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Book One: Prophecies, Pack and Pizza
Chapter 3: A Butterfly Flaps Its Wings

by Alex Collins

Author Notes: See the end of the chapter. Thanks to David for the Latin translation for 'the Oath of the Family'.

Disclaimer: As said in Chapter One: everyone but me owns everything that this is based on.


Meledon Phoenix: Prophecies, Pack and Pizza
Chapter Three: A Butterfly Flaps Its Wings


To Dream The Future, Part II

The fire still blazed and the pentagon still held, though now inside it there was a doe.

The flames of the fire were banked without warning and then died out. The pegasus whinnied, the hooves beating the ground.

The lion and the wolf looked about in the darkness and growled as another member of the Felidae family was scented on the breeze.

The snake wound its way up the dog's leg as the dog crouched down, ready to spring.

Tense moments passed before the Felidae approached, revealing itself to be a cheetah. The cheetah eyed them all, circling them several times but then moved off to the far side of the clearing.


Tuesday, July 24th, 1984.

The Third Prophecy

I cannot stand iambic tetrameter, Danger said, sitting up.

Can't say I'm too fond of it, Remus said, leaning over to kiss her. But it did bring me you, in an odd sense.

Sweet man. Come on, let's write this down.


A war returns from ancient past,
So say the first, as will the last.
The truth will grieve; then seek the girl,
Whose eyes with coloured power swirl.
Seek the Cheetah with unknown,
Her power, not age, is what's grown.
The cubs of your Pack number four,
With star, wolf, flower, truth, warrior.
On a babe may her mind transfix,
But she cannot make number six.
A war returns from ancient past,
So say the first, as will the last.
The first bear Coins forged in despair,
The seventh, no Coin, for she's rare.
Friends they'll be, though magic are few,
But not until they three renew.
Then seize your chance, before it flies,
Be prepared to say your goodbyes.
The truth will grieve; then seek the girl,
Whose eyes with coloured power swirl.

"I had a dream last night—a continuation of one I've had before," Danger said. "There's a pentagon formed by animals—a dog, a lion, a snake, a pegasus and a wolf. Inside the pentagon are a wolf cub, a fox cub, a kitten and a doe. They're being guarded, it seems. From what, I'm not sure."

"Enemies?" Sirius said.

"Last night, a cheetah approached the pentagon, circled it five times and then went off to the far side of the clearing," Danger said. "And I woke up with this prophecy."

"Could this Cheetah of your dream and prophecy be Lily?" Narcissa said.

"Danger, would you say the dog in your dream looked like Padfoot?" Sirius said.

Danger reflected and then nodded. "Exactly like him. You don't think..."

"I'm willing to bet that your dream represents us—cubs too—in Animagus form," Sirius said. "The cheetah can't be Lily. Her form would be a tiger."

"I'd forgotten that," Remus said. "So it isn't Lily."

"With star, wolf, flower, truth, warrior..." Aletha said. "Sirius, Remus, Narcissa are obvious, Aletha means truth, so truth is me, and warrior is Danger. So I'm going to grieve? And when I'm done, we 'seek the girl whose eyes with coloured power swirl'."

"So we have to find a girl with power and a girl who's a cheetah Animagus," Remus said. "And there's someone... a potential sixth Pack-adult, who can't join us."

"How are we to keep track of that?" Sirius said. "And what's this about a war returning from ancient past? And the first and the last? What's that mean?"

"We'll gain friends, though few of them will have magic," Narcissa said. "But we need to wait on them and then take our chance. I hate Divination!"

"I hate iambic tetrameter," Danger said.

"I hate prophecies that aren't simple," Sirius said.

"I hate getting impossible tasks," Aletha said.

"I hate feeling like I'm missing something," Remus said.

There was a pause.

"Are we done with the hating session?" Remus said in his best alpha-male voice. Four nods greeted his statement. "Let's get on with it."

As the Pack-adults talked the prophecy over in the kitchen, the Pack-cubs slept.

In one of the rooms upstairs, an owl swooped down upon a stack of letters, picking them up and flying away, a destination firmly set in her mind.

The missing letters would not be noted for some time.


Pai Zhua Academy

All was silent.

The temple grounds of the Pai Zhua academy were empty, save for Master Mao, the master of the academy.

This was unusual, but Master Mao had learned to trust his instincts. He did not understand why, but he knew the academy needed to be deserted this week. So the students had left and now he stood unmoving. It would happen; he just needed to wait.

Energy began to crackle through the air, but he paid it no heed. It built up, crackling with yellow strands before it exploded and a young woman dropped to the ground. A cylindrical piece of willow, ten and a quarter inches long clattered to the ground.

The woman got to her feet with precise, slow movements, meeting the eyes of Master Mao.

"Master Mao," she said, bowing to the Samoan master, who was dressed in the orange uniform accorded to that rank. She knew from painful experience that it did not hinder him.

"Show me."

The woman extended her right arm, showing her inner forearm, where a black tattoo stood out starkly against her pale skin. Three scalene triangles were joined such that the apex of the two lower triangles merged into the above triangles, the apex of all three triangles aligned exactly. Each triangle was shorter than the previous. The overall look was akin to having your arm clawed—hence the reason it was the symbol for a member of the Order of the Claw.

"Welcome, Lily Evans."

"What is the date, Master Mao?"

If he thought this was an unusual question, he did not show it. "July 24th, 1984. It is a Tuesday, ten after eight in the morning."

Master Mao did not fail to notice that this pronouncement made Lily pale.

"Come with me," he said.

Lily followed him, pausing only to retrieve her wand.

When they were settled, he looked at her. "What happened, Lily?"

Lily explained her story as completely as she could, once again grateful that Master Mao took what she said and was satisfied with it. She knew he knew she was never forthcoming with the whole truth, but she had never yet outright lied to him. At times, Lily figured it was that fact that let her get away with her half-truths and evasiveness.

She had met Master Mao when she was four years old. He had trained her in the way of kung fu—even when she was in Hogwarts, he had still trained her. She had thought it would have to stop, but Master Mao had decreed that she could learn all summer, keep up with her training during school and every so often, be pulled out of school in order that she could be taught more. Thus, it had been as he said.

She had once asked why he, a master based in America—for reasons he would never elaborate on—would come all the way to England to train a cub, as he called his students until they had graduated. He had just said she would find out in time.

She hadn't yet. Not even when she had been marked with the symbol of the Order of the Claw.

"Do you think you can go back?"

"I do not think so, Master Mao."

"Then you are welcome to stay here and learn more as you decide what to do."


Los Angeles—Noxet Bank

Lily took a deep breath, standing in her quarters. Following a shower, she had changed into a yellow top and jeans that she had conjured, added a jacket and charmed her hair brown. The door was locked, so she would not be disturbed. Picking up a glass from the bedside cabinet, she touched her wand to it, murmuring the incantation for a Portkey. She looked at it and shrugged.

"Well, here goes nothing," Lily said, activating the Portkey. She felt a jerk behind her navel, the world rushing by before she felt a sharp hit which she seemed to rebound off. The Portkey dumped her on a floor. She had just enough time to get up and fix her attire to ensure her identity remained secret before a goblin opened the door.

"My apologies," he said, his smile revealing a lot of teeth. "We could not have you appearing in the lobby, so your Portkey was redirected here. Do you wish to make a withdrawal, or do you need to speak with someone about your account?"

"I need to speak with someone," Lily said.

"Very good," the goblin said. "Come with me. My name is Gorignak."

A few minutes later, Lily was in a conference room across from Gorignak.

"I understand that my dealings will be kept in strict confidence," Lily said.

"We pride ourselves on our confidentiality," Gorignak said.

Lily nodded. "My name is Lily Potter. I had a vault but—"

"You are not sure if it may have been cancelled because of your disappearance," Gorignak said. He waved his hand and a bowl and silver knife appeared.

Lily needed no prompting to slice her palm and let the blood drip into the bowl before the wound abruptly healed. After a few seconds, a key and a piece of paper materialised, which Gorignak picked up.

"You have one personal vault, with several notations attached. It seems Gringotts refused to release its contents because there was no verifiable proof of your death, nor had sufficient time passed. At the time of your disappearance, this vault contained two million, three hundred and fifty-eight thousand, one hundred and seventy Galleons. Since then, the vault has accrued five hundred and eighty-one thousand, three hundred and ninety-two Galleons in interest."

He handed Lily her key.

"I'd like the transactions on that vault made private," Lily said.

"It is done," Gorignak said. "Now, you also have access to the Potter Family Vault—"

"I would rather not speak of that; the transactions would be tracked," Lily said. "My own vault will be enough for now."

"Very good," Gorignak said. "Do you require anything else?"

Lily considered. "As you have likely surmised, I have been out of the loop for the past fifty-four months. Can you arrange for back copies of the Daily Prophet to be sent to me? I need to catch up on what I've missed. I also would like to withdraw a thousand Galleons and two thousand dollars."

"It will be done," Gorignak said, clicking his fingers. A small bag—charmed to be lightweight and bottomless—appeared on the table. "There is your money. You should be aware of a couple of events, though."

"Go on," Lily said, pocketing the bag.

"You were pregnant at the time of your disappearance. I suspect you are not now. Harry James Potter, your son, was born on July 31st, 1980 in circumstances similar to your disappearance," said Gorignak. "Fifteen months later, he defeated You-Know-Who just moments after You-Know-Who killed James Potter, your husband."

"How?" Lily said. Her voice broke on the word and she ducked her head for a few moments to recover equilibrium.

"No one knows. The Killing Curse hit your son and rebounded on Voldemort. Your son survived with only a lightning bolt scar," Gorignak said.

"Thank you," Lily said, a little too stunned to say more. Seeing that their business was at an end, Gorignak escorted Lily from his office.

Lily made her way out of Noxet Bank, her mind a whirl of confusion and pain. None of this made sense. She was four and a half years out of time, she had a son who'd done the impossible and her husband was dead. She didn't know what she was supposed to do now—sure, she had known it was smart to be silent and unseen until she understood more of what had happened, but what point was there now? There was nothing to go home to now.

"Who the fuck did I piss off?" Lily said, wiping at her eyes. She wasn't going to cry, not here at least—perhaps not ever. It wasn't like tears would do her any good. "Why me? I fought Voldemort, I was a good daughter, I tried to be a good sister and got nothing for all my efforts... what the hell did I do wrong to deserve this shit?!"

You've just spent two minutes bitching and solved nothing. Get a grip, girl.

Lily was about to snap back at her unwelcome thought, but nodded. She could wallow in her misery and waste even more of her time or she could do something productive. The choice was easy: Lily pulled up her Occlumency walls, building a wall around the emotions threatening to spill forth. As the wall came up, building in strength, Lily regained her emotional and mental equilibrium and she began to compose a list of things she needed, clothing being at the top.

After purchasing a Muggle style purse with lightweight, antitheft and storage charms, Lily went shopping.


Paul Visits Trini

Trini observed the results from her four major changes. One change that she'd had to learn to live with; one change that gave her what she wanted, albeit not exactly how she had intended; one change that would give them the extra edge needed—maybe and the last change, well, that was borne from pure necessity.

"It goes well?" Paul said, entering her yellow styled room.

"Well enough. Alex's advice on how to influence people was appreciated," Trini said. "Though I'm not sure I like him. I only work with him when creating prophecies, but even that grates on my nerves. I do have one question." She brought up a picture. "I am sure I did nothing to affect that."

"In order: Alex is unique and likes to play with things to achieve what he thinks are the best outcomes." Paul grinned at Trini's exasperated sigh of acknowledgment. "You didn't do anything, nor did I. Keep an eye on it—it's things like that that'll tend to screw you over."


Saturday, July 28th, 1984.

Letters To Lily

The beach was deserted—until Lily Apparated into the vicinity, feeling the sand beneath her heels. She sat down to rest. Her mind went back to the scene that had taken place yesterday evening.

"You have done well, Lily," Master Mao said. "There is no more to teach you—for now. Take this."

Somehow that 'for now' seemed all too ominous.

"Thank you," Lily said, accepting her new uniform. She looked down, seeing yellow instead of orange. "Master Mao?"

"You will understand in time," Master Mao said. "But you have earned the title of Master, do not doubt that. You had earned it when you gained the Mark of the Claw. You were not ready for it, though you are now."

"But—"

"Your fears are understandable. You are capable." Master Mao looked at her. "But your place is not here. You know that as well as I."

She'd packed her stuff up with little fanfare and Apparated away.

Something was pulling at her, a sense of urgency, of being needed. It had been happening since Saturday night, but Lily had held off, waiting for Master Mao to complete her testing. Standing, Lily began to do more line-of-sight Apparations, following the sense. All in all, it was rather like a game of Hot and Cold.

Except that it's only been getting hotter, Lily thought. I thought coming to the beach would give me privacy for any needed magic, not send me Apparating north.

It was still dark—although starting to dawn—a few hours later when Lily Apparated onto a beach, feeling the sense leave abruptly. She sat down, shaking her head.

"I wonder if that magical storm did anything to me," she said. "I've just spent all night Apparating because some little part of me wants to go to..." she looked around, finding a sign with the town name on it, "...Angel Grove and—I should feel tired."

She didn't, though. Lily felt like she'd woken up after a good night's sleep. With another sigh, Lily got up to walk into town. But she was interrupted by an owl, which flew down to her, bearing what seemed like a package. Taking it from the owl, Lily noted it was a bundle of letters.

"I'm sorry I don't have any water or treats for you..." she said. The owl hooted and left her to her letters and with some trepidation, Lily moved through the envelopes, arranging them by the date written on the front. She was able to recognise three of the handwritings—Sirius, Remus and Aletha's—but the other one was strange to her.

Making herself comfortable, Lily began to read.

I don't know why I haven't done this earlier.

