In a tumble-down, semi-derelict cottage in Yorkshire, a man by the name of Remus Lupin, looking too old for his years, lay in a tattered bed. His pale face, wrinkled with premature lines and scars that cut across the skin, wrinkled further when he scrunched his nose. His senses were still a little irritable.
He would be able to smell the chicken and barley soup ladled into a cracked bowl from miles away, even if it wasn't being brought to him from his own kitchen. As it was, he could also hear delicate footsteps step carefully on old floorboards.
Green eyes fluttered open and he managed a weak smile when he heard the footsteps come to a stop at his door. The breathing from the other side, was tentative and hesitant.
"You can come in, Cub," he called to the door, "I won't bite…anymore."
He heard a shy giggle and the door was opened, revealing a child who was so beautiful, she could have been a Veela.
With her fair skin, striking gray eyes and long, lustrous black hair, she was the spitting image of her father. Even in her height, she resembled him as she was 5'0", a smidge taller than the average eleven year old girl.
"I made you some soup, Moony," the girl said softly, shuffling forward, "It's homemade."
"And it smells lovely," he complimented, watching her set the bowl on his bedside table as it groaned in protest.
"How are you feeling?" she asked him, her hands fluttering over his bandages.
As her eyes darted all over his form, looking for an injury she had missed, he tried to reassure her and convince her to sit.
"I'm recovering," he promised, reaching up to touch her arm, "No need to fret, Cub."
"Easier said than done," she murmured, sitting down. She brought the spoon to his lips, her other hand hovering to catch any spillage, "Open up."
Remus complied. To anyone else, looking in, this might come off as quite odd. An eleven-year-old girl alone, feeding a grown man such as himself.
But it was not odd. Unfortunately, it was routine for his "niece" to help take care of him after the full moon. She would nurse him back to health until he was well enough to go about life without any assistance, then do it all over again the next month.
She was such a pure soul and had never been bothered or showed any kind of discomfort when it came to his lycanthropy, despite his constant mantra that he was volatile and dangerous.
He swallowed another bite of soup, "Homemade, hm? It must have taken awhile to make and you came earlier than I expected," he tilted his head a little, "Not that I mind your company, of course. What's going on?"
He knew he was right when she avoided his gaze. He was good at reading people, but her, in particular, he could read like a book.
"I was thinking…" she drawled, "In all of history, there has to be a witch or a wizard somewhere that studied-
"Linden," he cut off gently, "Cub, we've talked about this and you know very well that Ted and Andromeda disapprove of you doing further studies from home."
Linden sighed, holding out the spoon again and he opened his mouth.
In a matter of days, the child would be off to Scotland, attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The school Remus, himself had attended, the school Linden's appointed guardians and sister, technically cousins had attended, the school her godparents had attended and the school her father had attended.
"You've done all your shopping," he reminded her, "Tell me your wand again?" he took another bite of soup and cleared his throat, "It seems I've appeared to have forgotten."
The corners of Linden's pink lips twitched only in the slightest. They both knew that Remus remembered what her wand was. He knew everything that she had purchased from her day at Diagon Alley. He had even made her try on her robes and brand new winter cloak.
"Spruce wood with a dragon heartstring core, 14 ¼" and rigid flexibility," Linden recited, holding out the spoon, "After I got my wand, Andromeda let me get me some ink that changes colours! She said I can't use it for school, but I can write letters with it! Wicked, huh?"
Despite the cheery end to her sentence, Remus could tell that Linden had forced it into her voice.
After he swallowed another bite, he held up his hand. He didn't want to eat too much, knowing very well that he could become nauseous if he overdid it.
"Brilliant, uncle Moony!" she grinned and placed the bowl aside, "You almost ate half, this time."
He nodded at her, "Talk to me, Cub. What's really on your mind?"
He watched Linden sigh heavily. He knew that she worried about leaving him alone, but he had reassured her over and over that before she came along, he had done all right for himself. He had promised to write her once a week if it would make her feel better.
"Everyone is going to tease me," Linden whispered, though he heard her perfectly, "I tried to talk to Andromeda about it, but then she almost started crying and I told her I didn't mean it and asked if she'd make me a sandwich for lunch."
