Black Moon Series

Title: Black Moon
Fandom: Harry Potter Series/Twilight Saga
Years: EWE/New Moon
Pairing: Harry Potter/Bella Swan, Draco/Astoria, past Harry/Ginny
Summary: Edward left her alone in the woods.  Harry Potter found her.

Warnings: EWE, blood politics, vampirism, strong Bella, evil Ginny, Ron and Hermione bashing (a tinge)

Black Moon

She should have known, Bella thought to herself bitterly as she wandered through the forest behind her house.  Charlie had come home just Tuesday night talking about the new English doctor that was coming to Forks.

Carlisle was too conscientious to not give notice.  No, Edward had pretended for however long that notice was.  He had made up his mind that he no longer loved her, told his family that he wanted to leave, and they had acted accordingly.

Of course they had.

It was all too simple, wasn’t it?

Then Edward just had to play along with Bella and their “little romance” for however long he had to before just telling her and going.  And now they were gone.

That didn’t stop Bella from looking for him, though.  She would never stop looking.  They were meant to be together.  Hadn’t everything they’d gone through, with his bloodlust, with James, proven that they were meant to be?

Bella thought it had.

Obviously Edward hadn’t felt the same way.

She closed her eyes against the tears.  It was all too painful.  Remembering back to her eighteenth birthday, that horrible year that made her one year older than Edward, and the incident with the paper cut just robbed her of her breath entirely.  Had Edward known then?  Had the entire family?  Had they made believe her birthday?

Turning to the side, Bella was sick all over the pine needles.  There was barely anything in her stomach, but what little bile she could summon tore up out of her stomach.  She panted for several minutes afterward. 

Then her knees gave way and she didn’t have the strength to get up again.

It was dark now, she noticed absently.  She wondered how long she had been wandering the forest. 

Bella wasn’t certain how much longer it was before the cold seeped completely into her bones and she was lying on her side, staring at the trunk of a birch tree.  This couldn’t be it.  This couldn’t be her life.  Not even a year ago she was living happily in Phoenix with her mother.

Sometimes she blamed Phil.  Bella knew she shouldn’t, but without him, her life would have continued the way it always had.  She would have been the adult in the family, taking care of the bills, of her mom, but they were happy that way.  Then her mom had met Phil and Bella knew that while he was kind that there was no room in his heart for her.  Three’s a crowd, after all.

It was all so pathetic.

That led her here, to this moment, as she lay on the damp forest floor, smelling the stench of her own vomit.

She wasn’t sure when she’d closed her eyes, but she remembered when she’d opened them.

There was a light.  A pinprick of light and it had shone in her face.  She blinked at it a couple of times before it went out.  Then there had been the form of a man—lithe, young, yet strong.  He had bent over her and picked her up as if she weighed nothing at all.  At first Bella had thought he was a vampire but then she knew that that couldn’t be right.  She felt the gentle heat of a human radiating from his skin, not the unrelenting cold of the undead.  There was also the fact that she could feel the muscles move beneath her hands and they didn’t feel like marble.  No, this was definitely a man.  However, he was one that Bella didn’t know.

“Sh,” the stranger murmured as he clutched her close.  “I’m bringing you home to your father.”

“Charlie?” she asked stupidly.

The stranger nodded.  “He has half the town out searching for you.”

Then she slipped into slumber.

Bella woke up again, in her jeans and shirt, in her bed.  She was tucked into her blankets in a cocoon and she immediately thought of the stranger, who had held her so tenderly as if she were made of glass.  In that he was like Edward but, as far as she could tell, that was where the similarities ended.

The sun was shining, which was strange for Forks, but she didn’t think much of it.

When she came downstairs, washed and warm, she met Charlie who was sitting at the table with a cup of coffee.  On the table was a bouquet of sunflowers.

“Charlie?” she asked, confused.

“Bella, we need to talk.  But before we do, these are from Dr. Potter.”

