Remus Lupin sat at the
large wooden table in the kitchen of
“Hello, Remus,” Charlie Weasley said as he walked into the kitchen.
“Hello,” said Remus setting his paper down. His sleepy eyes crinkled around the corners when he saw Charlie.
“Is mum around?” Charlie asked.
“No,” said Remus. “She went shopping for supper. Anything I can help you with?”
“Just wanted to tell you all bets are off,” said Charlie. “Mum would kill us if she knew.”
“Really?” Remus said, his eyebrows raised. “I thought ‘Mione’d hold out until at least July.”
“They went to the ballet,” Charlie rolled his eyes.
Remus shook his head, a half-smile playing around his lips.
“So who won the pool?” Remus asked. “I know I lost 2 Knuts.”
“Fred and George,” said Charlie. “It figures, they were always good at divination.”
“I don’t know why Mundungus let them bet at all,” said Remus. Charlie shrugged and sat down at the table.
“I wouldn’t have let them, but I know better,” Charlie said, glancing at the front page of the paper.
“Well, I’d better go tell Dung so he’ll have a head start when they begin looking for him,” said Remus rising from the table. “Give me an hour.”
“Will do,” said Charlie, waving his wand and watching a cup of cocoa float to him. “It’ll give me plenty of time to read the paper.”
Dumbledore was sitting on the balcony of his home in Switzerland sipping a glass of mint lemonade when a large owl swooped down and landed next to him.
“Hello, pretty boy,” Dumbledore said reaching for the parchment attached to the owls leg. “What do you have for me?”
Dumbledore unraveled the parchment and began reading. His face paled as his eyes ran over the page. His pallor turned red as his eyes reached the end of the page.
“Damndable woman!” he thundered, startling the owl on the railing. “Of all the pig-headed, stubborn-,” he flapped his arms helplessly for a moment as his mind searched for words. He bellowed in frustration instead.
“Can I help you, sir?” asked a small squeaky voice.
Dumbledore looked down to see a small house elf, slightly cowering behind a chair.
“No, Tiddles,” said Dumbledore. “This is something I have to handle myself.”
He raised his wand in the air and a loud crack sounded. He was gone.
“Madame?” a young witch said tentatively as she knocked at the door to Sophia’s office.
“The door is open, you’re more than welcome to come in,” said Sophia over the top of her silver rimmed spectacles. “You’re new, aren’t you?”
“Yes, ma’am,” said the witch. Her short black hair curled out in all directions and her red toga made her light skin and dark eyes stand out. “My name is Helen.”
“Odessa’s girl?” Sophia asked. “I hear you do well in charms.”
“Yes, ma’am,” said Helen, looking nervous. “Unfortunately I’m not here for a pleasure visit.”
“Out with it girl,” said Sophia frowning. Helen looked a little nervous.
“There’s a- well,” Helen looked pained. Sophia raised an eyebrow.
“There’s a man outside demanding to see you,” blurted out Helen quickly.
“Ah,” said Sophia taking her glasses off and folding them up. Her hands were shaking slightly as she pushed them into a worn brown leather case. “I should have been expecting that. Lower the bridge, I’m going out.”
“But ma’am,” Helen said. “How did he find us?”
“He followed his line,” said Sophia shaking her head.
Helen looked confused, but Sophia said nothing more as she used her cane to rise to her feet and toddled out of her office.
Dumbledore tapped his foot impatiently on the floating piece of ice in front of the floating fortress and watched as the drawbridge lowered. He knew better than to storm in, as much as he wanted to. He assumed this place had the same type of wards the Mystics had.
He saw a small hunched figure draped in green begin walking towards him with a dozen or more girls in close ranks behind her. The older woman’s descent was slow and the younger females had to pace themselves, but they finally made it to the end of the drawbridge after what felt like an eternity.
He wanted to bellow at her. He wanted to smack her. He wanted to shake her. She lifted her eyes and met his, her jaw set in the same stubborn way he found so attractive so many long years ago.
