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Chapter One – New Beginnings

Harry had just arrived at Grimmauld Place, after leaving the Dursleys’ for the last time. It was his 17th birthday – he was of age, a fully-fledged wizard. Well, almost – NEWTs still stood in the way, but they didn’t matter.
Harry stepped across the threshold of Sirius’s house. The house he now owned. He hadn’t been there for two years. A lot had happened in those two years: Sirius had dies trying to save Harry and his friends at the Department of Mysteries and a year on from that, Dumbledore had died at the hands of a traitor. Snape turned out to be evil, as did Malfoy, but Harry always suspected that would happen. And then there was his relationship with Ginny – it was short lived because Harry couldn’t complete his job with the risk of Voldemort using Ginny to get to him, so he had ended the relationship at Dumbledore’s funeral. While he was at the Dursleys’ he had time to reflect on this decision and he had realised it was for the best because his feelings for Ginny had passed. It was just a crush, a confusion of emotions.
“Good morning Master,” a resentful voice spoke from the shadows of the entrance.
“Kreacher! You scared me,” Harry said, “Put these upstairs for me. In Sirius’s old room. And then you can make lunch, Ron and Hermione will be arriving soon.”
“Yes Master,” Kreacher replied with an air of disgust for havening to obey Harry.
Harry walked into the lounge room and collapsed on one of the couches. It felt good to be back in a place where he could let down his guard, choose any couch he wanted and just relax. The moment Harry closed his eyes the door bell rang. Thankfully the portrait of Mrs. Black had been removed, the door bell left a lingering silence in its wake rather than her screams. Harry got up to answer the door.
“Hermione!” Harry greeted his visitor.
“Hi, Harry,” Hermione stepped inside and enveloped Harry in a great, big hug, “How are you?”
“A lot better after that hug!” Harry grinned. Was he flirting with Hermione?
“Haven’t had one of those in while? No love where you’ve been?” Hermione cooed.
“No not really – not at all actually! Mind if I ask for another?”
“You just did!” Hermione laughed but obliged all the same, “It’s good to see you again, Harry.”

***

Harry invited Hermione to sit down in the lounge room while he went upstairs to put her bags in her room.
“Harry, these just came,” Hermione said as Harry returned, she was holding their Hogwarts letters.
“I’m not going back,” Harry reminded her.
“I know you said that but surely you don’t mean it. It’s our NEWT year!” Hermione seemed flustered.
“I mean it. There’s more important things for me to do at the moment.”
“What Harry? Finding the horcruxes?”
Uh, yeah. I’ve got Lupin looking for something of Ravenclaw’s or Gryffindor’s, but I still need to get rid of the snake.” Harry had already managed to find out that the locket had been destroyed.
“What if there was a way for you to continue researching the horcruxes and finish school?”
“There isn’t,” Harry argued, bluntly.
“Actually,” Hermione said, flushed with what seemed to be embarrassment, “I’ve spoken to McGonagall and she ahs agreed to let you come back here on weekends so you can continue the mission. Ron and I are allowed to assist you too.”
“Really?” Harry said thoughtfully. Hermione always thought of an answer for all his problems, “I guess that would work.”
The gleam of happiness in Harry’s eyes didn’t go unnoticed, “Harry! You actually want to go back don’t you?” Hermione said with a mixture of glee and realisation, “I want you to come back too,” She said more quietly.
Harry laughed, “If you want me to go back to Hogwarts, then I will.”
Hermione blushed, then grinned.
“Do you know when Ron’s getting here?” Harry asked.
“No,” Hermione mumbled.
“Anything happen between you guys, Mione?”
Hermione jumped at the name but remained silent. Harry moved to sit next to her and placed an arm around her shoulders.
“Mione?”
“Nothing happened, Harry. Honestly, I’m fine,” Hermione smiled weakly.
Harry just raised his eyebrows, skeptically.
“Ok! I’ll tell you what happened but first I want to make clear that I am not upset about this. Understand?” Hermione said, giving into Harry’s gaze.
“Yup”
“In the first week of the holidays we got together for a meal at the Leaky Cauldron. We both thought that the reason we argued so much was this hidden attraction. We were wrong. Turns out we argue more as a couple than we do as just friends. So a week after that date, we broke it off. Now he’s back with Lavender.”
“Lavender, huh? He never told me that in his letters, and what about you?”
“I’m fine. My feelings for him are sisterly, besides I have feelings for someone else.”
“Same with me,” Harry mused quietly.
“Did you know that Ginny’s back with Dean?” Hermione asked, carefully.
“Really? Good for her, no really, I’m happy for her, Ron too. I guess we’ll have to keep each other company at school!” Harry hugged Hermione. Not for comfort but just because he wanted to.