A letter from Aletha was the first.

...Sirius and Remus were there in Diagon Alley, but they haven't seemed inclined to talk about what happened. So, Harry then. He's having a few nightmares—nothing unexpected, given what happened. Now with you and James both gone, Sirius, Remus and I, we're taking care of him. It's what you and James would have wanted. It seems strange, writing to you and not to James, but we know he's dead. You... there's still hope.

I miss you...

Sirius' first letter was next.

...you're not going to believe this, Lily. You remember my cousin, Narcissa, who married Lucius? She was a Death Eater as were Lucius and many others. In return for staying with Draco and anonymity, she turned in every Death Eater. I've dissolved her marriage contract. You know that means she's my ward now. Narcissa seemed sincere enough in her wishes initially and every day since, she has proven my faith in her was correct...

Lily shuffled the envelopes and nodded. The handwriting on some was elegant—a good sign of a pureblood upbringing. Comparing dates, she frowned. Aletha's letter had been early November, but Sirius' was late February, almost five months later.

August of 1982 produced a letter from Remus.

...I met a Muggle woman, who goes by Danger. Her magic was latent, activated by a great shock in August this year when she found her parents dead. Her magic isn't quite conventional—she's apparently a true-dreamer and a werewolf tamer...

Lily blinked. "And they call her Danger? I can just imagine how that happened—approaching a rabid werewolf is the height of idiocy!" She turned back to the letter.

...she has a sister, Neenie. We all sort of banded together—Danger and I with Neenie, Aletha and Sirius with Harry and Narcissa with Draco in November of last year. We even got a Muggle place in Oxford last December. We haven't got anyone else—did Sirius tell you Peter turned out to be a Death Eater?—so we figured we might as well stick together...

Lily smiled as Remus went on to tell her about the weddings before turning to Narcissa's letter of January 1983.

...the children are fine, though rather exhausting. Aletha's a Healer now, Remus and Danger work at a bookstore in Muggle London and Sirius is an Auror. For now, I am taking care of the children, though the others have been able to arrange our schedules so that I am not always the sole caregiver—we want them to know and love us all...

Sensible, Lily thought, reading on.

...and so, we became a Pack. As Pack, one of the things we hold true to is to honour the parents of the children we care for. We will teach them who and what they were, so that their children remember the parents who loved them and made sacrifices for them...

The next letter was written on one piece of pink paper, in Sirius' familiar scrawl.

It's a Girl!
Sirius Black and Aletha Freeman-Black
Are proud to announce
The birth of their first child
Meghan Lily Black
On 1 June, 1983
At 4:13 pm

Lily blinked back a few tears and smiled. "After all the times I yelled at you, you would still..."

Remus wrote next, in October.

...and now the cubs are beginning lessons—not that they actually stick with them for more than ten minutes before running off. Still, it's a way to teach them even some small bit. They're doing really well, Lils. I wish you could be here. You'd be so proud...

The seventh and final letter was from Aletha, dated May 1984 and contained an issue of Witch Weekly.

The marked story—Sirius wrote it.

By the end of Hannelore's Descent, Lily was quite impressed with Sirius' writing ability. He could captivate the reader in just a few short words.

Now that the pleasant distraction was over, Lily folded the letters up and resumed her walk into town, sensing that her heart felt lighter at knowing something of her son. Right now, her plan was to purchase a house.


Tuesday, July 31st, 1984.

Angel Grove

Lily had soon found out that this town was actually a city, courtesy of a tourist's guide. The city—Angel Grove—covered a total area of six hundred and twenty-three square miles. Angel Grove boasted its own National Forest, part of which was known as Angel Grove Park. The National Forest also bordered on the Mojave Desert, where a settlement of Cherokee Indians lived as their ancestors had.

Lily stood up from the grass, clearing her mind. In smooth movement, she slipped into her chosen katas for the morning, running through them with her customary grace. If she saw she was drawing an audience, she didn't acknowledge it.

"She's really good," an Asian boy said.

"Far better than us," a Mexican boy said. "Sha!"

"What?" an African-American girl said.

"Go poke her."

"No. She's bus—"

The girl jumped back, dragging the Asian boy with her as the offender found himself with a bo in his solar plexus.

"What if I poke you?" Lily said.

"Um... I didn't mean..."

"What are your names?"

"Rocky DeSantos, ma'am," Rocky said. "That's Aisha Campbell and Adam Park."

Lily backed off, nodding to the three. "You were watching?"

"Yes, ma'am," Aisha said. "We do martial arts too."

"Show me," Lily said, tossing her bo aside and falling into a ready stance.

Rocky had just enough time to approximate the stance before Lily was on him, kicks and punches flying. Her rapid attack had him on the defence as he backed up, giving up more ground than was wise.

"Help me!" Rocky said, blocking the attacks as fast as he could. Adam and Aisha nodded, attacking Lily from each side. Lily's mind was working in overdrive as she analysed their proficiency, noting where they could stand to improve, all the while adapting her tactics to a more defensive approach to urge her opponents to expend their energy in attacks that she was more than capable of blocking or avoiding.

Dropping into a split to avoid a kick, Lily threw herself to the side and into a handstand before jumping up and blocking a flurry of punches before Adam and Rocky grabbed her arms.

"Not good," Lily said, noting their uneven footing.

"We know," they said.

"I meant for you," Lily said, dropping into a split as she yanked her arms to the front. Caught off guard and off balance, Adam and Rocky crashed into each other and dropped to the ground. Lily hadn't forgotten about Aisha, who had hung back to let the boys neutralise Lily. Aisha knew it was sort of dirty to come at Lily from the back, but was doing it anyway—to her folly. Lily leaned back, grabbed Aisha's waist and lifted her up and over, letting her fall down on top of the boys.

Lily stood up, brushing her clothes off. She noted various slight injuries that she would have to invite them in to fix up, but first the sparring session needed to be concluded.

"Concede?"


Introductions

"I thought you three had injuries," Lily said, holding a first aid kit. "I saw them myself."

"We don't get injured when we spar," Rocky said.

"We do when we don't spar with Adam," Aisha said. "Remember, I got that cut when it was just you and me?"

"Adam's our good luck charm," Rocky said, grinning at Adam, who blushed and ducked his head.

He's using magic in a specific, directed way; it's got to be. Either that or potions—and I doubt he would have so willingly fought if he had potions on his person.

"Do you believe in magic?" Lily said, her sharp eyes picking up the way all three of them exchanged wary glances.

That seals it.

Lily whipped out her wand, shouting, "Stupefy!"

"Protego!"

The red light splashed against the invisible wall of the shield.

"You're a witch?" Adam said.

"What, my Stunning Spell didn't confirm that?"

Adam smiled at the sarcasm. "Who are you?" he said, keeping his wand trained on Lily.

Lily sighed—after reading the Daily Prophet's major articles concerning her and her family, she estimated she would be pretty well known. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

"Try me," Adam said, his tone darkening.

"I want your word you three will not speak of me."

"I don't know if we can give that."

"My name is Lily Potter."

To his credit, Adam displayed no reaction. "Prove it."

"You know her, Adam?" Rocky said.

"I know who she claims to be."

"I swear on my magic that I am Lily Cecelia Potter," Lily said, a flash of magic emanating from her. She cast a quick Levitation Charm and smiled a little at Adam's stunned expression. "How much longer do you have before you are missed? And would you like something to drink?"

"We have to call my mother at about one o'clock," Aisha said. "Drinks would be great."

"That gives us... about four hours," Adam said.

"Can you teach us?" Rocky said as Lily summoned the pitcher of lemonade she'd made and poured out drinks—it was obvious he'd been bursting to ask this for a while.

"Teach you martial arts?" Lily said. "You three seem to be quite good enough already."

"Knowing different disciplines will make us better fighters," Aisha said.

"And what is it supposed to teach you?"

"Discipline, respect for self and others—"

Lily cut them off. "Exactly. I will not teach you how to beat up someone else."

"It's not about beating others up," Rocky said. "We're not like that. You see, we compete in competitions and stuff and Adam and I want to start a dojo when we're old enough. Being better fighters will help us."

"Well. Maybe I will teach you, if you can arrange it with your parents."

Lily paused, thinking. The American wizarding world was quite different to England's, as Lily knew. America had a greater muggle/magical societal integration, which affected many of the functions that Lily had accepted in England. As she herself had seen, Noxet Bank branches could be accessed by both Muggle and magical people alike and thus employed human tellers—something she couldn't imagine Gringotts doing at all unless radical changes occurred.

"So when did you find out you were a wizard?" Lily said, looking at Adam.

"I was five," Adam said. "I broke my arm in my first karate lesson. Accidental magic healed that up, ten minutes later, the Mundanes—you would know them as Muggles—were Obliviated and I knew about our world. Standard procedure: upon first recorded accidental use of magic, mages born to Mundanes are informed of the world that has opened for them."

"That's different—I was always doing strange things, but no explanation came until my Hogwarts' letter," Lily said. "It's also a better system than we had. What do you do for schools?"

"Well, the only well known one is the Salem Witches Institute—as you can tell by the name, it's a girls only school. There's a boys only school, East Coast Wizards' School which is the sister school to Salem," said Adam. "There's also the Golden Gate in San Francisco—that's the one I would have attended—the New Orleans School of Magic and the Vancouver Magical Academy and others. But only the purebloods and the Mundane born who can be day students attend those schools."

"That doesn't sound fair," Lily said, "but you said you would have attended?"

Adam smiled. "The Institute recognises—and the other schools follow along with the Institute—that Mundane born students and the Mundane-raised have formed important ties to their home, in the manner of friends and such. So the Institute came up with the idea to educate magical students inside Mundane schools. The schools mandate seven years of schooling—students who choose this method have eleven, since we also have to attend Mundane school."

"Is it hard?" Lily said.

"Not for Adam," Aisha said.

Adam ducked his head, blushing. "I do all right," he said. "If you're curious, I was able to tell Aisha and Rocky about magic because they're considered part of my family; but they've got a spell on them that means they can't talk about it unless they know the other person is also in the know somehow. There's no real restriction on my usage of magic—I'm able to do magic outside of school as long as no other Muggle sees it."

Lily nodded, storing that piece of information away. "How about a duel?"


Negotiating

He was good. Lily had to admit that. Her own power and knowledge was greater and as such, she'd won every duel, but Adam was good.

"I'd enjoy teaching you," Lily said as she supervised Aisha and Rocky making sandwiches. She made a mental note to purchase a house-elf.

"Why can't you?" Aisha said, setting the plate of sandwiches on the table.

Lily sat back in her seat. Well, it isn't like I'd be doing anything else here. Between them all, I'd make a little money, which would be useful. She looked at Adam.

"I'll ask my parents?"

"Go ahead," Lily said, waving her wand. A piece of paper floated down to each of them. "There's my number if any of your parents want to talk to me. And if they ask, my name is... Granger. Lily Granger." I hope you don't mind, Danger. "Aisha, you should ring your mother?"

They all nodded—Adam had promised to explain what he knew of Lily Potter—and Aisha went to call her mother.


Thursday, August 2nd, 1984.

Angel Grove—Lily's Residence

To say that Lily Potter was a slavedriver was—in the minds of her three students—putting it mildly. Adam had walked into a magical duel the moment he arrived. Rocky and Aisha turning up had only turned it into a sparring session involving magic. They couldn't quite shake the feeling that Lily was only playing with them, dragging the session out for as long as she could, but as long as she didn't use her full capabilities, they were going to take advantage of that.

"You can do better than that!" Aisha said, backing off to let Rocky move in.

"You think you have me?" Lily said.

Rocky blocked Lily's attack and drove her into the wall with a kick, dropping away as Adam fired off several spells.

"Yes," they chorused.

A wandless shield activated, the spells splashing against it as Lily launched into action. A Stunner took care of Adam and two attacks had Aisha and Rocky on the defensive. Acknowledging that the tide of the match had changed, they conceded.

Lily nullified the Stunner and looked at her students. "That was interesting."

"You cheated!" Aisha said.

"How?" Lily said. "All I did was not fight with my maximum ability until the end of the fight. You recognised that and took advantage of that, which was smart. Your mistake was expecting me to continue in that vein; especially once you had cornered me. Adam, you need to starting fighting and using magic together—not doing them separately. There were at least twenty openings when you were fighting that you could have had me if you'd cast a spell."

"But it's hard to do both," Adam said.

"Don't I know it," Lily said. "The problem is, doing them separately gives your opponent time to react defensively against your new chosen tactics, thus nullifying any positive effect you'd get from it."

"Again?" Rocky said.

"I figured you'd want lunch first, but if you want another fight..."

"Food's good," Rocky said.

Pixie popped into the room. "Is Mistress wanting lunch?"

"Yes, Pixie. Sandwiches will be fine," Lily said, before turning back to her students. "I think I have a good idea of your capabilities now and where you could improve."

"Should have known this was all a test," Adam said.

"How do you expect me to teach without knowing what my students already know?" Lily said.

Pixie popped back with sandwiches.

"Thank you, Pixie," Lily said, echoed by her students.


The battle between good and evil has raged for millions of years, even before the dinosaurs roamed the Earth. The balance between good and evil has always been precarious and too often tilted in evil's favour. Planets, systems, galaxies—all of them have fallen, been abandoned or struck back as evil waged its path of war.

Earth is no exception.


Sunday, August 5th, 1984.

Oxford—The Pack Den

"So tell me about your aunt again?" Sirius said as the Pack-adults packed various suitcases and bags. They should have packed days ago, but magic made it so easy to pack on the day they were leaving, that they'd kind of put it off and off...

"Name is Amy Freeman, Muggle, works for a bank in Pittsburgh..." Aletha shrugged. "I forget how old she is. Certainly in her fifties, if not past it."

"No ideas on why she would contact you and ask you to visit?" Danger said. "And buy all the tickets?"

