Disclaimer: If you haven't figured it out by now, I don't think there's any hope for you left.
Jamie Evans and Fate's Bitch
Chapter the Last – Finale
"Hi, Poppy," I croak out, as I hear her grumbling back and forth, muttering about "continuing even after foolish injuries" and "near death experiences."
"Miss Evans," she grinds out. "You are aware you had a pierced lung by the end of your little confrontation?"
"Difficult to ignore," I reply. My voice comes out pretty groggy and dry, and she lets me drink some water.
"That and your back. You practiced very good field medicine in immobilizing your wrist, but your continued use of your shoulder aggravated the injury, and you'll be a sling once you're out of bed."
I nod, knowing better than to talk with a pierced lung.
"Leaving the lance in probably saved your life, as well."
I don't fill in that I dispelled the lance and conjured a replacement at the same time. I know she won't be happy about it. Instead, I lie back and listen to her complain about my injuries while backhandedly complimenting me for my attempts to keep myself from being dead.
I turn my head, and make a note of a rather unconscious Tonks. She's even drooling a little bit. Clothing's rumpled, hair's a mess, and she's got obvious circles under her eyes. Makes me wonder how long I was out. Two or three days, maybe.
"She hasn't left your side very often," fills in Poppy. "A few meals here and there."
I can take a solid hint, as I levitate myself into a sitting position. Poppy gives me a flat glare, even as I take a drink of water. I can feel the slight tingle of day-old Skele-Gro. I flex my left hand a few times, and gently stretch my wrist.
"Two or three days, right?" I ask.
"Three," replies Poppy. "It's a little before lunchtime. You can expect a visit from Miss Perks, along with several of her friends."
I nod, and give her a small smile as she moves on.
A few minutes pass before Sally-Anne enters, and then immediately rushes my bed. I manoeuvre myself so that she doesn't crush any injuries.
"How are you, huh?" I ask.
"How am I?" she asks. "You!"
There's a grunt from nearby.
"Jamie?" asks a barely-awake Tonks.
"No, you're dreaming. Go back to sleep. You need it."
"Mm, okay," mumbles Tonks. Sally-Anne and I watch her roll back over and fall back asleep on the bed next to mine.
Sally-Anne immediately giggles, while I feel the smirk tug across my face.
"Wait-a-minute," mutters Tonks. She turns back over and then glares at me. She promptly pinches herself, and then stumbles out of the bed and into mine.
"Afternoon, sleepyhead," I say.
"Sleepyhead yourself. You hair isn't helped by this."
"I'm not a sleepyhead. I'm recuperating. There's a difference."
"Is this the same difference that makes banana sundaes healthy?" asks Sally-Anne.
"Yes," Tonks replies.
"Banana sundaes are healthy?" I ask.
"Yep. They've got a banana on them," replies Sally-Anne.
"Are you corrupting my not-yet-but-soon-to-be daughter?" I ask.
"Yes, yes I am. What are you going to do about it?" asks Tonks.
"Icky, terrible things. Sally-Anne, cover your eyes."
There's a giggle, but I can only assume she covers her eyes because I'm suddenly a little busy kissing Tonks.
"Good to see you awake," says Tonks, after we come up for air.
"I think that's enough corrupting children. That, and I'm hungry. Where's lunch?"
Lunch is delivered by house-elf. While eating said lunch I learn about what's going on. Apparently, Skeeter did write her article, and it's pretty heavily slanted my way. I'm glad, for once. No one was seriously injured, although a few of the SS Goatfucker's broadsides caused some structural damage to the school. Minerva's pleased with herself, while the Potters are still here.
In fact, all of them show up about midway through. We exchange pleasantries before I finally drag the conversation to business.
"So, should I be giving the Deputy position back to Sinistra?" I ask.
"I imagine you should. The Minister has asked to see you, as well," she replies.
"If that waste of flesh wants me for the Chief Warlock position, I've got a chunk of titanium he can sit on."
"Miss Evans," begins McGonagall.
"What?" I ask, completely innocent.
"I don't think you're supposed to say that about a government official," says James.
"Meh," I say, waving him off. "Oh, before I forget, I need to speak with you two in private."
James and Lily are both surprised by the request, but roll with it.
The conversation turns away, a little, to rehashing the damage to the castle. The tower I was on collapsed, but it wasn't really in use. It'll be rebuilt, and McGonagall wants me to add information on the weather ward I added so that someone else can control it. The Ministry's also whining because of the freak storm I caused. Granted, they'd whine if their dick was in their wife, so I guess it doesn't matter, really.
McGonagall is covering my classes, at the moment, while Tonks and Sally-Anne are covering my idiots. Tonks hasn't broken down and acted nice to the little brats, but wants me to.
Not like I wasn't planning on doing it on my own, but still. At least now I have someone to blame.
Sally-Anne and McGonagall head back to classes.
I glance at Tonks, give her a smile, and then wave my hand. A nice, solid privacy ward pops up around the bed. I notice Poppy give me another glare, even as I magically drag the privacy screen around the bed.
"So what's going on?" asks James.
"Two things. First, I promised Rita Skeeter an interview with all three of us to keep quiet about something that happened out there. Second, well... remember how I put the ring in Godzilla?"
"Yes," replies Lily, while James and Tonks look confused.
"Big grey reptile that I breathed life into?" I clarify.
They both nod.
"Interesting side effect. Can you wait a moment? Don't react? And try not to act too rashly, please?"
James and Lily nod.
"Jessica? Can you come here, please?"
And she's there. Confused, but there. Lily and James furrow their brows. Ah, right. I let them see her. They're surprised, but I raise my hand, one finger raised to say "Wait a moment."
"I wanted to thank you for your help."
She blinks, surprised.
"You want to... thank me?" she asks. "But..."
"You did a good job, Jessica. Thank you for your help."
There are tears in her eyes.
"It's been nice, I take it? On the other side?"
"I'm glad you found some peace, finally. Why did you come back?"
"You... you were kind. Even though you didn't need to be. I... I wanted to be kind back."
I smile, and take her hand.
"I want you to meet some people, Jessica. But I want you to know something, first. You weren't abandoned."
"I wasn't?" she asks.
"No. You were stolen. The man you stomped on? It's complicated, but part of him was who stole you from your parents. He magiced them, so they couldn't find you, so they wouldn't find you."
She's silent for a long moment, before she asks the all important question.
"Petunia lied to me?" she asks.
"She lies about a lot of things. She's a lying bitch. Would you like to go to her trial for murdering you?"
Jessica blinks a few times at that statement.
"Vernon's on trial, as well, and Dudley's been shipped to a foster home for disturbed children."
"I… I'd like that. Why, though? Why'd you do it?"
"Because you deserve to have someone get revenge for you. You deserve recognition, you deserve to have someone say you mattered, and that what happened to you was horrible, and that the ones who did it should be punished."
She doesn't know what to say.
"I know it's hard. I know it's hard to understand that you matter, that people care about you. I know it's difficult, and it's something you don't understand, yet. But you will, eventually, alright?"
"I will?" she asks.
"You will. People care about you. Not cared, but care. And they'd like to meet you, alright?"
She nods. We turn, to look at James and Lily.
"Jessica, I'd like to introduce you to your parents, James and Lily."
She turns to James and Lily.
"It's alright," I say. "It's alright to be afraid. But always know that they love you. They won't hurt you."
She nods, and steps forward. James and Lily kneel down, put themselves on her left, and slowly draw her into a hug. I feel like I shouldn't be here for this, and I think Tonks feels the same way as she sits down next to me again, leaning into me.
Lily is openly crying, while James is trying to man up and hold back the tears. Part of me wants to tell him I cried when James and Ginny died, but I don't. I don't want to interfere. Let them have their tears.
"She's gotten better, at least," I say, quietly.
"She's a ghost, isn't she?"
"No... but pretty close. The ring's strange. If I let it, she'd be invisible, intangible. But if I ask nicely... well... you see the result."
"She's really here, then?"
"As much as the dead can be," I reply. "She's a contradiction, I think. She only started living once she was dead. She'll want to move on, eventually. But for now... well. We'll see what happens."
I escape at the end of the day. Not because Poppy wants me to escape, it's more that she can't stop me, and I promise no strenuous activity. She gave me an incredulous look.
"I haven't performed any of that sort of strenuous activity since New Years, and I don't plan to start now," I tell her. She seems satisfied by that.
It doesn't stop Tonks and Sally-Anne following me all the way back to my quarters.
"Good morning, my pigeons of worthlessness. Auror Tonks has requested I take pity on you, and attempt to beat something into your head, rather than let you try and figure it out yourself. I mean, it's not like you've been paying attention to the two people who have successfully managed this magic, and instead whined about not being able to find the one book in the library that would tell you anything. The one book from the library that's been hidden in the right top drawer of my desk by the way."
Oh, the angry looks they give me. I give them all a cruel smile. They go all afraid and stoic. Much better.
Really, I'm not a Dark Lord. I swear.
"Now, you get to learn. The secret to silent magic, to wandless magic, is very simple. Forget incantations. Forget wand motions. It is no longer about casting the Protego spell. It's about building a wall between my wand and your body with your magic. Will your magic, and it will follow. Be a whiney little bitch, and you will fail. Now, with these thoughts in mind, let us begin."
They all get something down within two days. A week and a half, and they've all figured it out both ways.
My stinging charm might have been a little more powerful, since I'm using the Elder Wand to cast them, too. Nothing they don't deserve for making me get up at the asscrack of dawn for four months.
Sirius joins us one morning, ostensibly to talk to me about teaching.
"Ah, Miss Evans?"
"Yes, Mister Black?"
"I was wondering if you'd be interested in teaching a class on duelling? As an elective?"
"Mister Black," I say, "I don't duel. I don't think I've ever been in an actual duel. I have either had the choice of fighting for my life, or dying."
Sirius nods, looking away. Tonks is up, and clutching a cup of hot coffee like it's a lifeline. I haven't needed any sort of caffeine in a very long time. Sally-Anne has a natural energy that I'd envy if I couldn't force myself through just about anything.
"Maybe for next year?" he asks, still looking at Tonks.
I nod, before I think of something. I distinctly recall Kingsley making a few jokes after Voldemort's demise, and I openly wonder if he wasn't actually joking.
"Actually, you're head of the House of Black, right?"
"Yes, of course."
"Then maybe there is something you can help me with."
Sirius furrows his brows as I explain what I want, and then widens his eyes as he realises just why I'm asking. He quickly agrees, and he'll have his solicitor draw up the paperwork for it.
Back to classes.
Fudge does make his appearance, unfortunately.
