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Chapter Twenty: “If that’s the best you can do Hogan, you’ll never win another duel again.” Moody said darkly. It was a bit hard to look at Alastor these days, his face had some many scars that it no longer looked like human flesh and had taken on the experience of tanned leather, or perhaps wood. Plus, there was that chunk missing from his nose. “I’m trying.” Megan was struggling a bit with her new wand. It had been difficult to get out to the wand shop but Longbottom and Moody had taken her as soon as Moody had been released from the hospital. Poor Longbottom would have rather been at home with his wife and new baby but he was devoted to the Order. Mr. Ollivander had been even stranger than Megan remembered. In the end she’d left the shop with a ten-inch long, rosewood wand with a hair from a fire lion as a core. It was proving to be difficult to manage now that Moody was training her so relentlessly. “Try harder.” The battered Auror huffed. “A well prepared wizard can use any wand in a battle.” “Well I’m a witch,” Megan retorted and then had yelped as the disfigured warrior had sent a spell into the ground inches from her. “Lord Moody, what are you trying to do? Deprive me of my toes?” “Nonsense, you should have deflected that with ease.” Moody growled. He suddenly tossed her his wand. “Give mine a try.” Four hours later, after finally having taken turns using Longbottom’s, Moody’s and her own new wand over and over Megan limped up the stairs towards her rooms. She’d be leaving again soon because the students would be coming back. Moody had stunned her twice, making her angry enough to force her to master the use of the three separate wands. Her arm ached like the devil though, Moody’s wand in particular had a very strange kick to it. “It fights against use by others.” Moody had said proudly. “Once nearly took my nephew’s hand off when he tried to play with it.” “Thanks for the loan of it then.” Megan was too tired to figure out how to hex Alastor and then he had turned and looked at her. His nose still was raw and incredibly painful looking, she was immediately ashamed of herself. “Thanks for taking so much time with me, Alastor.” She said and smiled. He was just trying to make sure they were all safe. Her body ached terribly though and she wanted a long soak in a hot tub. As she lay back in the bathwater she felt her tired muscles begin to relax. She heard the door open and immediately tensed. “Megan?” Sirius’s voice called and she grinned. “In the bath. I’ll be out shortly.” She called. The bathroom door opened and she yelled, “Sirius! You haven’t got a decent bone in your body, get out of here!” “Calm down Hogan, you’ll have the entire staff in here to see what’s the matter.” Sirius’s eyes gleamed. “Anything the matter in there?” He peered into the bath. “No you devil there is nothing wrong with my bathwater at all. Thank you very much for asking.” But she was laughing despite herself. “I’d better see for myself.” He said, his smile was incredibly mischievous. If the staff at Hogwarts heard anything amiss in the fourth floor corridor they’d chosen to be selectively deaf, as they had done for the entire summer. :::::::::::::::: Lily was struggling with a bath of her own in a manner of speaking. She tried to lower Harry into the shallow, warm water and then couldn’t bring herself to do it. She had one of those handy little magic bubble cushions for him but she still couldn’t quite bring herself to put her baby into the tub. “Lily,” James was there, trying to give moral support, “You know that Poppy can’t be here every time you bathe him.” The young father thought that his wife’s nervousness was very endearing but he didn’t dare tell her. She’d have probably chucked a sponge at him. “I know, I know,” Lily still sounded nervous as she finally worked up the nerve to place Harry on the bubble. She began quickly washing his little body. “Lily?” James watched his wife, her hair pulled back into a short ponytail, her brow furrowed with concentration. There was something about her these days, everything she did seemed to just sing with beauty. “Hmm?” Lily was watching Harry very closely. “You’re the best mother in the world.” James said. :::::::::::: After Sirius had managed to splash water over half the bathroom he’d carried Megan soaking and mock struggling to the bed where he put her down. He immediately pounced on her and somehow she didn’t seem to mind much. Later, as Sirius was pulling on his clothes Megan groaned from under the covers, “Are you going out again tonight?” “Just for a bit darling, I promised James and Lily I’d stop by and continue in my on going battle to corrupt our Godson.” After Harry’s birth with the entire Order clammering to go and see the newest Potter Dumbledore, McGonagall and Flitwick had worked liked slaves to enchant the house so extensively that it was possible for the members to visit. He kissed her on the nose. As he was pulling on his shirt he asked quietly, “Megan, why won’t you hold Harry?” It was on the tip of her tongue to tell him what she had told James and Lily, ‘I’m