"None. She made the offer eight weeks ago; I haven't thought much on it since," Aletha said. "As for the tickets, she liked me; I was her favourite niece."

"Would I be correct in assuming you were her only niece?" Narcissa said, flicking her wand at a pile of clothes, which folded up and floated into the suitcase.

Aletha grinned and said no more.

"The cubs are likely to be difficult," Remus said. "All in favour of dosing them with a sleeping potion so they wake up... half an hour from landing?"

The motion passed unanimously, though Aletha vowed to ask for the next time, that Amy purchase tickets that weren't for daytime flights.

"Come on, Danger," Remus said. "Let's go wake the cubs up."


I Can't Believe It's Not Magic!

The cubs had protested vehemently at the idea of taking sleeping potions and against their better judgment, Sirius had drawn the losing straw to stay with them.

"Where we going?" Draco said.

"America," Sirius said, a touch of exasperation lacing his tone.

"It whole other land," Hermione said.

"Padfoot, how does plane stay up?" Harry said.

"Ask Moony," Sirius said.

"Moony, how does plane stay up?"

Remus began to explain, but was cut off almost at once.

"It not magic?"

"No, Harry," Remus said, grateful for the small mercy that Harry hadn't yelled the question out. Harry lost interest at once and Remus returned to his discussion with Danger.

"Actually, Remus, if you wouldn't mind, how does the plane stay up?" Narcissa said.


Pittsburgh—Amy Freeman's Residence

Once the Pack had factored in the flight's length, the time change and the formalities of entering the United States and renting hotels, it was a bit after three o'clock in the afternoon.

"You'll be much better off if you can last another five hours, minimum," Amy said as they sat around her apartment, the cubs in various laps.

"We've been curious," Aletha said.

"About why I invited you and paid for the tickets?" Amy said. "I haven't seen you since you were eleven, Aletha. I felt a visit was overdue. And I know you: if I paid for the tickets, you would come."

"Why's that, Amy?" Danger said.

Aletha groaned. "Remember my seventh birthday? Aunt Amy sent me a basket of sweets. I hated every one of them. But I ate them all—not all at once, Draco, don't you get any ideas—because it was a present and to dispose of them in the garbage would have been bad."

Danger shuddered. "I remember those. I refused to eat them after the fifth one."

"What was this sweet?" Sirius said.

"I am thankful that I no longer remember the name of the sweet," Aletha said. "I swore at the time that if I ever encountered them again, I would destroy them."

"For your information, the sweet in question was Lemonheads," Amy said with a smirk.

Aletha shuddered, like Danger before her—the memory was that awful.

The rest of the night passed in similar fashion, the Pack editing their anecdotes as necessary to avoid letting on about the existence of magic. The four unrelated Pack adults found they liked Amy very much.


Monday, August 6th, 1984.

Pittsburgh

"We'll have to entertain ourselves for the first part of the week," Aletha said the next morning. "Aunt Amy's got work this week, but after that she'll be in the clear. She did give me a few ideas on what to do with the cubs, though."

"What did she suggest?" Narcissa said.

"Zoo, amusement park. There are some libraries in the area, which Hermione will like. And the hotel has a pool. Hopefully they won't be bored."

"Amusement park?" Sirius said.

Remus, Aletha and Danger exchanged looks and then got very predatory looks on their faces.

"You'll see, Sirius."


Angel Grove

Adam had to wonder exactly what had given Lily the idea to evaluate his magical schooling. She had promised that she might be able to help him out with a few things afterwards. The promise was interesting enough that he had agreed to the evaluation.

"Eleven years of schooling,both Mundane and magical knowledge," Lily said. "That means you would start learning when you're six, in first grade."

"Yes," Adam said.

"How do you start out? Theory, practical, both?"

"Theory and practical, though at first we're taken through simple exercises to get us accustomed to using magic."

"We didn't have to do that at Hogwarts."

"It's fairly common knowledge that your magical core is reasonably developed and able to withstand the pressures of learning magic at age eleven, hence you begin school at that age. However, the purebloods also know that the earlier one starts actively using magic, the easier it is later to use. But as the magical core isn't yet developed, you have to learn how to access it before you can actively use it."

Lily frowned. "James and Sirius did talk a lot about how they'd always had wands. And Remus and Aletha never had wands until their first years at Hogwarts—Aletha was in the year below us." She shrugged. "So you access the core and then when you've accomplished that, you move onto spells and such?"

"That's it. It's harder this way than it is for those who don't start before school, but the purebloods swear by it," Adam said.

"America is so much more advanced... not like it matters. Let's go back to figuring out what you do know."

It was lunchtime before Lily was satisfied. Her evaluation placed Adam in fifth year, closer to the middle than the end by her estimate. Pixie was making lunch for them as they rested. Lily contemplated what she could do with Adam's schooling, debating on the merits of advancing him further before school began, but ruled that out. Once school began, she could get a feel for what he was expected to learn and teach it to him. Only then could she teach him more.

The doorbell rang and with a sigh, Lily went to answer it. She didn't think it would be Aisha or Rocky, or one of the parents, but if it wasn't them, she had no clue who it could be.

I remember all my life,
Raining down as cold as ice
Shadows of a man
A face through a window, cryin' in the night
The night goes on into

Morning just another day...

The song cut off abruptly as Lily opened the door.


Strange Visitors

Adam wandered around the block, letting his mind explore the problem.

He'd been sent out of the house when Lily's visitor arrived, but had not failed to notice the worry and potential fear in her eyes. Lily was quite capable of defending herself against a Mundane, so her visitor was a witch. More than that, she was a witch that was aware of whom Lily was.

That made her a danger. Adam wondered if Lily would disappear.

He supposed he wouldn't blame her.


A False Promise

"You need to go home," Lily said when Adam had circled the block twice.

"Are you going to be okay?" Adam said. It was none of his business, but he was concerned for the young witch.

"Who can say?" Lily said, squeezing his shoulder. "Like I said, you need to go home. I need to do some things."

"Are you staying?"

"Don't see any reason not to," Lily said.

That was enough for Adam, who headed off.


Pittsburgh—Kennywood

The amusement park—Kennywood, it was called—had provided no end of giggles for the Pack, for Sirius enjoyed the rides immensely—to the point of taking Harry, Hermione and Draco on two roller coasters each before Hermione threw up on him and dampened his enthusiasm.

"She threw up on me," Sirius repeated as Aletha wrung his shirt out in the sink. "And why can't you use magic for that?"

"It would look too suspicious. Be grateful that we had extra shirts."

"But I like—"

"That shirt is just a shirt. You do not like that shirt unless I'm wearing it. Now shut up."

The rest of the day was spent on more quieter rides, ones the cubs could in theory, go on by themselves.


Angel Grove

It had been a lie, or at least, not the entire truth.

Right now, it was taking all Lily possessed to not run.

They are in America.

Why did those words strike fear into her? Why did she want to avoid the friends with whom she'd spent many years in Hogwarts with?

"I don't know!" she said, her breathing rapid. With a sigh—and grateful that she had wit enough to begin—Lily executed several steps of a kata, her erratic movements settling into the fluid grace as the minutes passed and her head cleared of emotion.

Two separate issues.

The Pack was here and she did not want to be found by anyone, especially the Pack.

And that not wanting to be found was based on a much stronger level than merely needing to re-gather and understand the situation.

"What are the facts?" Lily said. Perhaps listing them might show her the path she needed to take. "I have a commitment here that I will not abandon. I did not bind her to keep her silence; therefore it is possible she will tell the Pack. It is fair to say that they have changed from the people I knew—I would bet that Sirius is less impulsive than he was."

Her movements changed with sudden swiftness as she segued into a more complex kata.

"Even so, it is probable that Sirius will want to come after me and I do not think that Aletha or Remus will allow their usual levelheadedness to prevail in this. Narcissa and this Danger are unknown quantities, but I cannot see them stopping the others—they have had years to see the effect my disappearance had on those three."

Lily spun, light on her feet and bowed.

"School resumes soon. If I could contrive some reason to be away from here during the weekdays, that might offer some form of security."

Your options are limited, her mind broke in. You would have to run your own business; you have little hope of being employed otherwise. The goblins can help you with that.

"But what can I do? The only marketable skill I have is martial arts."

Something flittered at the edge of her mind, but Lily couldn't quite place the memory. She sighed; it seemed her Occlumency had frayed somewhat if her memories weren't coming at her beck and call. That was another thing to sort out and until she had that done, she would have to hope she caught the thought.


Friday, August 10th, 1984.

Pittsburgh

There was a crack of Apparation and Amy Freeman found herself on the receiving end of five wands and five stunned looks.

"You're a witch?" Aletha said.

"Yes," Amy said, brushing off questions. "There was no need to keep it secret any longer—I'm aware you're a witch, but even if you weren't, you're involved with this lot, so you'd know about magic."

"Why reveal your abilities now, though?" Remus said.

Amy evaded the question. "When we met, you implied that you'd formed a Pack-style heirarchy. I need to speak with your alpha male."

Remus stepped forward. "Shall we return to your apartment?"

Amy nodded and with two cracks, they Disapparated.


Revealing Secrets

Any chance you'll tell me what's going on?

No. This is an alpha male secret. She doesn't want anyone else to know.

Understood.

Remus barricaded Danger out of his mind and looked at Amy Freeman, who had put up privacy spells.

"You said you worked for a bank," Remus said. "That would be Gringotts—or rather the American equivalent. As Wizard/Muggle relations are a little different in America, business need to look like Muggle businesses on the surface, and therefore need to be capable of handling Muggles. Therefore, human tellers are required. And it's not impossible that humans might work their way up in the heirarchy."

"Correct," Amy said. "I am the highest-ranked human currently working at Noxet Bank."

Remus watched the woman and waited for her to gather her thoughts.

"I could get fired for telling you this," Amy said.

"Then why are you telling me?" Remus said. The question hung in the air for several seconds before Amy ignored it.

"The Potter vaults remain untouched," Amy said. "The personal vault of Lily Potter has had its transactions made private. As of July 24th, any transactions made on that vault are not a matter of public record."

"Who has the authority to do that?" Remus said.

"Considering that Gringotts did not release the contents of the vault as there was no verifiable proof of Lily Potter's death, who do you think has the authority to do that?"

"Lily."


Angel Grove

Adam looked up as Rocky fought Lily. Every few minutes, Lily would pause the fight, advise Rocky on various aspects the fight would resume. Adam looked back down at the textbook and continued to read, writing things down.

"Having fun?" Aisha said, looking up from her own book.

"Define fun," Adam said. But his tone was light-hearted.

Aisha shrugged and went back to her book. "School's going to start soon," she said. "Little over three weeks. Too bad we can't have more time here; I like the training."

Lily scowled and pressed her advantage against Rocky for a few seconds before falling back, but Rocky didn't follow up.

"You've learned," Lily said. "Some advantages are not to be taken."

Rocky nodded, then attacked, but Lily deflected his blows, tripping him with ease. "And surprise attacks only work if the target is truly surprised."

Lily smiled and helped Rocky to his feet. "Aisha?"

Aisha traded places with Rocky, bowing. The two opponents watched each other, until Aisha attacked with a series of punches and kicks. She landed three blows, but then found herself pinned to the ground.

"If you could pin me to the ground, why did you let me even touch you?" Aisha said, breathing hard.

"Because letting you hit me gave me the opening; had I blocked you, I still could have won the fight, but it would have taken me longer."

"How'd you know that?" Adam said.

"Aisha always opens with the same tactic," Lily said. "I saw the weakness and exploited it. Had she delivered that tactic later, I would not have been able to pin her. Or rather, I would be too hesitant to pin her."

"So why could you pin me now?" Aisha said as Lily let her up.

"In the opening of the fight, Aisha's stationary; at any other point, Aisha is usually moving. And if you're moving about, I'd rather not try and pin you. I don't fancy injuring you by misjudging your momentum against the momentum of my attack. As long as you remained still, I was sure I wouldn't injure you."

Aisha nodded.

"How long have you been training?" Adam said.

"Since I was four. It's been a long time since Master Mao..." Lily's eyes grew distant, as the memory of when Master Mao came to England washed over her.

Lily sat behind the counter, watching her father work on the pizzas he was making. She looked at the oven where the pizzas cooked—after touching it once, months ago and coming away with burned fingers, she knew now never to touch it.

Her father took some pizzas out of the oven and boxed them, giving them to the customers before putting a new set of pizzas in and then sat next to her.

It was then Master Mao had come into the restaurant, looking directly at Lily.

"I suppose it's not only martial arts, after all," she said to herself. "What do you think of pizza?"

The three exchanged glances. "Pizza's good."

"Come with me," Lily said.

Four hours later, having made the requisite shopping run, Lily pulled two pizzas from her oven, looking at them with a critical eye.

"Well... seeing as I haven't made pizzas since the summer of 1977, I'm going to say that I succeeded thus far." With a wave of her wand, she cut the pizzas into slices. "Dig in."

Only Lily was surprised when Rocky ate an entire pizza's worth.


Pittsburgh

Are you okay?

No.

Can I help?

I don't think so.

I don't like alpha male secrets.

I'm not sure I like them either.

A crack of Apparation sounded and Remus appeared, followed by Amy.

"Any plans?" Remus said.

"I was wondering if I might have the children for the day," Amy said. "You could use some time to yourselves."

"I'm bored," Harry said.

"Me too," Draco said, nodding.

"Come on, children," Amy said, ushering them out. "I have an idea that you three will like."

"Not children," Hermione said, a pout crossing her face.

"We're four," Draco said.

"Older than Padfoot," Harry said.

"WHAT?!"


Saturday, August 11th, 1984.

Oxford—The Pack Den.