Remus nodded slowly. Reaching out with a bandaged hand, he took her smaller one. It was soft and warm, her nails painted a soft lilac color.
"People will tease you," he admitted to her, "They may try and shun you or call you cruel names, but…" he sighed, not knowing where he was going with this, "Hogwarts…it really was my salvation and the best times of my life. Dumbledore takes great care into keeping all of his students safe and Minerva McGonagall—even of you're not sorted into her House, keep an eye out for her…she'll be keeping one out for you."
He squeezed Linden's hand. Minerva was Linden's middle name, something Professor McGonagall held near and dear to her heart.
"But what if I make friends and I end up killing them or the other students!?" Linden blurted, then her voice quieted, "What if I end up like him?"
Remus' eyes softened, almost horrified and using as much energy he could muster, he scooted over, patting the spot next to him.
"Come here, Cub."
He held an arm out and Linden maneuvered herself to at first sit on the bed, then climb onto it fully, lying her head on Remus' shoulder.
His heart ached for her. It was nearly impossible for her not to be aware of what her father had done and where he currently was. Sometimes, his name was still printed in the papers.
It had been nearly ten years since Sirius Black was imprisoned in Azkaban; and while no one dared to speak of him in Linden's exact presence, she was basically his female carbon copy and people knew it. It sparked fear in them.
Particularly, Remus worried about her attending Hogwarts and being in direct contact with Professor Severus Snape, a man that Sirius had severely bullied as a boy. It would be made worse, if his daughter was sorted into Severus' House.
But Remus couldn't tell her that. There were a number of things he couldn't tell her. Linden was still so young and there were so many things that she was not aware of and might not be aware of for a long time.
"You are your own person," he supplied, "You won't kill anyone or hurt anyone. You don't have it in you and you should never even think of such horrid things."
He felt Linden nod against him.
"D-did you think my father had it in him?"
"…Do you think he actually did it? Do you really think he killed all of those Muggles?"
All of those Muggles. Remus tensed. He had been in the north of the country on Order of the Phoenix business when he discovered what had happened. He never liked to think about it. It was one of the most traumatic events in his life.
"There was a time," he started softly, "When your dad and James, your godfather, were involved in a high speed chase with two policemen!" he made his eyes wide and dramatic, "Did I tell you that one?"
She peeked up at him and shook her head eagerly. Remus always tried to tell Linden good stories of her father, usually from their youth.
"It was all in good fun, really," Remus continued, "But then, James and your father were attacked by three men on broomsticks," he paused when Linden gasped, "Sirius and James used their wands to raise the police car that had been pursuing them and their attackers crashed into it."
Linden laughed, easing the worry in Remus' chest. He worried about her, just as much as she worried about him.
"Then what happened?" she asked, urging him to continue.
"They never got caught, actually," Remus finished, "Mischief managed," he winked at her.
"Do you think I'll have friends like that?" Linden asked him, "Like how you all called yourself The Marauders?"
He tightened his arm around her, "Yes, I'm sure you will," he desperately wanted that for her, "You're a lovely little girl and anyone would be lucky to have you as a friend."
"You have to say that, Uncle Moony," Linden admonished with a scowl, "So, then, If everyone does end up hating me, then can I come home?"
"I can't make that decision," Remus gave a forlorn sigh, "I wish I could."
He could smell tears building up in her eyes. He never thought she would be so anxious when it came to school. She had never cared about having friends nor had she ever been anxious about anything. Then again, he couldn't recall a time she had been away from home before or a time when she had been around as many people as she would be at school.
He stopped, the word getting stuck in his throat. It was not Remus' place to tell Linden the full truth. Perhaps, it wasn't even in Andromeda or Ted's place. Either way, Linden's upcoming years at Hogwarts were already proving to be difficult.
"Everyone will not hate you," he said firmly, "You will be safe there."
Briefly, he wondered if he should talk to Andromeda about getting Linden a mind healer. Alas, it was not her fault for being born into one of the largest, oldest, and wealthiest pure-blooded wizarding families in Britain
"I'm going to tell you another story," he decided, "Your father, is the only person in your entire family to be sorted into Gryffindor. Did you know that? Before him, everyone had been sorted into Slytherin. Everyone."