During lunch, of course, and with the toad following him like an ugly pink yip-yip dog.
I look up at him with an extraordinarily uncaring expression. The pair of them shiver and fear.
"Can I help you?" I ask.
"Yes, Miss Evans?"
"That would be me. Who are you, and what do you want?"
That's a purposeful kick in the pants. I can already tell Sirius is trying not to laugh, while Severus' inscrutable expression is one of barely disguised amusement. Minerva is tight lipped, while Dolores is aghast that I don't know who Minister Fudge is.
"I'm the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge," supplies the oaf, green bowler hat in hand.
I nod, and then begin tapping my fingers, suggesting "well, get on with it." It's one of Dumbledore's tricks. It's one of the few useful things I learned from him. The other was how to lie by telling only the truth.
"Er, I'm here on behalf of the Ministry to thank you for your actions several days previous. There's already talk in the Wizengamot of awarding you the Order of Merlin First Class."
I nod, sagely. I glance down the tables to make note of a reporter with a dictation quill, and a photographer, waiting for the perfect photo opportunity. The opportunity is simply too good to pass up. A quick spell under the table and Umbridge immediately flinches.
"Er… don't you have anything to say?" asked Fudge, his voice lowered so it isn't caught by the dictation quill.
"Hmm?" I ask, noting Dolores has begun to sweat. Her breathing's become fairly shallow as well. "Not really, no. Recognition is for people who care about being recognised." I check my nails, and realise I really need to stop biting them. "An award I don't care about for something I would have done anyways? Pheh." I look at Umbridge, obviously. "Madam Marsh, is something the matter?"
"Umbridge!" she gasps, her eyes icy with hatred. I've known a number of Marshes. They're a similar mix of people. If they avoid the ocean, this doesn't happen to them. At Miskatonic, I knew a man named Ezekiel Marsh. He'd lived in Innsmouth, before moving to Arkham. His grandparents were killed in the raid, and his parents abandoned him to disappear beneath the waves. I probably killed them when I burned Father Dagon. He was a nice guy, but don't ever buy him seafood.
"My apologies, Madam Umbridge. Are you alright?"
"I'm… fine…" she gasps, and then she keels over. We're quick to remove her. It takes nearly four minutes for the spell to mutate her lungs into gills. Given the amount of thrashing she's trying to do, she won't make it. Poppy tries to directly oxygenate her blood, but Dolores' thickening scales prevent magic from properly working.
That still leaves her with two minutes of thrashing before her gills properly form. Well, it's more like a minute, followed by brain death.
Note my utter despair at this turn of events. Utter. Despair.
Severus pulls me aside.
"I saw you cast a spell, Evans. Why?"
"One moment," I tell him, and walk over to Minerva. She's standing away from Poppy and Fudge. The reporters are standing nearby, somewhat stunned that this has happened. "Minerva? I'm sorry to interrupt."
"Yes, Miss Evans?"
"How many muggleborns were here when you started teaching?"
She blinks at the pure randomness of the question.
"Fifteen to twenty. Why?"
"Settling an argument. How many this year?"
"Eight," she says, and then blinks in surprise at that statement, then furrows her brow. "You know why, don't you?"
"Expect the number to go up, Minerva." I return to Severus, while Minerva is distracted once more by an extremely worried Minister.
"While thinking about the muggle population of Britain, does that answer your question Severus?"
"You are certain she was responsible?" he asks, the expressionless mask clamping down on his horror and revulsion.
"Certain enough. Only Hopkirk has access to those records, and while she's a straight-laced old bitch, she's a straight-laced old bitch."
At this, Severus nods.
"What spell did you use?"
I tell him. He nods, then goes to help Poppy. From his wand motions, I can tell he's performing the detection spells that will muddle and destroy any hope of ever identifying the spell.
"Excuse me… Miss Evans?" asks the reporter.
"You called Madam Umbridge 'Madam Marsh'. Did you recognize her?"
"Marshes have distinctive magic due to their lineage. I worked around several at Miskatonic University."
I point at Umbridge's corpse.
"Somewhere, back in her line, was something that wasn't human. Something that not even Voldemort would allow into his ranks. And don't flinch, the bastard's been dead for ten years." I shake my head. "Something that decided now was a good time to come forward with obvious results. It does that. I've never seen it happen that quickly, but, well…" I shrug.
The reporter nods.
"Can I ask you a question about your fight with Grindelwald?"
"Sorry, I already promised my first interview on that to Rita Skeeter. Sadly, that won't happen until the end of classes."
The reporter looks like I just drop-kicked his puppy.
"So why aren't you helping Professor Snape and Madam Pomfrey?" asks the reporter, changing tracks and attempting to dig dirt. Do they all do this?
"Because I'm a battlefield medic? Blunt trauma, lacerations, contusions, broken bones, and spilled guts I can deal with. Random bloodline illness coming to the fore? Your guess is as good as mine."
"But you knew she was a Marsh."
"So? That means I know about the potions they take to prevent the transformation. Do I have those on hand? No. Do I even know what they are, let alone how to make them? No. Now quit being a plaintive puny pissant, and bother the people who know what the hell they're doing. Maybe you should ask if they've detected them in her blood stream. If she wasn't taking them, she's a danger not just to herself, but others as well. The Marsh families of America were well known for their predilection for human flesh, after all."
He blinks at me, and realises how he can spin this to include some dirt, and goes to bother Severus the Potions Master. I give the greasy bastard a cheeky grin, and he scowls at both the reporter and me.
My work here is done.
"Professor Evans?" asks Harry Potter. There's still a weirdness in seeing Harry without a scar on his forehead. Well, that's not true. There is a scar, but it's pretty damn faint. I think the weirdness is seeing Harry Potter and not looking in the mirror to do it.
"Yes, Mister Potter?" I ask, looking up from the paperwork in front of me.
"I have a question."
"How are you related to my mother?"
Well, I suppose I should have expected that. He isn't a stupid kid.
"What makes you think I am?" I ask.
"You've got her eyes, your last name is Evans, you look out for me, and Mum and Dad were arguing about you before the Christmas Party."
I nod sagely.
"Mister Potter, your deductive reasoning is sound, and you've asked the correct question. Unfortunately, I will not be answering until after the school year is over."
"So that all the gossip is over and done with during the summer."
"Oh," said Harry. "Does this... er..."
"Does this have anything to do with Jessica?"
I pause for a moment, and then give Harry a sad smile.
"I assume James and Lily weren't as secretive about her as they hoped?"
"There's a picture of her on the mantel," says Harry. "They'd never answer any questions about her."
"To answer your question, yes. It does have to do with Jessica. Everything will be answered once the school year's over."
"Okay," says Harry. "Does it also have to do with Sally-Anne?"
"Does everybody know I'm adopting her?" I ask, rhetorically. Hermione once called the Hogwarts gossip network a proof of exponential growth. "It doesn't have to do with her, but I will be adopting her, and she has the right to know before that happens."
"No, that was all, Professor."
"Alright. Thanks for stopping by, Harry. I'll see you in class tomorrow."
He's a good kid.
Skeeter's first interview is short, and to the point. We talk a little bit beforehand, off the record, to basically outline what's kosher in this interview, and what'll be covered in the next one. The fact that I have the last name Evans, and whatever mysterious connection I have to the Potters will be covered in that interview.
I also explained that if she mentioned the rabbit, no one would ever find her body. Gellert was stomped to death, and that was that.
"What's your reaction to having killed Grindelwald, a feat only Albus Dumbledore matched by defeating him?"
"Personally? Annoyance. I've had people staring at me, whispering and muttering about how I used dark magic to defeat him." I roll my eyes. "I didn't use a single dark spell."
"Those cutters are borderline," chimes in Hedwig.
"You aren't helping," I tell her. She snorts in derision, poking through some sort of paranormal romance smut she found. I'm not rightly sure how exactly.
"Those transfigurations you performed, though…" begins Skeeter.
"What, the behemoths? Anybody can make those."
"Yes, but what were they?"
"Behemoths," I reply. "Sorry for the lesson, but not all animals transfigured have to exist. I could transfigure an eight-legged horse. Just because I can transfigure something, doesn't mean it has to exist in the first place." To make my point, I transfigure a desk into an eight-legged horse. It looks at the pair of us kinda funny, and then I dispel it.
"What she's trying to say, is that she needed something big, ugly, and big to destroy those cursed muggle machines," says Hedwig. "And I doubt she can transfigure a dragon."
"Hey! I can transfigure a dragon! It's just not easy!"
"You can, can you?" asks Skeeter.
"Sure." I pull my wand, and with a wave, all of the desks form into a well-behaved Welsh Green. "Like I said, though. It's not easy. Transfiguring two dozen of them in twenty minutes would likely kill me. I doubt even Dumbledore could pull that off."
"But surely a dragon would last longer, wouldn't it?"
"Not really. Dragons have to be fairly light to fly, but their hide wouldn't stand up to a single shell. Those shells are designed to pierce 3-inch thick steel, and are bigger than milk bottles."
"Three inches of steel?" asks Rita.
"The bigger ones, at least. The smaller ones maybe only two inches."
Skeeter nods, some form of understanding being drawn to her vacant brain. Well, I shouldn't say that. Skeeter isn't stupid. She's just cruel.
"So… those monsters you transfigured, they don't really exist?"
"Not outside of fantastical literature," I reply. Not entirely true, but I'm not about to explain where a large purple behemoth comes from. Personally, she looks a little heartbroken that there's no lead.
"I'm sure the Quibbler will state otherwise," she replies. I don't make an argument on that point. "Now, eyewitness accounts state you expected Grindelwald to come to Hogwarts. Why?"
"Albus Dumbledore's grave is here." I point out the window to the shining white obelisk. "The pair of them had history. Gellert wasn't sane, you saw that. Unfortunately, I've had far too much experience with madmen. They fantasize, fixate, obsess. I don't know what he'd want to do with Albus' grave, maybe desecrate the body, raise it as an Inferi, or just take a dump on it. Who knows? But he would want to come to the grave of his greatest enemy."
Skeeter nods. She knows it's complete bullshit, but it's also the sort of bullshit the readers of the Daily Prophet will lap up without question.
"Madmen?" she asks.
"Miskatonic University," I reply. "Not all dark wizards become Dark Lords. Some just want to sit quietly, and perform highly questionable research."
"You sure you or your readers want to know?"
"I'm sure they're curious."
"Tearing apart human souls to find out what makes some people magical, and others not."
She looks openly horrified.
"I figured I'd go with something that wouldn't make you puke. I will tell you something that'll make you feel better."
"Miskatonic University awards Warlock Status for killing twelve faculty in open combat."