Remus let go of the international Portkey and took a deep breath, looking around. "Up the stairs, find the letters." He wasn't sure why he was checking if they were there. They weren't going to be.

It came as no surprise when the letters were gone.

"And what do you plan to do with that confirmed knowledge?" he said to himself. "She's alive. Amy told you. The letters were intended for her, so they were delivered."

He rested against the wall, suddenly feeling very old. His mind sifted through the information, only coming up with more questions. Why had those letters been deliverable now and never before? Where was Lily, if she was in America?

"Are you a wizard or not?" Remus said, pulling out his wand. "Point Me Lily Potter."

His wand laid still for a moment before spinning around. Remus had to grab his wand to make it stop and with a resigned sigh, he went to collect the international Portkey. One very confusing trip later, he found himself in Pittsburgh International Airport. He looked around for a secluded place and found a few signs pointing to a safe spell area, which turned out to be behind a group of murals lining a tunnel wall. Hoping for better results, Remus pulled out his wand again.

"Point Me Lily Potter."

The same results happened as before. Using Lily Evans didn't work, nor did Lily Evans-Potter.

She wasn't dead. Remus knew that now. So why wasn't the spell working?

"Point Me Sirius' annoying little sister," Remus said. Maybe this will work.

The wand spun once, twice and then stopped. Unsure of how he would get out of the airport and still hold that direction, Remus focused his attention on Apparating to the hotel room. It would be easier to follow the line from there.

Arriving back in the room, he repeated the spell.

"That makes no sense," he said, watching his wand move in an arc, as if the person was walking back and forth. "It can't be that precise, unless..."

The door from the other room opened. Remus' wand immediately focused on the door.

"Morning," Danger said, leaning against the doorway.


Parting Ways

"So what do you plan on doing once we leave tomorrow?" Aletha said to Amy over their final dinner.

"I've arranged to take a working vacation," Amy said. "Going around to various branches of Noxet Bank, though I'll have time enough to look around."

"Sounds like hard work," Narcissa said.

"Can be. You don't rise to my position without a lot of it, though," Amy said. "And in any case, it doesn't start until October. But enough of work. What do you plan on doing for the rest of your vacation?"

The conversation then turned to the planned tour of the magical US. Everyone expressed varying levels of interest at this, Danger, Remus and Aletha especially.

"Are you sure the cubs can handle this?" Amy said.

"Yes," Remus said. "We checked everything out—there'll be plenty of stuff for them to do, so they should be entertained. And it's only ten days."

Amy nodded. "My apologies, though."

"Why?" Aletha said.

"I should have thought more when inviting you. Children of their age can be difficult to handle."

"We've got a good bunch, mostly," Danger said, looking over at the cubs as they carried on their own, hushed conversation. "Growing up with two pranksters, however... we've learned to deal. They mind the rules. As long as nothing gets out of hand, we ignore it."

Amy nodded.

After dinner, Amy hugged them all, lingering most on Meghan, Aletha and Sirius.

"Take care of her," Amy said to Sirius.

"I will," Sirius said.

"And you," Amy said, hugging Aletha. "I love you."

"I love you too," Aletha said. They parted ways with Amy then, leaving Aletha looking thoughtful.

Amy's parting words to Remus caused deep thought for him as well, but he held his tongue. Lily and those related problems would have to wait.


Tuesday, August 14th, 1984.

Noxet Bank—Gorignak's Office

Gorignak welcomed Lily into the office.

"What can we do for you today?" he said, cutting to business.

"I need something to do, something to bring in money so I'm not living off my vault," Lily said. "Obtaining employment in the magical world means revealing myself. In the Mundane world, it means providing information I do not have. My only option therefore is to open my own business."

Gorignak nodded. "I presume you will not be opening this business in your name, to further protect your interests."

"Yes, that's correct."

"I would recommend a loan. We would then be able to offer you other help."

"What other help?"

"You would need premises and for the premises to be furnished. We can arrange that and all you would have to do is turn up as the operator. Additionally, once the loan is paid off, we can then have your business transferred into your name."

"But I don't want that," Lily said. "Do I?"

Gorignak smiled, his teeth sharp. "Your venture—call it Anne's Amazing Works—would be owned by a corporation, whilst you operated it as Anne Smythe. The venture would then transfer from the corporation to Anne Smythe when the loan was repaid. Should you ever need to leave behind the name of Anne Smythe, the venture would easily transfer to Lily Evans."

"And all I have to do is provide three names?"

"As well as figuring out the loan," Gorignak said. "I should think that it would not take us very long to get you all set up once you have done your work here."

Lily nodded. "Just tell me what I need to do."


A Not So Sisterly Missive

Returning to her home, Lily sat in contemplation, running through a list of the things she would need to arrange for. It was strange how the memories of ordering all the pizza supplies came back so easily. Idly, she wondered what had happened to her father's pizzeria. Perhaps she would need to contact Petunia.

It is most likely lost to you, she thought. Petunia never wanted anything to do with the pizzeria once you were confirmed as a witch, given it was a place you took much enjoyment from. Petunia would have sold the pizzeria—or would she?

Lily looked thoughtful. Petunia had hated her enough to withhold her inheritance, the legality of which could be debated. Lily had never bothered to do anything about it—she was too busy dealing with the war. The question she pondered now was if Petunia would have dared to risk even greater legal trouble by disposing of Lily's inheritance.

"She wouldn't have," Lily said, stretching. "She was too obsessed with being normal. The shame of a trial would be too much for her."

She drew parchment and ink towards her, beginning to draft a letter.


Friday, August 17th, 1984.

Little Whinging, Surrey

Petunia Dursley was perfectly normal, thank you. And she was happy with being normal. Too much trouble came from being freaky and unnatural—hadn't she warned her sister over seven years ago now at their parents' funeral? Well, she'd been proved right when a form letter informed her of her sister's disappearance, over four and a half years ago now—which she'd thrown in the bin after a cursory glance.

All of that was on her mind right now as she cleaned house. She'd put Dudley to bed for his usual nap, much against his protests. Her hand strayed once more to the letter the owl had delivered.

Petunia,

Our parents died on the twenty-third of July, 1977. I am fully aware of what my inheritance constituted, but in light of your pain and the war that you knew was going on, I chose to respect your demands and stayed away from you, bar the funeral.

I hoped—if foolishly—that you would honour our parents' wishes and give me my inheritance, yet you made no move to contact me to do so. I will be coming to see you this Friday; about ten o'clock. I want what is mine, Petunia. No more, no less.

Lily.

The doorbell rang. Petunia wasn't surprised to note it was exactly ten o'clock.

Opening the door, she blinked. Her sister seemed no older than nineteen.

"Lily."

"Petunia."

"Come in," Petunia said at last, letting Lily in. She didn't doubt for a second that Lily had her wand, but it appeared that in deference to Petunia's dislike of magic, Lily had concealed it.

"What do you want?" Petunia said.

"Our parents' will said they had left me the pizzeria. That was it. I want my pizzeria."

Before Petunia could wonder how she knew what the will had said, Lily added, "I know the place has been run by other people since before they died. I want the money owed me for the pizzeria's rent. I'm going to assume the rent was never changed. So... that's seventy-three thousand pounds you owe me, erring on the side of caution. Check it yourself if you don't believe me."

Lily handed Petunia a scroll of parchment, but after a look at it, Petunia was forced to agree that Lily had made fair calculations.

"You missed out on four hundred pounds," she said with reluctance. "What do you want me to do?"

"Do you remember Remus Lupin?"

"I recall the name."

"Get the seventy-three thousand and have the pizzeria be prepared to be transferred into his name; he is one of the guardians of my son. In addition, he has a presence in the normal world, so you will not have to come in contact with more of my kind than necessary. I want it all transferred into his name by this time next week. August 24th, this year to be clear. As for the excess rent—you can keep it."

"Is that all?"

Lily nodded. "I doubt we'll see each other again, unless you don't do as I've asked. But I think you will. You wouldn't risk having a freak back in your home again."

With a crack of Apparation, Lily was gone, leaving Petunia to consider the bitterness in Lily's voice.

Petunia didn't like to feel uncertain, though after an hour of thought she had to acknowledge that it was the emotion she was feeling. With a resigned sigh, she lifted the phone to contact her solicitor.

She hated it when Lily was right.


Thursday, August 23rd, 1984.

Angel Grove—The Juice Bar

Ernest Sucus was the overweight and jolly owner of the Angel Grove Youth Center Gym and Juice Bar and ran the entire operation by himself. Everyone knew and liked him: Ernie was always available to listen to the teens that hung out and would help them out when and if he could.

Ernie placed the last smoothie on the tray before taking the tray over to the table, which seated his favourite group—Zack Taylor, Kimberly Hart, Billy Cranston, Trini Kwan and Jason Lee Scott.

"Hey guys," he said.

"Hey, Ernie," they said.

"Who ordered the spinach smoothie?" Ernie said. He didn't notice Billy raising his hand as the building began to shake.

"Oh no! It's an earthquake!" Ernie said, turning around. "Everybody stay calm!" He was a little offbalance and ended up dumping the smoothies all over Farkus Bulkmeier. "Sorry, Bulk!"

Evacuation of the Youth Center began—if most of the patrons running out screaming their heads off in fear could be called evacuation. Ernie did his best to get everyone out of the Youth Center in an orderly fashion as bits of the roof and supports began to fall down. In doing so, he left the five teens to their own devices, but he didn't have time to worry about that and besides, he knew they were capable of taking care of themselves.

Doubling back from the entrance to ensure everyone was out of the building, Ernie halted at the entrance to the main room. The five teens were the only ones left in the building. He was about to call out to them when they dissolved into coloured light and disappeared.

Ernest Sucus, MSG of the United States Army was a Vietnam vet. He knew how to connect dots. But he also knew when to keep his mouth shut. No one could accuse Ernie of being a dumb man.

Therefore, when the Power Rangers arrived on the scene later that day and then the same five teens began wearing wristwatches with solid colour bands that would invariably utter a six beep tone before the Rangers would appear to fight against Rita's current plot, Ernie knew what no other resident of Angel Grove did.


Angel Grove—Mojave Desert

The sun was high in the air, yet it could not be later than one in the afternoon. The sun beat down mercilessly, not that it had any effect on Lily, who had cast protective and cooling charms. Out in the desert, Lily could almost ignore the fact there was a giant monkey with wings fighting against what appeared to be a giant mechanoid robot—were it not for the fact that sound carried.

Her charges had been whisked away to deal with resuming school, giving her a day to herself.

I've been having too many days to myself, she thought as she wandered about. I need to be more disciplined. So I will be.

With that decision made, Lily half turned to see a rock formation plunged into sudden darkness and felt herself shivering as though she'd stepped into minus degree weather naked. She looked up at the sky, seeing the stars and the crescent sliver of the waning moon. As an afterthought, Lily cancelled the cooling spell, replacing with a warming spell.

Choosing not to think of it, Lily turned for home. There were things to be done.


Friday, August 24th, 1984.

Oxford—The Pack Den

An owl fluttered in through the window, dropping a letter in Remus' lap as he ate breakfast.

Opening it, he read the contents.

Mr Lupin,

Please be advised that your Gringotts account was credited with seventy-three thousand pounds today. In addition to this, you now own the premises located at...

Remus folded up the letter once he'd read it all, thinking. He recognised the address, realised what it meant without even reading the rest.

Somehow, Petunia Evans—was she married now? It was possible—had been persuaded to relinquish her control of Lily's inheritance and the money Lily would have made from it had she been given it at the correct time. Of course it would come to them as the guardians of Harry, but why him? From a technical point of view, Sirius had more right to be in control of the inheritance than he did.

I hope you know what you're doing, Lily, he thought, making a note to meet the current renters of the pizzeria.

A thought occurred to him and he looked up at Narcissa and Aletha. "Sirius is currently an unregistered Animagus. What if we began to learn to become Animagi as well, to provide Sirius with a cover story when we register?"

The idea was approved and passed, with a promise that learning would commence on the first of September.


Diagon Alley—Ollivander's

Andromeda, Ted and Nymphadora Tonks were making their way around Diagon Alley, preparing Nymphadora for her first year at Hogwarts. Nymphadora looked up at the sign for Ollivanders and with a feeling of nervous excitement, entered the shop.

And promptly walked into a shelf, causing wands to go about everywhere.

Nymphadora's hair went bright red with embarrassment as Ollivander appeared and waved his wand, fixing the mess. He fixed his eyes on Nymphadora.

"Your first wand?" he said.

Summoning her courage, Nymphadora shook her head, but this did not seem to phase Ollivander. "I wanted to get a staff," she said, proud of herself for not betraying her nervousness. "It's said that Rowena Ravenclaw had a staff herself."

"That is true," Ollivander said. "The Staff of Rowena Ravenclaw. Polished wood of hazel and willow, inset with runes of bronze and with a bright sapphire set at its top. The core was phoenix tears and unicorn blood. Some sources claim there was a third core—a plant of some type, not of our world. It must have taken skilled craftmanship to bind the woods together. Even I have never managed that. You may also know that she had a talent for healing. It is said this staff increased this talent."

"So what happened to the staff?" Nymphadora said.

"No one knows," Ollivander said. "It disappeared. Not long after, she healed an entire class of students who had been badly burned by a rogue dragon. Without the staff, she needed two months to recover from it. Her hair remained white for the rest of her life."

Ollivander looked at Nymphadora. "In any case, Nymphadora, Rowena had a wand as well. She did not gain her staff until she was twenty, when her magical core was ready. A staff would be too draining for you at this point in time."

Nymphadora deflated, but submitted to the task of finding a wand—nine and three-quarter inches, hazel with a core of unicorn hair.

As she exited the shop after her parents, she caught Ollivander's parting message.

"Come back in nine years and we shall see what can be done for one such as you."


Saturday, September 1st, 1984.