"Wow…" she breathed, "Where do you think I'll go?"
"Hmm," Remus hummed. He could see traits, from all Houses in Linden, but he didn't know which ones seemed more dominant.
"I'm not sure," he finally answered, "But either way, I'll be proud of you. I'm always proud of y-you," he yawned on the last word.
He felt Linden relax against him, "I'm going to miss you, Moony," she sighed, her breath warming his neck.
He reached up to stroke her hair, "I'm going to miss you too, Cub."
Linden pouted at her reflection, leaning so close to Dory's vanity mirror, her nose almost touched the glass.
Her guardian and cousin Andromeda Tonks, always gushed about how beautiful Linden was, if she wasn't partaking in her serious magical talent of keeping everything clean and organized.
The day Andromeda and Ted, her Muggle-born husband, had taken Linden to Diagon Alley, Andromeda had spent a good hour, running a silver-backed brush through her hair, making sure not a strand was out of place.
The tresses were long and straight, slightly bent at the ends, going all the way to her waist. Her hair was thick, shiny and the color of midnight. Her skin was fair and she had a nice facial structure.
Her eyes were shockingly gray, almost silver and Dory often joked that her eyes glowed in the dark. But they weren't the wide eyes she had seen in pictures of her father. No, they were almond-shaped, which made Linden think she had gotten that from her mother as well as the straightness of her hair.
She sighed. Both the adult lives of her real parental figures were depressing and tragic. All she knew about her mom, was that she had died in childbirth. Not even Remus or Ted or Andromeda knew her name.
"You're fogging up my mirror!"
The loud exclamation startled Linden and she jumped back, whipping her head around, shocked at the person whose voice she had heard.
Her cousin and well-appointed sister, Nymphadora Tonks, who absolutely detested her first name, stood in the doorway of their shared room, grinning like a fool.
She had her arms folded across her chest and her dark twinkling eyes were full of mischief. Surrounding her heart shaped face was her usual bubblegum pink hair and she was wearing a t-shirt that advertised their favorite band the Weird Sisters.
"Dory!" Linden cried, rushing to hug the woman.
"Wotcher, Lin," Dory greeted happily, "How's my favorite witch doing?"
"Brilliant, now that you're here!" Linden pulled back, "I thought you were away at training?"
Dory or "Tonks" as she preferred to be called by others, was eighteen and in training to become an Auror, being mentored by Alistor Moody.
"I am," Dory insisted. She walked further into the room, to sit on her bed, "But I couldn't bloody well miss you being sent off to Hogwarts, could I?"
Linden took a seat next to Dory, beaming, "So, you'll be there? Really?"
"Really, really," Dory nodded, "That's what I said."
Linden let out all her breath in a dramatic flourish, flopping down onto her back.
"Thank Merlin!" she moaned, "I'm going completely mad over here."
"Why's that?" there was a frown, clear in Dory's voice and then she perked up, "I hope you are sorted into Hufflepuff! That was my House, you know!"
"And maybe you'll be a prefect in your fifth year! You have the certain necessary qualities that apparently I didn't posses. I was sort of a cock up. Hopefully, your good qualities stick."
"Brilliant!" Dory continued, not seeming to notice Linden's sour mood, "Did you know, that in your third year, you're required to take extra classes? There's Arithmancy, Muggle Studies, Divination, Study of Ancient Runes and Care of Magical Creatures," Linden hummed to show that she was still listening, "There's a bunch more, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Mum's in shambles, acting like a complete nutter. What's this I hear about you trying to do home studies?"
Linden nodded and closed her eyes, "I'm completely gutted. I don't want to leave Remus."
"Lin, you do know he's gotten along just fine in his lifetime, don't you?" Dory asked her, "You've only been alive eleven years and you didn't start taking care of him until you were seven."
Linden sighed. She couldn't argue with that, "I guess…"
She left it at that. There was no point in talking to Dory about anything else that was weighing heavily on her mind. She had already spoken to Remus about it and talking about their family was always awkward, considering Andromeda, Dory's mother had been disowned and literally burned off the family tree for marrying Ted.
So, they never talked about it.