The dean was mostly annoyed that it had to replace said faculty. But so long as nothing damaged the library, it didn't care. There were always more dark wizards, after all.
Skeeter nods in understanding.
The interview rolls around back to the fight with Grindelwald, questions about what spells I used. Like I said, Skeeter's got a brain in her head. It's petty and vicious, but it's definitely there.
"Now, about your familiar," begins Skeeter.
"Awww, does this mean I have to really participate?" asks Hedwig. "I was just getting to the good parts!"
"Yes," I reply.
"Where did you get a harpy?" asks Skeeter, first thing first.
"I never purchased a harpy. I purchased a post owl."
On this, Skeeter is utterly silent.
"Entirely true," says Hedwig. "I used to be a snowy owl."
"But… that means…"
"What, that I was modified by whatever dark and evil magics are used to change poor innocent animals into hideous monsters?"
"No," replies Hedwig. "Have you ever heard of the Ritual of Familiarity?"
"Not off the top of my head."
"It's one of only three legal blood rituals, Miss Skeeter. Naturally, all three are still extremely dangerous. This ritual, obviously, binds you to your familiar, or the creature you wish to be your familiar."
"So you used this on a post owl?"
"I used it last summer on the post owl I'd owned since I was eleven," I replied.
Hedwig smirks at this.
"And what are your thoughts on this?" asks Skeeter.
"My thoughts? It's because of the ritual I can have thoughts. I know Jamie loves me like family. Hell, when she used the ritual, I was the only family she had. When she performed the ritual, well… I obviously changed because of it."
"You changed because she loved you?"
"I was with her through thick and thin. Obviously, as an owl, but still. Normally, when the ritual is done, the magic flows the other way. Skills and abilities and changes flow into the wizard. This time, well, the opposite happened."
At this, Skeeter nods.
"It's an impressive change."
"Thank you. I rather like it," says Hedwig with a smile.
Probably the only time I ever had a good interview with Skeeter.
"Finally," I mutter, as the Hogwarts Express is leaving the station and heading south.
"They aren't that bad," says Sirius.
I glare at him. Solidly glare at him. Anti-love-child of Snape and McGonagall glare at him.
He retracts his statement so quickly, it has red-shift.
"You shouldn't be so worried," says Tonks. "She's going to love it. Just like everything else."
"Shut up," I mutter back to her. I can hear the train, now, and my anxieties are mounting. What if she doesn't like the house? What if she doesn't like the furniture I bought her? What if she changes her mind about the adoption? What if this? What if that?
I know I'm being an idiot. That doesn't stop my brain from being stupid.
"Day after tomorrow, right?" asks James, again.
I nod. The only night I could get everybody together, and it's two days away. I glance at the paperwork from the Wizengamot, informing me they require my presence four weeks from now. I've spoken with Sirius some more, and he's agreed, without even knowing what I'm going to tell him.
Wormtail's dead. I asked James. My curiosity wasn't that great, since the Weasleys didn't own Scabbers, but I thought it might be a loose end. Turns out it wasn't. James and Sirius hunted him down together, and Sirius let the Black Blood boil in his veins.
James didn't need to say anything else. Bellatrix is what happens when the Black Blood gets away, and James has a bit of it in his veins, too. He betrayed, he murdered, he died.
I nodded, and told him how the Wormtail I knew was strangled with his own silver hand. James thought it fitting.
The train comes to a halt, and Sally-Anne eventually exits, with Hermione, Daphne, and Tracey Davis. It's kind of funny, watching that group leave the train. Two pureblood Slytherins, a muggleborn Gryffindor, and a muggleborn Hufflepuff, all chatting together. Harry gets off the train, followed by Devon Conway and Sean O'Brien, a muggleborn and a halfblood respectively. It's interesting that he's not friends with any purebloods, but unsurprising if all of them want to stare at his scar. It feels far more normal to have people whisper and point at me, knowing that I killed Grindelwald.
It's going to be extra galling when I chat with Skeeter.
Sally-Anne crashes into me, trying to break my ribs with a hug. I've missed this sort of thing.
"Can we go home?"
"We're going to stop at your foster parents to say goodbye, and then we'll head home, alright?"
She smiles, and nods.
I say my goodbyes to James and Lily, and when I go to shrink Sally-Anne's trunk, Tonks is already slipping it into her pocket. Just for that, I grab both of their hands and side-along them to near Sally-Anne's foster parent's house.
It's a quick and boring conversation. They're mostly concerned with how the paperwork will go through. With the method I'm using, blood adoption, it basically qualifies as an unknown relative coming forward and taking her in. I get asked a few questions about genetics, and I basically state it modifies a person on the genetic level. While she won't suddenly have the Evans eyes, she'll definitely pick up a piece of hereditary magic or two. I'll have to warn her not to chat up any snakes she sees.
Afterwards, it's to home.
My occasional visits have kept up the lawn, and with all the time I'll be spending at Hogwarts, I still can't start a garden.
"It's very you," says Sally-Anne.
"And what's that supposed to mean?" I ask.
"Quaint, nice-looking, and surrounded in mystery and gothic monstrosities," replies Sally-Anne, looking at the gargoyles that litter the house and property.
"I don't think I'm surrounded by gothic monstrosities," I reply.
"Psychologically," replies Tonks.
I sigh. Strange is the fact that I'm anxious about finally "going the distance" as it were. It's not annoying Tonks, but I know she's worried. And when she's worried, she pokes fun at things she shouldn't poke fun at.
Instead, I open the front door, and let Sally-Anne explore.
"Is this my room?" I hear, about ten minutes later.
We follow her upstairs, and she's standing at the door to a guest bedroom.
"Umm… actually, I was thinking that one, over there," I say, pointing down the hall. She stares at me, blinks a few times, and then investigates that one.
"OMIGOD!" she shouts.
"What?" asks Tonks, finally catching up.
"IT'S FULL OF STUFF!"
There's another breath of relief on my part.
"WOWWOWWOWTHANKYOUTHANKYOU!" she crashes into me, crushing me with another hug. I lose track of what she's actually saying at this point, but I manage to convince her to come downstairs so I can cook some dinner.
"I'm surprised to see a telly," says Tonks.
"I've only got three wards on the house," I reply. "And only two are in the house."
"What do wards do with owning a telly?" asks Sally-Anne.
"Wards interfere with electricity," I reply. "And because it's not a type of electromagnetic radiation, you can't really shield against it. I know of a few people that have been working on it, but the only thing they found was shielding everything in cast iron."
"Cast iron?" asks Sally-Anne.
"One of the least magically conductive materials found."
"So what wards are here?" asks Tonks.
"On the house is a combo apparition and portkey, along with the floo password. I've got a malevolence ward on the entire block. It's good for keeping up with the neighbourhood association."
"Neighbourhood association?" asks Tonks.
"They're a bunch of miserable old biddies who like to make everyone else as miserable as they are," says Sally-Anne. Foster parents, I'm sure, have to deal with them a lot.
"What she said," I say.
"Really? People are like that?" asks Tonks.
"Why do you think the Wizengamot exists in the first place?" I ask.
Tonks doesn't seem surprised by that explanation.
"That's a muggle thing, isn't it?"
"A really muggle thing," I reply.
Hedwig flutters in, looking at everyone in turn.
"What?" she asks.
"Neighbourhood association," I say.
"Worthless, dried up cunts, the lot of them," replies Hedwig.
"Not in front of the child," I tell her, glaring.
"Sorry Tonks," says Hedwig.
"Hay!" says Tonks. "I'll have you know I'm an adult and everything. I've got a real job, catching dark wizards and stuff."
"And stuff?" asks Sally-Anne.
"And filling out lots and lots of paperwork," grumbles Tonks.
"They never mention the paperwork," I reply.
"So what are we doing this week?" asks Sally-Anne.
"We are decompressing and lounging. Day after tomorrow will be dinner and a meeting with the Potters, Tonks parents, Black, and Minerva. Two days after that is your adoption ceremony with the Greengrasses and the Grangers, and then we're going on a goddamn vacation."
"A vacation? Where?"
"She hasn't told me," mutters Tonks.
"Don't worry, you'll like it," adds Hedwig.
"It'll be a surprise," I say. I've got a few things I plan on doing over that vacation, and it'll be nice to get out of England.
Dinner, two nights later, is… strained.
Not because people are unhappy. Instead, it's because, well… some people know things, others don't, and it's all rather obvious. The Tonks' are confused, but understanding, while Sirius is his usual dickish self. Minerva's glad to find out just what the hell is going on with my past. Sally-Anne and Harry chat like young children. Harry's too nice to really drive her off, especially since Sally-Anne is muggleborn and doesn't really care about him being the Boy-Who-Lived.
God I hope they don't get together. That'd be awkward. Especially since after the adoption, they'll be cousins… or something. Harry would count as Sally-Anne's uncle, maybe? I'm not rightly sure. It'd be weird, and probably illegal. Well, illegal in the muggle world. Not in the Wizarding World. I'm pretty sure it's legal to marry your own siblings in the Wizarding World. I've never taken the time to find out.
Hedwig is also at the table, mostly to act as moderator for James and Black, while Tonks looks on with resigned amusement. Seems they like her better than me. Minerva and Lily are off in their own little world of discussion, leaving me to Andi and Ted.
Both of whom are hinting that I should be asking them a question.
"Later on tonight," I tell them. "After the after-dinner discussion."
"So what's that all about?" asks Andi.
If I change the subject, it somehow finds itself back to a question I should be asking them, especially since I've already spoken with Sirius. Which leads back to what tonight's talk will be about.
And around and around it goes.
The kids get the short version.
Sally-Anne hugs me, and says I get a happy ending now. Harry's just thankful that he's not the Boy-Who-Lived. Once they're off to bed (Harry in the guest room) the adults get the long version.
Minerva is silent through the whole thing. I suspect she's still processing it, trying to understand just what crimes Albus committed in the name of the Greater Good. Worst of all, for her, was that it wasn't just Gellert that attacked Hogwarts. It was also Albus.
Black is hit hard, simply in how badly we've treated each other. He doesn't understand just how bad Azkaban is, but he understands being ostracized by his own family. The fact that I still call him Black, I think, is the worst part of it. Maybe he'll make headway, if I let him.
Ted and Andi are quiet. The pair of them spent most of the talk looking to Tonks, trying to gauge her reaction to all of this.
Tonks and the Potters talk with Minerva quietly, while I speak with Andi and Ted.
"Yes," says Andi.
"At least give her… him… er…" starts Ted.
"Her," I reply.
"Right, at least give her a chance to ask."
