Before we begin, I must extend my gratitude for the overwhelming support I have received over this past week. What an amazing bunch of people you are. I cannot put into words how humbled and grateful I am to each and every one of you for the donations and kind words. Both have helped more than I can express. The response from you all has been incredible and you have my eternal gratitude.
And here it is, the epilogue of my third completed story.
For more than two years I have worked on this, lost motivation for it along the way but persevered and created something I am happy with. I do have another Harry/Tonks story planned for down the line, so keep an eye out for that. (Details of my next story are in the A/N at the bottom, so do please have a read).
Anyway, it is time to say goodbye to TGITG.
The feeling was reminiscent of the night of the Yule Ball. There she was seated, waiting to be called forward to share a dance in front of a large crowd. The difference, however, was that this time, it would be a dance shared with her husband. She smiled nervously as he led her on to the makeshift dancefloor that had been placed in the atrium of the Ministry of Magic, a final arrangement courtesy of James Potter before he had handed in his resignation having seen no purpose to continue in the role.
"Remember, it's just you and me," Harry whispered.
Another reminder of their first dance together, eliciting another smile from the woman. Events such as these were things she would avoid, and he understood. It was not something either relished but as the lord of a prominent family, it was one of the expectations he would honour.
Being pulled gently into his arms made the world around them disappear and they settled into a comfortable rhythm, swaying and twirling around the floor whilst the large gathering looked on, most with something akin to happiness, others with jealousy. There were many that looked down their noses at her, but none that would dare voice such thoughts, the idea of provoking the Lord Black not being high on their list of priorities. The legacy of the family itself and the recent dismantling of the Dark Lord's operation courtesy of the latest lord was enough to still the tongues of the disapproving.
The months following the conclusion of the war had been hectic. Harry had been inundated with requests for interviews, hounded by the press and the public when he left home and had even had to endure the plethora of marriage contracts that he been received from far and wide. That particular problem had been dealt with quickly and efficiently. It was the one time that Harry had talked to a journalist willingly and Rita Skeeter received another boon to her career. He had emphatically denied all offers put forth and announced their own impending nuptials, much to the dismay and displeasure of many.
Some took it as a personal slight against them, which, knowing Harry, it probably was. Others offered their congratulations, some more sincere than others, but the contracts stopped arriving. Had anyone pressed the issue, she had no doubt her intended would have taken it as a personal affront and escalated the situation if needed.
Their personal dilemmas aside, Wizarding Britain had gone through significant change also. Many lords of the Wizengamot had been killed during the conflict, most of which coming from the more traditionally inclined politics. This meant that a power vacuum had occurred, and some rather unflattering bills were close to being passed. The most drastic of these being that the new, younger lords of the families that had lost their lord would be subject to being placed under a mentor programme where they would be taught the practice of politics by other members of the Wizengamot.
Harry had personally fought the implementation of the bill put forward by Amos Diggory. The man had used the recently ended conflict as a catalyst for his plan and seemingly wanted to remove traditionalist views from the Wizengamot.
In a well-publicised condemnation, Harry outright accused the man of attempting to subvert the British culture and eradicate democracy. His vitriol had been as expected from a Black; ruthless, cutting and provocative.
Thankfully, the bill was not passed and the families that were viewed as dark from the other side, were left to continue in their ways.
Harry had explained that the balance between light and dark was needed and one should not have autonomous power. The country would lose its way were that to happen and it would only incite further conflict further down the line.
Tonks was no politician, but balance was something that she could understand. If Diggory had gotten his way, it would only encourage more people to adopt extremist views in the long run. The last thing Britain needed was another Dark Lord to emerge in the future.
She cleared her head of her thoughts by leaning against Harry's shoulder. She didn't want to dwell on politics or the war. She wanted to enjoy hers' and Harry's day. Despite the need to wear a dress once again, she intended to do just that.
Arcturus watched proudly as Harry took his wife into his arms and began leading her around the floor. It was a strange sight to see, but a welcome one, nonetheless. Had any told him that the broken little boy presented to him so many years ago would grow into the man before him, he would have laughed in their faces. He had all but given up hope on the legacy of the family. Himself and many that had come before him had made many an error where the family was concerned, but not Harry. The boy had proven himself beyond any doubt that he was the right man to restore the family to their former glory.
Arcturus rested easily now knowing that the fate of his blood was in such capable hands. All that remained was for the line to continue and he had no doubt it would do so. The Blacks would go from strength to strength with Harry at the helm, and even when the clammy grip of death claimed him, his face would adorn the same smirk he wore now and he would go in comfort, peacefully, knowing that the name Black would live on through his chosen heir.
"Are you crying?" Cassie whispered.
"No," Sirius denied, wiping suspiciously at his eyes.
Cassie took pity on the man and patted his shoulder comfortingly.
Sirius shook his head.
