|SIYE Time:23:24 on 17th September 2021|
Harry's Second Christmas
By Mutt N Feathers
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Category: Alternate Universe, Holidays
Story is Complete
Summary: Sirius doesn't go after Peter, but instead takes Harry and goes into hiding in the Potter ancestral estate Linfred Hall. Can Sirius keep Harry safe when both sides of the recent war want him? Can Harry's godparents reconcile enough to care him without hexing each other? Can it possibly be a Happy Christmas?
Hitcount: Story Total: 5025; Chapter Total: 670
Awards: View Trophy Room
For anyone who has read any of my other stories, you'll recognize Harry's Godmother
November 1, 1981
Anwen was surprised to receive Sirius’ owl at first light the morning after. She'd heard the news, of course, but it was still hard to believe her best friend was gone. It was just one more loss to add to the list of losses. The only magical friend remaining was Remus, and she had no idea where he was. He'd never returned after the full moon in October, and that was three weeks ago. Hopefully, he'd been with Sirius. Her heart clenched at the memories of him.
They’d instantly become friends when she’d arrived at Hogwarts. Their love had grown while they spent time together, and by the time she was in her sixth year, he'd declared his love; she’d always been more aware of her feelings. The couple became engaged a year ago at Christmas. The engagement only lasted a few months, and Anwen had broken off her relationship with him because he wanted her to stop her Auror studies and was smothering her with his 'concern for her safety'.
She understood from Remus that Sirius had become paranoid in recent months, going so far as to insinuate the werewolf was really a follower of Voldemort. Other people were suspecting Sirius was a spy, especially now, since he took Harry. It was a ridiculous idea. Sirius and James were too close, too important to each other for Sirius to have betrayed him. It was beyond ludicrous to think Sirius would follow Voldemort if you knew him at all. He hated everything the Black family had ever espoused, and they were in lockstep with what Voldemort preached. Sirius would rather die than take the Dark Mark. He couldn't have been the Potters' Secret-Keeper because he would have sacrificed himself to save them.
Last night, Dumbledore had shown up at her little house. It was the one she'd once shared with Sirius and Remus, demanding to know where Harry was. He was unhappy to find out that Anwen not only didn't know where the toddler was, but she couldn't imagine where Sirius might have taken him. Her former Headmaster’s behaviour and tone only went to further highlight why she wasn’t as close with the man as she’d once been. With her connections to the wizarding world decreasing, Anwen was close to leaving it behind and returning to her childhood passion for music and theatre. Now, with Voldemort dead, she might remain among the magical; she just needed to find her place.
Getting into her shower, she let the hot water wash away some of her sadness and the crust of dried tears on her cheeks and began to steel herself to see the man she loved again. She wholly admitted she loved Sirius, probably always would. Still, she could not live being smothered in his 'care.’ Dressing casually in Muggle clothes, she gathered the few things she had for when Harry came to visit and went to the back garden to Disapparate to Shropshire and the manor where she’d spent much of sixth year healing from a Death Eater attack.
The place looked the same as when she was last here, the night she broke it off with Sirius because Alastor Moody wanted to send her on a mission, and he was worried it would kill her. He demanded that she refuse the assignment. She told him it wasn't his life, and he couldn't require that of her. When he refused to relent, she removed her engagement ring, told him it was over, and left on the assignment. Upon her return three days later, she had been prepared to move out of their small house but instead found all his things gone and the deed adequately signed over to her. She did leave the master bedroom and its vast king bed for her smaller room and the single in it.
The gates opened immediately for her and then closed behind her. She saw the magic protecting the grounds and the house, more layers had been added in Sirius' magical colour, and Anwen couldn't help but wonder if he'd slept at all. Anwen had an exceedingly rare magical talent; she was a projecting visualist. She saw magic as colours, shapes, and explosions. She could also send an astral projection of herself into another place. The skill was beneficial as an Auror. Now it allowed her to see where Sirius and Harry were. Taking one final breath, she knocked on the door. It was Sirius who answered and opened the door.
“You’re here quicker than I expected,” he said. “Thanks for coming.”