“Why, Sophie?” he found himself asking quieter than he would have thought himself capable of. He was surprised at how much the sadness came out in his voice.
“We both had obligations,” said Sophia, her face softening into sadness. “I didn’t see any reason to ruin your life.”
“We could have made that decision together,” said Dumbledore. “I would have liked to have taken some part of it.”
“I know,” said Sophia softly. “I was going to tell you, but years began passing and you began having all that trouble with Voldemort. I didn’t want to bring attention to her. She was safer here.”
“But now she’s grown and not a child anymore,” said Dumbledore. “And we’re in trouble again.”
“I can’t change what has happened, Albus,” said Sophia. “All I can say is I was trying to protect you and our daughter.” She laid a hand on his arm gently. She felt him tense up, but he did not pull away from her.
‘Our daughter.’ The words sliced through his chest and went deep into his heart. He closed his eyes and willed tears not to fall. He opened them and looked at Sophia.
The blonde hair had gone white and gotten much, much longer. Her back was hunched and Dumbledore remembered her taller. Her heavy green cloak was pulled around her to keep out the cold so he couldn’t tell if she had kept her slight figure, but he guessed she had by her thin face. He shook his head sadly at her.
Alexandra stood in the middle of the ranks of Amazons, her wand at her side, her bow slung over her shoulder. She heard her arrows rattle in their case as she began shaking. Her friend, Chloe, nudged her slightly with her elbow. It wouldn’t do to become a shaking mess when she was supposed to be setting an example of professional behavior to the new trainees.
She stared at Dumbledore and tried to memorize every detail of him. Something stirred inside her that she hadn’t felt since she was a very small child and her stomach began feeling queasy. Her head felt light. She noticed she was chewing on the inside of her bottom lip and her jaw was clenched. She was trying to convince herself that she was too old for this. Another part of her screamed he was going to go and she was going to miss her chance. Something in her broke as she saw him shake his head and her inner-child won.
“Father!” Alexandra cried out and pushed her way through the ranks that hadn’t already turned at her cry. She didn’t know how he really felt about all this. She knew he wanted to know of her existence, but didn’t know about his opinion about being a father. At this point she didn’t care.
Dumbledore raised his eyes and saw a pretty red-headed girl pushing her way through the ranks of archers. She vaguely resembled his mother.
“Mighty Merlin,” Dumbledore whispered stepping forward to see her. “My baby.”
Alexandra wanted to hug him, to shake him and ask him where he had been, to kiss his wrinkled face, to smack him for losing contact with her mother. As she got closer to him she realized she didn’t know what to do. She felt stark, naked and open.
Dumbledore made the decision for her by pulling her into a tight hug. Alexandra was being held so tightly she was having trouble breathing, but she didn’t care. Her eyes were wide open and tears were streaming out of them but she wasn’t sobbing. The water ran freely down her face and pooled on the purple velvet of his shoulder.
Alexandra vaguely thought she wasn’t setting a very good example, but didn’t care. The other girls wouldn’t understand. They didn’t know their fathers either, but most of them considered love to be an impractical thing that happened to other people.
“Run along now,” Alexandra heard her mother say to the troops. “We’ll be fine.”
Alexandra looked over her shoulder to see the troops walking back up to the fortress in broken ranks. She caught Kari’s eye as her sister looked over her shoulder. Her sister quirked a corner of her mouth at her.
“I think,” said Dumbledore carefully. “That we have some catching up to do.”
Hermione sat in Severus’ laboratory with a black leather covered book in her hand. She ate an apple as she turned the pages. An otherwise hidden portal was open behind her and about a dozen books sat on a shelf.
“Find anything interesting?” Severus asked as he walked into the room, empty bottles in his arms.
“It’s all interesting,” said Hermione. “I’m just not sure why anyone would want to do some of it.”
Severus shrugged. He looked a little uncomfortable. She decided not to push it any further. She continued reading Divination by Reading Entrails by Marissa Lumpkettle.