“Dr. Potter.”  She had no idea who that was.  Carefully she approached the flowers and took the little card that was with them.  It read simply, May they bring a smile to your face.  She couldn’t help but smile a little at that.

Her father was watching her carefully.  “Dr. Potter is the new doctor at the hospital.  He’s Dr. Cullen’s replacement.”  Bella’s head whipped up at that.  Charlie looked at her, his gaze telling her that he would be getting answers—and soon.  “He’s the one who found you last night.”

“But he’s too young—“ Bella began to protest, remembering the physique of the man.

Snorting into his coffee, Charlie looked up at her.  “Dr. Potter is about twenty-one.  He’s a prodigy.  We’re lucky to have him.  Turns out he wanted to leave England quite badly.”

“Quite—badly?” Bella parroted, taking a seat.  She was utterly confused.

“No one’s really sure, Bells,” he said.  “And don’t think you’re going to school.  Dr. Potter forbade it.”

“He—“

“Yes, and you’re to go to the hospital at four p.m. for a check up.  I told him to call if you didn’t show up.”

It seemed there would be no crossing Charlie today.  The rest of the conversation had been uncomfortable, when Bella had to admit that Edward had left her in the forest, she learned that he and his family had left the day before for Alaska.  It tore through Bella’s heart, which already felt like a gaping hole.

At four, though, she was at the hospital, waiting while a receptionist looked for her chart and told her which office to go to.

Dr. Potter had been waiting for her when she arrived.  He was sitting at his desk swearing softly at the computer he was typing at.  Bella took a few seconds to take the man in. 

He was barely older than she was, with round glasses on his nose, bottle green eyes and a mop of messy black hair.  His body, however, was what Bella remembered.  It was lean yet strong.  She could see the tendons flexing even from beneath the doctor’s lab coat.

Dr. Potter looked up and smiled at her.  “Miss Swan.”  He stood and motioned for her to come in.  “It’s a pleasure to see you up and about.”

“Tha-thank you for the flowers,” she said hesitantly, blushing despite herself.  She felt like she was a sixteen year old again!  “They were beautiful.”

She dropped her bag near the door, which she noticed was left open a crack not-quite-accidentally.

“I’m glad you liked them,” Dr. Potter said, smiling.  “I thought you might need something to brighten your day.”

“Um, yes.”

The two looked at each other and Bella found she couldn’t look away.  It was strange—she only had ever felt this way with Edward, this not being able to look away occurrence.  However, with Dr. Potter—he was so electric.  His very being screamed power and protection and something a little dangerous.

“If you could get up on the bed,” Dr. Potter said, breaking the spell.  “Sitting is fine.”

Bella blushed to be caught staring like that.

The exam was routine.  He took her temperature, checked her vision, made certain she hadn’t sustained a concussion, and finally pronounced her to be in good health.

“I want you to take it easy for the rest of the day,” he stated quietly as she hopped off the table.  “You may go to school tomorrow, but I don’t want you overtaxing yourself.  If you get a bad headache—the type that’s out of the ordinary—or get dizzy, I want you to call the hospital.”

She nodded.

That night the nightmares began.  She saw Edward leaving her in the woods and was searching and searching and searching and yet she couldn’t find him.  Then there were strong arms and bottle green eyes and a kind smile.  She woke up screaming, clutching her shirt just over her heart, as if it were weeping.  Edward left a hole in her that she felt might never be filled.

When she came downstairs the next morning, sleep deprived but ready for the distraction school would give her, she found another bouquet.

Charlie was sitting at the little table drinking coffee.  He stared at the stargazer lilies.  “They arrived half an hour ago.”

“I—what?”

“The flowers.”  He gestured toward them helpfully.  “Well, go on.  Open up the card.”

Bella felt herself moving rather than choosing to move forward.  Hesitantly, she reached out and took the card.  She stared at her address which was printed so nicely.

“We’re waiting, Bells,” her father said, smiling.