"He's my godson; of course, I'd come," Anwen answered, trying hard not to sound defensive. "Have you looked at yourself in the mirror?"
"No. I've been making sure Harry slept, and then I strengthened the wards and went to look through some legal matters in the office." Anwen lifted her hand and, with a sliding motion, removed the tiny, crusty, bloody handprint on his cheek.
“You had blood on your face,” she said softly. “I can’t believe they’re gone." The tears she'd been holding in broke free, and Sirius lunged for her, grabbing hold as if she were the rope which would somehow pull him free from the pit of a nightmare, he found himself in. With no one else around, the pair cried for what felt like an hour, though it was really scant minutes. Sirius composed himself first and gently released her from his arms.
“Sorry, I was just —”
“You don’t need to apologize. It would probably be best if we could be friends. We were for years,” Anwen said kindly.
“True, we were, and I think we can be again.”
She nodded with a semi-forced enthusiasm and silently hoped it was something that could be. Harry didn't need them yelling and combative or attempting to resurrect their romantic relationship. “Where is Harry?”
“He’s in the kitchen having his breakfast. I forgot how early he is used to getting up. I had only fallen asleep an hour before,” Sirius explained.
“I had a few hours last night, so if you want to kip upstairs and catch a few winks, I think I can manage entertaining Harry,” Anwen said.
“No, we need to talk about what’s going on. Apparently, at least according to The Daily Prophet, I’m the one who betrayed James and Lily and stole Harry because I’m a follower of Voldemort.”
“I heard that last night from Dumbledore and Minerva. I told them it wasn’t true, but I guess our break-up means my opinion on you doesn’t matter. I know there is no way you’d ever do anything to hurt James or put Harry at risk. I would like to know the whole truth, though.”
“I tell you anything you want to hear, but can we eat first?”
“Food was always your number one priority,” she said with a fleeting laugh.
“No, Anwen, you were my number one priority, still are; well, Harry now shares the place with you." Anwen looked away because she couldn't bear to see the love in his eyes. She wasn't prepared to explore their past, not today. She remained silent to save both their composures.
Entering the kitchen, Anwen and Sirius found Harry in his highchair, bits of eggs and bangers on his plate. He was simultaneously using a fork and his fingers, on the other hand, to get food into his mouth. When he saw her, he dropped the fork and immediately reached out for her.
“Winnie!” Anwen carefully went to the little boy and hugged him. “Muma, Dada gone.” Anwen traced her hand down his messy hair and cupped his cheek.
“I know, Harry. Mummy and Daddy are with Grammy and Pappy Potter and Grammy and Pappy Evans. But Uncle Sirius and Auntie Anwen are going to take very good care of you.”
“Oh, yes,” Anwen said with a smile, looking back at Sirius. “I’m sure Padfoot will come and play with you lots.” Harry had seen his godfather’s transformation, but he didn’t associate the dog with the man yet. He’d never seen Anwen change into her kestrel yet; Anwen wasn’t sure it was appropriate for Harry to think birds of prey could be your friends.
“Toast!” he demanded. Before either of Harry’s wizarding guardians could speak, Hindsa the elf spoke.
“Bangers and eggs, young man, then toast.” Harry loved his toast, smothered in marmalade or grape jelly.
“’Kay.” Harry was a generally agreeable child, which his godparents were thankful for. This was liable to be a difficult enough transition. Hindsa jumped off the chair she'd been standing on to supervise Harry's meal, and within moments she'd laid plates before Sirius and Anwen. She'd even remembered that Sirius loved a full English while Anwen was happy with toast and fruit.
“Those strawberries are from the greenhouses,” Hindsa told Anwen. “Wilken does good job keeping giving us fresh fruit.”
"I'm sure he does," Anwen said. "When I see him, I'll thank him for this. It's a treat to have fresh ones in November."
"Anwen loves strawberries, and she'd eat them every day if she could," Sirius said. "She tastes like them too." The words were out of his mouth before he could even think about it, and Anwen looked at him in surprise and shock. She didn't know what to say, which was quite rare.
“Harry berwy." Harry broke the awkwardness, and Anwen reluctantly looked away from Sirius to the little boy next to her.