"Nothing. I'm happy for him. If anyone deserves it, it's him," he answered genuinely.
Cassie nodded her agreement. The circumstances in which the boy had come into her life had not been ideal, but he had grown on her quickly and she had come to care for him just as much as she had any of her other nieces and nephews. He had proven himself, not just as a member of the family but as one of the few greats that would rise with each passing generation, and as far as she was concerned, there was none greater than him.
Time and time again he had overcome the odds, proved that he was tenacious and proven many a doubter wrong. He was a strong man and would only grow the more years he lived. For how many of them she herself would witness, she knew not, but it did not matter. She had watched him grow from that insecure, helpless little boy into the man that stood before her.
"You've done a fine job with him," she praised, such word a rarity from the woman. "You should be proud, Sirius. Damn proud of the job you did."
Once the shock had worn off, Sirius gave her a nod of gratitude. It had not always been easy. Harry had been broken when they found him and day after day had been a struggle at first. Not only that, the boy had proven to be just as mischievous as himself and the man that had sired him. Throwing Leo into the mix had only developed that side to the boy, but it had been for the best. It may have been his newfound ability to use magic, meeting Leo, or a combination of the two that had seen him grow so quickly. Regardless, the raw potential he had was being nurtured and he had exceeded all expectations, always. Now, he was but a man and Sirius couldn't deny that he missed that little boy at times.
"So, what's next for you?" Cassie questioned curiously.
"I'm staying on at the school," he answered. "Those kids need a decent professor. Who better than a Black to teach them how to defend themselves against the dark arts?"
"That's all well and good, but what about you? Aren't you ever going to settle down yourself?"
Sirius shrugged as grin tugged at his lips.
"There's always a possibility," he replied, his eyes meeting those of Amelia Bones who smirked in his direction from across the room.
"Do you remember our wedding day?" Sarah asked her husband with a slight frown.
The man grinned and nodded fondly.
"How could I forget? It was a great night," he declared.
"Ergh, I don't want to hear this," Katie muttered.
"Oh, no. Nothing like that happened, did it, Robert?" her mother pressed with a glare.
The man had the decency to look abashed at the very least.
"What did happen?" Leo broke in.
"This idiot got drunk and ended up brawling. He came to bed with a torn shirt, covered in blood and passed out."
"Aye, sounds like a good night to me."
The Bell females glared at him as Robert again smirked, this time going unnoticed by his wife.
"I did apologise, did I not? And I made it up to you."
"That is not the point," Sarah hissed. "My only memory of our wedding day is of you scrapping like a schoolboy and bellowing like an ape."
The man snorted, composing himself quickly under the unamused gaze of his spouse.
"Oh, come on, love. It's not like I can change it now."
"You could always renew your vows. Muggles do it all the time," Leo shrugged.
Sarah's eye lit up at the idea and Robert groaned.
"You know, I was just starting to like you and then you go and do something like this. Bloody hell, lad, think before you speak."
"Well, I think it's a wonderful idea," Sarah praised. "We can do it again and it will be a day I want to remember," she finished firmly.
Robert relented with a huff.
"Alright, we'll redo do the damned wedding, but if your brother says one word to me, I will floor the little bastard, again," he warned.
Sarah kissed the man on the cheek and gave him a winning smile.
"Don't worry, Robert. The two of you only fallout when you've had a few. This time, it won't be a problem because there will be no alcohol."
The man was positively affronted by the words and his ire was aimed towards Leo.
"You see what you've done? Now I have to endure that berk without a drop of the good stuff. Thanks very much."
"Oh, calm down, Robert. Is the thought of marrying me again so bad?" Sarah asked.
The man shook his head and smiled warmly, something that Leo considered to be alien.
"No, I couldn't think of anything I'd want more," the man sighed as he pulled the woman into his arms. Leaning over her shoulder, he gave Leo a conspiratorial wink. "Get out whilst the going is good," he whispered. "If you don't, this is you in twenty years, mark my words."
Leo laughed as Sarah swatted her husband's shoulder. If in twenty years' time he had anything resembling that of the Bells marriage, he would be a very happy man. In the spirit of such a thought, he turned towards the girl that occupied his thoughts and took her hand, the two of them sharing in the moment of happiness.
As she watched Harry's wife rest her head on his shoulder, Lily had to admit to herself that the occasion was bittersweet. She was truly happy for her son but couldn't help thinking that things should have been different. In a world where Voldemort hadn't attacked them, she would have been involved with planning and arranging the wedding, Harry would be readying himself to lead their family and Charlie would still be here, likely as Harry's best man.
A tear escaped her as she smiled at the thought.
"I know, Lils," James comforted, "so many what if questions with no answers."
"I am happy for him," she replied honestly.
"As am I. It doesn't change how we feel though. I'm just pleased we are a part of his life now. Sirius has done a fine job."
"He has," Lily agreed. "I'm grateful for what we have."