"You've asked Sirius, right?" asks Andi, entirely ignoring her husband.
"I asked him about starting negotiations for the contract itself."
"Contract?" asks Ted.
"Yes. Contract. After Kingsley became Minister, he joked that I'd have been married off to the most eligible bride if I hadn't already been dating."
Ted's left eye twitches.
"So, before I sign anything with Sirius, as your Head of Family, because we're doing this so by the book the Ministry would have to break laws in order to break laws, I would like to ask for your daughter's hand in marriage. Do I have your blessing?"
"You-Know-Who is well and truly dead?" asks Andi.
"He is. I watched his wraith give its death knell."
"And Albus as well?"
"Those were his only Horcruxes."
"Are you sure?"
"Dora is impersonating Minerva, dear. We say yes."
"Yes dear. Miss Evans, you have our blessing."
"Thank you." That's a relief. I give a quick smile to Tonks, who looks to be a younger, but equally stern Minerva. She changes to her usual heart-shaped face to give me a smile, and turns back to talking with Black and James. Lily and Minerva are questioning Hedwig about something else. Ted moves over to his daughter to speak with her about something.
"It's hard you on, talking about this sort thing, isn't it?" asks Andi.
"Yeah. Is it that easy to tell?"
"No, but I know Sirius doesn't talk about his childhood. James really saved Sirius from that hell. I remember all the times I visited Orion and Walburga. My own mother wasn't much better."
"The Rosiers never struck me as a happy bunch," I reply.
"Not unless a Dark Lord was cursing muggles. Walburga never cursed me, but she did curse Sirius a few times."
"You're trying to get me to make up with Black, aren't you?"
"A little bit."
"I don't trust easily, Andi. And as far as I'm concerned, Black stamped all over what little trust I had for him."
"Sirius is the same way, you know," replies Andi. "His pranks aren't because he's fun-loving, although that's part of it. It's a defence mechanism, for him. He pranks because his parents hated it. The people who like them, are different from his parents, thus are better people."
"He still doesn't like Lily, does he?"
"He's learned to deal with her," replies Andi. "But it didn't happen until Remus died. James and Minerva were really the ones to bring him down to earth. He is trying, though."
"I know. The Sirius I knew always had good things to say about her. He always wanted me to know good things about my parents. Granted, he mostly focused on James. He also called me James a few times."
"He called you James?"
"Only a couple times. Thirteen years in Azkaban did not do him much good."
"It's hard to separate him from the man you knew, isn't it?"
"No, actually it isn't. I look at Black, and there's a happy, healthy, arrogant asshole. I remember Sirius, and there was a broken man who considered me the last link to whatever family he had left."
"Remus? Wasn't part of my life. Dumbledore told him he couldn't visit, as the Ministry considered him a danger. So he fucked off to the continent until Dumbledore somehow managed to get him to teach third year. And even after that, I rarely saw him. I had to ask him if he was friends with James and Lily, and even then he was cagey about it. Even after that he seemed to avoid me. The only time he ever approached me was after he married Tonks, trying to run away and get himself killed hunting Horcruxes rather than try to raise Teddy."
"You have a low opinion of the man."
"I have every right to have a low opinion of him. He was supposed to be my uncle, and he was just that guy who knew my parents. Sirius was the only person who ever really tried to tell me about my parents."
"No one else?"
"Nope. Minerva would give the occasional school story of James doing something idiotic when I did something equally dumb, but that was it from her. No one else really said anything about them. Well, you had a few stories about Sirius, at least."
"You trusted me a lot, didn't you?"
"That I did. Teddy was my Godson, and I made sure I acted like a Godfather to him. You actually introduced me to Narcissa."
"And you trusted her?"
"I saved her son's life. She knew I was the sort that only trusted once, and she earned it by never betraying me. And keeping Lucius on a tight leash. Draco was another matter entirely." I give a small smile, reminiscing on all the things I did to Draco after becoming friends with Narcissa. Casting the Fidelius on his house was only one of a few things I did. Corrupting Scorpius (largely by reminding him he was named "Scorpius") was also something of a hobby of mine.
I feel the silencing charm fall, and I glance at Tonks.
"You're reminiscing again," she comments, putting her wand away.
"I know. The things I did to Draco…"
"Malfoy?" asks James.
"Of course? You know any other Dracos?"
"There's a few in the family tree," comments Black. "So what did you do to him?"
"Oh, little things, here and there. After I pissed off the Goblins, they occasionally sent threatening letters for collection. I reminded them that Draco was a Black via Narcissa, and they'd have much better luck getting their collection efforts done on him."
"How much did you owe the Goblins?"
"A few million galleons, I think. I got a very angry howler from Draco. It was the only time I ever heard him curse. I wish I still had it, Scorpius got a kick out of it."
"Scorpius?" asks Minerva.
"Oh god," says Black. "Malfoy actually spawned?"
"With Astoria Greengrass," I reply. "Very nice girl. Arranged marriage. I think I spoke to her all of twice. Scorpius married a nice half-blood Ravenclaw girl before Draco could get something arranged."
Andi gives a very unladylike giggle at this.
"A Malfoy marrying someone with impure blood?" asks a smiling Black. "Scandalous!"
"How did you manage that?" asks Lily.
"Oh, it was actually pretty easy. I reminded him that he was named Scorpius, and asked if he was going to name his son Canis, Cancer, or Fornax."
James and Black are outright laughing at this, while Lily is shaking her head.
"Granted, this was after he started whining about the Fidelius Charm…"
"Fidelius Charm?" asks Tonks.
"Oh, right, I never mentioned this. Narcissa mentioned to me that Draco had forgotten both Narcissa and Astoria's birthdays - again - and wanted a little payback. So, Narcissa asked me just what I could do about it. Well, since Draco seemed to have forgotten something very important, I decided it seemed like he's a very forgetful person. So I cast the Fidelius Charm on the manor, with Narcissa as the Secret Keeper and she shared the secret with Astoria and Scorpius. It took him two months to figure out just what he'd done wrong, and another month on top of that to finally get down on his knees and beg forgiveness. It pissed him off so much that I was there with a camera. So much."
By the end of the night, Black has literally cracked a rib from laughing, while Lily had to levitate James home. Apparently, James thought my telling of the story of Dobby was too much. Minerva escorted Black to Hogwarts to fix his rib, and Andi and Tonks gave me light smiles before leaving. Harry is spending the night. God alone knows why Lily and James trusts me with him.
Tonks is about to get into bed, and I know everything's squared away. Every last hurdle has been covered… except one.
And you know what? Fuck it. I need to do this.
I shove her up against the wall, and she's surprised as I force my tongue into her mouth, while my hand bunches up her skirt and reaches underneath. She sucks in a breath when I grab her, feeling her shaft through my boxers. I really need to get her her own pairs. Later, though.
Instead, my hand goes back, dipping into her. She groans, moans, makes any number of noises as my hand travels back to her shaft, stroking her.
I drag her to bed, throwing her into it, and climbing on top of her. I rip her boxers off, while she understands that I need to be in charge, at least this once.
It's been a long night, and we make it longer.
"Professor?" asks Harry in the morning, as I'm making breakfast. Sally-Anne has taken to luxuriating in her bed in the morning, while Tonks is taking a shower to get ready for her work as an Auror-Cadet.
"Out of school it's Jamie, Harry," I reply.
"Are you… my half-sister, then?"
"Yes," I reply. "Although we'll be telling everybody I'm your half-aunt."
"Isn't it weird to be a girl?"
"A little," I say, shrugging. "My life sucked. I could either adapt to it, or let it drag me under. I let it drag me under a few times, and it sucked more. So I stopped letting it."
"Is it really that simple?"
"People like to claim it is, but they're all full of shit." Harry seems surprised I'm cursing. Then again, I try to be a professional.
"No cursing in front of the children!" shouts Tonks, coming down the stairs.
"I'm explaining important guy stuff," I reply. "It takes real effort to be that impartial, and I can only pull it off thanks to my Occlumency and surrounding myself with good people."
"I don't think you started out with that many," comments Tonks.
"What about Hedwig?" asks Harry.
Which reminds me. Where is she? She disappeared after last night. I feel out the connection, and realise that I really don't want to know where she is right now. At all. The fact that she's getting action at the moment, makes me wonder if I should be disturbed, or amused. Instead, I file it away for later, and turn back to the conversation.
"She definitely helped. Tonks, I guess, helped as well."
"You guess?" asks Tonks.
Harry's amused by our sarcastic antics, and breakfast continues unabated. I'll interrogate Hedwig later, though.
The interview with Skeeter goes pretty well. It's being held in Minerva's office, and with Minerva's Pensieve. I retrieve from Dumbledore's cabinet the memory of the prophecy, and pour it into the bowl.
I decide to also kill two birds with one stone, and have Tonks there, as well, along with James and Lily. I signed the paperwork with Sirius earlier in the day. Rita knows questions about Harry and Hedwig are off limits. Tonks spends most of the interview behind me, keeping me sane. I've made no mention of her, but we'll see how together Rita is at the end of this.
My story is pretty disturbing, but based in reality. I did run across this researcher, and I did kill him. I did it twenty years from now, though.
Still, I pose it hypothetically. I act like I'm not sure of the story myself, but it's the best I can put together.
Miskatonic University condones research that most wouldn't. So, for example, if a wizard wanted to determine if mothers of muggleborns were more or less likely to produce wizards, then they'd fund it. And if the researcher wanted to use himself as a control, well, that's his prerogative. It's not like he's going to be publishing research papers. He just has to make sure the whelps can't claim inheritance by disowning them.
As near as I could explain, he spent a week in the UK bespelling Lily's father, and forcing Lily's mother through a potion-sped, week-long pregnancy, and then took me back to the States.
Miskatonic University, however, has a policy that if you can kill enough teachers, you probably deserve to graduate. Entirely true. My spree was a record-breaking seventeen before the Dean stepped in.
Rita Skeeter nods in understanding, then asks me a question.
"So, Grindelwald wasn't your first Dark Lord?"
"Dark Lord? Yes, he was. Not all evil bastards want to rule the world. Some just want to do things that others would frown on. Or want to lock them up, and throw away the key."
Then we get to the Potters.
I looked into my family. By this point, Lily had married James, and they were in hiding with Harry. But I found Petunia Dursley nee Evans. Living with Petunia, I found a girl named Jessica Potter.
I hand the story off to James, Lily, and Sirius for the truth.
And they tell how Albus Dumbledore bespelled them into giving up their own daughter, convincing them that they needed to focus on protecting Harry. Jessica was left to Petunia and Vernon under blood wards, designed to keep away anyone who attempted to harm her.
