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Chapter Thirty Six: James Potter stood besides his son’s crib and watched him sleeping. Harry’s black hair was sticking up, his cheeks were rosy and in his sleep, a small smile was on his lips. Clutched in one hand was a soft, velvet rattle. He stirred and began to fuss, opening his green eyes. “Hello there handsome.” James picked up Harry and held him and the baby had immediately become still again, comforted by the circular pattern that James was rubbing on Harry’s small back. “There, that’s right, go back to sleep for a bit yet.” He continued to hold his son as he began to fall asleep. “James?” Lily came through the door of the nursery, speaking quietly and was stopped in her tracks by what was to her eyes, a beautiful sight. Not that it was a new one, but it never failed to touch her heart. Her husband was holding their baby with Harry’s head on his shoulder. Harry was fast asleep and James had his eyes closed, as he rubbed the baby’s back slowly. James looked entirely peaceful, as if there wasn’t a care in the world. “Hello darling.” He kissed his son’s head and put him back in the crib gently. Then he embraced his wife and kissed her forehead, holding her against him. She could hear his heart beating and the sound of his breath. “I’m sorry I was gone bit longer than I thought I would be. Did everything go all right?” Lily had left Harry with James. “Went off just fine.” James said as he and Lily walked down the hallway to the steps. “He had his dinner. Although I must tell you he objects to broccoli quite a bit, whereas carrots seem to pass muster. Then he had a bath but don’t go into the bathroom yet, I’ll clean that up later. Splashing was the word of the day you see.” Lily laughed. That was just like Harry, he loved his bath, laughing as he churned the water up and often all over the bathroom. She smiled at her husband as he took her hand as they descended the steep stairs and walked into the living room. “He has added a new word to his vocabulary, in addition to ‘mama’ and ‘dada’ he now says ‘bada’ which I think was in honor of the broccoli.” James pulled Lily onto his lap as he spoke and put her head down on his shoulder. “We had a fine time of it.” “Sounds like.” Lily nestled her face into her husband’s neck and was surprised when he asked her to sit up for a moment. “What is it?” “We had a visitor too.” James suddenly sounded serious. “Oh?” Lily tried not to feel worried but the sudden change in James’s tone put her on alert. “Yes, Dumbledore was here earlier.” James sighed. “Evidently that informant of his finally managed to get a message to him again.” “Yes?” Lily felt her heart rate increase slightly. “Lily, Riddle’s bound and determined to get us. Dumbledore thinks we need to try a whole new bunch of protection spells, including a new secret keeper.” He said slowly. Up until she was killed, it had actually been Sylvania March who had kept the Fidelus charm for the Potters. Then a man they had never met named Nicolas Flamel had taken on the duty, Dumbledore swearing that he was completely trustworthy but they had known he was only a temporary solution. It was best if you knew your secret keeper well. Flamel they had no doubt was as trustworthy as Dumbledore said he was, but it helped to have true affection for the person whose secret you kept. It helped strengthen the already very potent charm. “Why does he want us so badly?” Lily asked. “I don’t know Lily, I’m sure we’ve both been a thorn in his side for quite a long time. He’s after all the members of the Order.” James didn’t want to frighten Lily too much but Dumbledore had said that Voldemort was as dedicated to getting them as he was to ruling, according to the informant. “Did Dumbledore tell you anything about this informant?” Lily knew that Snape had already saved her life once, she trusted that he was trying to do it again although it was well known that he hated James Potter and Sirius Black so venomously that he could barely stand to speak their names. Snape was an incredibly strange man in her estimation. “Oddly enough, he did. He’s never mentioned anything about him before but he said he had lost contact with him for some while because Voldemort was evidently extremely angry with the man. He must be high up in there though and valuable because that monster never forgives a mistake unless there’s something in it for him.” James had wondered why Dumbldore had told him any of this. “Lily, do you suppose we know who it is? It was almost as if he felt I should know that personally.” “I’m sure we don’t know anything about the man who’s the spy over there.” Lily said easily because it was the complete truth for her, she was certain they knew nothing about Snape, not in any real sense. She and Megan had both sworn to Dumbeldore they would not tell either James or Sirius about Snape because the animosity ran in both directions. “I didn’t think so. Whoever it is must have ice water for blood though.” James collected his thoughts. “Listen darling, I’ve asked