“Two more bites of eggs, then you can have some berries and your toast." The child stabbed one with his fork, and the other he grabbed with his fingers and stuffed them into his mouth at the same time. Sirius laughed at Harry’s antics while Anwen cringed. She knew Lily was struggling with Harry’s table manners since James had often laughed at their son too.
When breakfast was finished, and Peng took Harry upstairs to give him a bath, Anwen and Sirius went into the office to discuss how they would proceed. Located in the manor house's rear turret, the office took up the first and second floors. Custom curved bookshelves lined the walls with records of the Potter family going back to the first 'Potter,' Linfred of Snitchcombe in the twelfth century. Sirius had been granted entry earlier that morning, so he placed his hand on the Potter crest on what looked like a solid brick wall. Accepting his magic, the wall peeled back, allowing him entrance. Anwen stood before the wall, seeing the castle's magic inspect her and then letting her access as well. The pair sat down on the wingback chairs as the wall replaced itself. Wilken could enter should there be a problem with Harry, although his godparents weren't worried about the three elves playing with him.
“What do you know?” Sirius asked.
“I know that the Secret Keeper gave up James and Lily’s location,” Anwen began, “that Voldemort entered the house and murdered them. Somehow Harry survived, but it appears he has a wound of some sort on his head. The press says the Secret Keeper was you, but I don't believe it. You'd never give up James or Harry, although there was a time you didn't care much for Lily. I'd love to know who the Secret Keeper was."
"Peter is in league with Voldemort?" Anwen said in disbelief. "He was frightened of his own shadow unless you or James was with him. Lily, Eva, and I never understood why you guys let him hang around with you."
"He was our roommate. Now's he's going to be dead. Once we know Harry is safe, I'm going after him." Anwen stared at him, then lifted her hand, and he saw her Patronus Kestrel fly from her hand and pass through the outer wall. "Who was that to?
"Alastor," Anwen said, speaking of her boss in the Auror department. "Yours wasn't my only early-morning owl. He doesn't like Dumbledore's plans and doesn't believe you were, as he put it, “in cahoots with that dark son-of-a-witch,” Anwen said in a perfect deadpan of Moody. "He figured you'd reach out to me since I'm Harry's godmother. He also told me to get somewhere safe because the remaining Death Eaters were on the prowl for those who might have contributed to their leaders' demise. I'm on a six month, or longer, special assignment to protect you and Harry. I just let Alastor know who really the Secret Keeper was and to be prepared because he’s an Animagus.”
“Anwen, I don’t need your protection,” Sirius scoffed.
“Always did underestimate me,” Anwen said under her breath, remembering how she disliked how he put her down without realizing it. "So, how did you decide on Peter?"
"It was going to be me, but I thought it was too obvious. Remus wouldn't do it because when he's wolfed-out, he can't do his Occlumency shields. No one would have ever suspected Peter, so I suggested him at the last minute. We should have remembered that Peter was always the first one to cave when anyone confronted him about a prank, the rat. I don't care if they send me to Azkaban for murdering him."
"Yes, you do, because Harry needs you," Anwen said forcefully, "and so will I," she added more softly. "We are his parents now. Let the Aurors do their jobs, and we can do ours."
"Anwen, he murdered James! You of all people should understand!" Sirius roared while standing.
"I do understand because Voldemort murdered Lily too. You're not the only one who lost their best friend!" Anwen yelled back, tears coming to you. "I'm left with no one in the magical world, save Remus, who I haven't seen in nearly a month!"
"He went to live with the wolf pack, or he was recruited by Greyback," Sirius snarled, still standing.
“How daft have you become? Greyback is the one who bit him as a little boy; there is no way he'd be recruited by him. He might battle him for control of his pack, but it's more likely he went to live with the pack hiding in the Welsh mountains,” Anwen said, flopping down in her chair. “Knowing Remus, he would attempt to recruit them for the light. I wish someone would have warned me. I could have flown to them and helped with the healing."
"There's another pack, not just Greybacks?" Sirius said, sitting down.