She shifted her gaze to him before opening the card.  May today be better than yesterday.  HP.

“Who’s H.P.?” she asked, looking over at Charlie.

He snorted into his mug.  “Dr. Harry Potter.”

Bella looked back at the little card and then placed it back with the flowers.  Hopefully the card would prove prophetic.

The nightmares didn’t stop; neither did the flowers.  Bluebells, carnations, tiger lilies, roses, a pot of ivy, something.  Soon Bella’s room was covered in flowers and when she woke up screaming in the middle of the night, she would be soothed by their mingled scents.

Two weeks after Edward had left her, Bella was cleaning as it was a Saturday and the doorbell rang.  Bella stopped.  Charlie was sitting in front of the television, engrossed in the game, and so she hesitantly put down her duster and went to the door.  He was holding a bouquet of dandelions.

“Dr. Potter?” she asked, startled.

He looked up at her, seeming to see the tear tracks that she could never seem to wash away, and smiled sadly at her.  “Harry, please.  I’m not your doctor.”

“Harry,” she said in bewilderment. 

Bella knew how she looked.  She was wearing old sweats and her hair was lank and in a ponytail behind her back.

“Won’t you come in?”

He gave her that same sad, knowing smile.  “Thank you, Isabella.” 

After she had closed the door, he gave her the flowers.  “They reminded me of your eyes.”

“My eyes?” she stated, shocked.  She didn’t hear Charlie turn off the television behind her, she was so focused on Harry.  “They’re just a dull brown.”

“They’re hardly dull, but if you look closely, there are flecks of gold at the edges.”

Bella stared at him in wonderment.  “How could you possibly—?”

She was fortunately saved by her father.  “Dr. Potter, nice to see you here.”

Bella looked about her before going to the kitchen and setting the flowers in a small glass that she filled with water.  She set them in the center of the table as her father and Harry exchanged pleasantries.

“So what brings you here?” Charlie asked.

“Well, sir, I was hoping to take Isabella on a walk—not in the woods, of course.”

“Of course,” Charlie agreed.  Calling into the kitchen, he said, “How do you feel about that, Bells?”  He was smiling at her.  Harry was looking at her with that same penetrating look he’d had back at the hospital.

“I—“ she began.  “Is that allowed?”  She looked quickly between the two of them.  She never thought to outright deny the request.  She was simply confused.  “I mean, you never liked Edward and he was in high school with me and Dr. Potter—“

“Harry,” he interjected.

“Harry,” she offered him a small smile despite herself, “is a doctor at the hospital.”

Charlie clapped Harry on the shoulder.  “Dr. Potter is a great guy and he’s not going to let you fall through windows and break nearly every bone in your body.  Plus, Bella, I told you he was a prodigy.  He’s practically your age.”

Bella looked at Harry pleadingly.

Harry, taking the cue, said, “Perhaps Isabella and I can just sit here and talk—while you chaperone, of course.”

Charlie looked at Harry like he was a madman.  Then he looked at Bella.  “What do you say?”

“Let-let me just get changed,” she squeaked before rushing up the stairs, as quickly as she could rush these days being so slow in thought and body.  She could feel Harry’s penetrating stare on her retreating form.  By the time she made it to her room, she was breathing heavily from nerves.  What exactly was happening to her?  Two weeks ago she was happily dating Edward, just waiting for the day to be made a vampire, and now—now—

She shook her head and scrubbed her face with the pads of her hands.

“Right.  Clothing.”

Ten minutes later she descended the stairs in a pair of jeans Alice hadn’t managed to throw away and a comfortable green sweater.  She’d even talked herself into putting on some light make up.  Harry was sitting at the table, staring at his folded hands, while Charlie was once again watching the game.  Bella let out a breath.

She offered a smile as she took the seat opposite from Harry.  “Thank you for the flowers,” she began hesitantly.  “It’s become a kind of game for me to guess what type will be waiting for me when I come downstairs in the morning.”