***

Harry and Hermione were in the kitchen, catching up on news over lunch, when Ron’s head appeared in the fireplace.
“Hey guys!” he said as they moved closer to the flames.
“Hey Ron, what’s up?” Harry asked.
“Well, I’m really sorry guys, but I’m not gonna be able to make it till next week.”
“Why not?” Hermione asked, which caused Ron to blush.
“Well, Lav-Lavender organised some surprise – won’t tell me anything except apparently I have to keep myself free for a week. Lord knows what she’s planning.”
Harry laughed, “That’s cool. If we find any information on the horcruxes though?”
“I’ll be there straight away. Sorry again – gotta go,” And with that, Ron was gone.
Harry and Hermione settled back at the table to finish their lunch.
“He’s whipped,” Harry said shaking his head and smiling.
“Harry!” Hermione chastised him for his comment, “I, for one, think it’s sweet that he’d do such a thing for her. Obviously Ron’s finally growing up.”
“So you think he’s upgraded to the emotional range of a soup ladle now?” Harry asked innocently. Hermione took one look at him and burst out laughing.

***

Harry put his feet up on the coffee table and sighed. The day had been as good as they get, relaxing and fun. Hermione had just gone upstairs to retrieve something. Harry thought she had changed a bit in the month since Dumbledore’s funeral. She seemed wiser, more mature. She wasn’t a little girl anymore, she’d gone on to become a young woman.
“A beautiful woman,” Harry mused, then smiled.
“What are you smiling at?” Hermione asked, returning. She had a small velvet box in her hands.
Harry shook his head slightly, “Nothing. What’s that?” he motioned to the box.
“Your birthday present. Didn’t think I’d forgotten did you?”
“No, I just don’t expect presents.”
“Well you get one anyway. Happy Birthday Harry!” Hermione sat next to him on the couch and handed him the box, “Open it,” she suggested with a grin.
Harry opened the box. Inside were five vials with a familiar silver gas-like substance in them. He looked at Hermione quizzically.
“After you started your lessons with Dumbledore last year, I got this idea of collecting memories for you. Dumbledore helped me get them,” Hermione explained.
Harry picked up one of the vials and read the label, “Memory of M. McGonagall – Sorting Ceremony.” He looked at the rest of the labels.
Memory of A. Dumbledore – Graduation Ceremony
Memory of R.J. Lupin – James and Lily’s Wedding
Memory of Healer Brooks – Harry’s Birth
Memory of R.J. Lupin – Harry’s First Birthday
“Wow, Mione,” Harry said, putting the vials back in the box and setting it aside, “Thanks. I can’t believe you got them for me. You’re the best.”
Harry spontaneously leaned over and kissed her gently on the lips. Hermione gasped in surprise but then returned the kiss.
Harry abruptly broke away, “Sorry Mione, I shouldn’t have done that.”
“Don’t… don’t say that Harry. I returned the kiss didn’t I?”
“What are you saying?”
“I wanted that to happen as much as you did.”
“Really? Well if that’s the case… I’ve been thinking, do you – will you be my girl?”
Hermione smiled then leaned over and engaged Harry in another, slightly steamier, kiss, “Does that answer your question?” she said seductively.
“Um, yeah, pretty much,” Harry grinned and they both fell backwards on the couch, laughing.
Harry wrapped Hermione in a warm hug and kissed her forehead, “This is the perfect birthday present, Mione. I love you.”
“I love you, too,” Hermione replied, snuggling into his chest.
Just then the door bell rang.
“Who could that be, at this hour?” Hermione queried.
“Wait here,” Harry got up and headed for the door.
Upon opening the door, Harry came face to face with a girl, about his age. She was moderately tall and was an absolute beauty. She had long black hair that fell elegantly around her face and piercing blue eyes. She reminded Harry so much of someone when he looked at her, he just couldn’t quite place it.
“Er, hi?” he said, “Can I help you?”
“I hope so. I was told in this letter from my mum that this is where I’d be able to find my dad.”
“And your name is?”
“Astraea. Astraea Black.”
“Shit! Sorry, do you know what your father’s name is?” Harry was suddenly hit with realisation. She looked like Sirius.
Astraea consulted her letter, “Um, his name is Sirius Black,” she said.
“Do you mind if I have a look at that?” Harry asked. She silently handed him the letter.
Harry needed to be sure of her authenticity. Hopefully the letter proved her story. He quickly read the letter:

My Child,
I am writing this because I know I am not going to survive childbirth. I have chosen to save you instead. I will be going into surgery shortly, for a Caesarean Section.
I have been told you are a girl. Perfect. I have also already told the nurses that I want you to be named Astraea. It’s a name your father would have loved, it has a great meaning behind it that he could relate to. Your name, dear child, literally means ‘star’ but it is the Greek Goddess Astraea that gives your name so much meaning to your father. For this Goddess felt the world was too ridden with evil, and upon getting sick of the battle between good and evil, she fled to the skies and is now believed to be the constellation, Virgo. Your father was torn between good and evil. His heart is as pure and good as they come, but he was born into a dark family. This is why he doesn’t know anything of you. You see, my child, your father is a wizard, born into one of the darkest wizarding families in existence. He, like I said before, is pure of heart, but there is a dark wizard casting war over your father’s world. I do not want you growing up in such darkness and war ridden despair.
I want you to know, that your father would love you and want you, if he knew of your existence. I feel the information I am about to give you is big and so I have requested your carers to give this letter to you at the age of 17. Forgive me for holding out for so long.
Your father’s name is Sirius Black. I believe you will be able to find him at 12 Grimmauld Place, London. If he needs anymore proof that you are his, aside from your birth certificate, then call him Padfoot. That’s what his friends, James, Remus and Peter call him. The reason he is called this is because he has the ability to turn into a dog. He only showed me once, to make me believe he was a wizard.
I sincerely hope you get to meet him, he is a wonderful man.
Love always,
Your Mother.

“Holy Merlin,” Harry said, “Come in Astraea.”
“Call me Rae, it’s way easier and besides everyone calls me that.”
“OK”
“Is Sirius your dad, too?”
“What? No! Um he –”
“It’s just that you look, I mean your hair, and well you live here don’t you?”
“Yeah I do but… no. My name’s Harry Potter, James was my father. Sirius’s best friend. Come in, sit down,” Harry led Rae into the lounge room, “This is my girlfriend, Hermione. Mione this is Rae.”
“Hello,” Hermione said kindly while giving Harry a questioning look.
“Do you mind?” Harry looked at Rae, and motioned at the letter that was still in his hand.
“No, it’s ok,” Rae said, sitting in an armchair.
Harry gave the letter to Hermione, who read it quickly, “No,” she whispered, looking at Rae, “So you got this letter on your 17th birthday?”
“Yeah. Today,” Rae replied.
“Today’s your birthday?” Harry said in surprise, “Man, Dad and Sirius would’ve loved that!”
“What do you mean?”
“Today is Harry’s birthday too,” Hermione explained.
“Oh, ok… but what do you mean by would’ve?”
“Oh boy,” Harry sighed, “My parents died when I was one. Sirius was my Godfather but he died just over a year ago trying to save me. Sorry”
“Oh, don’t be sorry,” Rae said showing some disappointment, “So did you grow up with him?”
“No I was raised by my Mum’s sister. Sirius was falsely accused of 13 muggle deaths when my parents were killed and got sent to Azkaban for 12 years. I met him 3 years ago when he escaped.”
“Wow…Bummer,” Rae said, slightly amused at the somewhat odd life her father led.
“You are welcome, of course, to stay here. Sirius left this house to me but I couldn’t and wouldn’t feel right kicking his daughter out on the streets.”
“Thanks, I’d be lost out there… it’s so different to Paris.”
“You lived in Paris?” Hermione asked, awed.
Harry interrupted, momentarily, to order Kreacher to fetch some drinks. Once they all had a bottle of butterbeer in their grasp Rae answered Hermione’s question, “Yes, I grew up in a Parisian orphanage. It wasn’t one of those run down orphanages though, it was really nice. And quite small. When I was 11 I was invited to attend Beaubatons Academy. And now I’m here.”
“So, you’d be in your NEWT year too?” Hermione surmised.
“That’s right, so are you guys 17 too?”
“Yup,” Harry said, “We’ve attended Hogwarts. We actually had some Beaubatons kids stay with us in fourth year, for the Tri-Wizard Tournament.”
“Yeah! I wanted to go but I was too young to compete. Hang on! You competed! Fleur Delacour never shut up about you when she got back. You saved her sister!”
“Yeah that’s me, famous Harry Potter,” Harry said modestly, “You know, small world, Fleur is now married to our friend’s brother.”
“Ha, it is a small world,” Rae stifled a yawn.
“Wow, it’s pretty late Harry,” Hermione said, glancing at her watch.
Harry got up and showed Rae to her room, and before retiring to his own room gave Hermione a sweet goodnight kiss.
“Sweet dreams, Baby,” Harry whispered in Hermione’s ear. Hermione smiled as she closed her bedroom door.