She turned her attention to the empty seat next to them. In honour of his fallen brother, Harry had insisted on the spare seat. Charlie would have been in his element today, as both a comfort and a pain in the backside. There was no way he would have let this go ahead without pulling something. It was just who he was, especially when it came to Harry. As happy as Lily was that herself and James had managed to forge something with their elder son, knowing that their younger boy had the chance meant so much more.
For Harry, the ceremony and reception were but a formality. There was no other he could imagine spending his life with, no other he would even consider. As he swayed with the woman in his arms, he realised that things had turned out rather well.
There had been the unpleasantness of Diggory's proposals and a little more when the need to elect a new Minister had arisen. However, Wizarding Britain seemed to be thriving now that Tom and his followers had been dealt with once and for all.
The aftermath thankfully, had been rather minimal. Harry had barely been called upon for anything other than to give an account of the battle. No questions had been asked about his activities leading up to it and he strongly suspected James Potter was behind this. Having the man elected to office had proven to be a boon beyond expectations.
With those problems dealt with, and before he could begin to live his life with his new bride, there was one other issue he had yet to address and one he was not looking forward to.
For the best part of two years, a prisoner had resided within the basement at Grimmauld Place, one that he had grown rather fond of in a familial way.
He sighed as the realisation hit that he could no longer put it off. Once his honeymoon was over, he would have to confront the situation and remedy it.
For how long she had been held here, she didn't know. One day seamlessly bled into the next and she had lost track of how many days, weeks and months had past since she had arrived. She wasn't by any means unhappy; she was far away from the Dementors after all. She did, however, find herself wondering about what kind of future she might have.
Harry had given her the news that he had successfully killed her master. It had been a rather matter-of-fact revelation without a hint of smugness nor regret. It was as though a business transaction had been complete and he had benefited considerably more than the other side. She couldn't be sure about how she felt. She had been upset initially, had mourned for the man she had once viewed as her saviour, but she hadn't been angry with the lord of her family. In truth, she had been proud. He had explained to her exactly how he had gone about the deed and she couldn't help but feel that he had taken the best possible approach, best for the family at least.
He himself seemed to be disappointed in a way that he had not engaged the Dark Lord in a duel, but to that end, there were far too many risks. Her master was an excellent wizard, far beyond even those above average, and despite how gifted Harry undoubtedly was, he did not hold the advantage in such an eventuality. Her master had well over five decades of experience on the younger man and experience counted for much in a fight, especially when facing someone who had performed ritual upon ritual to ensure they remained at their peak.
She shook her head at the thought. No, Harry had gone about it the right way, the way any Black worth the name they carried would.
That, however, left her with uncertainty about herself. What would Harry do with her?
She couldn't very well live out her remaining days within these walls, could she?
She wouldn't be opposed to the idea so long as she could at the very least experience fresh air once in a while and have her wand back. She could cope with such a life if necessary.
Her one concern, however, was that he would wash his hands of her and have her sent back to Azkaban. Such a fate was not something she wanted to ponder. She had little doubt that if she were to return there, she would die within a year. There was no hope of a master to rescue her to keep her lucid, nor would there be any purpose to continuing existing for. She was strong, but none could survive the island without something worth surviving for.
"What's bothering you?" a voice pulled her from her reverie. So lost in her thought as she was, she hadn't heard the approaching footsteps on the stairs.
She found herself up at the Lord Black, his steely gaze not fitting in with the look of youth he still had. He no longer appeared as boyish as when they had first met, but he was young, far too young for such intensity. She, however, admired him for it. He was a strong man, had endured much and continued to grow only stronger.
"Nothing," she denied, her voice barely above a whisper.
"Come off it, Bella. I might not know you se well but even I am not that dense," he chuckled.
She smiled at his attempt to lighten the mood.
"I suppose I'm just wondering what will come of me."
Harry nodded his understanding as he took a seat opposite her.
"I've not kept you here out spite," he assured her. "I have been considering my options, and in all honesty, none are particularly good. If I were to hand you over to the aurors, it would be known that I have held you. I could kill you, but you have given me no reason to."
"So, what have you decided?"
"What would you like me to do?"
"You could let me go," she suggested hopefully.
Harry chuckled as he shook his head and stared at her speculatively.
"It's been fifteen years, Bella, but the world hasn't forgotten about you," he sighed. "If it wouldn't cause such a headache, I would. I don't care enough about the Longbottoms to fight for their justice, nor for whatever else you may have done. You were young, stupid too, but you made your choices and I suppose I have made mine," he added thoughtfully.
Bellatrix swallowed deeply as she waited for his verdict.
"Come," he urged, "we will duel and if you can beat me, I will allow you to walk out of the front door and no one will try to stop you."
"And if I lose?"
"We will cross that bridge when we come to it," Harry replied not unkindly.
"And what wand will I use?"