The Hogwarts Express

Charlie Weasley stowed his trunk in a compartment, feeling a little nervous.

"I think I'm going to be sick," Charlie said.

Bill squeezed his shoulder. "You'll be okay once the train starts moving."

"If the train starts moving, I will be sick," Charlie said, sitting down in the compartment.

Bill grinned. "It'll be fine. Remember, you're finally going to Hogwarts."

Charlie gave him a look, but took his seat. "See you in Gryffindor, Bill."

"See you there," Bill said, wandering back through the train to find his friends. As he entered his compartment, a girl brushed past him, a quill in her hand as she scribbled in her book. Bill grinned and greeted his friends, a last lingering thought in his head.

Muggleborns—they're always so excited about this world.


Hogwarts—The Great Hall: The Sorting

"Tonks, Nymphadora!"

Making a mental note to deck anyone who used her name, Nymphadora walked to the stool, letting the hat rest upon her hair—blonde with black streaks through today—and waited.

A Metamorphmagus... there hasn't been one since Elvendork Black in the time of the Founders, said the Hat. Or to be more precise; there hasn't been one at Hogwarts—if there was, they hid it better than you do. So where would you go? Hmm. You would do well in Slytherin, but you think you'd disappoint your mother. Even so... perhaps you can show that not all Slytherin Blacks are Dark. Hufflepuff might have done you well in another time and place, but not under these circumstances, unless...

What about the others?

Ravenclaw would do well by you, especially if you plan to gain that staff. And Gryffindor, I might have chosen Gryffindor for you... but Miss Tonks, what do you want? Which house do you desire?

Nymphadora thought for a moment before making her choice.

Anyone looking at her would have recognised her Black heritage.


Ready And Waiting

Beneath Hogwarts, an ancient sentience woke.

Her mistress... master, whatever—was here; she was capable of knowing that much.

Soon, then. The Mistress would come.


Monday, September 3rd, 1984.

Oxford—The Pack Den

Silent footsteps approached the bed. Two sleeping forms inhabited the bed, but only one was their intended target.

Sirius awoke with a grunt as the three cubs landed on him.

"Up!" they said.

"What time is it?" Sirius said, struggling to sit up.

"Time to get up," Aletha said. "You shouldn't have told them you were going to take them to the Ministry for Take Your Children To Work Day."

"Go downstairs," Sirius said to the cubs. "Get Danger to feed you."

If not for Aletha's prodding, Sirius would have gone back to bed, but twenty minutes later found him at the table as Danger served him pancakes and eggs.

"I made a special breakfast for you," Danger said.

Sirius looked down. Honey was drizzled over his pancakes, spelling out a simple message.

Good luck. You're going to need it.

"I must applaud you on your ability to use honey that well to create a legible message," Sirius said before spearing the pancakes and beginning to eat his breakfast.

Danger grinned and turned back to the stove.

"You three know the rules?" Sirius said.

Three nods.

"And if anyone bothers you?"

"Get you," Hermione said.

"Sirius, is that really going to work?" Remus said.

Sirius didn't even look up from his breakfast. "What do you mean?"

"I don't doubt they understand that if they have trouble, they are to get you—but we raised them to be Gryffindors."

Sirius' fork clattered on the plate. "Is it too late to back out?"


The Ministry of Magic

"Morning, Arthur," Sirius said to Arthur Weasley. He eyed the children milling about Arthur.

"Sirius," Arthur said. "This is my lot... Ginny, Ronald, Fred, George and Percy." Each of the children looked up at Sirius with curiosity, though Percy seemed to want to glare more at Fred and George.

"Hermione, Harry, Draco," Sirius said.

The children eyed each other.

"Tag?" Hermione said.

The children scattered.

"Great, now I'm never going to find them," Sirius said. "This would never have happened under Bagnold."

"I doubt it will happen again," Arthur said. "The Ministry is no place for children."

"Did anyone try to tell Fudge that?"

"I don't believe Fudge listened."

Sirius snorted and parted ways with Arthur, backtracking to try and find the cubs. As he expected, he was unsuccessful and rerouted to his office. Determining that he had nothing that couldn't wait, Sirius went back after the cubs, running into Frank and Alice Longbottom, who were parting from Anita Lovegood and a small girl—her daughter.

"Sirius," Anita said. "Good to see you."

"Anita," Sirius said, watching Anita and her daughter leave before turning to the Longbottoms. "Frank, Alice. You haven't seen my kids, have you?"

"The Weasleys stole Neville," Alice said, exasperation lacing her tone. "I did see black, blond and brown amongst the red. I assume they were yours?"

"Yes, that would be them. So... five Galleons I can get more kids than either of you?"

"You're on," Frank said.


Unbalanced Paint Wars

The Ministry wasn't the best place for hiding. The children made the best of it, however, finding places in obvious and unobvious places.

Hermione wandered over the Ministry floor, trying to find the others. But with people wandering around and other kids also all over the place, it was hard.

Something impacted on her cheek. Lifting up her hand, she touched her cheek and then stared at the black paint on her fingers.

"PAINT!" she said, her voice rising into a shriek.

Sirius snagged her and with a pout, Hermione obeyed the rules by taking hold of the rope tied to Sirius' waist. It slithered from his waist and circled around hers, turning black.

"Already got one," Frank said. "You're good."

Hermione pouted as she followed Sirius. She liked this game—until she got caught. Every so often, the Pack adults would team up against the cubs. The cubs would always manage to get one adult each, and another adult would be taken out by all three of them together, but they'd never actually won the game by getting all five—the fifth adult always got the cubs.

It never occurred to the cubs the game was rigged.

Elsewhere, Draco and Harry had heard Hermione's shriek.

Harry looked at Ron and Ginny. "War."

"War?" Ron said.

"Padfoot got Neenie."

Draco edged out of his hiding spot, finding Percy.

"This isn't how we're supposed to be acting," Percy said.

"Padfoot got Neenie. Keep away," Draco said.

Percy sputtered, not understanding until a gob of paint smacked his arm. He looked at it. Green.

"One to me," Alice said. "Take the rope."

Percy obeyed with some hesitation, watching it circle him and turn green.

Percy wasn't sure what to make of this. It seemed to be some kind of game, but it wasn't anything like the games his brothers got up to. The noise level had died down a fair bit and that didn't really make sense to Percy. When you were running around and having a mock fight, there was a lot of noise. Quiet games were things like chess, or checkers.

He followed Alice.

Harry met up with Draco and they huddled away with Fred, George, Ron, Neville and Ginny, trying to figure out what they had to do.

"We can fight them," Harry said. "We get them, we win."

"We can't fight them," Fred said. "They've got wands. We don't."

Harry and Draco looked at each other. The Pack-adults would give them play wands—able to shoot colours out when the game was played at home. They did not have those wands.

"New plan," Draco said.

"What?" Neville said.

"Run," Harry said.

The others watched Draco and Harry sneak out and then copied them, all of them being as silent as they could.

Fred and George were the first to be captured as Frank happened on them as they left. He hit them with a spell each, but when they didn't stop, Frank chased them, firing off more spells. Only when the two were completely covered in yellow paint did they admit defeat and take a hold of Frank's rope.

"Will you teach us how to do that?"

"You two don't need any more help, from what I hear," Frank said. "You get into enough trouble without assistance."

Fred and George beamed.

There was a flash of light and Frank looked down at his rope, which had turned bronze.

"Looks like I lost."

They wandered back to the meeting place, where Alice showed off her silver rope for capturing Percy, Ron and Ginny. Sirius had gotten Hermione, Neville, Draco and Harry.

"Not fair," Harry said, echoed by the others.

"Sorry, cub," Sirius said, ruffling Harry's hair.


Coming To Unpleasant Realisations

Sirius paused at the door, watching his cubs. As expected, the three had joined up with Neville, Ron and Ginny and were playing some sort of game. He wasn't sure where the older three Weasleys were.

"We've..." Sirius sighed. It was hard to admit it, but the past years of hiding away hadn't been easy on their cubs. They'd done as best they could and Sirius didn't think the cubs suffered unduly, but they needed more than just each other.

"Unpleasant realisation?" Alice said, stopping at his side.

"You could say that," Sirius said. "We've screwed up, haven't we?"

Alice looked at him. "In what way?"

"We ran away, we hid." Sirius looked up at the ceiling, his wand twirling through his fingers. "It was like we couldn't interact in society at all, due to us hiding some famous falsely convicted criminal."

"Instead you're hiding the Boy-Who-Lived."

"I thought you didn't buy into that crap."

"I don't." Alice smiled and placed her hand on Sirius' shoulder. "Frank and I... we've been your friends for years, Sirius. We understood then and we understand now, why your Pack cut off ties and hid away. You needed time to grieve and you needed to protect Harry." A laugh tugged at her lips. "Still, Frank swore he'd come and beat some sense into you come November if you hadn't come to this realisation."

"Forgive us?"

"Invite us to dinner and you'll be on your way to getting it," Alice said, still smiling.


Half-hearted Justifications

The reception when Sirius returned home with the cubs was strained once Sirius mentioned his revelation. None of them really wanted to admit that he was right.

"Four is really the best age to begin socialising," Danger said, the words sounding hollow even to her.

"Pureblood society wouldn't start showing the children around until they were five. Four is when they begin to learn all the lessons they need," Narcissa said.

"Oh, let's give it up," Aletha said. "We screwed up."

"That felt liberating," Remus said. "Fine, we'll start reconnecting with our friends—but only in here at first. Some of them make take exception to Narcissa and best they do that on our terms."

Are they going to hate her for her past? Danger said.

I don't think so, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared, Remus said. The fact that she is Sirius' ward, along with all of the restrictions on her should work in her favour, not to mention that she betrayed the Dark Lord.

I hope you're right.

We'll find out.


Monday, September 10th, 1984.

Ocean Bluff, California

It was one AM and Lily was still up, looking through her spell books. She'd had the idea to apply a variation of the Notice-Me-Not spell, to make her seem unimportant, but she needed to know if it would conflict with the glamours she wanted to use.

With a sigh, she slammed the books closed. "Forget glamours. Muggle hair dye and an eye-colour changing potion. Can't be cancelled." She looked down at her body, biting her lip. She'd need a spell to change her body shape; it was too obviously her.

Within the hour, she was back in the apartment attached to her new pizzeria. And really, apartment was a bit of a grand term—in terms of area, it was far bigger than most apartments, but in terms of set up, it wasn't apartment like at all. There was a lower level that Lily would turn into a training area and a higher level that Lily would make into a sort of living area. A bathroom and a kitchen were also present on the higher level. Nothing more.

It still suited Lily well enough.

It was another hour's work to brew the potions and deal with the hair dye, but Lily went to sleep with brown eyes, a golden tan and black hair.


To Be A Master

Waking at nine, Lily dressed in jeans and a red blouse, waving her wand over her breasts. They shrunk two cup sizes and Lily took a deep breath.

"Merlin, give me the strength to get through this," she said before tying the ends of the blouse in a knot below her breasts. Taking several deep breaths, she fought down the urge to undo the knot and button the blouse. It wasn't her, this look just wasn't her! She acknowledged the look was seductive and made her look attractive, but Lily felt too exposed, like she was a slag or something of that ilk.

"And that's the point," Lily said, turning to her Occlumency. "This isn't me. No one would think it was me. Fine. There's only one thing left to do."

Waving her wand, Lily created a wooden sign for the restaurant—a bunch of green leaves on each side, to resemble a tree top, with the name written over it in black text. Another wave of her wand made the tree top three-dimensional and a final wave made the letters three-dimensional.

Walking outside, she affixed the sign in the chosen place.

"It's going to be ten soon," she said to herself. "Let's get to work, Casey."

Lily went back inside Jungle Karma Pizza.


Saturday, September 15th, 1984.

Ottery St. Catchpole—The Burrow

Molly was busy cooking breakfast when the Floo flared up.

"Aletha!" she said. "Are you well? Did we leave anything there last night?"

"I'm fine and no, you didn't," Aletha said. "We apologise, but we forgot to ask this last night: would you be able to take the cubs and Neville today? Neville will be arriving around eleven according to Alice, but if possible, we'd like to send the cubs now."

"That shouldn't be a problem. Is something wrong?"

"We've invited the Longbottoms, Moody and Narcissa's sister Andromeda over. We're not expecting it to go well and would rather not subject the cubs to the expected argument."

Molly nodded. "Send them on through, then."

Aletha came through with them and hugged them all. With one last admonishment to be good, Aletha returned home.

"You can go wake up the others," Molly said, hearing their feet run up the stairs. A thought crossed her mind and she crossed to the Floo to call the Lovegoods. Ginny would likely want a friend over to play as well.


Oxford—The Pack Den

"Remind me of the plan again?" Danger said as she prepared lunch—a seafood salad and chicken.

"Lunch, followed by talking. We suspect that Moody will be doing most of that talking. He doesn't like Death Eaters. If it gets to be late, we'll have dinner," Remus said, setting the table before going to help Danger.

"So Moody's the one likely to be trouble?"

"Andromeda might have things to say concerning the fact that we disappeared and that..."

"What?" Danger set the knife down and looked at Remus, who looked amused.

"SIRIUS!"

"What?! Oh, don't shout at me, let me come there!"

Sirius raised an eyebrow as he entered, holding a cloth in his hand. "What is it?"

"Sirius, did you ever think to reinstate Andromeda into the House of Black?" Remus said, having schooled his face into a neutral expression.

Sirius considered the question, his face paling. "Oh, Merlin."

"May I suggest you hurry up and reinstate her?" Narcissa said.

"That won't help the situation!" Sirius said.

"It might make her less likely to curse you when she arrives, if I follow this conversation," Danger said.

Sirius retreated from the kitchen, leaving Danger and Remus to continue preparing lunch. Narcissa rolled her eyes and followed Sirius.