"You'll—Do—Fine!" Dory punctuated this sentence, with a light slap to Linden's thigh, "The feast is quite lovely and has every type of pudding you can imagine! I know how much you love pumpkin things and you know, if any tosspot gives you a hard time, tell them your sister is-
"Is what exactly?"
Linden sat up quickly, ignoring the headrush as she tried to level a steady gaze at her cousin, Andromeda. She was a tall woman with long, soft light brown hair, thin lips, wide, kind eyes with long eyelashes, and a strong jaw.
"Is completely supportive and loves you very, very much," Dory supplied with a grin.
Obviously, by the look on Andromeda's face, she didn't believe her daughter one bit, but she let it slide, her eyes shifting over to Linden who offered a small smile.
"How are you doing, dear?" she asked, "How's Remus?"
"He's all right," Linden said, "He ate well enough, I think."
Her cousin nodded, satisfied, "Lovely. You look a bit knackered," her head tilted, "Are you sure you're all right, dear?"
Feeling Dory's eyes on her, Linden nodded quickly. Her older cousin always turned teary-eyed and stoic whenever she mentioned her dad. Which had only been once.
"Well, then," Andromeda smiled, "It's not everyday my two girls are together, is it?"
"It's not!" Dory agreed enthusiastically.
"Well, what's going on in here?"
Linden noticed, that when Dory spotted her father, she seemed to brighten up more than she already was, the pink of her hair becoming brighter.
Ted Tonks was a fair-haired, big-bellied man, with a mellow and pleasant voice. He was smiling warmly as he squeezed himself into the door, to put an arm around Andromeda's shoulders.
"Just a chat," Andromeda said, "Linden looks all right, doesn't she?"
"All right," Ted confirmed when Linden's cheeks flamed, "Packed up your trunk for you. Everything's all set in the sitting room!"
"Lovely," Linden said. She smiled again, but knew it didn't reach her eyes, "Thank you."
Ted must have noticed, "Dora, give mum a moment with your sister, yeah?"
The pink-haired witch rolled her eyes dramatically, but got up, tripping on her way to her father's outstretched arm.
Alone with her older cousin, Linden scooted over, allowing Andromeda to take a seat next to her.
"Are you honestly dreading going to Hogwarts?" Andromeda sounded devastated when she asked.
"No," Linden shook her head, "I'm only a bit nervous, that's all," she looked at her, "Weren't you?"
"Oh, yes," Andromeda nodded thoughtfully, "Quite. I had never been away from home before, but I got used to it rather quickly. Charms class was my favorite."
"I'm rather looking forward to Astronomy," Linden supplied, "And Dory was telling me about extra classes during the third year. I think I'd quite fancy Study of Ancient Runes. Muggle Studies seems interesting."
"Oh!" Andromeda breathed, touching Linden's arm, "You know who you should try and befriend?" Linden didn't know, but figured her cousin would tell her anyway, "The Weasleys! Their father, Arthur Weasley works for the Ministry at the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office and absolutely adores Muggle things! They're not hard to miss, the lot of them. All ginger-haired with blue eyes and the cutest freckles."
Andromeda seemed so happy with the thought of Linden having a friend (besides Remus), that Linden nodded. She knew of the Weasleys. They were a large pure-blood family and knew hers well, though Linden had never met any of them. They were the biggest bunch of "blood traitors".
She looked up when Andromeda squeezed her shoulder, who had noticed the solemn look on her face.
"Don't fret, now," Andromeda said gently, "It'll all go brilliantly, you'll see."
"Did you like your House?" Linden asked, "What if I'm placed in a bad house or the one that's not the best? Oh, well, I guess it doesn't matter," she corrected herself, "Never mind."
'I'm probably off the family tree, anyway,' Linden added inside her head.
"Darling," Andromeda tsked and Linden closed her eyes when she stroked her hair, "What has gotten into you, lately? Is there something we need to talk about?"
"I was only curious," Linden defended, opening her eyes, "But it's nothing…honestly."
She bit her lip, moving her eyes away from Andromeda's gaze. She actually didn't know much about her family tree. Only what Dory told her or what she had overheard from Ted and Andromeda during their many, many late night conversations. It was how she had found out about the Black family tree, though she had never seen it and had no idea if it was written down or in some kind of special book…
They wouldn't admit it, but like her, they were terribly anxious about her starting at Hogwarts.