He smiled at her, his beautiful eyes lighting up.  “Are you ever right?”

She shook her head.  “No, I’m afraid not.”  She bit her lip and glanced at him.  A scar in the shape of a lightning bolt was peaking out from his forehead.  “H-how did you get that?” she asked, motioning toward it.  “If you don’t mind me asking.”

“Oh, that,” he said, looking down at his hands.  “My parents died in a car crash and I managed to survive it.  But I got that scar.”  Bella sensed that there was more to the story, but she didn’t pry any further.  “How has school been?”

“I—“ she paused and swallowed.  Looking down at the table, she traced one of the whirls with her finger.  “It.  It’s hard.  I always sat with Edward and his brothers and sisters.  Was always with Edward in every class and now, now he’s gone.”

Bella looked away and blinked back the tears.  She was surprised when a warm, calloused hand engulfed hers.  Looking at Harry, she saw that he was smiling sadly at her again.

“It gets easier.  I know you don’t think it will, but it does.”

“Gone through many break ups?”

He laughed.  It was a full, rich sound, which made Bella smile.

Charlie looked over at them briefly.

“Two.  The first one wasn’t that bad.  The second was more of a tangle of families and legalities.”

“You were married?  Aren’t you—well, young?” Bella asked, blushing.

Harry looked at her, his eyes holding some emotion she couldn’t recognize.  “Ginny and I married when we were just eighteen.  I married her because, well, she was my best friend’s little sister and I would have done almost anything to be a part of the Weasley family.  Of course, at the time, I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing.  I was caught up in it all, the engagement, the wedding, but then it was what comes after.  The horrible silences where you have nothing to say to each other.  The arguments.  That’s when you realize that you’ve been blind the entire time.”

“That must be why you wanted to leave England so badly,” Bella mused.

Nodding, Harry looked at her.  “You don’t mind?”

“Mind?”

“Many girls your age would mind that a divorced man was sending them flowers and asking them to go out on walks.”

Bella looked down at the table.  The sadness of Edward missing almost overwhelmed her and she had to blink away tears again.  Once again, she felt Harry’s hand on hers.  “I’m sorry,” she murmured.  “I just—I didn’t think a month ago that Edward would be gone and that someone else would want to date me.”

“Is it too soon?”  He gave her that sad, knowing smile.

Bella smiled at him through her tears.  “Just take it slow.  Take it slow.”

Of course, there were rumors around school.  At first Bella didn’t notice them because she was in a haze of sadness and loss.  Every night she had the same nightmare, and every night it would end with Harry finding her and Bella waking up to the smell of flowers.

A boy, Jonathan, worked at the local florist’s.  He was a bit of a gossip and one day when Bella was sitting at the lunch table, not eating anything because her appetite had left her when Edward did, she heard Jessica saying, “Bella, is it true that Dr. Potter sends you flowers every day?”

Bella looked at her, confused.  “Sorry?”

“Dr. Potter.  Flowers.”

Bella shook her head, her hair swishing around her face.  “W-what?”

“It’s all over school,” Lauren said in a bored tone.  “Is it true or not?  Are you dating the new doctor?”

Fortunately, Angela spoke next.  “I know Dr. Potter.  I babysit for him after school and on weekends.  He pays really well.”

Bella’s head snapped toward her.  Did she really just say—?

“He has a kid?” Jessica asked.  She was clearly as stunned as Bella felt.

Angela nodded, taking another bite of her hamburger.  “Yes.  His name is James and he’s about a year old.  He’s the most adorable thing!  I pick him up from daycare every day.”  She nodded to herself.  “I’ve never seen a cuter baby.  He has this gorgeous auburn hair—“

Bella tuned her out at that point. 