"Yours, of course," Harry answered as he drew a familiar wand from within his sleeve. "I was planning on returning it to you today until I realised how much my reticence was bothering you."
"How did you get this?" she asked as she took it in her grasp, the warmth of her magic pumping through her veins overwhelming her. Such a feeling brought a tear to her eyes.
"Azkaban," Harry answered simply. "For such a well-protected place, it wasn't so difficult to break in."
"Thank you," she said sincerely as she awkwardly pulled him into a hug.
"Don't thank me yet. You still have to show me why you are the most feared witch in Wizarding Britain," he reminded her as he opened the door and began ascending the steps.
"What about the wards?"
"You're with me, they won't activate unless you give them a reason to," he assured her.
Climbing a set of stairs was a strange feeling, something she had not experienced for the past decade and a half. Nonetheless, she managed it anyway and found herself in the familiar hallways of Grimmauld Place. She had not been here since she had been in her early teenage years, when the house was run by her aunt Walburga. If she was considered a loyal Death Eater, Walburga would be nothing short of a fanatic. Often, she could be heard spouting some spiel about the greatness of the man. Bellatrix had found the woman both strange and intolerable. She had never met the Dark Lord but had insisted her children dedicate themselves to his cause. Much to her displeasure, Cousin Sirius had not listened and had been ousted shortly after. She never would have believed he was the smart one of the family. It turns out that he had been the smartest of the bunch.
"Strange being here?"
"I have a lot of memories here, some good and others not."
"Well, all of those you grew with are gone. Your mother, your father, Regulus. Your two sisters, Sirius, your grandfather and aunt are all that remain. Other than myself and Dora."
"And my wife," Harry reminded her.
"All those that I looked up to," she sighed.
"They made poor choices. We have all done it and they paid the price. The family may not be what it once was, but it will continue to rise. I will see to that."
Bellatrix believed him. He had never given her any reason to doubt him and she wouldn't start now. He was the kind of man needed to re-establish the family as one of the greats.
"Nervous?" he questioned with a grin as he pushed open a door, revealing a suitably large enough space to hold a duel.
"I'm a bit out of practice," she mused aloud, "but I think I can handle it."
Harry smirked and gestured for her to take up her position on the opposite side of the room.
"Remember, if you win, you walk free. Anything goes."
"Anything?" Bellatrix asked with a frown.
Harry nodded seriously.
Her frown deepened as she pondered the predicament she found herself in. If somehow she managed to kill him, her life would not be worth living. The rest of the family would not let such a transgression pass and she would have nowhere to turn to.
Nevertheless, she gave a shrug. She was not one to turn down a challenge, not even one that could cost her life.
In the spirit of this, she fired off a couple of the spells her father had taught her from the family magic. Having spent several years under his tutelage, these were one that she had perfected.
With little effort, he stepped aside to avoid them and released a flock of ravens from the tip of his wand. She braced herself for an attack that never came. Instead, they flew around him in circles and he waited for her to make her next move.
Scowling, she fired another string of curses his way, only to watch as a few of the birds broke away and took the spells before immediately being replaced by the three that had fallen.
She growled as any reluctance to harm the boy vanished and hurled curse after curse at him in quick succession, killing several more of the conjured animals but seeming failing to penetrate his defence in any way. It was effective, that she would admit. She had never faced such a tactic and it left her frustrated.
"Fight back," she demanded irritably.
"As you wish," he shrugged.
Any look of amusement he had no longer adorned his features as he obliged her request. The birds that had been somewhat lazily flying around him paused briefly before speeding towards her. Instinctively, she erected a wall of fire in front of her and the smell of burning feathers and pained squawking could be heard. Her respite, however, was short-lived. To her surprise and dismay, her wall of fire became a block of ice, and through it, she could see another swarm of birds heading her way.
Her surprise only increased however, when the bird that reached her cover first burst into an eerily green ball of fire and she quickly found herself completely unprotected. She was not one to give up so easily, as she intended for him to find out.
She again went on the offensive, destroying any of the birds that approached with an array of spells, finding her rhythm with her wand unexpectedly so quickly after such a long hiatus. It was but a blur and Harry gave her a nod of respect. There were very few witches or wizards out there that could endure such an attack, let alone as ferociously as Bellatrix was.
Becoming frustrated with the seemingly unending stream of flying creatures, she released a laboured screech as an explosion escaped the tip of her wand. Every remaining bird gave a final caw of protest before the vanished, leaving in their wake only a plume of feathers.
With a simple flick of his own wand, Harry transfigured them into knives and sent them in the direction of the woman. Instead of shielding as he'd expected her to, she whipped her own in an upwards motion, sending the blades into the ceiling above.
Such a move was risky and only one with unwavering confidence would attempt to intercept so many projectiles this way. If even an ounce of concentration was lost, it could prove to be fatal.