Frank, Alice, Moody, Andromeda and Ted arrived more or less together around eleven. It was a relief when the expected confrontations failed to materialise, but the Pack-adults figured each of their guests had decided to keep their counsel until after eating.

Remus led the way into the sitting room after lunch and after a few minutes of silence, Andromeda cleared her throat.

"Your family has been reinstated into the House of Black," Sirius said. "You and your daughter may claim the titles of Lady Black-Tonks."

"I thank you, Lord Black," Andromeda said. "My sister, my lord?"

"Narcissa Black is a ward of the House of Black," Sirius said.

Moody's eye whizzed around. "You're subject to a number of restrictions?"

"I am," Narcissa said.

"It might interest you to know that Severus Snape is not in Azkaban and is completely free of any restrictions."

There was about three seconds of silence before the room exploded in a cacaphony of sound.


Ottery St. Catchpole—The Burrow

Fred and George looked at the newcomers. The girls had separated from the others, leaving the boys together. Fred had appropriated Molly's wand for this prank, against his mother's orders. But the temptation of pranks—as always—proved too great.

Touching the wand to the Dungbombs to set them off quicker, Fred and George lobbed several at both groups, to the expected result.

Ginny and Luna shrieked and ran for the safety of the house and Molly, whilst Neville looked disgusted. Ron glared, but he'd seen the girls running for the house.

"Fred! George!" Molly said as she stormed outside. "I have warned you about pulling pranks! And especially when we have guests!"

Fred and George weren't paying attention to her. They were focused on Draco, Harry and Hermione, who had not reacted at all to the prank except to do what little they could to get the Dungbombs off them. It was freaky and definitely not what they were used to at all. Pranks caused chaos and people got mad—that was a fact in their lives.

"Are you even listening to me?!"

They gulped and turned their attention to their mother.

Hermione made her way over to Draco and Harry.

"We talk to Moony and Padfoot."

Her words were met with two evil grins.


Oxford—The Pack Den

It had taken a full ten minutes to get everyone calmed down and then a further twenty for Moody to explain what he knew.

"So it boils down to Dumbledore protecting Snape," Danger said. "Why would he do that?"

"Anyone is far more useful outside Azkaban than inside Azkaban," Frank said. "But what use does Albus have for Snape?"

"He was the Order's spy," Sirius said. "Nothing else comes to mind."

They looked at each other.

"That... fits in with a belief we've held for a while," Aletha said. "We don't think You-Know-Who is gone. Dumbledore doesn't think so either—therefore keeping Snape out of Azkaban makes him valuable to both the Order and to You-Know-Who, should he ever return."

"Seems a rather long shot," Moody said. "Even if he still is out there, who says he'll return in time for Snape to be of any use?"

"He is still out there," Narcissa said. "The Mark has faded, yes, but it has not disappeared."

She drew back her sleeve and revealed the Mark, feeling Moody's magical eye linger on it for a few minutes.

"Then be prepared," Moody said. "He will want to move against all of you if he does return."

"We know," Sirius said. "We'll be waiting."


Tuesday, September 18th, 1984.

Maidstone—Willow Shade

"Seventeen days and still no word," Andromeda said over breakfast. "You'd think she'd be itching to write us and tell us all about Hogwarts."

"And how long did it take you to write your parents?" Ted said.

"I didn't. I didn't want to hear back from them about their daughter becoming a Ravenclaw rather than a Slytherin."

Andromeda finished her breakfast and carried her plate over to the sink where she dropped it on the floor and turned to Ted.

"She's a Slytherin. Oh, Merlin. That's why she hasn't owled. She thinks I'm going to be ashamed of her..."

Ted shook his wife, staring at her. "Are you going to be ashamed of her, Dromeda?"

"Of course not!"

"But she doesn't know that—"

He was cut off by Nymphadora's owl swooping into the room with a letter, which was duly opened and read.

I'm Slytherin.

Don't be mad.

"Five words? Five words? I waited seventeen days for five words?!" Andromeda paced the length of the kitchen, her nervous and somewhat hysterical energy needing an outlet. "I let my little girl go off to Hogwarts and I had to wait seventeen days for a letter of five words!"

"Dromeda, she's scared!" Ted said, with a little more force than necessary. "You were a Ravenclaw to avoid being painted as one of the Dark Blacks. Now, our daughter is a Black, in Slytherin. Why would she have done that?"

"I don't know. But I'm damn well going to find out."

Ted looked at his wife. "Let it go for now," he said. "She will tell us what she's doing when she judges it right. Just as you once did."

Andromeda looked at Ted and nodded, though her eyes lost none of their determination. He was right, she could admit that much. But she was not satisfied, not one whit.


Saturday, September 22nd, 1984.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Nymphadora looked around, calculating her odds. They didn't look good—she was up against seven older students; four Slytherins and one each from the other houses.

"What do you want?" Nymphadora said, wishing she could get to her wand without them noticing.

"We've heard things about you," the apparent ringleader said. "You're a Metamorphmagus."

"So?" Nymphadora said, all the while thinking, Shit, shit, shit!

"We can use a Metamorphmagus."

Nymphadora paled and pressed herself against the wall.

"Stupefy!"

It was two voices in tandem and Nymphadora didn't hesitate to take advantage, whipping out her wand and adding her own Stunning spell to the mix. She caught a glimpse of red hair. With three of Nymphadora's unwanted paramours down and the possibility of the professors coming along, the other four thought better of pressing the issue and left, dragging their friends with them.

"Thanks," Nymphadora said, putting her wand away as the others did the same. "I'm Tonks."

"Bill Weasley. This is my brother, Charlie," Bill said. "You okay?"

"Yeah. They were just being annoying."

Bill fixed her with a gaze. "I heard what they said. You're a—"

"I don't like to spread it around," Nymphadora said, looking back at the two Weasleys. "I don't know how they found out, but when I do..."

"I'll help," Charlie said.

"Why would Gryffindors help a Slytherin?" Nymphadora said, careful to keep her tone neutral. She did not want to antagonise these two, but the animosity between the two Houses was legendary.

"No one deserves to be treated badly for something they cannot control. You didn't ask to be what you are," Bill said. "Your House doesn't matter."

Charlie nodded in support of his brother's words and stuck out his hand. "Friends?"

Without hesitation, Nymphadora shook Charlie's hand. "Friends."

It was just in time, too, for Professor Flitwick came upon the scene and escorted them to the headmaster's office.


Hogwarts—Headmaster's Office

"It's my fault," Bill said, looking at Albus. "Seven on one; it didn't seem that I'd find a teacher in time. So I defended Tonks and told my brother to do the same. If anyone has to be punished, it should be me."

"Why were you accosted, Miss Tonks?" Albus said.

"They wanted..." Nymphadora's breathing began to grow erratic, now that the adrenaline of the fight had receded and what had almost happened began to sink in. Charlie squeezed her hand in comfort.

"From what I heard, they wanted to use her Metamorphmagus abilities for their own benefit," Bill said, adding an inflection to the last word.

"Not entirely unexpected," Albus said. "This is why we had wanted to keep Miss Tonks' ability a secret. Miss Tonks, you can be sure that I will be looking into who leaked this secret and why." He looked at Charlie. "Take her to Madam Pomfrey, Mister Weasley. She will take care of Miss Tonks."

Charlie nodded and the two first years left.

"Do you know what a Pensieve is, Mr Weasley?" Albus said.

"I think so," Bill said. "You use it to view memories, don't you?"

"Indeed. I would like to see your memory of the event. I wish to determine the people who had confronted Miss Tonks."


Punishment Due

In the end, the seven had not done anything to Nymphadora, beyond harrassing and threatening her and Albus could only assign them detention, rather than suspension or expulsion. But given their intentions, Albus had made it as harsh as he could—detention for the rest of the school year.

When they had left his office, with the threat of expulsion hanging over their heads if a like incident happened again, Albus looked at Fawkes.

"Even with Voldemort gone, the evils he perpetrated remain," Albus said. "The war is over, but the battles continue."

Fawkes let out a trill and Albus nodded.

"Perhaps, old friend."


Sunday, September 23rd, 1984.

Hogwarts—Slytherin Common Room

Slytherin House is not a House that promotes unity. There is an illusion of unity presented to the other Houses, but once past the stone wall entrance, that illusion is shattered. Inside the Slytherin Commons, it is every Slytherin for themself. Their heirarchy is based on power, knowledge, influence and purity of blood, as are most of the things within Slytherin. There are no dormitories—instead each student has their own room. The Slytherins are measured by how their rooms are protected from unwanted intrusions.

The prevailing message is clear: trust no one.

Nymphadora certainly didn't.

Any homework she did in the common room was done in a corner, preventing attacks coming unawares. She asked no favours unless she had already performed a favour to use as leverage, for she wasn't about to allow any Slytherin to have leverage on her. Painful lessons to have learned so quickly, but she had learned them.

She looked up from her homework, noting the common room had emptied out.

"Thank you, Salazar," she said. On the whole, Nymphadora preferred the common room to be empty; it was less dangerous then. Though since the previous day's incident, she hadn't been harassed once, which was a welcome change from the several come-ons and such a day she had been dealing with.

Gathering her homework, she stood up and then froze, looking to the side of the fireplace.

The wall had slid aside, revealing a passage.

With a quick look around the common room, Nymphadora entered the passage.

"How do I make you close? I don't want the others finding this place..."

Someone must have liked Nymphadora, for the wall shifted back into place, leaving her with a sense of having used up her one free chance. She turned back around and stepped forward.

She was sliding uphill before the sensation stopped, leaving her confined. A lot of scrabbling brought herself out from under a bed, along with a portrait frame and Nymphadora looked around a bedroom decorated in green.

"What is this place?"

"Well, I might be able to help."

Nymphadora jumped and looked about.

"No need to be scared! I'm in the portrait!"

Nymphadora set the portrait up on the bed. A dark haired man with green eyes looked back at her, a curious look crossing his face.

"Who are you?"

"You can call me Al. You'd be Nymphadora?"

Nymphadora swallowed. "How do you know? And if you know that, you should know that it's Tonks."

"Word gets around. I'm surprised you found this place, but in any case, you have found it. Possession being nine-tenths of the law, along with the fact that any previous tenants won't be returning to claim this place... this place belongs to you, more or less."

"How did I get here?"

"You said the password. By the way, saying the password again will close the entrance."

"Thank you, Salazar?"

"That'd be it. So my advice? You explore this place; see what you make of it. Word says you're a Metamorphmagus—one of the rooms here is a library. There'll be a book in there, by a Verity Black, first known Metamorphmagus. You'll find it helpful."

Nymphadora nodded. Al gave her a smile and waved her off, so she exited the room.

The room beyond was octagonal and with a look back into the green bedroom, Nymphadora theorised all of the rooms would be the same shape. She wondered why before looking around the main room. These walls were grey stone, each hung with a banner above a door. The banner above this door, as well as the one next to it on the left, was green. The next two banners to the left were yellow, red adorned the opposite walls, and blue to Nymphadora's right completed the circle.

"Something to do with the Founders," she said, before looking at the center of the room, where a round table stood. Twelve chairs there were, three to each colour.

With Al's words to her ringing in her ears, but also curious about the other rooms, Nymphadora went to her left, giving each room a cursory look.

The first of each coloured door held a bedroom, which proved of little interest. The Quidditch pitch behind the second green door and the kitchen behind the second red door were also of no interest—the less said about her abilities in these arenas the better.

Were it not for the book, Nymphadora would have spent longer in the bathroom behind the second yellow door. With a promise to come back, she headed for the second blue door, unsurprised to find the library there.

She ignored the piano, looking at the eight walls of shelves, crammed with books.

"How am I supposed to find one book amongst what must be thousands?"

Examining a shelf, she raised an eyebrow. Many of these texts were first edition copies of texts that had thought to be lost. The range and skill level of topics was mind boggling—Masteries, subjects beyond Hogwarts.

"The Ravenclaws would kill for this. You could learn for your lifetime and yet not learn everything here," she said. "Now, where is that book?"

She pulled out her wand and watched as the room responded, forming a pedestal in the center of the room. Crossing to this, she found an open book. Tapping the book with her wand, the book and pedestal melted away and a book appeared.

Metamorphmagi Explained, by Verity Black.


Unknown—Beginning Training

The three most important things a Metamorphmagus needs are: clear understanding of what they look like naturally, a clear understanding of the human body—skeleton, musculature, organs, reproductive organs—and an ability to visualise what they wish to change to.

Nymphadora shut Metamorphmagi Explained and looked about the main room of what she termed the Hideaway. The table and chairs were gone and in their place was a large bed, surrounded by mirrors. Off to one side was a stack of medical books. Biting her lip, Nymphadora began to strip off her clothing. Her Metamorph abilities had manifested themselves almost at once after she was born, but she had never taken it beyond changing the colour and length of her hair, as well as the colour of her eyes and skin.

Her mother had warned her against doing more than this before she was older—there was no telling what morphing her bones would do, when they had not had sufficient time to fuse and grow properly. However, Nymphadora had read Metamorphmagi Explained twice, which stated:

The skeleton and musculature of a Metamorphmagus may be morphed at any stage of development, without fear of harm to the Metamorphmagi's body, as constant morphing will speed up a Metamorphmagus' skeletal and musculature development until it has reached full adult development.

It may have been stupid to trust the book, but Nymphadora had no reason to not trust it. She let her underwear fall to the ground as she climbed onto the bed, watching herself in the mirrors. With nary a change in her expression, her hair became a light, soft brown and her eyes darkened. This was her natural form, which she considered a bit too plain. Her mirror images tossed her wicked grins before they assumed different poses, allowing Nymphadora to see all of herself without hindrance.