Remus, Peter, and Sirius to meet me at headquarters, I need to tell them about this, I thought it would be best if I got their opinion on who the best choice would be.” “All right, I’ll be fine here with Harry.” Lily answered. “Actually, Moody and Sliverton will be here while I’m gone. I hope you don’t mind.” James said. “Not at all.” She fibbed. Moody was always a bit much to take though. “I’ll be sure not to poison the tea, not mind you that he’d drink it.” “Good, they’ll be here shortly. Remus is just back so he’ll be able to meet us.” James explained. “Oh! James, if you get a chance, try to encourage Remus.” Lily said. “Encourage him in what way?” James asked, puzzled. “Oh, he’ll bring it up if wants to.” Lily said easily. “All right.” James was mystified but he trusted his wife. “James, who are you thinking would be the best for the charm?” Lily asked. “Dumbledore offered Lily, but he’s got so much on his plate. Sirius I think, after all the man’s like a brother to me.” James said. “Everyone knows it.” :::::::::::::::::::::::::::: The Marauders were together in the mansion’s secret room. It was enchanted so that nothing they said could be overheard anywhere else. “Seems like ages since we’ve all been together, doesn’t it?” James said, smiling at his friends. Sirius looking tall and handsome as usual, Remus looking a bit tired but nothing worse than usual after a full moon. Peter Pettigrew looking much as he had in school, plump, always a bit nervous. “That it does Prongs.” Sirius said heartily. “Now, I can’t help but notice that we’re in a room in a tower, what are we planning here? Are we going to enchant Moody’s underwear so that it chases him around the place?” “I wish it were something like that, unfortunately, it’s a bit more serious than that.” James sat down at the round table in the room and his friends pulled up chairs. “It seems that bastard Voldemort has sworn out a vendetta on me or something.” “More so than usual?” Sirius asked but his eyes were concerned. “I’m afraid so, at least by the sounds of it.” James swallowed, “Dumbledore and I have talked about it.” They were all nodding. “Don’t worry there Prongs, we’ll do whatever it takes to keep you all safe.” Remus said sincerely. “Good, because I need a secret keeper, a new one.” James looked at each of his friends in turn. “One of you is obviously the best bet, and truthfully, I was thinking of asking you Sirius.” “It would be an honor.” Sirius said without hesitation. “You’re certain, because I know you’ve got your own wedding coming up and you must have a lot on your mind.” James looked as if he didn’t want to impose. “Absolutely,” Sirius rapped on his own head. “Tight as a drum in here, despite the fact that Megan’s got roughly a million relatives. We’ll be swamped at the wedding boys, I suggest sticking close to the bar.” “Thanks Sirius.” James felt such gratitude towards all of his friends. “He’s the best choice, James.” Remus said without any doubt at all. Years later, in the aftermath guilt would convince him that he had suspected Sirius, but in truth, that wasn’t the case. “Completely sensible James,” Peter forced himself to say. He had to think of something to say something to do. His chance seemed to be right in front of him. “Sirius is obviously the one.” Sirius looked up at that. It was true he was the most obvious choice for the Potter’s secret keeper. Perhaps that wasn’t best, but then, he knew he’d die a thousand times before he’d ever betray them. “Remus, I hope you understand.” James was a bit worried that he was hurting his friend’s feelings. “James, I think you’re making the right choice here. None of us know that much about the mind of a werewolf but it’s possible that Voldemort would.” Remus answered honestly. “There could be differences.” “Okay well, I still want you to take a bit to think about it Sirius, after all they might come after you quite hard.” James felt concerned for that too. “What? Harder than they do now?” Sirius laughed. “We’re all of us targets James, we’re used to this.” Peter thought quickly and feigned anxiety, “Megan won’t mind will she? They might really press on, trying to get her again. Try to get to you through her.” “Megan? God no. She’d want to figure out some sort of spell so that we both held the secret, make it doubly safe.” Sirius laughed but it was a disturbing thought nonetheless. “No, she’d rather we both died than betray anyone.” “Well there won’t be any dying.” James said firmly. “We’ve had enough of that. But I’m afraid I’m going to have to go into hiding full time now. I won’t even be able to come here, or be out in the field. I’ll have to stay with Harry and Lily all the time.” Remus and Sirius exchanged a look and it was Remus who voiced the thought, “Well, you’ll like that won’t you? Time with your family.” “Yes.” James said simply and it was a pleasant thought, no matter what the circumstances. They sat together for a few minutes longer, talking. The subject eventually changed to the fight, the various fighters and how they were doing. “Well, it