He nodded his head respectfully as she panted, her body no longer accustomed to such rigour.
"Good," he praised. "I can see why people would fear you, even if you are out of practice."
"Still better than most," she heaved.
"I won't disagree with that. Are you ready to continue?"
Bellatrix gave a nod before continuing her onslaught, not wanting him to gain another advantage over her.
She casted as she moved, twirling and spinning so not to be an easy target and looked on in frustration as Harry barely moved, most of her efforts batted away as though each spell was not one that could cause him permanent harm.
In the briefest of lull, he returned with a plethora of spells, his accuracy and speed quite the sight to see. Had she not known the ability he possessed; she wouldn't have believed it. He was calm, finessed and deadly. Everything she had once been. She was still, just older and her body could no longer keep up. Perhaps it was this or the years in Azkaban, but the toll of the passing minutes had been taken and it was only a matter of time before she made a mistake.
It came only a moment later and a misstep took her into the path of a bright red spell, rendering her unconscious. She woke after what could have only been a minute or so. Her breathing was still fast, and the room had the scent of burnt feathers and the warmth of still-permeating magic.
Her eyes turned towards the victor of the duel and she deflated with a staggering breath. He stood, watching her calculatingly, a sweat not even visible on his brow.
"You did well, Bella," he comforted. "I can't give you higher praise than that.
She nodded, accepting her defeat. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but she could not deny the outcome.
"So, what will you do with me?"
"The easiest thing to do would be to get rid of the problem."
"You're going to kill me then?"
Harry snorted as he shook his head.
"No, Bella. You're my blood. I won't kill a member of my family unless they force my hand and I won't hand you back to the aurors."
"I'm going to send you to one of our other properties away from Britain. You will receive more than enough gold to see you through and I will ensure you have an elf. My only condition is that you do not return here and do not bring shame to the family. If necessary, I will come for you and I will not be so forgiving."
"You will let me go, just like that?"
"I won't keep you a prisoner. Fifteen years in Azkaban is suffering enough in my books. You're a Black, Bellatrix. I will always help those that carry our name the best I can."
"I'm a LeStrange," she pointed out.
"No. I saw to it that would change. I annulled your marriage citing that many clauses in your contract were never met. You are once again, officially one of us."
Bellatrix sat up with a look of disbelief in her tear-filled eyes.
"Thank you," she choked.
"This isn't a reward. This is an opportunity for a new life. If I were you, I would take it with both hands and run. It is not an offer I make lightly nor one you will ever get again."
Bellatrix nodded her understanding.
"You have a choice between Switzerland, France or Italy. I'll give you a few days to decide and then you will be gone. For the time being, you will be confined to your room."
Gratefully, she stood and threw her arms around the young man and gave him a tight embrace. She had been certain she would spend the rest of her days on the forsaken island or within the four walls that had become her second prison. Harry had truly stuck his neck out for her, and she had no intention of making him regret it.
As such, only three days' later, she waved goodbye to the shores of Wizarding Britain to begin a new life in Italy where she could live out her remaining years in peace, with a name she was proud to carry and a powerful lord to look up to.
Harry would visit from time to time to check on her and the two would engage in either a duel or a game of chess as they had done so often in the past. She never managed to beat him at either, but she lived a life of contentment, never once regretting that she had been kept out of the war and away from her former master.
19 years later
Harry had readied himself for the day ahead, though every year this day proved to be as difficult as the previous year. One of the many lessons learnt throughout his years was that loss followed you wherever you went and no matter how much time had passed. He'd lost his grandfather and aunt before he'd turned twenty-five, two deaths that weighed heavily on his conscience. None had suffered, and for that, he was grateful. Arcturus had simply fallen asleep never to wake and Cassie, very much the same. The loss of the man had been difficult to accept, and he had truly felt out of his depth for the first time in his life. No longer did he have that person to lean on for assistance when it came to running the family, the words of experience nor the calming presence. It had been a tough period of adjustment for the man, but he had managed. He had held what remained of the family together, had guided them along the path he was forging, and still, they remained strong.
The loss of Cassie had hit him hard, the same way that losing a mother would. It was another loss he'd had to bear whilst carrying the others with him. Leo had taken it the hardest. The man had been inconsolable for days after she had gone. He loved the woman who had raised him, and it had come as no surprise when his daughter had been born that she was given the name Cassiopeia in honour of her namesake. Two sons had followed the girl only a few years later, blessed with the names Robert and Shane, for each one of their grandfathers.
Himself and Katie had elected to wait for family life. She wished to pursue her Quidditch career, which had been quite the success as it turns out and he was happy to wait until the time was right for her. He was happy to take up a role as an advisor on the Mind Arts to the Ministry, his years apprenticing under Cassie elevating to masterful levels. When time allowed, he also competed on the duelling circuit, never fully being able to ignore that itch to fight that had been instilled with him during his schooling years. Thankfully, however, the ICW never had need to call him up for formal service and his years waiting for such an eventuality passed by.