Taking only a minute to wonder when she would start becoming more womanly, Nymphadora looked at the mirrors, trying to memorise her body.


Friday, September 28th, 1984.

Hogwarts—Library

"Tonks! Oi, Tonks! Wait up!"

Nymphadora turned around, grinning as she saw Charlie. "Yeah?"

"We've got the afternoon off; d'you want to study together in the library?" Charlie said.

"Sure," said Nymphadora. "I can tutor you in Transfiguration; you'll need it."

"Just because I accidentally Transfigured the needle into a porcupine in our first lesson," Charlie said, his voice heated. "McGonagall still gave me five points."

"For sheer dumb luck," Nymphadora said. She grabbed his hand. "Come on."

The library was deserted, so within minutes, they had their work spread out on a table. As they worked on their homework, Nymphadora hummed to herself, thinking.

"Hey, Charlie?" Nymphadora said as she switched assignments.

"Yeah?" Charlie said.

"If I told you a secret, would you keep it?" Nymphadora said, a serious expression crossing her face.

"Yeah," Charlie said, leaning in.

"No, I mean it," Nymphadora said. "You can't tell anyone. But this is too good to not share, so I've got to tell someone!"

Charlie regarded the young Slytherin. The idea that she was having him on crossed his mind briefly, but he dismissed that notion as soon as it came. She deserved the benefit of the doubt this time, he figured. If it turned out to be a trick, he wouldn't trust her again. But his gut trusted Nymphadora.

"I promise," he said. "What is it?"

Nymphadora thought to herself. "Can you get me into the Gryffindor common room?"


Hogwarts—Gryffindor Common Room

Charlie poked Nymphadora and in response, her eyes and ears morphed. Now that she could see and hear again, she looked around the room, heading over to the fireplace.

"Don't you have a fireplace in your own common room?" Charlie said, feeling a little put out.

"Yeah, but come over," Nymphadora said. "Thank you, Godric."

Charlie came over, his jaw dropping as the secret passageway opened.

"Get in," Nymphadora said, shoving Charlie in and slipping in herself, closing the entrance.

When she landed on the bed, she was unsurprised to see Charlie had gone to explore. She caught up with him in the main room, laughing at his expression. He was staring at the floor, which had a fair sized symbol emblazoned upon it: what would have been a scalene triangle, if the apex wasn't fused into the circumference of a circle which did not go all the way around, though the longer edge of the 'triangle' was inside the broken circle. From where Nymphadora stood, the scalene triangle was upside down in the image. Furthermore, at the bottom of the symbol, a half circle was drawn in between the edge of the triangle and open circle.

"What's the symbol?" Charlie said.

"No idea," Nymphadora said. "I can make the rooms be what I need or want, but for the life of me, that symbol does not go away. It's weird; I can't find anything in the books here to explain it."

"What is this place?" Charlie said, looking at the other rooms.

"No idea," Nymphadora said. "I found it by accident. I've been calling it the Hideaway. Anyway, I want to talk to Al."

"There's someone living here?" Charlie said, following Nymphadora into the green bedroom.

Behind them, the symbol disappeared from the floor.

"Hey, Al," Nymphadora said.

"Welcome back, Nymphadora.," Al said, grinning as Nymphadora winced, though it was less pronounced. She was getting used to it, though the glare she gave Charlie was clear in meaning: do not use the name. "You brought a friend?"

"Yes. I was wondering... can you tell us more about this place?" Nymphadora said. "Like where the entrances turn out and all? I guess the bedrooms lead to the common rooms and the passwords are 'Thank you, founder', depending on which room you're coming to, but are there others?"

Al regarded them. "You're quick, Nymphadora. Well, I can tell you this. You can restrict the passages. 'Founder says, respond only to' and then state the names. And if you say, 'stealth mode, thank you founder' no one will see you exit or enter."

"The other entrances?" Charlie said.

Al shrugged. "Sorry. You'll have to find those yourself. Oh, you'll need to know: the restriction of passages requires you to be in the passage."

Al left the frame and Charlie and Nymphadora looked at each other before Nymphadora climbed under the bed. Charlie went off to the red bedroom and once the two passageways were restricted, they met up in the main room.

"So what do you do here?" Charlie said.

"I practice my Metamorph skills," Nymphadora said. "And for that matter, the green bedroom is off limits if you come down here alone. I might be in there."

"Why can't I come in?" Charlie said.

"As a Metamorph, I need to be familiar with my body, which means being naked," Nymphadora said, grinning as Charlie blushed.

"How are we going to get into the other common rooms?" Charlie said, deciding to ignore what Nymphadora had said. "I figure it would be easier that way, rather than trying to wander around the rooms. It took me several tries before I worked out that three jumps on the bed and saying, 'Thank you, Godric' on the third jump got me up to the Gryffindor common room."

Nymphadora nodded. "But how are we going to get into the common rooms? Stealth mode means we'll get to the entrances easily, but that means we'll disappear from the common rooms and that'll raise questions."

No answer could be decided, so it was put aside for further thought.


Hogwarts—The Hideaway

A growling noise alerted the two that it was dinner-time—past it, in fact—and they ascended into the Gryffindor common room and set off to the Great Hall. Nymphadora hadn't morphed this time because she'd pointed out that she could easily sneak back in and find out where it was located.

"I'm not giving you the password," Charlie said.

"Okay," Nymphadora said. "I don't need it; I have my own."

Charlie gave her a light shove and Nymphadora grinned, dancing back and for once, staying upright. Her luck didn't stay long, for when they reached the second floor, Nymphadora stepped into a flood of water and went ass over tits, slamming into the wall. Charlie didn't move to help her, staring instead at the foot high words that were positioned between two windows. From the colour, Charlie was sure they were daubed in blood.

The Chamber of Secrets has been opened.
Enemies of the Heir, beware.

Nymphadora struggled to sit up and just managed to swallow a scream—Mrs. Norris, Filch's cat was hanging by her tail from a torch bracket, but she was silent. Charlie looked himself and swallowed. The cat stared, unseeing into the distance, stiffer than death.

"Come on," Charlie said. "We need to get out of here."

Nymphadora nodded and used the wall to get up, but the moment she put weight on her left foot, she screamed and collapsed.

"Or we can stay here. Staying here's good too," Charlie said.

Nymphadora was in too much pain to say anything, leaving Charlie to wonder how to get her to the Hospital Wing. That question was speedily resolved by the rumblings of the school below them and Charlie sighed, going over to Nymphadora.

The rumbling of the students got closer and closer until it ceased with startling abruptness.

Charlie only looked up—noting that Nymphadora had fainted—when Filch began shouting.

"Mrs. Norris! What's happened to my cat?!"

"Argus," Dumbledore said, coming on the scene, detaching Mrs. Norris and conjuring a stretcher for Nymphadora. "Come with me. You too, Mr. Weasley. Minerva, Severus?"

Charlie stood up, watching as Nymphadora was levitated onto the stretcher. Ignoring the mutterings of Filch, Charlie followed the group to the Hospital Wing. Madam Pomfrey began to examine Nymphadora, too absorbed in the task to comment when Mrs. Norris was placed on another bed. After long minutes of examining and some attempts at spell, Dumbledore looked up at Filch.

"She's not dead," he said. "Merely Petrified. Mr Weasley and Miss Tonks are not responsible for this, it would take Dark Magic of the most advanced—"

"Then what Petrified my cat?!" Filch said, his face purpling.

"I cannot say," Dumbledore said, frowning. "Mr Weasley."

"Professor Dumbledore?" Charlie said.

"How came you upon the scene?"

Charlie hesitated, unsure of how much to admit to. "Tonks and I were in the Gryffindor common room—"

"That is against the rules," Snape said, his voice smooth.

Charlie squared his shoulders. "I looked at the rules," he said. "And there was nothing in the rules that says a member of another house is prohibited from entering the common room of another House."

"He is correct, Severus," McGonagall said. "It does not happen often, but there has never been—and will never be—a rule saying it cannot."

"So we'd been in there since the afternoon, since we don't have lessons and we lost track of time," Charlie said. "When we realised how late it was, we headed down to get some dinner. Tonks slipped on the water and slammed into the wall; when she tried to stand she screamed. Then everyone came."

Dumbledore looked at Charlie and nodded, before Madam Pomfrey cleared her throat.

"I've fixed Miss Tonks' ankle, but she'll have to stay here until tomorrow. I've given her a dose of Dreamless Sleep, so I don't expect her to wake until tomorrow."

"Very well," Dumbledore said. "Come, Severus. Minerva, if you would have the elves bring Mr Weasley some dinner?"


Saturday, September 29th, 1984.

Ocean Bluff—Jungle Karma Pizza

Adam bowed to Rocky and Aisha, who attacked following their own bow. Caught off guard, Adam was forced into a defensive position and the other two pressed their advantage.

Lily watched the fight, one eye on the time. She would need to go open up to let one of the regulars in; a quiet girl who was always carrying books. She would buy drinks and the occasional pizza, so Lily let her be rather than chasing her out, as she had been forced to do with other customers when they took up tables without buying anything.

"Enough," Lily said after a while, shaking her head to clear it of a strange feeling, watching her students assemble in front of her. "You're showing good progress, all of you."

The teens nodded.

"Practice your blocking. I have to go open up."

Lily left them to their practice, going downstairs to find a small crowd of customers waiting. She pulled on her apron, took several pizza orders and headed into the kitchen. A wave of her wand had three pizza bases spread out and upon pocketing her wand, she began to make the pizzas. It was one of her personal rules: magic could be used to clean up and to set herself up for pizza making, but everything else was done the Muggle way.

Well, almost everything.

The oven for the pizzas was enspelled with a few charms that kept it at the right temperature for cooking. This gave Lily a slight advantage in that with a mere tap of a wand, the oven was ready—no waiting for it to warm up or cool down.

The pizzas were in the oven as soon as Lily could manage it and tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear, she went back out into the main room, surveying her customers.

Everything was fine.

Still, she could not help feeling uneasy—as though a dark presence had encroached on her territory.


Pai Zhua Academy

Master Mao looked over the new entrants to the Academy.

An uneasy feeling spread through him when he met the hard eyes of Jarrod. Jarrod was a good student, but he was too easily swayed to the dark path, thinking himself above the others. Master Mao ignored it, looking at the four entrants. He knew of RJ from Master Finn, but the others were not known to him. Nevertheless, he would soon know them all.

"You will be shown to your dorms to unpack," Master Mao said. "Then we will commence assessment. Jarrod, take them to the dorms."

The four cubs stood and made the ritual bow before exiting the area after Jarrod.


Monday, October 1st, 1984.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

It was all the school could talk about—with good reason. Nothing like this had happened in years, even during the war, for Hogwarts had been impenetrable. And with something solid to focus their attentions on, the rumors filled Hogwarts.

The Chamber of Secrets has been opened...

The Gryffindors were certain it was a Slytherin, most likely a sixth or seventh year. Someone who had profited badly by the defeat of You-Know-You—and there were plenty of those. Not that they were saying the students had been Death Eaters, but with the Death Eaters in Azkaban, many students had been left without family guidance, thrust into the position of family head.

The Ravenclaws knew it had to have been Dark Magic, unparalleled in almost all of history and so Dark that You-Know-Who would have killed his own father to learn the secret. The problem was that information on anything that Dark could not be found in Hogwarts, and without a better idea of what to look for than 'unparalleled in all of history' and 'worth killing your father to learn of', they were stumped.

The Hufflepuffs decided it was more important to keep everyone as safe as possible and began encouraging buddy systems and check-in points around the castle. Whoever was behind the attacks would find a group of people harder to deal with than just one and checking in around the castle would help to know when to start panicking about someone's absence.

The Chamber of Secrets has been opened...

The Slytherins looked around the Common Room.

"So the Chamber's been opened?"

"The Gryffindors think it was one of us."

"Was it?"

"How should I know? It wasn't me."

"Course it wasn't, but if it was, you wouldn't say. I wouldn't."

"Was it you?"

"No!"

"Right..."

The Chamber of Secrets has been opened...

The professors didn't know what to do. Some of them—Dumbledore, McGonagall, Flitwick—were old enough to have been at Hogwarts the last time the Chamber was reported to have opened, but the Chamber had not been found then, nor would it be found this time, if history remained the same. Nor had it escaped them the significance of where the message was written. None of that seemed to matter when the teachers were called upon to restrain Filch from being harsh beyond reason with the students, as if that would bring back his beloved Mrs. Norris.

And it reached the ears of the portrait Al via the testimony of Nymphadora and Charlie.

"The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the Heir, beware," Al said. "And Mrs. Norris was petrified. Well. Isn't that just fucking lovely."

"Most of the students seem pleased with it," Nymphadora said, withering under Al's look.

"It's not about the blasted cat!" Al said. He looked around. "Has the Chamber ever been opened before?"

Charlie looked at Nymphadora.

"Some of the sixth and seventh years have said it was opened forty-two years ago and someone died then," Nymphadora said.

"But it wasn't found then, was it?" Al said.

"The Chamber wasn't found, nor was the monster," Nymphadora said, "but they expelled the student responsible."

Al paced back and forth, receiving worrying looks from the two students. He seemed to reach a decision and strode out of the portrait, calling out, "Keep me updated."


Tuesday, October 2nd, 1984.

Warnings

"Minerva."

"Severus. Is there a problem?"

"The Weasley children."

Minerva arched an eyebrow. "Are you referring to their friendship with Miss Tonks?"

"Indeed."

"What of it, Severus? They have formed a friendship, unheeding of their House affiliation—the elder Mr Weasley less so, but he still acknowledges her as a friend. That is something to be glad of."

"It is also unwise. The Slytherins do not trust Miss Tonks, nor do they trust the Weasley children."

"They should try. They might find themselves surprised."