And then we get to why.
I only give her the sound of it, Trelawney's echoing voice talking of a hero born as the seventh month dies.
"Harry was born on August 2nd," says James. "Jessica was born July 31st."
Rita is utterly silent at this revelation.
"Dumbledore always told us he didn't believe You-Know-Who was truly dead. He never really explained why," adds James
"Our best guess," I say, "is that he was convinced Voldemort undertook some method of immortality."
"Some method?" asks Rita.
"Some method," I reply. "There's a number of different ways of binding the human soul to the mortal coil. None of them are pleasant, and all of them lead to loss of magic, sanity, humanity, or all of the above."
"Then You-Know-Who's appearance..." Rita trails off, not wishing to describe it.
"Was likely another piece of evidence for Dumbledore," I reply. He looked just as inhuman before his demise as after his resurrection.
"Then why did he separate Jessica from you, if he believed she would once more defeat the Dark Lord?"
Lily answers through her tears.
"It's in the prophecy," she says. "Neither can live while the other survives. If she lived with us, she would have lived. She would have been loved. Instead, she had to be with Petunia and Vernon. Petunia always hated me for having magic, and... well..."
James retrieves a muggle newspaper, the Surrey Advisor, and places it on the desk.
Couple on Trial for Murder of Niece.
Vernon and Petunia's faces are splashed across the page. Beneath the fold is a picture of the cupboard under the stairs, blood stains on the walls. The article's fantastic, and I had nothing to do with it. It's even better since one of the policemen actually spoke with the media, and provided Vernon's wonderful quote.
Rita skims the article.
"There's more, isn't there?" she asks.
"I don't think you read Vernon's quote," I reply, pointing it out to her.
Rita reads it, and then looks like she wants to sick up. McGonagall conjures a pail for her, just in case.
"How did you..." she begins.
"Find out about it?" I ask. "Simple. I took her from that house. She was already dying, and I did what I could to help her. Her magic didn't even try to save her. She actually wanted to die. She didn't want to survive anymore."
"And you'll let the muggles take the fall?"
"Why not?" I ask. "They did it to her. They deserve it. They committed a crime, and they will pay for it."
"And the muggle justice system will make them pay?" asks Rita. "Reading this article, they're attempting to break the Statue of Secrecy."
"And do you want to know what the muggles think of that?" I ask, and then point to further on in the article. "Here. The police think they aren't fit to stand trial. The muggles think them mad, and will send them to a sanatorium for the rest of their natural lives." I give a small, happy smile. "They may, perhaps, be sent to the Whateley Sanatorium for the Criminally Insane."
"Whateley?" asks Rita.
"Yes. Whateley," growls James.
Rita looks just a little more green. It's a delightful sight to behold. She manages to keep on track.
"I presume you're aware of the Whateleys, just as you are of the Marshes?" she asks me.
"Oh, of course. I've never met a Whateley that wasn't a piece of scum, though."
The conversation meanders through the Whateleys, until she finally reaches the other side. She hasn't made use of the bucket, yet. Most unfortunate.
"You truly believe Dumbledore did this?" asks Rita.
"Albus Dumbledore stood for one thing," I tell Rita. "The Greater Good. No matter what that Greater Good entailed, he was willing to do it. Ask the members of the Order of the Phoenix, and how they weren't allowed to use lethal force against Death Eaters."
"It's true," says James. "We weren't allowed to use lethal force at Dumbledore's request. He'd always stated we couldn't sink to their level."
"But… they're Death Eaters," says Rita, dumbfounded.
"Yes, I know," replies James. "This is the man who locked Gellert Grindelwald in prison."
"There are rumours about why he did that," comments Rita.
"Which ones? They might be based on solid fact," Lily chimes in. "Bathilda Bagshot has some interesting stories about Dumbledore and her nephew Gellert. And also some letters, as well."
Rita begins to salivate, as Lily talks about some of the letters the old woman saved about her nephew.
She never does get to why Tonks is with me. Oh, well. Can't win everything.
Hedwig has been spending time in France.
Veelas and Harpies get along far too well. Something about both being avian.
That is all I'm saying on the matter.
The Greengrasses are a nice bunch, which makes me wonder even more why Astoria married Draco. I think Lucius mostly wanted to find a nice young lady who wasn't very related to Draco, and that was the only respectable choice.
Or maybe it was because they said "Yes." No idea, really.
Sally-Anne is wearing the robes Daphne gave her, and Astoria is happy to meet Daphne's friends. Harry's here as well, but isn't hiding. Instead, he's chatting with Hermione about how unfair Snape is when it comes to grading Gryffindors. Harry's fairly studious, thanks to Lily. She wants him to keep his grades up, unlike James. He actually went to muggle school for his first five years, rather than be home schooled. Mostly so he could be socially adjusted, rather than completely bugshit insane. Sure, he had to keep quiet about his magic, but that's not actually all that difficult.
Hermione and her parents are also here. I'm a little standoffish with them, even if I try not to be. They weren't entirely happy with Hermione after being memory charmed and sent to Australia. Ron didn't help, either. Nor did her murder. They blamed me. Still, Hermione introduces me as "the professor whose going to help me take my GCSEs."
I'd actually entertained the notion of going back to the muggle world on and off again during my less-than-sober years. I failed the GCSE three times before I stopped trying while under the influence. After I sobered up, I even ran a few missions in the muggle world. I learned a very important lesson: Japan is weird.
Paulina and Leon Granger both take an immediate liking to me. They worry I'm a little young, but they also know I'm helping their daughter to be a socially adjusted human being.
Minerva and Pomona are here, as well. Pomona, naturally, has come baring gifts. Pomona actually broke down and cried after Sally-Anne passed her classes. She hadn't expected it, not at all.
The ritual's pretty quick. A little bleeding into a silver chalice filled with wine on both of our parts, and we both drink. Which isn't how it's supposed to go, but it seems better that way. Only she's supposed to drink. I don't care, though.
Sally-Anne is a mousy, brown-haired girl with light brown eyes. After drinking, she stays mousy, but her hair actually lightens to in-between the original brown and Evans red. Her face changes a little bit, picking up a little more definition to her cheekbones and chin. Her eyes stay the same, though.
"Umm…" begins Lily.
"Yes?" I ask.
She conjures a mirror.
I appear to have also picked up the Evans flaming red hair. I also have a new nose, and have lost a little bit of the high cheekbones James has. Huh.
Duh. I performed a blood ritual to change my appearance, and the Potter blood isn't in there anymore. Of course.
I still think the nose is the weird part, honestly. I think there's an obvious answer to this, however.
"Make a trip to the store, and get me some black hair dye."
"Why?" she asks, already playing with my hair. I suppose it's not often she sees someone else's hair change colour. The kids are off in the corner, playing with Sally-Anne's hair.
"Because I want it to look like a natural hair colour change?" I say.
"You want to grow out red hair," says Lily. "As though it was always your natural hair colour, and you've always been dying it."
"But why use muggle hair dye?" asks James.
"It can't be detected by magic," replies Lily.
"And that means it couldn't have been undone by magic by accident," replies James. "And it'll make it look more like you're Lily's half-sister."
The plan is in place.
"Professor?" asks Daphne.
"Yes, Miss Greengrass?"
"Sally-Anne wants to ask you something."
"Can I… can I be Sally-Anne Evans?"
"Yes, yes you most certainly can, Sally-Anne Evans," I reply. "Minerva you have the paperwork?"
After a stone of paperwork, Sally-Anne's new name is Sally-Anne Perks Evans, and she's listed as my blood-adopted daughter, and Heir to the House of Evans.
There's a party, a dinner, and now?
A goddamn vacation.
"Where the hell did we just apparate?" asks a rather woozy Tonks. Sally-Anne looks like she's been dragged through the wringer as well, but we've arrived exactly where I wanted us to arrive.
"You'll figure it out," I say. I lead my airsick compatriots through Logan International Airport, over to a desk with an ugly yellow sign behind it. After a fifteen minute conversation, I wandlessly confound the man into thinking my ID says I'm twenty-five, and then we drive off the lot with a nice rented car. Then, I remember why I always went through the trouble of taking a flight to Manchester.
I fucking hate Boston traffic.
The road that I have made the mistake of driving on to, I93, is no longer a nice, neat underground tunnel. Instead, it is an elevated morass, an uplifted alter upon which the sanity of motorists are sacrificed to some torturous and insane god. Voldemort could not devise a crueller method to torture muggles than Boston's Central Artery.
I am trapped upon it, in a steel box. My fellow animals, trapped within the similar cages, have begun to circle, recognizing weakness.
"So… we're in America," says Tonks. "Trans-Atlantic apparition, eh?"
"That's supposed to be difficult, isn't it?" asks Sally-Anne.
"Yes. One would think we would be apparated into someplace that isn't a traffic congested nightmare that makes the M25 look like a proper throughway."
"I'm used to this road being a tunnel, alright?" I reply, my teeth possibly grating. I can't really tell, at this point.
"A tunnel?" asks Tonks.
"Yes. A tunnel. They're probably breaking ground on it right now. It will be the most over-budget Public Works Project in the History of the Human Race."
"That's a pretty big claim," says Tonks.
"It started as two billion American Dollars, and cost around fourteen. Granted, I'm probably not counting inflation, but that's beside the point."
"What's inflation?" asks Sally-Anne. "Some of my old foster parents used to whine about it all the time, but I never understood their explanations of it."
"With chocolate frog cards, you know how everybody has Merlin, so he's not really worth anything?"
"But everybody who collects chocolate frog cards will trade their left arm for Agrippa, because there's so few of them?"
"Money's the same way. The more of it there is, the less it's worth, and governments are always printing more."
"Oh. So why are we sitting in traffic, rather than being where we're supposed to be?"
"Because I completely forgot how much of a fucking shithole Boston Traffic is. Alright. Now, if you excuse me, I must participate in this morass." I roll down my window, stick my head out, cast a silencing charm on Sally-Anne, and scream obscenities at the saggy, brain dead cunt that just skipped across four lanes of traffic to cut me off.
This is Boston. It's business as usual.
We eventually escape the City of Boston with most of our sanity intact, and are even headed in the correct direction. Namely, North.
I avoid Arkham like the plague upon existence it is. I should probably have a chat with The Dean, but that's for later. I'll apparate there when I have a little free time.
Instead, we arrive at a house, right on the ocean. As in, walk out the back door, and there's the beach. The smell of ocean air is all pervading, and wonderful. The house is built to not understand the concept of air conditioning, with good airflow through the entire house.