Sirius had continued on in his capacity as a professor, eventuality moving on to be the Deputy Head and Head of his former house. Minerva McGonagall eventually retired after a decade as Headmistress with Dumbledore's passing and Sirius passed up the offer to take any of her positions further. The man loved to teach and had no desire to be sat in an office all day. Besides, he had his own home to return to each night, with a wife that was just as busy as himself waiting. It was seldom the two would get much time together and accepting such a position would impede on it more than each of their jobs already did.
He had eventually married Amelia Bones in a quick ceremony that had taken the public by surprise. There had been no formal announcement, no pomp nor circumstance. Only the very few members of the combined houses had attended and the two had returned to their respective jobs the very next day. They never did have children, but the line of Bones continued through Amelia's niece Susan when she birthed two sons and a daughter of her own.
Harry had been kept busy over the years with the state of the family, working consistently to elevate them back to former heights. His victory of Voldemort had been a boon, but a more personal one. He wanted a legacy to pass on to his own children that would see them stand above all others as those that carried the name had once been. It was a difficult an endless task, one that his own heir and theirs after would have to continue. A legacy was not built on one great man, it would take several following to establish that. Another lesson he had learnt whilst navigating the perils of everyday life.
Though hard at work, he did find time to pursue some things of interest. Occasionally, he would enter the duelling circuit in disguise and using a false name. His notoriety preceded him wherever he went, and this was a way that he could vent a little under the guise of another. When that person would begin to garner too much attention, they would vanish, and a newcomer would take their place some time later. He had no need for the prize money nor the reputation being such an excellent fighter offered, he had both in spades. It was the thrill of combat that attracted him and the thrill of performing with those watching ignorant of his identity. To this end, he had even had reasonable success as a singer under the name 'Christopher White'. That venture had begun as a forfeit to a bet he had lost with Leo. Neither expected the success that came nor the demand for more. It had all come to an end when his wife had discovered it was him behind the moniker, and the thrill of performing was lost. Nevertheless, he was no longer shy to sing in front of her and had done so on several occasions throughout their marriage at her request, usually when she had been birthing one of the five children they shared or on their anniversary.
It was one of those children that made today particularly important and he was a mixture of nervous and tetchy to have the formality of the event done with. The fact that it was the date of the passing of his brother only added to his current feelings, though he would freely admit, it was fitting.
Three boys and two girls himself and Dora had been blessed with, each a little of them both and one metamorph, their second born daughter having inherited the trait from her mother. Such a thing was rare and even those that were one were not likely to pass the gift on to their children. There were no guarantees with magic, and to him, this had proved it.
His eldest, his firstborn son had been quite the surprise. No discussion had been made to try for one, but it had happened anyway, and six months after the discovery that his wife was with child, Regulus Arcturus Black II had been born, named for the great uncle that had died defying the Dark Lord.
Next had come his first daughter only two years after. She had been named Callidora Andromeda Black after a great aunt who had been a revered healer and her grandmother who came to dote on them all.
Aries had arrived a year later and Melania a year after him bringing the total to four. Arcturus had always spoken highly of his wife, and by all accounts had been a fine woman. It was fitting that her name would live on through them. His daughter proved to be much like the woman; stubborn, intelligent and deeply caring for her family. Her choice of name had proven to be the right one. Aries was very much like his father. He was driven, hardworking and not an ungifted boy. As the second son, he knew it was unlikely he would become lord and he dedicated himself to his studies so that his older brother would always have someone strong watching over him.
The two shared a very strange relationship. At times they would annoy one another and at others, they were inseparable. These were the two that tested the parents the most and the ones that had shown Harry how difficult fatherhood could be. For the first time in his life, he pitied his own father for having to tolerate all the things he had put the man through.
It was the birth of their fifth son that had been the biggest surprise. After Melania, the couple had decided that four was enough. Fate, however, had other ideas. There had been no sign that Dora had been pregnant, no sickness, no cravings and no swelling until she had been almost six months along.
Nevertheless, the two took it in their stride and their son joined them a few moments later. It was this particular child that was occupying the thoughts of his father and Harry couldn't help but look back at his arrival. Today would change things for the boy and for the family, but Harry knew he had made the right decision. The first time he held the boy in his arms he knew.
As a man, no matter how many times your wife gives birth, waiting for the babe to arrive never becomes easier, never becomes less nerve-wracking. This was the fifth time that Harry was experiencing such a thing and he fidgeted the same way he had during the first birth, he paced across the room as the healers went about their job and he bit his fingernails down as far as they could go. It was a mixture of nervousness and excitement that gripped him, neither relenting until he was handed that bundle of blankets with one of his blood inside.
"Just one last push and he will be here," the healer urged, positioned at the end of the bed as though waiting to catch a child that would come at her with speed.
