without reservation, honor and respect her, protect her from any harm that come her way, to comfort her in times of distress, and to grow with her in mind and spirit?" Iain demanded, turning to his youngest child.
"Aye, I do…" the young man answered, sounding surer of this than anything in his young life."And do ye, Lily, take James as yer husband, to be his constant friend, his partner in life, and his true love? To love him without reservation, honor and respect him, protect him from harm when ye can, comfort him in times of distress, and to grow with him in mind and spirit?"
"Yes sir…" she answered, her voice wavering but her gaze strong.
Taking a length of tartan form his wife, he motioned them to hold out their hands. When they did, he bound them together and he whispered quietly to them, "Now ye are bound one to the other with a tie not easy to break. Take this time of binding, before the final vows are made, to learn what you need to know to grow in wisdom and love. That your marriage will be strong, and that your love will last in this life and beyond. Go now as husband and wife for the next year and a day…"
Smiling, the bespectacled teen embraced his new partner and finally did what he'd been longing to do again since the first one they'd shared.
He was finally able to kiss her again…
"So, Mrs. Potter, how are ye this evening?" he teased her as they swirled around the dance floor. The festivities had gone on during their small ceremony, unknowing that another joining was taking place.
"I'm well, Mr. Potter, although quite worried on how my parents will react to finding out I got married without telling them. I hate to become a widow so soon after being wedded…"
"Well then, wife of mine," James assured her with a smirk, causing her to shiver and blush at his hungry expression, "I suppose I'll have to get ye with child quickly. So ye'll have a piece of me still when yer father murders me for not asking for yer hand, aye?"
Later that night, they moved as one for the first time, searching for one of the most important truths in the world. The love of a man and woman, the urge to create new life…
Both of these they found as she screamed into the night with her first release, and he cried out her name with his own. In the silence that descended on them afterward, they clung to each other, loving again and again until the sun rose.
With the new dawn, he whispered to her, "Mo Chroí, gráim thú…go síoraí."
My heart, I love you… eternally.
Although her father didn't try to kill her husband, he refused to talk to her for several months. The news caused her mother to start crying, sad that she couldn't have seen her baby's wedding and angry that her daughter would marry at just seventeen. Petunia was just angry that her sister had married first, when as the older, that should have been her job.
When they returned to school, it caused no end of gossip that the four Gryffindors were married. It was also happily talked about when it was revealed to Amos the news at the train station. On into the new semester, it was still talked about.
Lily and James had been made Head Boy and Girl. They shared a separate tower now, instead of remaining in the Gryffindor dormitory. In the seventh year boy's dorm, their was now a separate room that Sirius and Marlene shared.
In November of that year, Lily became pregnant. Two weeks later, the new Mrs. Black discovered that she was as well. It caused no end of chaff for the soon be fathers when it was found out that their wives were pregnant at the same time. It was whispered that the two had planned it that way.
At the family Christmas that year, as usual celebrated with three fourths of the Marauders, the family spent time together trying to come up with names.
The two women, thanks to a visit with Madame Pomfrey, already knew the gender of their children. Marlene carried a girl, while Lily a boy.
The Black child was easy enough to name, for Sirius had already decided on naming her after Hannah.
"Clara," he told them causing the woman he saw as his mother to burst into tears, for that was the her middle name. "Clara Grace Black. Little Claire…"
The new Potter boy was a little harder. Any name suggested was already in use for one of the other cousins, or discarded because something was found wrong with it. Finally, it was Mairi, James's youngest and favorite sister, that suggested one the young couple liked.
"Harailt… leader… I like it!" Lily agreed, turning to look at her husband.
"Huh… We could call his Harry, for short…" the man agreed, coming up behind her and reaching around her to rub his wife's still flat stomach.
"Harry James Potter… it has a nice ring to it!"
A happy time for them, planning the future of their children. A time that would soon end, for the war that was temporarily forgotten in the world outside. A battle was coming that would tear the two young couples apart, and leave one of the coming children an orphan alone in the war.
All because of one they thought was a friend, and the one he called master…
The one who was momentarily destroyed, and thus created a legend.
A/N: The idea for this story has been in my head for a long time, and I couldn't help but finally write it. It turned out a lot longer than I expected, and I'm thinking of doing a sequel to it…
The wedding verses and any Gaelic in this story was found on the internet, so I'm sorry if I got it wrong…
Anyway, thank you for reading and I hoped you enjoyed it!