hopeless with babies. The scream blue bloody murder if I so much as glance at them’ but it wasn’t true. Megan had nieces and nephews and was actually quite good with children. She remembered her promise to never deceive him again. “I’m afraid to.” She answered honestly. Sirius looked at her and nodded. He understood it must have been an overwhelming thought to her, to glimpse the lifetime of a person who had just started life. To feel everything they might experience. “Well, you’ll have to hold our children someday you know.” He grinned. “You do want to have children with me someday, don’t you?” “More than you can possibly ever know.” Megan answered easily. The truth was always so much easier for her. :::::::::: “I will not go into hiding like an escaped convict again.” Megan was facing down Dumbledore. “Megan, you can’t stay here at the castle and I believe it is best that you be in a concealed location.” Albus knew how the girl hated the thought of being shut off again. He hadn’t had the heart to tell her that there was almost certainly an informant in the Order. There were only two possibilities, someone had managed such a powerful concealment charm that Megan could not feel their deceit or…and the second possibility made his blood run cold…the informant was Sirius Black. Dumbledore knew she was unable to read much of anything from him. Yet, that didn’t make any sense. Voldemort had actively sought Megan, and Sirius had always known where she was. “Fine.” Megan said suddenly and Albus had known that she had some sort of plan in mind all along. “You know what they say about hiding things, if you want to hide something put it in plain sight.” He raised his eyebrows and looked at her quizzically. “The bookstore.” Megan said. “Why would he look for me there any longer? It’s been closed up for ages now, the windows are even boarded up….” “Megan, you did not sneak out to…” “No, no, I saw it when we went to get my wand.” Megan said quickly. “That way I could be close by and I could at least go to the meetings at headquarters.” Dumbledore himself was the secret keeper for the location of the headquarters now. “I suppose that you will insist that young Mr. Black know where you are?” Dumbledore’s gaze was piercing. “Of course, Sirius must know where I am.” Megan looked startled. “He’d go mad if he didn’t.” Albus Dumbledore was a troubled man. :::::::::::: Severus Snape had managed to get only one message through to Dumbledore and that was to tell him that he didn’t know who the traitor was in the Order. It had become too dangerous for Snape to have much contact with Dumbledore these days. It would have to be a matter of life and death before he could break silence for some time. Snape’s body had healed well enough and he gave every appearance of being a devoted servant of the Dark Lord. He tried to spend all of his time in his potions laboratory in the catacombs and to avoid being out on raids but sometimes there was no escaping going into the field. He spent as much time as he could trying to overhear conversations between the others but not once did he ever hear the name of the traitor who had sworn he would deliver Megan Hogan to Voldemort. :::::::::::: It had been three months since Atticus Sliverton had nearly been murdered but he was finally being released from St. Mungo’s, his recovery had taken a bit longer than anyone had expected. As Remus Lupin and James Potter brought him back to headquarters they noticed that the young man seemed to become easily short of breath still. He eased down onto the leather sofa in the large meeting room and smiled at his friends. Moody and Hagrid flanked him on either side. “Need a drink?” Remus offered. He was concerned, this once vital man looked years older. “Thanks Lupin, I can get it myself.” Sliverton said but Elizabeth had immediately pushed him back onto the couch and ran off to fetch him some coffee. The members would all be arriving soon, glad to get back to business and to have them all together again. Lily and James stepped from the fireplace with James holding Harry in his arms. Soon after McGonagall arrived, and then March soon to be joined by the Longbottoms and their son Neville. Dumbledore joined the group and they were ready to start the meeting. Flitwick was keeping an eye on the babies for the young mothers. The diminutive Charms teacher had an especial fondness for babies. Lily could hear Harry chuckling as Flitwick floated a rattle in the air. “Where are Sirius, Meg and Peter?” James asked as they gathered round the table. “Sirius said they’d be along.” Remus answered and then flushed scarlet. Atticus shot him an amused grin. “Peter’s not feeling well again I’m afraid.” James answered. He was concerned for his friend who seemed to be having some difficulties with his health. Albus Dumbledore looked up from the spell book he was reading, he and Moody planned on trying to instruct the members on a new spell that March had worked out. “I’ll be a moment.” He said resolutely and stood. :::::::::::: Megan and Sirius had never intended to be late for the meeting but after they’d had a meal together Sirius