There are a couple of minor annoyances than I quickly fix, whether by muggle or magical means. There's also a short shopping trip to pick up everything necessary for grilling and smores. I'm disturbed when both Sally-Anne and Tonks ask me what smores are.
"Tonks, I can understand you not know what smores are… but et tu, Sally-Anne?"
"I don't!" she says.
I shake my head in mock disgust, before pushing the cart onwards. The enchantments on her leg are preventing any muggles from seeing it, but she's still self-conscious enough to be wearing a long skirt and shoes. We'll see how that changes when she goes swimming tomorrow.
I don't feel like cooking dinner, so we cross over the border into New Hampshire, skip past the alcohol and fireworks store, and instead get Proper New England Food.
"Three Lahbstah Rahlls, fries, and diet cokes," I tell the person behind the counter. Like hell I'm going to give any of us caffeine. We need sleep.
"What did you just ask her for?" asks Tonks, entirely uncertain of whether or not all of that was in English.
"Food," I tell them. "Good food. Filled with butter and tastiness, just like Hogwarts fair. But better."
Tonks considers me carefully, while Sally-Anne pokes the gigantic tank of lobsters in the waiting area, alongside several other children around her age. They're all surprised that she's British. Both of them occasionally eye me with varied levels of uncertainty, at least until they get their lobster rolls. Then there's just deliciousness.
"So what did we just eat?" asks Sally-Anne.
"You know those things in the tank?" I ask.
"You're kidding me," says Sally-Anne. "No way can something that gross be that tasty."
"Wait until you eat one boiled. That's lots of fun. You have to break apart the shell to get the meat inside. They give you a nut cracker."
Sally-Anne looks a mixture of disbelieving, disgusted, and excited, while Tonks just looks like she wants to puke. I cackle with sadistic glee.
Sally-Anne crashes once we get back to the house, and I manage to drag Tonks to bed by nine. There will be several big days coming up, so we actually sleep.
It's the North Atlantic, so warming charms are necessary. Sally-Anne's still a little skittish about learning to swim, so I have to drag her into the water and teach her.
"Don't worry, I didn't learn until I was nineteen," I tell her.
"Nineteen?" she asks. "But what about the lake?"
"Gillyweed makes it pretty easy," I say. "Sadly, only freshwater gillyweed exists. Neville was trying to breed a saltwater variety, but he never made it that far. I actually learned at the pond behind the Burrow, when Ginny threw me in. I nearly drowned before she realised I didn't know how to swim."
"She nearly killed you?" asks Sally-Anne, another wave nearly knocking her over.
"Yep. That's why we're only a few feet out. Now, if you want someone your own age, I'll point at Neville again."
"Yep. His Uncle Algie used to test him for accidental magic. You know, scare him, surprise him, demand him to do things, that sort of thing. For the longest time, they thought he was a squib. When he turned ten, Algie really stepped it up, according to Neville. Threw him off the pier into the pond behind their house."
"Uh-huh. They finally found out he was magical when Algie dangled him out a window, and then accidentally dropped him. Neville bounced a few times."
"Dropped him. Out a window. Accidentally," says Sally-Anne.
"Oh, yes. Very accidental. It's the reason Neville has Trevor."
Sally-Anne is in shock. The number of horror stories I have about her classmates could fill a few books. If some of it winds up as blackmail material, all the better.
"His great uncle nearly kills him, and as an apology, buys him a toad?"
"Yep. Welcome to pureblood families. Better dead than a squib."
"Didn't his parents do anything about it?"
"His parents are in the long-term spell damage ward at St. Mungos." She winces at that, while I tap my fingers against my chin for a few seconds. "Which reminds me, I need to deal with something once we get back."
"Nothing you need to worry about," I tell her. "Now, more importantly, how have you been getting along with Tonks?"
"Good subject change," she says to me. I've taught her well.
"No, it was a terrible one. I'm serious though, how are you two getting along?"
"Good! It's just…"
"She's a bit childish at times," says Sally-Anne, a little bashful. Oh, I'm definitely telling Tonks this.
"She didn't have much chance to be a kid," I tell her. "She's a metamorph. Everybody looked at her, and saw her for who she could be, rather than who she was. 'Look like this person, look like that person.' So she had to grow up quick. Sirius and James tried to help her be a kid, but she's only really started being able to be one now."
"Kind of like me, I guess. I'm young, I get a chance to be young again. I figure I can milk it for all it's worth." I'm quiet for a moment. "By the way?"
"You should be proud you never asked her to change her shape."
Sally-Anne gives me this glowing smile.
That afternoon, Sally-Anne is out digging in the sand, when she's joined by a little black-haired girl about her own age. Sally-Anne eyes her carefully, especially her heart-shaped face, before allowing her to help build her sand-castle. Together, they get a fair amount done, and even manage to get a moat going for when the tide comes back in. The other girl stays for dinner, where I grill up some hot dogs, and they eat them with nothing but ketchup (I have to explain that it's the same damn thing as catsup, though). I have mustard and relish, but the pair of them are in a ketchup phase. I make no comments on the matter.
The little girl heads back into the house, while I stay and clean some of the grease off the grill.
"That was a very nice thing you did," I say.
"You set this up, didn't you?" she says, smiling.
"Not really. It was mostly Tonks' idea, once I told her. I think it's a Black family trait. Tell them to do something, and they'll do it even more."
She shakes her head.
"She likes being a kid," I say. "She likes being able to joke and laugh, she likes being whoever she wants to be, rather than whoever everybody else wants her to be."
"Like you and Harry both had to be the Boy-Who-Lived?"
I nod, still scraping the grill. I could have scourgified the grill, but then the food wouldn't taste as good. And now my own brain is trying to change the subject.
"And she did have fun," I add.
"I did too," says Sally-Anne.
"Maybe you should tell Tonks, that."
And with that, Sally-Anne runs inside.
I learned from the Veela that the best way for lovers to view the sunrise, is to never fall asleep in the first place. They also told me that sex on the beach isn't all that it's cracked up to be, but that it's still something that should be experienced.
A warming ward and a notice-me-not charm, and we're both very naked, watching the sunrise on a conjured blanket. A quick bit of magic on my part, and the sand in places I'd rather it not be isn't there anymore. We're both pleasantly sore, although neither of us are as tired as we'd like to admit.
She's holding me again, my head resting on her breast. She has one hand over my breast, while I occasionally tickle between her thighs. She isn't hard anymore, and hasn't been for a while. Well, not fully hard. Even metamorphs have their limit. Both of us are sore, but happy as the sun begins to creep over the horizon.
"There an exhibitionism fetish I should be worried about?" asks Tonks.
"No, but there is a love of the great outdoors," I reply. "I've got a rather important question for you."
"And what's that?"
A box silently slides into my hand from the railing of the balcony. Let it never be said I'm not prepared. I shift, pulling myself up onto one knee, the other beneath me.
"I know I'm supposed to go down on one knee, rather than up to one, but I think I'm already breaking a fair amount of tradition. I also think you're supposed to be doing this, rather than me. But you know what? Fuck all that. Nymphadora Tonks, will you marry me?"
I open the box. Inside is, of course, a ring. Solid platinum band, with a five diamond set. They add up to a carat and a half. For rocks, they aren't spectacular, but Tonks isn't one for ostentatiousness. Instead, the beauty is in the band.
The ring is enchanted as living metal. It constantly shifts and changes. At the moment, it's an interweaving Celtic band that flows around and between the stones themselves.
"On one condition," she says.
"Don't ever say my first name again," says Tonks, smiling.
"I shall endeavour to try," I reply, slipping the ring on her finger.
We're sore, but not sore enough to not go another round.
Sally-Anne grumbles about the ring. Honestly, I don't think she wants to share me with anyone, now that I'm "actually hers". We sit in the kitchen, while Tonks takes a bit of time to sun on the balcony.
"You know she wants to be there for you, too, right?"
She's quiet for a little bit.
"Marriage in the Wizarding World isn't like the muggle world. 'From Now Unto The End' has a very literal meaning in the ceremony. Once we're together, we're together. And that means I'll be there for you, and Tonks will be there for you, no matter what."
"But what about me?" she asks.
I pick her up from her seat, and bring her into my lap. She's surprised, maybe at the fact that I can pick her up so easily. I hold her close, comforting her.
"Sally-Anne… you're my daughter, now. Nothing's ever going to change that. And with being my daughter, means you get a fair bit of extended family, too."
"The Potters and the Tonkses?" she asks.
"You don't like him, do you?"
"He's very different from the man I knew," I replied. "A lot less childish, a lot more arrogant, a lot less insane."
"You liked him insane?" asks Sally-Anne.
"It was a nice sort of crazy. He didn't treat me like a kid, but he did treat me like I was his responsibility."
Sally-Anne nods, understanding some of it.
"He wasn't really that responsible, but we picked up a good understanding of each other. Our relatives were hateful monsters, and we wanted out as soon as we could. Why, do you like him?"
"He's okay," says Sally-Anne.
"Do I detect a hint of a crush?" I ask, and watch her turn red. "That roguish exterior, the practical jokes, the devil-may-care attitude?"
"It's not funny!" says Sally-Anne.
"I swear upon my honour, that Sirius Black shall hear none of your crush from me. I will, however, say this! He is a little old for you."
"I know that," says Sally-Anne, as red as a tomato.
"Good. Now, speaking of emotional turmoil, it's time we have an unfortunate talk."
"But… you were born a boy."
"Yes, but I ransacked Bellatrix LeStrange's head for all those important spells about dealing with feminine problems, and I've had a year of dealing with them myself. That, and she also knew some really good spells for doing up her hair."
"Spells so good, that Hermione could use them."
Sally-Anne's eyes go wide at that statement.
The Patronus to Sirius is important. This way, he pays the dowry. Or I can pay the dowry. I'm not rightly sure. Either way, we'll have a nice pretty receipt for it. Correctly dated is always necessary.
DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW BORING FACULTY MEETINGS ARE, IF YOU'VE ALREADY SAT THROUGH THEM?
"Some idea, yes."
NO, YOU REALLY DON'T. FACULTY MEETINGS HERE ALREADY ARE THE MOST BORING THINGS IN EXISTENCE. I ALREADY HAVE TO LISTEN TO REPETITIOUS VILLAINOUS MONOLOGUES EVERY STAFF MEETING, NOW I HAVE TO LISTEN TO THE EXACT SAME REPETITIOUS VILLAINOUS MONOLOGUES EVERY STAFF MEETING.
"I'm a teacher too, you know."
I DON'T CARE.
"I have to listen to Severus Snape and Sirius Black rehash the exact same arguments they've been having since they were thirteen. I think I have some idea."
