This is the much requested sequel to The Mirror of Erised. If you haven't read that story yet, stop and go read it or this one won't make much sense. There will be lemons in this story, but they won't happen for a while, so please bear with me. I hope you like it.
"Thank you so much for watching her for me Molly." Hermione Granger said, her arms wrapped around a thin girl with long black hair. "Now you be good for Auntie Molly." She kissed the girl tenderly on the top of the head.
"Oh she's always good as gold." The red headed matron smiled warmly. "Victoire and Teddy are already in the lounge. James, Albus and Lily should be here any minute."
"Sounds like you're going to have a full house." Hermione chuckled. "What about Hugo and Rose?"
"Oh they'll be here too..."
"Late as usual." The two woman said together, laughing affectionately.
"Are you sure it's not too much?" Hermione frowned, concerned.
"Too much?" Molly laughed. "I'm used to it. Makes the house feel full again. It seems so empty with all my own grown and gone. Don't you even think on it. What do you have planned for the evening?"
"A hot bath, a glass of wine and sleep."
"Are they keeping you busy at the ministry?"
"Mummy?" The girl spun in her mother's arms and gazed up at her. "May I go to the lounge with Teddy and Victoire?"
"Of course you can." Hermione said, gazing fondly down at her daughter. "Give us a kiss and run along. And make sure you behave this weekend."
"I will." She kissed her mother quickly on the cheek then dashed off to join the other children.
"She's getting so big." Molly sighed. "Off to Hogwarts come September."
"Ugh. Don't remind me." Hermione groaned. "It makes me feel so old. I'm just glad Teddy will be there with her."
"Is she still having trouble making friends at her Muggle school?"
"Like mother like daughter." Hermione sighed sadly.
"I still don't know why you sent her to that school in the first place." Molly frowned. "She's a witch."
"Yes, but she's part Muggle too, just as I'm Muggleborn. I want her to know that part of her heritage as well."
"Her father was Muggle too, I suppose?" Molly asked, trying to sound nonchalant.
Hermione narrowed her eyes at the older woman. This was not the first time Molly had tried to sneak in a question about the girl's father. "Molly." She said patiently. "We've discussed this..."
"I know, I know." She flapped her hands in the air. "She's your daughter and only your daughter. I just don't see why it has to be such a deep dark secret. You can't blame us for being curious."
"It just the way it has to be, the way I want it to be." Hermione snapped. "It was a one time thing. He never even knew about her or knew that I was pregnant. And he never will. He's gone. So let's just drop it."
"Of course, dear." Molly smiled gently. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you."
"It's alright." Hermione sighed sadly, reaching out to hug the woman. "I don't mean to be surly. I'm just exhausted."
"I know." Molly patted her back tenderly. "And I'm sorry I tried to pry. Now you just go and enjoy a relaxing weekend and don't you worry about a thing."
"I will." Hermione smiled wearily, turning towards the fireplace. "And thanks again for all your help."
The dark haired man stood on the pier, sipping his coffee, watching as the morning light slowly danced across the water. Taking a deep breath of the clean, cool sea air, he methodically mapped out his plans for the day. He had several orders for potions that needed to be completed that day and he was almost finished with a research paper on a projected development for the Wolfsbain Potion. He had chosen this tiny seaside town very carefully for it's complete lack of Wizarding inhabitants. Here, he was known only as 'that eccentric British man' who ran a internet based business from his home selling Herbal and Holistic remedies. The Muggles here, and in the surrounding villages, had no idea there was a notorious dark Wizard living in their midst and his wards were such that they allowed him plenty of notice should any Witch or Wizard happen to wander into the quaint little village. With the exception of a handful of Potion Journal's he subscribed to, he had had no contact with his former world in years. He hadn't seen a copy of the Daily Prophet in over a decade and he had no desire to. Between his internet business and publishing article's, written under a pseudonym of course, he made more then enough money to keep him comfortable for several lifetimes. He was content. Sighing, he made his way back down the pier to his small cottage.
He had just placed his mornings ration of bacon on a paper towel when the owl flew in through an open window and perched on the back of one of his kitchen chairs. Frowning, he carefully washed and dried his hands before approaching the exhausted looking barn owl. The scroll and small object tied to it's leg weren't big enough to be a Potion's Journal and his royalties for any articles he had written were directly deposited into an anonymous savings account. His business was all handle via electronic communication, so the scroll could only be from one individual. The only living being who knew of his continued existence. Carefully he removed the scroll and the small dented medal cup from the owl's leg. Taking a deep breath, he unrolled the scroll and immediately recognized the handwriting of his former Professor turned colleague. The brief message sent a chill down his spine.