The nightmares got worse after that.  Edward would leave her in the forest, telling her that he had never loved her, and then Harry would appear.  Except he wouldn’t be alone.  Instead he’d be holding a small child and he would look between her and the infant, as if trying to decide between the two of them, and then would kiss the child’s head and walk away, clearly leaving Bella as well.

She wasn’t aware how loudly she was screaming until, through all her tears, she felt the strong arms of some stranger—the stranger—Harry—wrap around her in the middle of the night.

Screaming, she tried to push away from him, fearful that he had come in the window just as Edward had for so many months.

“Hush, Bells,” her father said gruffly.  “I called Harry to try and help.”

Charlie’s warm, familiar hand brushed her hair away from her face (it must have gotten free from her ponytail) and she calmed down a little.

She turned toward the door and saw Harry with his hands up in surrender.  His hair was crazier than usual, as if he had thrown on his jeans and tshirt rather hurriedly, but his eyes were looking at her perceptively.  “Chief Swan,” he began, “could you look after James for me?  I left his sleeper next to your couch.” 

Charlie looked between the two of them, torn. 

“Maybe if you put him in your room so that he’s close by?”  Harry looked over at him imploringly.  “I don’t like to leave him.”

“O-of course,” Charlie stammered, taking in Bella’s tear-streaked face and her frame still wracked with sobs.  “Sure.  I’ll be right back.”  He hastily left the room.

“Now, Isabella,” Harry said carefully, coming forward.  “You’ve been having nightmares ever since I found you in the woods.  And now they’ve gotten worse.”

Bella looked away.

Harry carefully sat next to her on the bed and took her hand.  He began to stroke it and the wrist soothingly until they paused over the scar that was shaped like a half-moon.

“Isabella, when were you bitten by a vampire?” he asked calmly.

Bella’s head whipped around to him in confusion.  “How—?”

Laughing quietly, Harry looked her directly in the eye.  “I have rather a singular specialty in medicine.  But, Isabella, you have to tell me about it.”

She smiled at him sadly.  “Why do you call me ‘Isabella’?”

“It’s your name.”

“No one else—“

“Well, they should,” he murmured, lifting the palm of her hand to his mouth so that he could kiss it.

She shivered. 

“Now, Isabella—“

Charlie then came in.  “James is all settled.”

“Ch-charlie—I have to—“ Bella began, but Harry interrupted.

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to insist on doctor/patient confidentiality, Chief Swan.”

Looking torn, Charlie eventually nodded and left, closing the door behind him.

“Now, Isabella, the vampire,” Harry prompted.

And despite everything, Bella found herself telling Harry everything—from Edward—to the Cullens—to that fateful baseball game—to the chase—to the bite—to Edward sucking the venom out of her—

“He did what?” Harry asked, almost harshly.  Still, his grip on her hand remained gentle.

Bella looked down at their hands, where their fingers were now entwined.  That seemed right almost.

“Edward sucked the venom out of my arm,” she explained.

“Along with your blood,” he murmured.  “Dominium de Sanguine.”  He leaned forward and gently kissed her.  While it was chaste, it felt deeper than any kiss she had ever felt with Edward.  Trying to push Edward from her mind, she leaned in closer, going so far as to lift her free hand and place it at the back of Harry’s head.

They pulled apart several moments later and her eyes then slowly opened.

Harry was smiling at her.  “I know how to cure you, Isabella.  Edward, by mixing your blood with the venom and then drinking it, became, essentially, your maker although you remained human.  We need to break this bond and then, hopefully, these nightmares will be over.  It will take me a week, but it’s doable.”

“But—“  Bella began.  However, she bit down her words.

“But what?”  He looked at her curiously.

“You’re always there.  At first you would find me, but now you leave me, too,” she whispered, not making eye contact.

“Why would I leave you?”

She looked toward the door.  “Your son.”

Harry kissed the top of her head.  “I would never leave you for my son unless you made me choose, Isabella.”

Then he was kissing her again, and she was kissing him back, and then he was gone.  All that was left was an open door and the sound of a baby crying.  Bella pulled her hair back into a ponytail and curled in on herself again.

