A/N: Hello! This is a random little glimpse of the AU future after 169- if you haven't read that then this won't make a whole lot of sense ... or possibly any at all. It's pure fluffiness, brought on by a readers request; IWLTxo
Beta'd by the fantabulous Emily xx
Sirius normally enjoyed the view from his bedroom window, looking out over the back garden of their house and across the fields that surrounded this side of Godric's Hollow. At the moment, however, he was definitely not pleased with what he could see. The garden was covered in snow, light from the veranda making it look gold in places; the tall trees were stark blue-white on one side and cheerful yellow on the other. Sirius folded his arms protectively across his chest and scowled out at the pretty yard, feeling distinctly disgruntled that he was being forced to see something so awful.
There was an impatiently amused sigh from behind him and he pulled his eyes away to look over his shoulder. Hermione was propped up in their bed looking peacefully unaware, a cup of tea in hand and a book resting open on her knee. She didn't look up from her reading, but she'd definitely been huffing at him, because she asked, 'Are you really going to stand there watching them all night?'
'Yes,' Sirius said, turning back to the window,
'She's sixteen; do you really think she doesn't get up to much worse than this at school?'
'Merlin, don't say that,' he mumbled with a faint shudder, horrified that she could be so blasé about the whole terrible situation.
'Well, it's true. What were you doing at that age?'
Sirius blanched. 'I'm going down there,' he said immediately. 'It's getting late, the kid should being going anyway.' He turned on his heel but the bedroom door swung firmly shut in front of him; from the corner of his eye he saw the motion of a second flick of Hermione's wand, and felt his own wand wriggle free from its concealed pocket and soar into his wife's out-stretched hand.
'You are staying right here,' she said sternly, and tucking the stolen wand under her pillow. Turning a page of her book - as though it was perfectly okay to strip one's husband of his wand when all he wanted to do was protect his daughter's honour - Hermione took another sip from her cup and then looked up at Sirius, her lips quivering, so clearly amused at his desire to be a good father. She might think him foolish, but he had been a teenage boy; he knew the hideously unsavoury things that had passed through his mind at that age and he did not want his daughter being part of any such imaginings. Hermione made an almost sympathetic noise as she took in his helpless expression. 'Her curfew is midnight, and it's only eleven; you know we have to be consistent'
'But,' Sirius groaned before falling face first onto the bed in defeat, grumbling into the bedspread, 'They're holding hands. '
Hermione snorted. 'Sirius, it's January, they are both wearing gloves, their skin isn't even touching. And even if it was, they are just holding hands.'
'But they're just sitting out there, talking and holding hands - no boy does that unless he's after something else,' Sirius said, though his dire warning was spoiled slightly because, even to his own ears, his muffled voice sounded like that of a petulant child.
'Well, he probably is,' Hermione said calmly.
Sirius raised himself to give her a look of disbelief. 'And that's okay?!'
'It's just the way it is,' she said, meeting his eyes seriously for a moment before giving him a more reassuring smile. 'Are you suggesting that our daughter isn't perfectly capable of hexing him if he tries anything?'
Sirius grinned, feeling a little better in spite of himself. 'That's true.' Then as a horrible thought occurred to him he said hoarsely, 'but … but what if she wants him to?'
Hermione chuckled and returned to her book. 'Well then, I guess he wouldn't be hexed.'
'But …' Sirius stuttered as awful images of teenage boys' grabby hands commandeered his mind.
'Oh, come on,' Hermione said, her reasonable voice interrupting the revolting slideshow, 'she's turning seventeen in October. She knows full well we can see them from here; don't you think it's better to have her holding hands with a boy in our garden than off doing god knows what somewhere else?'
'Yes, but I mean, what we really know about him? She's only known him a week - he could be…' he trailed off, mentally finishing the sentence, a mad delinquent, a mass murderer, a yodeller or anything else equally dangerous and traumatising.
'You bigot,' Hermione giggled, bopping him on the frowning forehead with her book, 'Is that what this is about? Because he's a muggle?'
'No!' Sirius said indignantly, rubbing his head. 'Well, not exactly.' Hermione fixed him with her best glare and he rolled onto his back to avoid it. 'Well… you know, the Hogwarts boys, they know who she is, and Harry was there to warn them off - until this year,' he added frowning again, 'but… every boy we've met has been a little scared of me.'
His wife's glare softened, 'This boy Mike might not know the Blacks by reputation, or that Flora's father is a well-known Auror, but he still got away from you as quickly as possible the other night, so I think your intimidation factor translates to muggles too.'