Return to Hogwarts immediately. The Portkey will activate in one hour.
Dropping the scroll onto the table, he closed the distance to the counter in two long strides. Retrieving the cooling bacon, he returned to the table and began to feed small pieces of meat to the grateful owl. His own appetite had vanished. When the bacon was gone, he picked up the scroll again, his black eyes ranging over the 11 words written there. Glancing at the clock, he walked out of the kitchen into his small den and flicked on his computer. Working quickly, he canceled all of his outstanding orders and refunded any monies paid. With a few taps of the keys he deleted the website. Logging onto his banks website he worked quickly, transferring all of his funds to an account he held in a Cayman Island bank. That task completed, he wandered silently to his bedroom and opened his closet doors.
Fear and uncertainty churned his stomach as he surveyed the meager contents of his wardrobe. They had agreed he would only be contacted in the most dire emergency, a life or death situation. What had happened to make her reach out to him now? Had the Ministry learned of his survival? Was this it? Next stop Azkaban? Or was there perhaps another Dark Wizard threatening the Wizarding world? He snorted in annoyance at her cryptic message. Could she not have been more forthcoming in her correspondence? Reaching up he pulled from the top shelf a worn black suitcase. Gathering up the entire contents of the closet he dumped it unceremoniously into the open bag. Peering into the back of the closet he reached in and felt around until his hand settled on his familiar black teaching robes. Besides his wand, they were the only reminder of his former life. Holding them up to his chest, he wondered with vague amusement if they would still fit him. He had soon discovered that removing himself from a life of constant fear, worry and stress had not only improved his mood, but his appetite as well. He had long ago filled out his thin, wiry frame. Dropping the robes into the suitcase, he pulled out his wand and flicked it, simultaneous folding and organizing his clothing and shrinking the suitcase to pocket size. Stowing the item in his pocket he glanced around the room, wondering if he would ever see it again.
Back in the living room he donned an old black leather jacket in anticipation of the frigid Scotland weather. Grabbing the scroll and the metal cup from the table, he glared down at the tired owl. "Well come on." He barked at the bird. "Unless you'd like to fly all the way back to Hogwarts." The owl gave a startled hoot, then gratefully hopped onto the tall man's hand, allowing him to wrap him up snugly inside his jacket. He left the cottage and walked slowly back out onto the pier. He was just about to turn around to give his home one last look, when the Portkey glowed, yanking him away from the peaceful scene.
He landed just outside the gates of Hogwarts with a bone jarring thud. It had been a long time since he'd traveled by Portkey. He seemed to remember being able to land much more gracefully then that. Opening up his jacket, he stared down at the now ruffled owl who blinked up at him with wide soulful eyes. "Well go on." He growled. "I've carried you this far, I'm not carrying you all the way to the castle. I think you can find your own way back to the owlery." The little owl poked his head out of the jacket and gazed around in confusion. Spotting his familiar home in the distance, he hooted happily and took flight in a flurry of feathers.
"Good to see you brought the owl back with you." The Scottish brogue spoke from just inside the gate. He watched as she waved her wand and the fence slowly swung open. "You've cut your hair." She said, scanning him up and down. "I don't think I've seen it this short since you were eleven."
"A new look for a new life." He said, stepping through the gate. "But somehow I don't think you called me all the way back to Hogwarts just to discuss my hair, Minerva."
"Of course not." She snapped gruffly. "Follow me, we can talk in my office."
Fear and apprehension filled him as he followed silently behind the woman. Were the Ministry officials waiting for him in her office? Would they arrest him and take him immediately to Azkaban? Would there be trial or just straight to the Dementor's kiss? All to soon they were on the spiral staircase leading up to the Headmaster's office. Stepping through the door, he glanced quickly around the familiar room, immediately relived to see that it was empty. During his brief tenure as Headmaster he had made no changes to the room, and it seemed Minerva had made very few as well. A few more feminine touches lay scattered about; a delicate tea service on a low table, a soft looking tartan blanket folded over a chair back.
"Sit down." Her no nonsense tone yanked him out of his mental exploration of the room. Lowering himself into the chair opposite he carefully schooled his features into an impassive gaze.
"I won't beat around the bush with you Severus." Minerva McGonagall said sternly, lowering herself into her chair and picking up a piece of parchment. "Please explain to me the meaning of this."