Of course, the nightmares continued, but there was a hope that they would soon be over.

“Is it true?” Mike Newton asked one day after class.  “Are you really dating Dr. Potter?”

Bella rolled her eyes, used to the question by now.  “Why does everyone ask me that?”

“Angela says you show up when he comes home from work.”  He looked away from her, perhaps afraid to meet her eyes—or embarrassed.

Well, that was true.  Since Harry had given her some strange liquid and the nightmares and the unending sadness had gone, she had been spending a lot of her afterschool time at Harry’s.  James really was adorable and apparently got his hair from Harry’s mother.  One night she had just rocked him for a full hour, watching his sleeping face.  Harry had looked on, smiling as he poured over medical files he had brought home from the hospital.

“I don’t want you ever feeling like the nanny,” he had murmured against her lips as they said goodbye that night.  “You are my girlfriend first and foremost.”

“But you’re a dad.”

“Yes, but James should be a delight, not a burden.”

“Bella!”

She shook herself from the memory.  “Sorry, Mike.  I just—I was thinking.”

She never gave him her answer.

However, it was obvious to anyone who was looking for the signs.  Bella’s things were littered across Harry’s apartment, including her favorite pen and copy of Jane Eyre.  There was a picture of Harry, James, and Bella on top of the cliffs of La Push in Bella’s room.

The flowers still came, once a week, every Monday morning and would make Bella smile.

Charlie was very pleased with himself.

Bella overheard him talking to Billy Black about what a good matchmaker he was.  Billy claimed it was the forest that was doing the matchmaking.

They continued like this for months and if Bella saw small hints of something out of the ordinary—a strange looking broomstick poking out of the closet, a picture that seemed to move out of the corner of her eye—she chose to ignore it.  No, Harry was her solid, true, and human boyfriend.

Her relationship with Jacob Black deepened over these months and, if he seemed a little jealous of Harry, Bella chose not to say anything about it.  Harry was mature in a way that Jacob wasn’t—in a way Edward wasn’t.  Edward played at being a teenager and in some ways remained one over the decades.  Harry had lived through his teenage years, gone to medical school, and had become a doctor.  He now lived with a failed marriage behind him and a child he adored.

One night, over chocolate fondue in Seattle, Bella asked what she had been dying to ask.

“Tell me about Ginny.  How you have James.”

Harry immediately tensed but then he forced himself to relax.  “Everyone expected me to go into covert operations—it’s a long story,” he said when Bella was clearly about to ask about it.  “I went into medicine instead.  I wanted to heal people.”  He reached out and touched the faded scar of where James had bitten Bella.  “Ginny, she—well, she was unimpressed.  Being a doctor wasn’t flashy enough for her.  She knew that with my connections I would make head of my department and she wanted to be on the arm of someone that glamorous.”

“That seems silly.  You’re such a natural at being a doctor,” Bella soothed, taking Harry’s hand.

He smiled at her.  “Thank you.”  He kissed her hand.  “Ginny was a professional athlete.  But she was never quite good enough.  She just made the cut off for her league and then she became pregnant with James.”  His eyes hardened.  “She complained and complained but she wouldn’t go on—birth control because they could hinder how she played.  So when she got pregnant again, she didn’t tell me.  Instead she made an appointment at the hospital I worked at and got an abortion.”  He closed his eyes in pain.  “I saw her when she was coming out and I knew the men and women who were with her.  I just knew what had happened.”

“Oh, Harry, I’m so sorry.”

Harry looked into her eyes and then glanced away, as if it was too painful to look at her.  “There was a divorce after that.  When the judge learned what Ginny had done, how she didn’t want kids, I got James Sirius.  And then I just had to get away.  I couldn’t stand the sight of her or her family and, if you remember, her brother is my best mate.  It’s all just too painful.”

“How far along was she?” Bella asked hesitantly.