Severus looked at Minerva before walking away. There was nothing he could do, that much was obvious. The association would continue. There was nothing he could do for Nymphadora if she would set herself against her classmates like this.


Something Not Quite Right

Hagrid frowned, looking around at the rooster corpses.

"Summat not righ' here," he said. "Best tell Dumbledore."


Hogwarts—The Hideway

Nymphadora entered the green bedroom, glancing over at the empty portrait. The room responded to her wishes and covered it with a black cloth as she climbed onto the bed. The mirrors appeared around the bed and her reflections assumed their familiar positions. It was boring work; there was no getting around that.

"Maybe if I had tits it'd be more fun to look at myself," Nymphadora said, focusing on her back. The faint lattice of scars criss-crossed her back, the legacy of accidental magic that had blown Nymphadora through two windows in a department store. By the time everything had been sorted with the muggle hospital so she could be transferred to St. Mungo's, it had been too late to eradicate the scarring.

"The book says I can get rid of those..." Nymphadora said, her eyes taking in the details.

There came a knock at the door and Nymphadora frowned, burrowing under the sheets, watching her reflections disappear.

"Come in!"

Charlie entered the room, looking at the mirrors before deciding to not ask.

"What do you think about this Chamber business?" Charlie said, leaning against the wall.

Nymphadora gave a half shrug that couldn't be seen and spoke. "I have no idea. The Heir's Salazar, that much seems obvious. Go get my bag from outside and I'll get dressed. There's something I want to check."

Nymphadora took her bag as she exited the green bedroom and pulled out Hogwarts, a History. Flipping through the pages, she nodded and handed the book to Charlie.

"Hogwarts was founded over a thousand years ago," Nymphadora said, "by Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw, Helga Hufflepuff and Salazar Slytherin. They built Hogwarts in an age of persecution from the Muggles, hence the remote location. Seeking out those with magical talent, they educated them for several years. However, Slytherin believed that the Muggleborns could not be trusted and wished to refrain from educating them and this led to a rift between him and the other Founders, which in turn led to an argument between Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin and so Salazar left Hogwarts."

Charlie stopped reading and looked at Nymphadora.

"The legend says Salazar built a secret chamber in the school and that it was unknown to the other Founders," Nymphadora said. "Even with magic, I wonder how he managed that. According to the legend, Salazar sealed the Chamber so that only his own true heir could open it and unleash the monster that resides within the Chamber, purging the school of all those unworthy to study magic."

"You worried?" Charlie said.

"Nah," Nymphadora said. "What's the worst that can happen?"

"I guess we'll find out now you've asked," Charlie said.

Nymphadora winced. "Yeah."


Wednesday, October 3rd, 1984.

Oxford—The Pack Den

Narcissa had considered her options for several weeks, discarding each as it proved unsuitable.

The idea of confronting and accusing him was satisfying to an extent, but she knew that would get her nowhere. The information she wanted would not come to her that way—it would be guarded even more to ensure she did not get to know it.

Sycophancy might work, were he Nott, or Dolohov, or even Pettigrew. But he was not; he would see right through that attempt and would not tolerate it.

And I had enough of being sycophantic with the Dark Lord, Narcissa thought. So that is out as well. I could approach as an equal; that would gain me the greatest foothold of the three. The only problem with that is that I need a bloody escort.

Narcissa scowled. But they are fair; they always escort me when I ask. But no. Best to keep this as private as this ever can be. Sending an owl will serve to open communication and may catch him off guard.


Treading A Cautious Path

The letter was dropped on the table and picked up mere seconds later. Curious eyes scanned the letter, which raised questions he was not sure he wanted answers to.

The first and most pressing was her reason for writing.

"Her timing is three years too late; surely if she had anything, then would have been the time to use it."

It may have been easier if he could have passed this off as a simple reconnecting of old acquaintances, but his life didn't allow for such allowances.

"But what if she does have something? She is no stranger to the dark path."

Uncertain, he pulled parchment towards him and began to craft his letter.

It took him some time, for each sentence had to be properly phrased, in order that his correspondant understand the implicit message that anyone else would not see.


A Swath Of Letters

Nymphadora,

Your professors tell me you are often absent from the school. Care to explain?

Andromeda.


Mum,

Not particularly.

Tonks.


Nymphadora,

It wasn't optional.


Mum,

Just because they can't find me doesn't mean I've left the school.


Nymphadora,

Explain yourself. Now.


Mother,

I won't explain myself in a letter and I can't explain much anyway. I am completely safe, however. I ask that you accept that.

Nymphadora Black Tonks.


Nymphadora,

Given the state of this poor owl, I shall leave it at that. But do not think that I will not be demanding answers at Christmastime. You're good, but you'll need to be much better before you can pull the wool over your mother's eyes.

Andromeda Black Tonks.


Monday, October 22nd, 1984.

Oxford—The Pack Den

"Sirius, what do I do?" Andromeda said, arraying the letters from Nymphadora on the table, along with her own.

Sirius glanced over the letters and then looked up at Andromeda. "You're asking me to help you with a girl who is perhaps breaking rules, or has found a loophole and is exploiting it for all it's worth?"

Andromeda blinked. "Yes, you're right, this was a stupid idea. Maybe Aletha can help me."

"Andromeda, what is the problem?" Sirius said. "You didn't come to me to ask for advice on Nymphadora's rule bending. What did you want?"

Andromeda sighed and sank into her seat. "She's a Slytherin, Sirius. A Slytherin."

To his credit, Sirius did not react to this piece of news. "Go on," he said, his eyes on Andromeda's face, reading every change in her expression.

"I'm worried about my daughter; you remember what the Slytherins were like in our time," Andromeda said. "More to the point, present day Slytherin contains the children and other relatives of the incarcerated Death Eaters. Nymphadora does not know how to survive in the environment."

"I acknowledge the points made," Sirius said. He paused, considering the alternatives of his next sentence, of which there were none. "What do you want, Andromeda Black Tonks?"

"I ask you, Lord Black, write to my daughter," Andromeda said. "Make her see sense, that she must remain where she can be found at all times, within the school. Tell her to request a resorting into another House; Ravenclaw would suit her, for she wanted a staff just as Rowena Ravenclaw had."

"You would have me demand Iusiurandum Familiae from Nymphadora?" Sirius said. He expected Andromeda to deny it—the Oath of the Family was not a plaything, even amongst the Darkest families.

"No, my lord," Andromeda said.

Sirius watched her expression and gave a grim smile. "You are lying, Andromeda."

Andromeda remained silent, her eyes remaining on Sirius.

"Andromeda Black Tonks, I, Lord Sirius Black, Head of the House of Black, demand Iusiurandum Familiae from you," Sirius said, feeling the magic swirl about, surging in intensity before dying down in waves. "You will swear to leave your daughter, Nymphadora Black Tonks by name, at peace over her placement in Slytherin House and where she spends her time outside of class. Nor will you harass her by covert means. Furthermore, I reserve the right to amend, add or subtract from the terms of this swearing as I see fit."

Andromeda matched Sirius' gaze, her eyes cold.

"She is Slytherin, Andromeda," Sirius said. "You know that we have no say in it."

"Fine," Andromeda said. "I, Andromeda Black Tonks, acknowledge the demand of Iusiurandum Familiae and so swear by the demands made by my Head of House, Lord Black."

The magic snapped towards Andromeda, coalescing into a black wristband an inch wide and engraved with a serpentine B. Andromeda frowned and it shifted to her left wrist.

"Tell me, Andromeda, when did you send the most recent letter?" Sirius said, tapping the letter with his wand.

"This morning, my lord," Andromeda said.

Sirius nodded and sighed. "I did not want to have to do that, Andromeda."

"Yet you did it anyway," Andromeda said, rising from her seat and striding to the front door. She paused and turned back. "You must know you have the right to change the terms of the swearing regardless of whether you said it in the terms or not. Why did you, my lord?"

Sirius looked at her. "I am not unfair, Andromeda. If I have to change those terms in the interests of Nymphadora, I will. But I will not let you assume the terms are set in stone—that is wholly unfair to you."

"I see," Andromeda said. She Disapparated, but Sirius caught her parting words. "Thank you, Sirius..."


Wednesday, October 24th, 1984.

Hogwarts—Gryffindor Common Room

"Bugger," Nymphadora said, reading her mother's letter.

"What's wrong?" Bill said. He was sitting with Nymphadora and Charlie; he didn't often do this, but his presence seemed to lessen the disapproval of a Slytherin being in the Gryffindor common room.

"I tried to go all 'family' on her to get her to back off on something; I even signed my name to the letter," Nymphadora said. "She backed off for now, but she saw right through my tactics."

"Mothers do that," Bill said. "I remember once, I wanted to get... well, I don't remember what it was. So I asked for it, was told no, kind of sulked for a day and then tried being good. Mum let it go on for a week before she informed me that it would do no good."

"That sucks," Nymphadora said.

"He got an ice-cream out of it, though," Charlie said. "Which he almost lost when he said something like an ice cream wasn't worth it, but one glare from mum and he took it."

"Be fair, I was only seven," Bill said.

Nymphadora turned back to her homework, rolling up the parchment. "I'm done."

Charlie closed his books with a thump. "Me too. You can leave your stuff here, Tonks."

"Safer if I don't," Nymphadora said, picking up her bag.

Charlie bit his tongue and nodded.

The three went downstairs for dinner, with Bill slightly in the lead. Charlie and Nymphadora were startled when Bill whipped out his wand, pushing them back against the wall. Then they heard the sound of running footsteps and Bill looked around the corner with caution.

"Rowena, Godric and Helga!" Bill said, stepping out into the hallway. "Samantha!"

A Hufflepuff girl was standing stock still in the hallway. Charlie and Nymphadora followed Bill, watching him tap Samantha's shoulder. She didn't respond and Bill gave a grim smile.

"Petrified. And I didn't even look around the corner until it was too late," he said. "Get Dumbledore."


Hogwarts—Hospital Wing

Nymphadora held back a yawn. Dumbledore, McGonagall and Snape had all questioned them over and over, but it had been no use: they knew nothing, were guilty of nothing and even Snape had been forced to concede that Bill's choice of caution was the best thing—if he had stepped out to see who the person was, he might have been petrified as well, making his information useless.

Samantha's mother had been summoned to Hogwarts, which was not the greatest of ideas. A Muggle, she was not against magic, but nor did she embrace it without reservations. Hearing that her daughter had been petrified by assailants unknown led to a screaming match between her and McGonagall and the underhanded application of a Calming Charm and she had been given a chair next to Samantha. Her youngest daughter was bouncing up and down on Samantha, poking her and trying to get a response.

Nymphadora looked up at the little girl from her bed—Madam Pomfrey had insisted that she and the Weasleys spend the night after their prolonged questioning—and with a quick wave of her wand and a muttered incantation, the little girl floated over to Nymphadora.

"That was fun!" the little girl giggled. "Do it again!"

With a grin, Nymphadora cast the levitation spell again and floated her over to Charlie, who floated her back to Nymphadora.

"Better not do anything more," Nymphadora said. "What's your name?"

"April Grace," April said. "And that's Sammie, my big sis! She can do magic! Can you?"

"We all can here," Charlie said. "Hogwarts is a school for learning magic."

"Can I learn magic?" April said. "Can I?"

Nymphadora pulled her wand out, handing it to April. "Let's see."

April waved the wand, but nothing happened. Charlie offered his wand, and there seemed to be a light show, but when she took up Bill's wand, April managed to make every bed in the infirmary lose its legs.

"That was fun!" she said, watching the students wince.

"If you three would mind settling down... what did you do to the beds?" Madam Pomfrey said.

"Accidental magic from little April," Charlie said. "She wanted to learn magic, so we let her wave our wands."

"Well, keep it to yourselves for the moment; I think their mother has had all she can take," Madam Pomfrey said.


Hogwarts—Unknown

The curtains were drawn around the bed, with a light illuminating the pages.

I woke up again... I can't keep having these blackouts.

It'll be okay. You're just overtired. You are Muggleborn, after all; it's not surprising that all this magic work is tiring you out.

I'm just as good any pureblood!

I didn't say you weren't, but you must admit that they've grown up around magic, they've had opportunities to do magic that you never had, so they're more used to the demanding nature.

Well... I guess that's true. But why is it so demanding?

Magic is just like a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it is. Now, you haven't really used magic before September first of this year, so your magic is... learning, for lack of a better word, to do what you want it to, when you want it to. Remember McGonagall's matchstick to needle Transfiguration? You had the incantation and the wand movements right, but it still took several tries before your magic did something.

I guess so...

We don't run out of magic: we'll always be magical, but we can run out of our magic reserves, which causes magical exhaustion. Which therefore leads to physical exhaustion and is why you're overtired.

Thanks, Tom.

Don't worry, I'm your friend. I'm always glad to help.

What Tom had said was true, as far as it went. Magical exhaustion came from doing spells too fast for the magic reserves to refill, or doing spells that required a large amount of power. Except the first year spells did not require much power to perform, nor were they performed in such numbers to cause exhaustion. Any pureblood or half-blood would have known that.

A Muggleborn? They just accepted what they were told.

Author Notes: Yeah, so my mother died eighteen days ago. I haven't written a damn word since. In any case, here is your third chapter on schedule. Don't count on having the fourth any time soon; I haven't written a word since—no real motivation and also I'm cleaning out the house of all my mother's shit that should have been chucked out years ago. I mean, who the hell keeps a washing machine repair receipt from 1988? In any case, hope you enjoyed and please, review; it encourages me with this massive undertaking I've attempted. There's a link at top to the Yahoo!Group.
Dangerverse belongs to Anne Walsh, who based it off Harry Potter, belonging to JK Rowling.
Power Rangers belongs to Disney, so far as I know.
Discworld belongs to Terry Pratchett.
Anything else belongs to Alex Collins.
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