Harry bit the inside of his mouth to prevent the laughter forming at his observation. He doubted his wife would appreciate it.
Any laughter died as a wailing sound filled the room and the women went about cleaning up the leftovers of childbirth from the baby. Harry bounced on his toes impatiently until it was passed to his wife. As tired as she was, she gave him a smile and beckoned him forward.
As calmly as his trembling legs would allow, he cleared the short distance between them and took the seat next to the bed, his mouth opening in surprise at the sight of the newest addition to their family. For the fifth time in his life, tears of joy welled and unashamedly glided down his cheeks as he took the little boy from his mother's arms and stared at him for several moments.
"He looks like…"
"I know," Tonks comforted. "We spoke about this, Harry. I've already given you my blessing. I can't think of a better way."
Harry nodded as he stood and left the delivery room with his son tucked safely in his arms. As he entered the waiting room, he was accosted by someone who was less patient than himself.
"Is everything alright? How's the little one?" Leo asked frantically.
"Bloody hell, he's fine, Dora is fine, and you have a fifth godchild. Now bugger off, mother hen, there are other people for him to meet."
A chastised Leo grumbled as he took a step back. It had been this way since the birth of their first child. Harry had never expected such a reaction from his friend when it came to children, but he should have. He cared for each of them as though they were his own and he couldn't think of anyone better to watch over them should anything happen to him and Dora.
"It's alright, little one," he whispered as the baby began to fidget slightly in his wrappings. "There's a few people that would like to meet you. This," he began when he reached Sirius, "is your Grandad Sirius and Nanny Amelia."
The couple spent a few moments holding the boy before Harry claimed him back to move on to the next couple.
"This is Grandad Teddy and Nanny Andi," he cooed.
Andromeda almost snatched the boy from him in her excitement to meet the boy.
"Aww, he is so sweet," she whispered as he yawned a toothless yawn. She eventually handed the babe back, though she did not appear happy to do so.
"This idiot is the one you saw first. This is your Uncle Leo and your Aunty Katie. You'll see him a lot, so don't get too excited," he added under his breath.
Leo heard him and glared at his friend before accepting the boy into his arms. He, however, didn't have long as his wife insisted it was her turn. Again, it took a little time before his son was handed back and he turned to the final couple in the room.
"This is your Nanny Lily and Grandad James," he introduced them.
The Potters looked on proudly at the boy and Lily almost squealed as Harry placed him in her arms. She looked at the babe and then back at Harry in surprise.
"I'd like you all to meet Charlus Henry Potter," he announced, those within the room falling silently in shock at the declaration. "He is your heir, James, named for the son you lost and for my brother."
The man released a choked sob as he all but fell into Harry's arms. He had never truly forged a parental bond with them, but they had become incredibly important over the years. He had gotten to know them for who they were, and they had proven themselves. Both were gifted in their own right and had never given him a reason to doubt them. It was one of the other lessons he had taken to heart that had seen him forgive the pair. In truth, they had done nothing wrong other than put their faith and trust in the wrong person. They had suffered for their foolishness, had lost their son because of it and Harry didn't have the heart to see them suffer any further.
He had grown close to the Potters, had grown to love them as he did any other person of import in his life. He had discussed this with Dora, had explained the request that James had made, and she had agreed with him. He was a Black, would always be a Black and look out for the best interests of the Blacks, but somewhere inside him was Potter, and it would be remiss to forget that because of mistakes those that had sired him made when they were young. Holding his third son only reiterated that notion and the fact that he resembled his late brother only solidified his decision.
"I don't know what to say," James choked.
"There's nothing you need to say. It's the right thing to do and I am proud that my son will one day continue your line."
James nodded gratefully before taking his heir into his arms and smiling. He had thought Harry had forgotten about the request he made all those years ago, had even accepted it. Today, however, he had proven just how much of a good man he had grown into and James would forever treasure the trust he'd been shown.
"We'll be late if you don't all get a move on," Harry called up the stairs in Grimmauld Place as he checked his watch.
"We won't be late, Harry," Tonks assured him as she came downstairs.
"You look as beautiful as ever," he complimented.
"Being a metamorph has its' perks she sighed as he pressed a kiss against her head. "Without all of this, I don't look as I used to," she added, gesturing to her red hair an unblemished skin.
"Without all of that, you are the woman I fell in love with and married," Harry countered. "I look forward to seeing her every night."
Tonks gave him a smile before kissing him on the lips.
"Do you have to do that, it's disgusting," Melania grumbled as she joined them.
"I will remind you of that when you have a boyfriend," Harry returned, eliciting a look of disgust at the thought from the girl.
"Ha, if you had your way dad, she'd never have a boyfriend. I can't imagine too many people wanting to try to impress the great Harry Black just to put up with her," Regulus commented as the rest of the children joined them.
"Ah, the joys of being scary," Harry lamented.