***

Harry trudged into the kitchen the next morning to find Hermione and Rae engaged in deep conversation over breakfast.
“Morning,” he said, kissing Hermione’s forehead and sitting down next to her.
“Morning Harry,” Hermione said. Rae just nodded through a mouthful of cereal.
“Sleep ok?” Harry asked.
“Yeah thanks,” both girls answered.
“Look, Rae, I was thinking. Would you like to live here? Permanently, I mean. I know Sirius gave the house to me, but I can’t deny his daughter the right to at least live here.”
“Thanks, Harry. I thought you’d never ask!” Rae said dramatically.
Harry could tell him and Rae were going to get along just fine. She was very outgoing and even though she had never met her father, she was as much like Sirius as Harry was like James. Harry had taken an immediate liking to Rae, a brotherly affection.
“Harry,” Hermione said, entering the conversation, “If Rae is going to live here, maybe it would be good for her to transfer to Hogwarts.”
“Well, if that’s what you want to do, Rae?”
“Anything to stick around here more. You are the closest thing to family I’ve got and I want to get to know you guys more.”
“Then I guess we should contact McGonagall.”
Five minutes later, Professor McGonagall was standing in the kitchen holding the Sorting Hat.
“This is Rae,” Harry introduced, “Rae this is our Headmistress, Professor McGonagall.”
“Hello Rae, how are you?” McGonagall asked.
“Good thanks.”
“Now I thought we’d get you sorted today, to save you the embarrassment of joining the first years at the ceremony.”
“O-Ok,” Rae seemed unsure.
Rae allowed McGonagall to place the Sorting Hat on her head.
“Ahh, interesting case this one,” The hat said, “Mmm, you’re smart, very smart. And kind too. But I see a blood line that intrigues me. A mischief maker are you? Yes I see the streak now. It’s quite clear you enjoy a joke, not unlike your father. A brave man, he was. Ahh, I see like father like daughter. Yes – I think – GRYFFINDOR!”
“Yay!” Hermione squealed, “You’re with us!”
“Thank Merlin. I already have friends in my house,” Rae smiled.
“Harry,” McGonagall said, “I take it you will be returning?”
“Yes, Professor, and working her eon weekends.”
“Very well. I’ll see you all on the first of September.” McGonagall departed with a POP.

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A/N: Please review. I need feedback so I can make this story as good as possible. I hope this first chapter has tantilised your taste buds...left you pleading for more!!! i will reply to your reviews if you would be so kind as to leave them!!

expect an update in a week or so...sorry its that long but i am swapped with assignments at the moment!

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