had begun to press once again on what sometimes seemed to be his favorite topic. “Don’t be silly Sirius.” Megan was trying to be evasive. They had argued for the next hour. “Listen, I’m tired of this game Megan.” He felt the box that contained the ring in his robes. “You’ll spend every waking moment with me when we can find the time to be together, but you won’t marry me?” “I’ve told you over and over again, I’ll marry you when…” But Megan was stopped short when she saw honest anger flash in Sirius’s eyes. “When he’s defeated, when he’s defeated. That’s all you ever say. Fine then, when you decide to quit pretending that there’s no life worth living until then you can put this on.” He’d thrown the ring box down onto the table and turned to leave. Megan stared at the box and then up at Sirius’s retreating back. “Wait, Sirius, please don’t.” They had never parted on bad terms before. Sirius hesitated, and sat down. “Please tell me, what’s really bothering you?” Megan asked and knelt down, putting her head on his knee. Sirius didn’t know what to do. He had promised Remus and James that he would not discuss what they all suspected, that they had a traitor in their midst. There had been just something too odd about the appearance of the Death Eaters at the Fobbe’s that night. “Traitor?” Megan gasped and lifted her head to look him in the eyes. Sirius silently cursed this odd ability of hers to pick up a stray thought. “Yes, a traitor and the worst of it is….” Sirius couldn’t finish the sentence. “They think it’s me.” Sirius’s decided to lie, his face looked miserable. “Oh God.” Megan moaned. “But they can’t possibly believe that, you could have turned me over to him at any time, it doesn’t make any sense.” Sirius couldn’t meet her eye she suddenly understood. She spoke again. “They don’t think it’s you, they think it’s me.” “Of course they would.” She continued although her heart stung so that she could barely breathe. “After we captured the Death Eaters, the first information we acted upon nearly had so many of the Order killed. They think it was a trick and I was gone for all those months.” Megan couldn’t help but ask. “Does Lily think this?” “God no Megan! Neither does Remus or James. Truthfully, I don’t think anyone really believes it but Elizabeth brought it up and of course, you know Moody, he was immediately suspicious. It’s utter nonsense, they know that in their hearts. Besides, everyone knows how close you are to Dumbledore.” “That’s half the bloody problem I take it.” Megan tried not to feel bitter. “They think he’s so fond of me that I have him fooled.” She remembered Moody lecturing them all on the known weaknesses of their opponents on the night they had laid the trap and realized with a dull ache in her stomach that he had been testing her to see what her weaknesses might be when they had dueled. She thought of Atticus and Elizabeth, the Longbottoms and Hagrid. She thought of the staff at Hogwarts who had lived with her all summer long. She thought of March who knew that Megan had been so good in Dark Arts and she began to sob. Of course they would think this, Sirius hadn’t been there at the Fobbe’s, that would seem even more suspicious. Megan remembered Alice Moore slapping her across the face and screaming that she was a murderer. Sirius pulled her to his chest and let her cry there until she was done. Then something occurred to her and it was like someone had lit a candle in her heart. “The Order thinks I might be a traitor, and you want to marry me?” “Yes.” “Why?” Megan’s bright gaze was on his face. “To prove to yourself that they’re wrong?” “How could you ever say such a thing to me?” Sirius looked as if she had mortally wounded him and she immediately wished the words unsaid. “To prove to you that I love you, I believe in you and I always will. To be with you forever.” “I’m sorry Sirius, I’m sorry.” Megan kissed him. “Well, if you’ll have me, then I’ll have you.” “What?” Sirius was certain that he had heard her incorrectly. “I said that if you want me to marry you, I will.” Megan’s face looked determined. What did she know the future anyway? She certainly never would have suspected that the people she cared most for outside of her family would think she was traitor. She hadn’t even seen her family in over a year so that she could do this work, and she knew it was nearly breaking her father’s heart. To hell with this sight, this gift, it was a curse. “She finally sees reason!” Sirius’s face looked truly happy and Megan stubbornly pushed away any thought but the two of them. She began to kiss him earnestly. :::::::::::: Neither had realized that Ablus Dumbledore had come in through the fireplace downstairs, concerned for Megan or that he had overheard the end of their conversation from the bottom of the stairs. Deciding to leave the young people to enjoy some happiness, Albus returned to headquarters knowing that they would be along as soon as they could tear themselves away from one another. He had put her in this position, where she would be both feared and mistrusted, he reasoned.

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