Secret Questions, Hidden Answers
"How are we getting home mum?" James asked.
"We've got three ministry cars." Mr Potter began to explain, "James, Sirius – you're in with me and your mum. I need to talk to you. Then if we have Remus, Kate, Marlene and Lily in the next car and Frank, Alice, Peter and Mary in the last car. Remus, girls – Shacklebolt will be travelling with you to provide protection." The Gryffindors all smiled at the ex-head boy. "Frank, Alice, Peter, Mary – Tobias will be with you."
Shacklebolt shook James' hand, "I hear I have you to thank for my job. Apparently you gave me a fantastic reference to Mr Potter."
"It was nothing. You deserved it," James shrugged, feeling slightly embarrassed.
The cars had been magical enlarged so that they would all fit comfortably. Mr and Mrs Potter sat opposite James and Sirius. "We need to talk," Charlus began the second their driver had started the car.
"What's up dad?" James looked confused.
"We've had to put extra protective spells around the house. We had a bit of an unwelcome visitor last week. Bellatrix Lestrange – crazy as they come – ended up in our living room. We have new rules… well they're the same rules but I need to re-articulate them to put your mother at ease…
1 – Do not let anyone into the house that you cannot without a doubt say you trust.
2 – Security Questions are ESSENTIAL!
3 – Our house can only be reached by Floo Powder by family… specific family and a few ministry officials…"
"Who counts as family?" James asked.
"Well… Myself, your mother, you, Sirius, Nancy, Dorian, Doreen, Cynthia, Ignatius, Lucretia, Alice… Anyone else will have to receive permission from the house before coming."
"How do they get permission?" Sirius asked.
"The fire permits head transportation so they will ask in the fire and whoever is home will cast the spell, ignis patefacio."
Charlus continued with the rules;
"4 – You do not leave the grounds without permission."
"If you leave the gardens without permission, I promise you the death eaters won't kill you, I will," Dorea told the two boys.
"5 – If the house-elves try and take you to the safe room, this time you go."
"Straight away! No hero business," Dorea added.
Her husband chuckled, "Most importantly number six – don't break the rules. Do we have an understanding?"
James and Sirius both nodded.
"Security questions. James my question for you will be… what did I say to you the first time you caught the snitch?" Charlus asked.
"You'll be known throughout the land boy for your crazy endeavours and your superb quidditch skills," James answered without any trouble, remembering the memory clear as day.
"Now what is your question for me? Something only I would know," Charlus explained.
"What do you tell me every time I tell you I don't need protecting?" James asked.
"My dear boy, one day you will realised that no matter how strong you are or how powerful you might become, it is always good to know someone has your back. A friend is a very useful thing, indeed."
James nodded. Father and Son turned to see Sirius and Dorea doing the same.
"So my question is; what did I say to you when you told I discovered who your mother was?"
"Which bit – you said a lot…" The family laughed.
"What do you remember?" Dorea asked kindly.
"You said that not everything that comes out of the Black family is dark and evil. We don't all turn out like Bellatrix or your mother thank Merlin. I am your mother's aunt or something like that so we're practically family."
"Very good. And your question?"
"What did you tell me about Alphard Black and how did I reply?"
"I told you that he's my favourite nephew and you told me that was funny as he's your favourite Uncle."
Sirius nodded seriously.
James then thought up a question for his mother; "When I said to you… 'I'm not as big as fear though mum, I'm only eight!' how did you respond?"
"My dear boy! You are much bigger than fear. You are much bigger and stronger than me even. Maybe not as tall, but inside you are stronger and braver… maybe one day you will be even braver than your father. You then went on to tell me that your father was the bravest person in the world and you couldn't possibly ever be that brave. What did I say?"
"But even your dad gets scared sometimes, James."
"Mr Potter – I once gave you and Mrs Potter a special present. What did you do to see if it worked?"
"I ran into the garden like a maniac," Charlus laughed. "What did Me and Mrs Potter buy you for Christmas in first year?"
"A magical penknife," Sirius answered automatically.
Mr Potter looked out the window. They were driving down a quiet country lane. "Almost home…"
Dorea smiled, delighted to be home.
Mary and Kate, the only Gryffindors not to have visited the Potters' house looked out their windows in shock, "blooming heck… Potter lives here?" The house had just come into view.
"That's not a house – it's a mansion," Mary whistled.
"Don't let James hear you say that… he'll get all embarrassed," Peter laughed.
"If you must refer to it with grandeur, try the Manor House," Remus instructed the girls.
Lily was equally amazed by the house, although she'd visited it briefly before with Alice and Marlene over the summer, they had arrived through the floo and so she hadn't really got a proper look at the house. They quickly got out of the cars and Kingsley and Tobias escorted them into the house. The girls were amazed by the number of protective enchantments around the house. Even Alice raised an eyebrow in surprise. "Can never be too careful," Mrs Potter told the young guests.
They were not allowed into the house until the final charm was let down. Only it wasn't wizard's magic. Milly stood just inside the house. He looked as if he were about to ask Charlus or Dorea a question when he spotted James and asked him instead. The Potters were fully aware that James was the house-elves' favourite Potter. "Master James – what is you asking us elves to do in the safe room?" He asked kindly.
James tried to answer but the words were stuck in the back of his throat. His eyes brimming with tears, he took a deep breath.
"Your exact words Master?" Milly pressed.
James looked into the elf's large eyes and smiled sadly; "I'm going to ask you to do something, but you can say no. In fact, for once I want you to answer for yourselves – don't think that I'm your master, don't think that I-I'm a wizard…" Tears were falling freely now. He ran a hand through his hair; "just believe for a second that I am just like you. Imagine I'm just a house-elf. Will you – will you go up there and rescue the wounded and bring them down here so that we can help them? This is your choice. Do not simply do this out of obedience; please don't do this out of obedience. I don't ask you as your master. I will not command you to risk your lives."
"Thank you Master James. One last question sir… what is you telling us just before it started?"
James eyes were full of tears, "I love you Milly. I could not ask for a better house-elf. I love you Mippy." His voice broke at the thought of his dead house-elf. "I could not think anyone could be my friend as long as you – you are family. I love you Missy, I could not dream of any one more loyal serving our family. You might be our elves – but you are a part of this family and I love you."
He say Missy crying just behind Milly, "let them in Milly! Let them in!"
"I had to check," Milly replied before lifting the spell. Missy ran into her master's arms. "We're missed you Master James." She looked up at him, "You've grown, Master." She then turned to Sirius, "Mr Sirius – you is all grown too." Sirius chuckled as he patted the elf on the head.
"Where's the baby then Missy?" Sirius asked. "I've not seen him since… well Christmas."
"He's hardly a baby now Master Sirius. He's almost a year old."
"He is indeed," Sirius smiled. A small house-elf came walking towards him, "walking already I see."
"Master Sirius – don't be silly," Missy chastised the boy, "elves age much quicker than wizards…"
"Still live longer though," James added causing everyone to laugh.
Ignis Patefacio – Fire Open