seems like we’re done here.” Peter said, bile nearly rising in his throat. He hated to sit and talk with them particularly about their hair-brained Order. “Actually,” Remus began somewhat nervously, “I’d like to talk to you lot about something since we’re all here together.” “What would that be Moony?” James asked and then thought of Lily saying to encourage Remus. “Glad to help in anyway that I can, as always.” “It’s about, well, it’s about a woman actually.” Remus knew that it was a bit crass to bring this up, but they were his closest friends and he was a bit worried. “Not my area of expertise at all, as I’m sure you’ve all noticed.” Peter said smiling. He wanted out of the room so badly he could have jumped through the roof. He needed time alone to think. There had to be a way. “I’ll just be going. Goodnight, mates.” He took his leave as quickly as possible. Remus rubbed his chin and tried to think how he would begin this conversation, rather glad that Peter had left. This would be much easier talking to James and Sirius. “Um, well, I’m half glad he left, this is awkward enough.” Remus began, feeling himself blush. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I’ve been spending a lot of time with Sophie.” “Didn’t exactly go under the radar, mate.” Sirius answered with a smile. “Although Sliverton’s been hilarious, trying to shunt you two off together. For a bachelor the man’s quite a matchmaker.” How the hell would he ever put this? He’d sorted through his feelings and made peace with the past. He had loved Amelia and in many ways he always would. Having been in love before, it was easy to tell that was how what his feelings were for Sophie. But something was still troubling him. “I’ve never…uh…that is to say, whereas I’ve come close…recently…” Remus was floundering. Suddenly James knew what he was trying to ask and tried not to laugh. He’d felt the same way with Lily on their wedding night. “It’s not difficult you know, sort of comes naturally.” James bit the inside of his cheek so he would not laugh. Sirius was staring at Remus in an astounded manner. “Remus, man, pull yourself together. You know where babies come from and presumably how.” Sirius said but his tone was encouraging and friendly. “Hopefully you know all about how to make sure you don’t have a baby also.” “Oh this is hell, yes, I’ve got that covered.” Remus was starting to laugh himself but then remembered why he was asking and became rather sober. “Listen, won’t it hurt, the girl I mean?” “Only if it’s…oh.” Sirius looked at James who looked back rather soberly. “All right, wasn’t exactly expecting that. No offense intended at all, of course.” “I should read more books that aren’t about Dark Arts,” Remus said miserably. “Look, aren’t there ways to make sure that it’s…nice.” The silence was only awkward for a moment when James suddenly laughed. “In a tower room no less.” James couldn’t help but remember. “We need to help Mr. Moony here understand the delicate process of wooing.” “Wooing?” Sirius asked and then laughed as the memory came back to him. “Ahhh…yes, wooing it is.” “You can stop that at any time you know.” Remus said but chuckled, also remembering. “Mr. Prongs, I call the meeting to order, the first order of business is how to not hurt the girl. Very gentlemanly of you, Mr. Moony, an admirable endeavor.” Sirius said. “The second we can get to in a moment.” “Do you have any advice for the young man, Mr. Padfoot?” James was certain they could help with a few gentle suggestions but he knew Sirius was right to make Remus feel comfortable discussing it. “I think we might be able to give the boy a bit nudge in the right direction.” Sirius winked. Then they had gotten down to business, being rather tactful actually. If the walls could have blushed they would have though. The Marauders were all men now, and it showed. None of them thought it strange that Remus would ask, most men would just plow ahead. Remus had always been a sensitive soul. ::::::::::::::::: “This is much nicer than I had thought it would be.” Remus stood in Sophie’s new apartment. It was fairly large, and well furnished. A large kitchen off a proper dining room. “What, did you rob Gringott’s?” “Yes, barely got away from the posse at my heels.” Sophie laughed. “No, I finally broke down and went to my father. Fighting evil is terribly noble and all, but it’s a bit easier to accomplish on a full stomach.” “How was that?” Remus asked not envying her the task. “There was a lot of begging, groveling, and debasement on my part.” Sophie laughed. “In fact it was just fine. I told him that if wanted me to sleep in trash bins then I would but that I’d appreciate the loan of the money for a mattress. Mine had hex marks all over it.” “So how did all this come about?” Remus looked around, it wasn’t tremendously posh but it was nice. “Seems he missed me. Disinheriting your children is interesting as a concept, bit nasty in execution.” Sophie sat back on the couch and laughed. “You end up missing your progeny I guess, when they aren’t around to be told