She had asked Remus about it, but he hadn't been much help. She was still too young, he had said. A little Cub, he had continued, using his term of endearment she loved so much. There were things she wasn't ready to learn about, see or face.
She had been a little stubborn about it, but ultimately knew that Remus was right. He usually was and she trusted him more than anything.
"Whatever House you are in, does not determine your worth," Andromeda told her, "You could be a Ravenclaw or a Slytherin. You could be so special, they might have to make up a whole new House just for you," Linden chuckled, "Even then, I'll still be proud of you. Because I know that no matter what, you'll do your best and be brilliant."
"I will," Linden confirmed, with an air of confidence, "Can I wear my new dress, tomorrow, when we go to the platform?"
"Of course," Andromeda kissed the top of her head, "Will Remus be coming with us?"
Linden's face fell. She wished, "No, he's still not well, but he said he would write me and send me loads of owls!"
"No howlers, I hope?" Andromeda joked.
"No!" Linden gasped, "He would never get so cross with me," if he ever did, she was sure she would die.
"That's good to hear," Andromeda murmured "Come, dear," she beckoned, "A little bit of pudding wouldn't hurt before dinner, now would it?"
Linden's dark eyebrows flicked up at the thought and she gasped. She knew she had smelled something delicious earlier!
She shook her head in answer to the earlier question and jumped up from the spot she had occupied on Dory's bed.
As a child, desert and anything sweet took the utmost importance in Linden's mind, all worries and thoughts about Hogwarts taking a rest on the back burner.
"Dad made Manchester tarts!" Dory announced happily when Linden sped into the room.
"Yum!" Linden beamed, spotting the tarts on the stove, "Pass me a fork please!"
It was nighttime, the only light coming from Andromeda's lit wand, casting a faint blue glow in the sitting room.
Andromeda sighed, moving to brush a curl from her face, her hand returned to rest on her teacup.
Linden was such a good girl. Overall, she was a happy child. She enjoyed Ted's stories about his Muggle family and watching Andromeda cook or bake with her wand. As a smaller child, she had laughed delightfully when Andromeda had levitated marshmallows or chocolate chips into her awaiting mouth.
A fond smile graced Andromeda's face at the memory. Linden was still a very happy child, she thought. The black-haired girl spent most of her time either in the garden or with Remus and speaking of whom, if Andromeda was honest with herself, she was glad to get Linden away from him once she went to Hogwarts.
Not because Remus was a werewolf or she thought the man was odd. Her only concern was Linden. An eleven-year-old's only friend, should not be a grown man. It simply was not appropriate.
Linden should have been out with other kids her age, playing Ghouls and Goblins or fashioning fake wands out of sticks or playing hide and seek at colorful birthday parties.
Linden didn't have that, but she was vastly unbothered by that fact.
Still, Andromeda didn't give up. When Linden wasn't being home schooled, as wizarding children often were before Hogwarts, Andromeda would take her to the park or too the zoo to interact with the Muggle children.
It had worked, for the most part, but whenever a playdate had been scheduled, Linden always begged to cancel and Andromeda wasn't one to say no to her. Maybe she should have.
Andromeda turned her head, coming face-to-face with her husband's lit wand. He had come into the sitting room, rubbing his eye with his fist.
"What're you doing up?" he asked her, "Gave me a fright, you did when I found the bed empty."
"I'm sorry, dear," Andromeda placed her cup down, "I couldn't sleep and I thought I'd fix up Linden's trunk for her…put in some pictures and things so that she doesn't get homesick."
"I'm sure she'll be fine," Ted went to stand beside her, "Think she's feeling a bit better," he cleared his throat, "Dora asked me—she thinks we should adopt Linden."
Andromeda sighed and when she heard Ted's disgruntled noise, she was quick to glare at him.
"It's not that I don't want to!" she hastened to say, "I think it would be lovely, but you know very well how she feels about her real parents. I wouldn't want her to get the wrong idea that we're trying to take her away or take her name."
Secretly, Andromeda had always wished Linden would call her 'Mum'. Linden had come into her and Ted's care when she was only one year of age. They had raised her as though were their own daughter and that's usually how they referred to her.