Sirius smiled, a bit smug. At the New Year's Eve party in the town square, Flora had dragged Mike up and introduced him to her parents. Mike had been obviously embarrassed that the exuberant girl he had only just met earlier that week was holding his hand in front of her somewhat disapproving looking father, but he smiled bravely, shook Sirius's offered hand and told them he was pleased to meet them. Sirius had of course done his very best to return the cordial behaviour but he had clenched his grip on Mike's fingers a little too tight when he caught the look in his daughter's eye as she smiled at the new boy. Mike had looked incredibly relieved when Flora had insisted he must meet her Aunty, and hauled him away. Lily was a much easier relation to meet, sitting with Alice Longbottom on a bench not far away, both rugged up against the winter chill and holding half-full plastic wine glasses while laughing at James and Frank's surreptitious attempts to improve the lit up muggle decorations strung across the snowy square. It had been a fun evening, especially Sirius's negotiations with Harry as he persuaded his godson to spy on Flora and this strange new boy during the party.
Harry was halfway through his first year of Auror training. Moody had retired from full time duty in '95, but was kept involved in the department as an advisor, and was keeping the new recruits in line with surprise "practical tests". Sirius felt a little sorry for the new guys - at least when Moody had been tormenting him in his first few years, the old man had a war to occupy most of his vindictive streak, but unfortunately for the trainees, this was no longer the case. Sirius promising Harry a heads-up as to when they would be taken out into the field with no warning and left overnight with no supplies was quite a bargaining chip. Harry was willing to spy on Flora if it meant he could just happen to pack his pockets with Lily's baking on the mornings they were delivered to the wilderness – after all, being freezing cold and bored out of your mind wasn't so bad if you had chocolate-chip biscuits to keep you company. However, Sirius's exploitation of his godson had gained him no real information except that Mike had kissed Flora on the cheek at midnight, something that even Sirius couldn't find too disturbing, mainly because he was a little bit drunk by the time Harry reported back, and they had just entered the final year of the millennium, cheek kisses were an appropriate form of celebration, even for sixteen-year-old girls.
That's what he had thought at the time, but now he wasn't so sure. Sirius got up from the bed to peer out the window again, and gasped at the sight of the deserted yard. 'They're gone!' he said in a panicked hiss to Hermione, but before he could pounce on his unsuspecting wife to retrieve his wand, he heard someone climbing the stairs to the first floor.
'Hmm,' Hermione said, 'look at that, it's only 11.30! My, she's such a rebel.'
'Shut up,' Sirius grumbled, even though he was very pleased. He flicked the light off and crawled onto the bed; the footsteps stopped outside their room and he hastily pretended to be sleeping.
The door was pushed ajar and Flora whispered, 'Mum?'
'Yes dear?' Hermione asked in her normal voice.
Flora turned the light on and Sirius doubled his efforts in being asleep. 'Er … why were you reading in the dark?' Flora asked in a confused voice.
Sirius opened one eye just a little to see Hermione sitting just has she had been before he'd turned off the light, her cup of tea in hand and her book open on her knee. Damn woman, didn't she know anything about deception?
'Oh, you know,' Hermione said casually, 'we old people are odd.'
Flora raised a dark eyebrow. 'That is true,' she said, 'I just wanted to say good night; Mike had to get home.'
'He seems a nice boy,' Hermione said.
'Yeah, he's okay,' Flora said hesitantly. 'It's weird not being able to talk about magic though.'
'We must make sacrifices for love,' Hermione said, and although her tone was serious Sirius could see the corner of her mouth twitching. He, however, felt ill at the idea of his daughter being in love with anyone at all.
'Muuum, 'Flora moaned, sounding quite wonderfully embarrassed in Sirius's opinion. 'He's going to university this year, I'll probably never see him again.'
Sirius felt much better on hearing this. Maybe the boy wasn't so bad after all.
'Okay sweetheart,' Hermione said, 'oh before I forget, make sure you tidy your room tomorrow. Frank and Alice are coming for dinner, and I thought you might want Beth to stay for a few days since the others are all back at work.'
'It is tidy,' Flora said automatically. There was a silence in which Sirius imagined Hermione fixing her daughter with a look, and then there was a humph from the teenager and she said, 'Fine, I'll do it tomorrow - goodnight.'
'Goodnight, dear,' Hermione said cheerfully.
'Goodnight, Dad,' Flora added pointedly. Hermione snorted and Flora said, 'Honestly you're like, the worst fake sleeper ever, hope you had fun spying on me.'
'No,' Sirius mumbled into his pillow. 'It was horrible.'
The girls both laughed and then the door closed and there was a comforting and somewhat patronising pat to his head, and Sirius grumbled, 'I wish she was a boy.' Hermione continued to giggle and he added, 'or at least an ugly girl.'
Thanks for reading, I hope it made you smile.
Mrs J xx