what to do any longer.” “And you accepted?” Remus was now sitting at the opposite end of the sofa, a glass of water in his hand. “Not exactly. I took it all as a loan. When this is all over, I’ll pay him back.” Sophie meant what she said. “I just couldn’t see how not having a decent place to sit was doing any good in defeating the Death Eaters.” “Where am I?” Wheezed a voice. “Kidnappers, rotten abductors.” Remus looked over in the corner and laughed, “Sophie, why in the world did you bring that thing with you?” “I thought it might get lonely.” Sophie smiled wickedly. “Besides, I’m thinking of fixing it up with an ottoman I know, so there’s that too.” For Remus’s part, he needed to talk to Sophie. It felt important to him, telling her that this wasn’t just about feeling lonely and wanting companionship. It had taken the last six weeks or so to finally dawn on him, he didn’t just feel less lonely when Sophie was there, he felt better about everything. It was as if she had woken something up in him, something that he thought would sleep forever. The ability to look forward to things once again. To not feel as if all that they were doing was for other people, but that he might get a share in the future also somehow. She made him feel hope and he hadn’t truly felt that since he was a child. He had a very brief flash of it with Amelia in the ten months they were truly together but he’d lost that. Sophie brought it back to him, and it was different, because she was different. There wasn’t a need to compare the feelings. He loved her humor that was just in place to mask her kind heart. Or when she was feeling nervous. He loved that in a fight, she would do so much better than she would ever give herself credit for doing. She thought quickly, she acted swiftly and she was incredibly admirable. He’d thought that she wasn’t suited to this work when she came to the Order, but he couldn’t have been proven more wrong. He’d grown to love her nature too, fast to joke, just as fast to comfort or protect others. He even loved the fact that she’d brought that ridiculous chair with her as if it were a friend. He moved towards her on the couch and took her hand, turning her face towards his, tracing her scar gently. “Does it bother you?” He asked. “This thing, hell no. It’s a reminder to be careful for one thing.” She tried to laugh. “Maybe I’ll get rid of it someday but not now. Right now, I need it.” “To be careful?” Remus’s hand was on her cheek now, her skin soft and smooth. “Yes but also to remind me of who I am, who I need to be.” She was being serious. “I used to be a flighty thing you know Lupin. I can’t be one now, and that’s fine. But it helps me to see this each morning, helps me feel stronger. It might be hell for others to look at but it helps me.” “Looking at you could never be hell for anyone.” Remus said and kissed her. Then he leaned his forehead against hers, he wanted to say this and say it before anything else carried them away so that she would never have to question that it was true, “I love you.” Sophie’s heart nearly skipped a beat. She’d finally figured out why it was when she had first come to the Order that she wanted to be near him. She’d told herself it was because he calmed her, made her less nervous, but there was more to it. “Remus, I love you too. You make me feel safe, not just for me. God, that’s not even the right way to put it,” She looked at him and tried again. “You don’t make me feel safe, you make me feel as if the world’s safe. If there are people like you in it, then the world will always be safe.” For a few minutes they held each other closely before they began what they both wanted. It was slow, and careful and tender, just like Remus was at heart and truth be told, just as Sophie truly was inside. Later, as they lay together, she traced the scars on his chest. “What are these from?” “Oh, from early on, when I used to transform I would hurt myself.” Remus told her. “Why?” “I don’t know, I guess that in part, even in my state, I was lonely.” Remus said softly. “I have to be away from people to keep them safe but I needed company.” “Remus?” “What is it, sweetness?” “You’ll never be lonely again. Honestly, as long as I’m around, you’ll never be.” She kissed him and they had begun again. Remus Lupin would be destined to lose a great deal in his life, more than one man should have to bear but he was able to stand it because no matter what he lost, he still had her. She still had him too. They would have to spend time apart at times but it didn’t matter to them because they would always have their time together. It even pleased them that few knew of their relationship, it made it feel all the more special to them. It took them two full days to emerge from Sophie’s apartment and go to headquarters. “Hello you two. Nice day, isn’t it?” Atticus had greeted them, fresh in from a dawn patrol. He looked at them closely and managed not to grin. “It’s a beautiful day.” Remus agreed and put his arms around Sophie.

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