“I thought you hated divination,” said Severus, glancing at her.
“I do,” said Hermione. “But this seems a bit more scientific than staring at a hunk of glass.”
Severus shrugged. “Not really.”
Hermione turned the page to see an illustration of a vivisected Muggle. She felt goose bumps rise on her arms and she closed the book.
“Stopping already?” Severus said, and eyebrow raised. “You’ve only been reading for three hours.”
“I feel like stretching my legs,” Hermione lied. “It would be a shame to waste the day.”
“Like to see the grounds?” Severus asked. “We could go to the lake.”
“So you could fish?” Hermione asked an eyebrow raised in mimic of his.
“Well it would mean we could have dinner,” said Severus.
“Yes, we would starve if it were it not for your ability to fish,” said Hermione sarcastically, a smile playing around her lips.
“We could, you know,” Severus shrugged but she saw him smirk as he turned his back to her. She walked up behind him and shyly encircled his waist with her arms.
“We can go to the lake if you want,” Hermione said gently.
“The carpet’s ready outside,” said Severus. “You should go to the main library and get a book.”
“It will only take a minute,” she said as she trotted out of the room.
Severus steered the flying carpet our of his mothers gardens and started west to the lake.
“How large are your grounds?” Hermione asked startled.
“It’s an illusion,” said Severus. “The lake is behind that crop of trees. Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there.”
Hermione squinted at the trees in the distance. The land dipped a bit beyond it and Hermione could see where water must run off.
“Lake?” Hermione asked. “It couldn’t be bigger than a pond.”
“Well it looks large when you’re six,” said Severus. Hermione chuckled silently.
“Is that when you and Pieter named it ‘The Lake?’” Hermione asked.
“About then,” said Severus nodding as the carpet brushed over the tops of the fruit trees in the orchard. He reached out and pulled an apple off a branch and bit into it.
Hermione tried to picture Severus at six and couldn’t. His mother had to have pictures lying around somewhere.
They soared over the fields past the orchards and brushed the tops of the trees near the pond.
Hermione was delighted to see trees enchanted to grow in the shapes of tables and chairs. A couch shaped tree with the trunk protruding out of the back of it sat by the side of the pond.
Severus waved his wand and a golden dome surrounded the area and the air began warming immediately. Hermione slipped her fur cloak off and shook the chill out of her.
Severus walked over to a tree with a huge base that seemed to stop about a meter off the ground with a sprig tapering out of the center of it and took what looked like blocks out of his pocket. He waved his wand and they grew into preservation chambers. He slid the top off one and took out a sandwich.
“This is very nice,” Hermione said. She slid the top off another one to find it full of bait. “EW!”
“Oops,” said Severus, setting his sandwich down and closing the top of the box she had opened. “That one’s mine.”
“Thank heaven for that,” said Hermione grimacing. There were creepy things she had never seen in that box.
“The other should be safe,” said Severus walking to the shoreline with his box of bait.
Hermione sat near Severus as he cast his line eating her lunch. When she was through she went over to a reclining tree and nestled into a nook that seemed carved out just for the purpose of her reading place.
Hermione glanced up from her book from time to time to watch Severus reel in a fish. After a few hours she got curious.
“Is the pond fit for swimming?” she asked.
“Yes,” Severus said over his shoulder. “It’s bottom is sandy so you don’t have to wear shoes.”
“Perfect,” said Hermione, walking by him completely nude and descending into the water.
Severus watched as his line wriggled itself away from her. He was thankful it was enchanted to avoid anything but fish so he didn’t have to worry about snagging her or untangling his line.
“Are you going to come in?” Hermione asked.
“No,” said Severus. “I don’t have a towel.” He smirked at her.
Hermione suddenly wished she had planned ahead but tried to play it off.
“Suit yourself,” she said gathering all her courage to float on her back.
Severus watched Hermione float on her back and sighed contentedly. She certainly was a pretty girl, if not infuriating at times. On the other hand if she weren’t so infuriating she wouldn’t be running through his mind half as much as she did.