Sure, they could have said cousin, but she was so much more than that. There were personality traits, quirks and habits Linden had picked up from them. Linden especially, admired and took after her older sister Nymphadora.
"She ties her name to…" she took a deep breath, getting choked up, "S-Sirius and it makes her feel better," she shrugged, not knowing what else to do, "Just…let her be, for now. It's not the right time to talk to her about such things. She's anxious enough as it is."
"Come to bed," Ted beckoned tiredly, "It's late."
"Let me check on the girls first," she murmured, standing and swiftly leaving the room.
She put out her wand as to not disturb her children and walked down the short hallway, into the bedroom, peeking in through the cracked door. She could hear Nymphadora's soft snores and had to open the door a bit wider in order to see Linden.
In the dark, Andromeda could see her chest rising up and down as she slept soundly, her hair piled into a loose bun atop her head. Some of her hair had come out, making her look tousled in her sleep.
She turned her head when she felt a hand on her shoulder and she nodded at her husband, letting him lead her back to the bed they shared, the door clicking shut behind them.
Ted put out his wand, their room dark once more.
Andromeda stared up at the darkened ceiling. Only hours ago, had her ceiling been lit up in a dull green color.
When Linden was four, for Christmas she had received a package of glow in the dark stars from Emilia, Ted's mother.
Andromeda had stuck them up all over her and Ted's ceiling, offering comfort on the nights Linden was too scared to sleep in her own bed.
Andromeda hadn't really understood the point. She thought the plastic had been rubbish and could have made better stars for Linden with her wand, but her youngest had been completely adamant that she wanted the plastic ones and watched as they were placed all over the ceiling with a simple sticking charm.
Even now as Linden grew older, Andromeda hadn't had the heart to take them down or toss them and had instead, plastered them to the inside of Linden's new school trunk.
She glanced over, snapped out of her thoughts by the sound of a loud snore, coming from Ted.
She turned on her side to face him and snuggled closer, smiling when Ted's arm came to drape around and pull her close.
"'t'll be okay 'Dromeda," he promised her, voice slurred with sleep, "She's a 'ery brave girl."
"That she is," Andromeda agreed. Her husband was barely awake and she let her voice trail off.
'Not too brave I hope,' she finished her sentence in her head, not daring to speak the words aloud.
It's not that she didn't want her daughter to be in Gryffindor House. As she had told Linden, she wouldn't care what House she was in as long as she did her best and was happy.
But how ironic would it be for Linden to be in that House? Afterall, Sirius, was still the only member of their very estranged family who had been in Gryffindor, the full enemy of Slytherin and look where it had landed him.
It would simply be easier for Linden to be placed in Slytherin. Anything to keep her daughter from following in her biological father's footsteps. In Andromeda's opinion, Linden was already showing signs of mental distress and Sirius, Andromeda knew, had become increasingly paranoid during the war until he finally cracked.
The face of her favorite cousin, laughing manically in his mugshot with wild eyes, haunted Andromeda everyday of her life.
Some nights, the face warped in her nightmares and it was Linden laughing, covered in blood from evidence that had yet to be siphoned off.
She shuddered and pressed herself closer to Ted, being soothed by the feel of his even breath ruffling her hair.
Only one more day and the house would be empty again. Linden at Hogwarts and Nymphadora back at her Auror training. She'd have to clean up their room when they left, make it nice and tidy for when they came home for the holidays.
Ahh, the holidays. Such a peaceful, warm and lovely time for her small family. Baking, singing, decorating and laughter. The holidays were something they all enjoyed and each year it brought them closer together.
And by then, both her daughters would have their own stories to share of their time away from home.
She was comforted by this thought of the near future and drifted off to sleep, ready for the day to come.
Author's Note: Suuuuuurprissseee! I'm back! I used to write for the Harry Potter fandom, then stopped and switched to the Twilight fandom, but I've decided to leave that as the series is way too problematic and I am pleased to announce that I'm writing for this fandom once more!
Thanks to my Beta Reader, Sabrina06 for editing this, being so patient through all of this and putting up with me. She's the real MVP!
So, I hope you enjoyed this first chapter and there's many more to come. Don't forget to review!