The Dean of Miskatonic University isn't human. I also have made no attempt whatsoever to learn any form of the thing's name. It's roughly humanoid, and wears an Armani suit. It's faceless, and its skin is black. Not brown, dark brown, chocolate, mahogany, or charcoal. Black. I'm fairly certain that if I turned off the light, I could see it quite clearly, because even in the absence of light, the Dean's skin is darker than that.
It groans in misery.
"I suppose I could change around the meetings by killing a few people. Most of them would even deserve it."
NO, YOU CAN'T JUST GO AROUND KILLING MY STAFF. I CLEANED HOUSE JUST AFTER YOUR TATTOO RETURNED, AND THEN BACKDATED ALL THE PAPERWORK TO TWO YEARS AGO SO YOUR STORY WOULD CHECK OUT. IT DIDN'T CHANGE A DAMN THING.
The Dean likes me. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, though. I think it's mostly because I killed the more annoying members of the staff. I suppose I also gave him an excuse to kill the annoying members of his own staff.
"Glad to know my story will still check out," I reply.
The Dean waves me off, too disgruntled to make a comment, and I know it's time to leave. Honestly, it isn't that frightening. It's secretary, however...
She was a tall, leggy blonde named Amber when I walked into the Dean's office, dressed in clothes so skimpy she wouldn't be out of place on a beach. Now, she's an ancient crone named Beatrice, dressed in a very conservative blouse and skirt.
"Have a nice day, Miss Evans," she calls out to me, as I leave.
I turn back, and a middle-aged butch in a men's suit is smiling at me. Her nameplate says "Bob." I have long ago stopped asking her questions.
"You too," I say, and walk away as quickly as politeness allows.
This time, I remember to take the flight from Manchester to Logan, before the Trans-Atlantic apparition. Manchester-Boston Regional is much easier to get to than Logan. Apparition dumps me in Heathrow, to which we quickly escape via floo.
It's a day or two of rest, before the first letter from the Wizengamot arrives. I'm required to be present for a meeting in four days.
The morning of, I feel a portkey slam out of the (unfortunately, lightly applied) portkey wards on the house. Which is impressive, because I didn't detect a portkey coming in. I dash downstairs, even as Tonks calls for me. A parchment envelope, marked with blood.
Ah. Blood magic. A quick examination of the contents reveals a handwritten note.
I grab Tonks, rip down the wards, and apparate.
I send a messenger Patronus to Kingsley and Moody.
"Are you alright?" asks Tonks, staring at the wrought iron gates set between two stone pillars.
Yaxley Manor. Interesting. Especially since it's the Jugsons that are trying to hammer through the bill in the Wizengamot. I suppose they think I'll go after the Jugsons, and they'll have time with my daughter.
Time to remind them I killed Grindelwald in an outright duel.
I focus, and start chanting in Ancient Hebrew while Tonks watches, her wand out. Alastor and Kingsley arrive mid-chant, and Tonks gives them the heads up. They are here to watch. I'm here to bring the wrath of an angry god. Alastor's annoyed, pissing and moaning about not doing anything, until I finish.
It starts with the wind picking up, and the stench of rotten eggs. Tonks gags, while Kingsley raises an eyebrow. Alastor falls silent, a gleeful smile crossing the slab of shredded meat called his face, as the sky opens up.
Streaks of molten rock rain from the sky, shattering and exploding on the Yaxley family wards. They last two minutes to my onslaught. The instant they fall, I replace them with a heavy-duty combination apparition, floo, portkey, and broom ward.
There will be no escape.
I start the long walk up the drive, while Kingsley, Alastor, and Tonks follow. I start to feel people attempt to apparate. They'll likely try to die screaming, but given that the ward removes most of their internal organs, they'll fail. The screaming part, that is.
A broom screams into the air, and then explodes. There's very little chance the rider survived the explosion, let alone the subsequent fall.
I don't care.
They have dared to harm my family. There will be no survivors.
Fifteen people break out the front door, wands aloft, and Killing Curses on their lips. A wave of the Elder Wand turns all but one to salt. He screams as I banish his wand arm and summon the rest of him.
"Where is my daughter?" I ask, as he attempts to bleed out before I get my answer.
"This is probably illegal," comments Kingsley.
"You tell her that," says Moody, nonplussed.
The idiot doesn't answer me, but tearing off his arm has broken whatever Occlumency barriers he has.
Basement. Dungeon. And some idiot's been selected to rape her.
A wave of my hand snaps his neck, and the Elder Wand points at the house. There's creaking, groaning, then the snapping of timber and shattering of stone as I lift the manor off its foundation. It's heavy, but I'm pissed off enough that I don't care.
I hear Kingsley curse as I shift the manor to the side, and let it crash. Half a millennia of history, tossed aside, because it was in my way. We move onwards, and find the stairs down.
I have a much better fix on where Sally-Anne is, now that she's nearby. I send a tongue of Fiendfyre down a side-passage, and ignore the screams from it. Someone jumps out of a side-alcove, and manages "AVA-" before I use him as a battering ram for a door I wanted to walk through. He tears the door off its hinges, and makes it a good fifty feet down the hall before they come to a full and complete stop. Someone else steps into view, and my paint stripping charm turns him into a skeleton and red mist.
I rip a door off its hinges, and sitting in the corner of the cell is Sally-Anne. Her clothes are torn, and she's surrounded in blood, entrails, viscera, and bone chips, but she's otherwise untouched. The runes on her leg glow, while the black material drinks in light.
I vanish everything and immediately grab her, picking her up.
"I'm here, I'm here," I whisper to her. "They're all gone. They can't hurt you."
And that's when she starts to cry. I let her, as I carry her out.
"Tonks?" I ask.
Tonks nods. I realise her hair is black, and her face has the high cheekbones and pointed chin of the Black family. Her natural form. She raises her wand, and the flames leap onto the wreckage, and begin to play along the dungeon. The fire I left in the side passage crawls out of dungeon, and demons and chimeras and dragons frolic and play, immolating all of the ruins, all of the history and majesty of this shit hole, and turning it into the ugly pit it should be.
We apparate to the Ministry.
I smash the chamber doors off their hinges. Before anyone can say anything, I raise my hand, and close it.
The chamber falls to silence.
The intelligent ones become very, very worried. Augustus Yaxley and Damien Jugson are sitting next to each other, rather quiet, and somewhat amused. I suspect they think I'm going to act like Dumbledore.
"Earlier today, my daughter was kidnapped," I begin. "She was portkeyed from my home. And note was left, that read 'Don't argue with the Wizengamot if you want your daughter back.'" I'm even kind enough to hold the note aloft, before placing it on a conjured table. "It was contained in a parchment envelope, protecting its contents by blood magic." I hold aloft the envelope as well, and place it on the table.
"I rescued my daughter from the home of Augustus Yaxley before she could be raped and murdered."
Stepping into the room are Tonks and Sally-Anne, who stand by the broken doors. Sally-Anne is still shaken, and is clinging to Tonks. Sirius Black and, surprisingly enough, the Malfoys both look as pissed off as I feel. I suppose it's something of family solidarity. Either that, or Lucius actually understands the ramifications of what the Wizengamot is attempting to do.
"I submit as witnesses, Aurors Kingsley Shacklebolt and Alastor Moody."
Moody and Shacklebolt enter. Moody's agreed to this because he hates Death Eaters. Shacklebolt's agreed because his wife murdered her children, and was then raped to death by Death Eaters while under the Imperius. Julius Yaxley, Augustus Yaxley's son, was one of the suspects... until he declared himself to have been under the Imperious.
"This envelope was protected with Blood Magic." I tap my wand to it, and cast the same blood boiling curse that broke Albus' instruments, and pour power into it. The parchment catches fire.
Augustus Yaxley breaks the silencing charm with the strength of his scream. He dies within seconds, his brain cooked within his skull.
"The House of Yaxley kidnapped my daughter. The House of Yaxley is no more. Its members dead or scattered to the winds, its Head lies dead, a kidnapper, a rapist, and a murder, and its Manor lies in ruin."
I look to Damien Jugson. He's absolutely terrified.
"I bid this august body good day. I must see after my daughter. It should I hope I need not return."
With that, I pick up Sally-Anne, and leave.
The Wizengamot took disposition from Shacklebolt and Moody, and given my status as a Warlock, decided to await the results of the Jugson-Evans Marriage Contract that Damien Jugson had proposed to be enforced.
The wording required the Evans family to be dissolved into the Jugson family, and me to be married to Ashleigh Jugson, his second or third son.
Damien couldn't pull the contract, as it was suddenly tied to a case before the Wizengamot, and he was now well aware that if it succeeded, I'd kill him, and everyone else in England with his last name.
Thankfully (for him, at least), Lucius pulled his fat from the fire.
He delivered a rather eloquent speech on the consequences of the Wizengamot's decision. Namely, that it would set a pair of rather dangerous precedents. And law is all about precedent. If it has been done before, it can be done again, after all.
First, that it would give the Wizengamot the power to arrange marriages. While this marriage was marrying a muggleborn to a pureblood, what was to stop the Wizengamot from marrying a pureblood to a muggleborn? What right did the government have, in creating and enforcing the marriages between free people? Would a Department of Magical Marriages be formed, so that the Ministry could dictate who married who, make it seem "business as usual." The blatant threat of the usual corruption and bribery involved in marriages, according to Sirius, made everyone in the hall shuffle uncomfortably.
Second, and more damning, was a betrothal contract between magical houses was considered sacrosanct. And there was a betrothal contract between the House of Black and the House of Evans. And that contract would determine the line of succession. Would the Wizengamot be allowed to interfere with that, as well? What about Marriage Contracts themselves? Would the Department of Magical Marriages be allowed to sever the bonds of marriage? What about the old, traditional houses, such as Lucius' own, that took the vows seriously, that bonded the magic? Would the Department break those marriages, make them squibs for the sake of "business as usual?"
There were counter arguments, and Sirius had to bring forth the contract, the receipt on the dowry, and proof that Tonks was a metamorphmagus (and therefore not female), while Lily had to bring forth documentation stating the founding of the House of Evans, before the Wizengamot realised that Lucius was actually working for the betterment of Wizarding Society (for once) and not to line his own damn pockets.
All of this, we didn't learn until well after the fact. Instead, we spent the next three weeks in Southern France, teaching Sally-Anne various methods for detecting magic, spells she could use both with a wand and some even without, and just talking.
And that's what she needed most, to talk. Sometimes it was with me. Sometimes it was with Tonks. Sometimes it was with Hedwig.