“Four months, Isabella,” he replied almost savagely.  “Past her first trimester.  She didn’t have the decency to do it sooner.”

The table fell silent after that until Bella finally spoke.  “I’ve never really thought about having children,” she murmured.  “Mom’s been such a complete incompetent that I just never thought.  I brought her up, in a way.  So I suppose I’d be good at it.”  She shared a smile with Harry.  “I certainly wouldn’t give it the name Sirius, though.  Where did you get that from?”

“My godfather,” Harry answered cheekily.

“Well, his parents were crazy,” she laughed, her eyes focusing around the room until they settled on a very familiar form.  “Alice,” she murmured.

Harry suddenly looked at her intently.  “Cullen?”

Bella nodded, not taking her eyes off of Alice, afraid that she would disappear.  “She was my best friend.  I guess that’s Jacob now.”

Following her line of sight, Bella could tell when Harry saw Alice for the first time.  He looked back at her.  “Do you want to leave or—“

“No.  Let’s see if she has anything to say.”

Alice, clearly hearing them, stood up and made her way over to the table.  She was exactly as Bella remembered her.  Wearing designer jeans and a top that probably cost the mortgage for a month of a regular family, she stood with her pixie-cut hair and her paler than pale skin.  “Bella,” she greeted.  “I see this is your boyfriend.”  No question in that comment.

Bella stared up at her. 

“Edward saw in my mind—and yes, I know he knows—Dr. Potter proposing and he—“

“He what?”

“Edward thought that he wanted you to have a normal human life, a human existence, marriage, family—everything without him interfering.  But now, now that it’s happening, it’s too much.  He’s turning himself into the Volturi, asking to be killed.  They’ll refuse, of course—“

“You’ve already seen it,” Harry put in.

She nodded.

“I hate prophecies,” he added cryptically.

Alice seemed to take it in stride.  “Edward’s already made up his mind what to do if they refuse.  He’s going to reveal himself as a vampire to humankind so that he has to be put to death.  If he could see you, Bella, see that you’re alive and—well, unattached—he might change his mind.”  She smiled apologetically.

Bella closed her eyes painfully and took a deep breath.

Alice gasped.

Bella paid her no mind.  “You were going to propose?”  She looked directly at Harry who was looking straight back at her.  “But I—my parents—divorce—“

“We can prove them all wrong,” he stated firmly, taking a small box from his breast pocket.

Alice huffed.  “Edward—“

“Can wait another five minutes,” Bella said harshly, not even looking at her, showing how much she had grown from the timid girl she had been who had been screaming from her nightmares.  “Go back to your table.”

In an instant, Alice was gone.

Harry opened the box.  In it was an ornate gold ring with golden filigree that encased a large diamond.  “I know it’s a bit—much.  But my grandfather Charlus gave it to my grandmother—“

“Charlus?” Bella asked, glancing away from the ring to him and then back to the ring again.

“Charlus,” he confirmed.  “They were married happily for decades and I thought it would bring us luck.”

“Us?  Harry, I haven’t even graduated high school.”

He smiled at her warmly.  “I know.  And you will.  And in the next month you’ll decide where you want to go to college and James and I will follow you there.  I want you to go out to parties, have fun, throw bashes at our house while your stuffy old husband and your stepson cower in the study.  I don’t want to hamper you in any way but, Isabella Swan.  I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

Harry looked at her imploringly, begging her to understand.

“Don’t make me wait until our wedding night,” Bella hedged and he smiled even wider.

“Tonight, if we can get free from Alice.”

“Tonight.”

She kissed him, long and slow, and he slipped the ring on her finger.  Pulling away, she smirked at him.  “Does Charlie know?”

“Of course Chief Swan knows.  I had to ask permission.”

Bella laughed despite herself.

Alice was once again standing in front of the table.  “Unfortunately, that was exactly as Edward and I Saw it,” she bemoaned.  “But what are we going to do about Edward?”