"You're not scary," Callidora denied. "I still remember when you pretended to be my unicorn."
"And such knowledge stays within these walls," Harry insisted. "Imagine the outcry it would cause if anyone knew that the great Lord Black had once been a unicorn."
"Shut up, dad," Aries sighed. "You were the one moaning that we'd be late and here you are holding us up."
Harry narrowed his eyes at the boy.
"You used to be fun," he muttered.
"Well, some of us have the task of keeping this prat out of trouble," Aries replied, jerking a thumb in the direction of his older brother.
"That one spent too much time with Uncle Leo and Grandad Sirius," Harry conceded.
"Will they be there today?" Tonks questioned.
"I expect so. They haven't missed one yet. Are you ready for today, Charlie?"
The youngest of his children nodded.
"Are you going to be sad?" the boy asked. "I don't like it when you're sad."
"I'll try not to be," Harry answered wrapping an arm around the boy as he removed the portkey from within his robes. "Everyone grab on."
When the entire family had taken hold of the piece of rope, he activated it and they vanished with the familiar feeling of being hooked by the navel.
They appeared in the churchyard at Godric's Hollow and were greeted by the sight of the Potters, Sirius, Leo and Remus Lupin. Harry had never gotten to know the man beyond the exchange of pleasantries, but he had been Charlie's godfather and had always attended the yearly gathering they held for the boy.
"Remus will take you into the church and we will join you shortly," James explained. "Charlie, you will come with us along with your father."
The boy nodded nervously and held Harry's hand tightly in his own.
"You'll be fine," Harry assured him as they followed James and Lily across the graveyard and into the warded off area where those bearing the Potter name rested.
Every year Harry would join the pair to pay their respects to is brother, would speak about how life was going and inevitably lament at how much he missed the boy. This year was different, however. This year, his own son would take up his place officially as the heir of the family.
He held the boy back as Lily and James went about saying their piece respectively, each taking a few moments by the head of the grave. When it was his turn, he led Charlie with him and whispered his own words under his breath before conjuring a wooden stag and placing it on the ground below.
"This is who you were named for, Charlie."
"I know," Charlie answered sadly. "Uncle Charlie was your brother and it makes you sad that he's gone."
"It does, but have I ever told you about him?"
The boy shook his head.
"He's was a kind boy, the kindest you would ever meet and very brave. A very bad man came for us and your Uncle died protecting me. I loved him and owe him my life. If it wasn't for him, things would be very different. Neither you or your brothers and sisters would be here."
"Is that why you're famous, because you got the bad man?"
"It is," Harry clarified. "I got the bad man that killed your Uncle."
"I'm glad you killed him, dad. Uncle Charlie sounds like he was a nice person."
"He was," Harry sighed as a tear broke free. "You have a very big name to live up to, little one. Do you think you can manage it?"
The boy looked uncertain until his father pulled him into his arms.
"I know you can," Harry whispered. "You are just as kind and brave as he was. You have a very important job, just as important as Regulus and you will have me and Grandad James to help you. I know you will be fine, son. You're like your uncle in so many ways, that is the best start you can hope for."
"I think I can do it," Charlie whispered.
"Good, now come. Grandad James has been waiting a very long time for this day."
The boy nodded and allowed himself to be led towards his grandparents.
Harry looked on as his son accepted the heirship with a proud smile on his lips. He was proud of the boy, proud of all his children and the people they were growing up to be, but most of all, he was happy. He had his family, he had his friends, and both lines that he considered his own would continue to prosper long after he was gone. There was nothing more he could ask for other than things that he could never have.
"I'll see you again, brother," he sighed internally as he followed the other three towards the church in the distance.
I won't say much about this other than, it is, as always, a bittersweet feeling when a story is finished.
However, with that being said, my next venture into the Potterverse can begin.
It will be, as anticipated by many, my Harry/Fleur story which will begin being posted in the coming days, so follow me to be alerted on that. The title of that will be revealed when the first chapter is posted.
For those of you that already know, you have my apologies, but I have revamped m eon page and will begin the process of uploading all my work there. (Fanfiction will still be posted here). Please note also, fanfiction is something I do for free and always will and I have never nor will ever profit from it.
I will be posting new chapters there of original work and fanfiction a minimum of twice weekly beginning this coming week. I will also be posting odd drabbles, short stories and maybe even some poems if the mood strikes me.
Please do head over there and check it out (there is a more in-depth explanation of what is on offer) and if what I am creating is something you want to be a part, then please do subscribe. I will be dedicating myself to my writing from here on out and any support is always appreciated, and the different tiers are HP themed, because why not.
Details of my social media are on my profile here!
Also, please do give me feedback on things you would like to see. I'm open to suggestions so that I can improve.
Anyway, I sincerely hope you have enjoyed this journey and will be looking forward to the next and again, thank you for the support.
Love to you all,