One of us would always be there for her, whether she was suddenly dragged back to that cell under the manor, or if she was trapped in a nightmare, or even if she wanted a hug and a reminder she was loved. I taught her the rudiments of Occlumency, so she could understand how her mind worked, and how the trauma took hold of it, and how she could recognize it, and master its hold over her.
"Why did you do that?"
"Kill them all?" she asked.
"There are two things I hate; people manipulating me, and people hurting my family. I killed Albus for doing both, I killed Voldemort for doing both, I killed Augustus for doing both, and I'll kill anyone else for doing both."
"You aren't a very nice person, are you?"
"I like to think I try to be a nice person. I just know I'm not a good person."
At this, Sally-Anne nods.
"Sally-Anne… I do things like that, so that other people don't get hurt. I used to do it a lot. Hell, I'll probably have to do it in the future. One thing I want you to know, though, is that you don't have to follow my footsteps. You should be who you want to be, and who you need to be. That was something that took me a very long time to learn."
At this, she nods.
Morality for twelve year olds isn't complicated.
And when she saw Hermione and Daphne at the end of it, maybe she was a little quieter, a little more reserved, but she didn't need to fake a smile, she didn't need to hide behind any masks or walls.
Which is when Tonks and I finally have time for a chat.
"Moody and Shacklebolt were written up and put on two weeks probation for failing to stop you," she begins, while we watch the kids in my backyard. The Grangers and the Greengrasses are having stilted conversation elsewhere on the deck.
"And you?" I ask.
"It's a bit more complicated. I'm not an Auror, so I can't be on active duty. Bones wants it written off as an internal Black Family matter, since you're my betrothed, while Scrimgouer wants me fired, since Moody and Shacklebolt were both written up. It's going before a board of inquiry. Given that I made no attempt to stop you, and that I should have been the one to call for backup, he's probably going to win."
"You could probably go the Dumbledore Route, and give the whole 'What's Right or What's Easy' speech."
"I don't think I can pull off sanctimonious asshole that well."
"I can coach you. I've seen it a lot."
"I guessed. It's just… I always figured I'd be a better person than that."
"A better person than just stepping aside and letting you kill them all."
"Ah," I say.
"Not that you aren't a good person," she says, quickly realising what she's just suggested.
I give her an amused smile.
"Tonks, I know I'm not a good person. I try to be nice, I try to be kind, but when push comes to shove, I'm not a good person."
"This sort of thing makes you question what sort of person you are, and what sort of person you want to be. A question for you."
"Killing should always be a last resort, yes?"
"What other resort did I have?"
"You could have left survivors," she says.
"I could have, but it would have taken time. Time was something we didn't have. That, and what spell did every single person we encountered try to cast at us?"
On this, Tonks falls silent.
"I know I'm using a loaded argument, and I know I could have been nicer to those people, but… I know that those people treat human lives like so much garbage. Do I have a broken sense of morality, because it's so easy for me to kill? Probably. But I always think of all the people that'll never be harmed by them, now that they're dead. Really, it's a potential for harm, but in my heart, I really don't care. They were protecting rapists and murderers. "
"James Potter gave the cadets the same speech at the Academy," says Tonks, eventually. "The part about the potential for harm, that is. 'Words to think about, after you've killed in the line of duty' he called it. He said Aurors weren't supposed to be callous about it, but it was necessary. Then he cracked a really bad pun."
"Not a serious/Sirius one?" I ask.
"No. Two Death Eaters walk into a bar. The Auror ducks."
And I know we're okay. Of course, I know something else will come up.
Two Years Later (well, more like one and a half)
"I am sick and tired of your constant bickering, sniping, hexing, and other assorted bullshit. Is this understood?"
Both of them are surprised by my cursing. I honestly doubt either Ronald or Draco have ever even heard an adult swear. With Draco, I honestly doubt he's ever heard anyone swear. Bill and Charlie both had their occasional bouts, I'm sure.
They both open their mouths at once to whine, and I silence them. They both know they've been silenced. This has happened to the pair of them often enough. It makes me wonder why they keep trying.
"Quit your whining. And don't tell me you aren't whining. I know both of you are thinking it."
I tap my wand on each of their heads. Confundus Charm, so that they don't try to just yell and scream at each other, and instead actually talk.
"Detention. Right now. Your punishment? You have to talk. I'll be back after dinner."
With that, I slam the door to my classroom, lock it, and take a moment to rest on the door. Ron and Draco's voices fail to penetrate the silencing charm. I turn to spot Hermione and Daphne.
"Professor Black-Evans? What are you doing to Weasley?" asks Hermione. I really wish they'd just call me Black Evans. Then I'd start wearing an eye-patch, carry a sword, and press-gang the Weasley twins into my crew. God help the Drumstrang students during the Triwizard Tournament. And it is happening next year. McGonagall has already asked me about it.
"Locking him in a room with Draco Malfoy."
"Oh," comments Hermione.
Daphne merely nods in understanding.
"Two idiots enter, one idiot leaves?" she asks. I shouldn't have let her watch the Mad Max series.
"I'm hoping it won't come to that. As a teacher, I do require students to talk about their problems," I reply.
"Did you need to cast an Imperius Curse?" asks Daphne.
"No, just a very specific confundous charm. Now, off to dinner, the pair of you."
"Yes, Professor," they respond, and leave, giggling.
My head rests against the door, even as I'm still leaning on it. This is probably a bad idea, but at this point? I need less stress in my life. I take a long breath, and walk back to my quarters.
Sally-Anne is already at the table. Tonks is cooking, for once. Ted has a love of Italian food that is unsurpassed, even by actual Italians, and it's been passed on to Tonks as well. I have talents at both English and French myself (I've often been called a blasphemer for daring to utter those two concepts in a single sentence), but nothing beats Tonks' Lasagne, with fresh baked bread.
Sally-Anne gives a rather long and involved story about Black and Hinkypunks that I suspect would only be funny if I was there. She mostly does it because she knows it annoys me, not out of any lingering misguided crush. Instead, she's got one on Cedric Diggory, which I leave alone. Cedric, for the most part, is actually a good bloke, and I can see why he became the Hogwarts Champion.
Hedwig is also here, for once. It seems she's become a fair bit like me, in some regards. Very independent, very private, and finding some sort of strange love in her life. I ask very few questions, and am terribly amused by all of the hickeys she acquires.
So I decide now is as good a time as any to drop the good news.
"Oh, Tonks? Can you tell Amelia I won't be able to work any of the major spell-casting drills in the next few weeks?" As part of Tonks staying on as an Auror, Amelia decided it'd be a good idea to give the Aurors some training in how to fight. I'm cruel, unfair, and mean. They either learn to be back, or they quit.
"I'm pregnant," I reply, entirely deadpan, taking another bite of glorious, delicious lasagne.
Wait for it.
Hedwig giggles to herself.
"What?" asks Sally-Anne.
"Wait, wait, wait, what was that?" asks Tonks.
"I'm pregnant. Poppy confirmed it this afternoon."
"Er... from me?"
"Well, I should hope so," I reply.
"When do you two have time to have sex?" blurts Sally-Anne. She spends about half her nights in her room, and invites Hermione and Daphne over for sleepovers on a regular basis.
"Well, as I recall, we were probably on the Astronomy Tower on one of the nights I should have been patrolling."
Sally-Anne looks mortified that I'm actually answering her question, but she was annoying me with Black earlier. It's justified.
"Didn't you notice-me-not the door?" asks Tonks, catching on.
"No, I conjured a fake wall." I blame a rather ingenious MIT prank. I should get the twins a book on those. Then again, McGonagall might have a heart attack. "Sinistra assumed Hogwarts had just blocked off the Astronomy Tower for the night, according to the next staff meeting."
"I don't need to hear this," whines Sally-Anne.
"Don't worry, you'll be able to embarrass and horrify us with your own stories about boyfriends-"
"Or girlfriends!" chimes in Hedwig to Sally-Anne's dismay.
"Or girlfriends," I add. "Although I rather doubt that last bit."
"Oh, thanks," grumbles Sally-Anne.
"You're very welcome!" I reply. "But yes, that should have been the right night, and I don't recall us using the contraceptive charm."
Tonks nods, while Sally-Anne continues to look horrified that we, her parents, are discussing such matters in a frank and open manner. Hedwig is just perched on her seat, giggling uncontrollably.
"Which reminds me, contraceptive charm?" I ask her.
She points at herself, and I make note of the slight pink glow.
"Excellent!" I drill her on this on a regular basis.
"This definitely calls for a celebration," says Tonks.
It's well after midnight that I remember locking Draco and Ron into my classroom, and I figure I should let them out at some point. Tonks and Hedwig join me in a quiet walk through the school.
I unlock and open the door, and it's quiet, too quiet. Then the smell assaults my nostrils.
I find them behind my desk, lying bundled up in each other's robes. Draco's curled up into Ron, and I almost find it cute.
"I told you so," comments Hedwig. I can feel the shit-eating grin on her face.
"Why the fuck does this shit always land in my lap?" I mutter out loud, while Tonks starts laughing like a hyena.
Author's Note: AND LO, IT IS DONE.
I think I'm going to start ending any long work I do with that phrase. For the record, it's always a weird feeling to see far more popular author's make your own story a favourite/alert. Or review it. Or anything like that.
I find Draco and Ron to deserve each other. They're both jealous, egotistical imbeciles, whose families have set high expectations for, and both realise that they're probably not going to reach those expectations. I'm always surprised not to come across more of it, in my trollings through the internet, since it has a so much Romeo/Juliet connotations (two families that hate each other? ZOMG, SLASH THEM TO DEATH!11111). Then again, I read HP/LV slash because it's funny.
I had this big note explaining the Big Dig, but then I realised nobody would care. So instead, I'll say this to all my American Readers: I apologize about Romney. He was just as much of a lying scumbag when he was our Governor. I still don't understand how he got elected.
On Lobster: Lobster should always be consumed at small, family owned restaurants. Lobsters are not meant to be carried from New England on trucks or plains or trains. They are to be taken from a boat, kept in a tank for a day at most, and then dropped into a pot of boiling water headfirst, and left there until they turn a brilliant red colour. They are then eaten with butter, and taste amazing.
Extra Edited Side Note (I can't believe I forgot this story!): On the subject of renting cars, rumor has it that Tom Brady, when he first came to Massachusetts, attempted to rent a car. Except he was under 25, which most rental places didn't used to do for insurance reasons. Namely, because MA used to have car insurance laws regulated up to your eyeballs, so Tom couldn't rent a car. He's the brand-new star quarterback of the Patriots, and he can't rent a car. So, instead, he just buys the car rental place. Welcome to MA.