“Hermione?” Severus called out.
“What?” she asked righting herself, her toes sinking into the sandy bottom of the pond.
“I’ve never had any reason to do the Bubble-Head Charm,” he said. “Do you understand its theory?”
“Of course,” said Hermione. He was slightly annoyed at her matter-of-fact attitude, but he had been out of school for some time and she had just left.
“If you wanted to encapsulate another part of your body in air would it be plausible?” he asked.
“Well,” Hermione said, screwing her face up as if she were trying to recall a textbook page. “I don’t see why not, but what would the point be?”
She was his wife, for heaven’s sake. He shouldn’t be so coy when asking for something so minor. He felt the color creeping into his face and hoped she was too far away to see it.
“I understand a woman’s natural lubrication has the annoying habit of washing away underwater,” Severus said reeling in his line. “I wouldn’t want anyone to get injured.”
“Oh!” exclaimed Hermione blushing furiously. She had to stop that; it was getting out of hand.
She watched as he disrobed and he applied the Bubble-Head Charm to his pelvis. She began giggling hysterically as he entered the water.
“What’s so funny?” he demanded as he swam to her and wrapped his arms around her. He hoped it wasn’t him.
“I’m not sure that’s the head they had in mind,” Hermione said unable to control her laughter.
“How would you know that?” Severus said pulling her closer. She had an enchanting way of squirming in his arms when she laughed.
“Practicality?” suggested Hermione as she felt him nudge her under water. She wrapped her legs around him and put her hands on his shoulders. She was no where near ready to receive him but she sighed at his persistent nudging as she felt herself begin to smolder.
“OW!” said Severus, dropping her.
Hermione came up spluttering and resembling a wet sheepdog.
“Are you alright?” asked Hermione concerned, between coughs.
Severus brushed the hair out of her face and patted her on the back. As his hand went by her face she saw a black skull and snake etched into his skin. She grabbed his hand and stared at the burn.
Severus didn’t know what to do. Perhaps she had forgotten he had it. Did she find it repulsive? Did she now find him repulsive?
“It looks like it was really branded into you,” Hermione said, her fingertips hovering above the mark as if she wanted to touch it.
“It was,” said Severus.
Hermione looked at the crinkled skin around the brand.
“It doesn’t look as if it’s healed. Why does it look fresh?” Hermione asked.
“It’s frozen in stasis,” said Severus, dipping it under the water. The cool water eased the burning a bit. He raised his arm so Hermione could see it, but the water covered it. He’d never really shown it to anyone before like this. “It’s hidden inside the body and when the spell is woven it ‘wakes up’ as it were.”
“Does it hurt?” Hermione asked.
“What do you think?” Severus said dryly.
“Well, that was a silly question,” said Hermione. “Never mind.”
“I think we should get back in the house,” said Severus looking at the sky. Hermione looked up and failed to see anything unusual.
Hermione and Severus climbed on the carpet with just their cloaks wrapped around them and flew back to the manor.
Hermione followed Severus through the basement levels to get to his laboratory. He pushed on a picture of a Mandrake and Hermione was startled to see a small fire burning cheerfully in a cubby hole in the wall. Severus threw a pinch of brown powder in the fire and stuck his head in.
Cherv padded in the room with a change of clothing for Severus and Hermione. He smiled cheerfully and waved but didn’t say anything while Severus talked to someone in the wall.
“Hold tight,” Severus said indignantly as he pulled his head from the flames. “The Dark Lord is on the loose and he says ‘hold tight.’”
“Who?” asked Hermione.
“Lupin,” said Severus. “Apparently Dumbledore is off somewhere and no other news has arrived.”
A small silver bell started ringing and a small glass orb on a shelf began glowing orange.
Hermione watched as the little color Severus had drained from his face.
“What’s going on?” asked Hermione, her voice quivering.
“The Ministry’s under attack,” whispered Severus.