“Was there any decent information passed at the Order meetings?" Anwen had stopped going to them when she and Sirius had broken up. Alastor, Kingsley Shacklebolt, or one of the Longbottoms kept her in the loop. She couldn't stand being near Sirius in the first few months after their break-up. If he'd apologized, she would have taken him back, but he didn't. In fact, they'd ignored each other and not seen one another since their late-February disillusionment until this morning.
“No, he never reported anything. Dumbledore always said Remus was on a special mission but never told us what.” Anwen growled, which surprised Sirius. “What has you so upset?”
"Albus," she spat. "He refuses to tell anyone everything, instead we’re left having all these little pieces of a puzzle that we can't put together. It's infuriating, especially when he keeps vital information from the witches and wizards trained to go after folks like the Death Eaters. I don't know what game he's playing at! Yes, there are two other wolf packs in the UK, and neither have members who attack nights of the full moon. One lives in some castle ruins up in the Orkneys, and the other is in the Welsh Mountains. Dumbledore should have told all of you, so they could have had some support. That's how to get people to back you.
“Now, he’s full of codswallop regarding Harry. His brilliant plan is to send him to live with Petunia and her husband!" Anwen yelled. Sirius fell backward in his chair, Anwen chose to sit too.
“Lily did not want her sister anywhere near her baby. If we couldn't raise him, he was to go to the Longbottoms, if that couldn't happen, then he was to go to the Weasleys, and if that couldn't happen, Minerva was going to take custody. She and Remus would raise him out of the country, in a place where werewolves were no longer persecuted, like the Netherlands. James and Lily’s will states the Dursleys are not to ever have custody. How could Dumbledore imagine he’d do well in a place Lily had put contingency after contingency into place to keep him from?”
"I don't know, Little One, but you're right; we are staying here with him."
“Don’t call me that,” Anwen said.
“Little One, don’t call me that. I can’t bear to hear it from your lips.” Her voice cracked as she was speaking, and tears gathered at her lashes. Sirius stood, crossed to her chair, and crouched. He took her hands in his and waited for her to look at him.
“Anwen, are you still in love with me?” Anwen struggled to keep her composure.
“Of course, I am, you barmy man.” She surprised them both when she leaned forward and kissed him. As fast as it had happened, she backed away from him. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that,” she stuttered. She untangled her hands from his and sat back. "I can't deal with Harry and with us and with what really happened in Godric's Hollow. Why were James and Lily there?"
“They went into hiding,” he said, returning to his own chair even as his lips burned from the kiss Anwen had put there.
"But why there? I flew by the house last night, and it's exposed, and while the Fidelius Charm was on it, there were few other enchantments. James and Lily discussed moving back here since their flat wasn't the best place to have a one-year-old in. Why didn't they just come here and have the Fidelius Charm put on it? This place is far better built for defence, as it has that whole mote, outer walls, turrets, an armoury, and layer upon layer of enchantments, not counting the rather frightening stinging hex you placed over everything. Thank you, by the way, for letting me in. I was worried when I saw it this morning.”
“I didn’t know what was still in place, so I added a few things and strengthened what James and I had done after Monty had passed.”
“From what I saw, all those enchantments are in place, as are a few Monty cast, plus a slew that I can't recognize the magic of, but I suspect Potter ancestors. Ancient enchantments cover the walls and the air above the manor, but they burrow so deeply underground I can't see their ends. There's also a terrifying hex which looks like magical arrows and is coloured a greeny-yellow, which makes me think it's some manner of poison arrow that flies out at people who attempt to breach the walls."
“Shite, that sounds horrible,” Sirius exclaimed.
“Exactly. I think we need to find out why James and Lily didn’t come here.”
Just then, Wilken popped in. "Mister Sirius, Misses Anwen, Harry is quite upset that he don't have his song box. We's tried singing to him, but he'd just get more upset."
“I’ll go sing to him,” Anwen said, “and then I’ll go see if it’s still in one piece later. I want to do a little investigation and collect some forensics of my own.”
Sirius nodded, knowing that evidence analysis was something his one-time fiancée knew about. The pair left the office to go aid their small charge, with Wilken leading the way.
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