Harry looked over at Bella.  “It’s up to you, Isabella.”

She chewed on her lower lip.

“When you find him, tell him that I’m happy,” she said finally, not looking at Alice.

“Bella, please.”

“He made his choice.  Now I’m making mine,” she stated firmly, looking down at the beautiful engagement ring.  “He left me behind and, well, somewhere along the line I left him behind, too.”

Alice had not been pleased but she had left quietly.

With Charlie’s blessing, Bella moved into Harry’s apartment that very weekend and soon all of her things were scattered about.  Neatly, of course.  However, the bedroom was most drastically changed.  Harry had to bring in extra shelves for all her books and a desk was added for her new laptop and for homework.

The apartment was small, with only two bedrooms—one doubled as James’s room and Harry’s study—a living room/dining room and kitchen.  Bella loved it.

Angela was often over after school, babysitting James, and she and Bella would do homework together and sometimes just talk about what they wanted for life after school.

Bella didn’t go down to La Push as often.  Jacob had become distant and with that distance, Bella became involved in her own little world.

She was surprised just how drastically her social life changed.  All of a sudden she was invited to dinner parties with other doctors and their spouses.  One weekend she attended a Benefit in Seattle.  Harry had gone out with her and purchased a dress for her that was worthy of Rosalie and Alice, and Bella had difficulty not being a wallflower.  She felt so intimidated by everyone, but Harry was always at her side.

Wedding planning had unfortunately commenced.  Harry thought it would be best if they were married before Bella went off to whatever college she chose, so that left only the summer.  Bella had been adamant that she be married in a simple dress and had even gone with Angela, Jessica, and Lauren to Port Angeles to find something suitably bridal.  They’d come away with a short white dress that was sophisticated and figure hugging that Bella thought Harry would like.  She also picked up some white flats.  She was still as clumsy as ever and didn’t want to be tripping over heels.  Naturally, she hid these items at the back of the closet away from Harry’s prying eyes.  Strangely, she found what looked like a wand on a back shelf but she shrugged at it and put it back where she had found it.

Then it happened, one night when Harry was working late at the hospital.  Bella was sitting in the living room, James in his playpen on the floor.  She’d told Angela to go home and be with her family as Harry would only be a couple of hours. 

There was the sound of a pop and then, in her living room, was standing a woman with long red hair and dark brown eyes—James’ eyes.

Staring at each other, neither one blinked.

“Muggle,” the woman stated, putting away what looked to be a wand.  “Figures.”

“I—how did you get in here?” Bella squeaked after finding her voice.

The woman didn’t pay attention to her.  “Is Harry here?”

“Obviously not.”  Bella looked the woman up and down.  She seemed to be wearing jeans and then robes.  It was astounding.  “I could call the police if you don’t leave.”  She took out her cell phone.

Immediately it was in the woman’s hand.  “I don’t think you will be.”  The woman took a chair from the table and sat down in it with some grace.  Bella was almost jealous of her. 

Looking around the room, Bella could see as the woman picked up pictures of her and Harry.  A pout formed on her lips but she didn’t say a word.  She didn’t even look in James’ direction.

When he began to make a bit of a fuss, Bella looked hesitantly at the woman with strange powers, and went to him.  She picked him up and started rocking him back and forth.  “There you are, little man.  Everything’s okay.”  She hoped rather than thought that the words were true.

It was an agonizing hour where the woman just sat there and Bella rocked James, praying that Harry would be home.  When Bella finally heard the key in the lock, she wanted to call out to him and tell him to run, but the words stuck in her throat.  The door opened.

“Harry!” the woman said, standing up.  “Look at this strange Muggle technology.”  She held out Bella’s cell phone.

Harry’s eyes went wide and he looked between Bella and the woman.  He grabbed the cell phone.  “Isabella, why don’t you take James into the bedroom and I’ll deal with Ginny here.  There’s nothing to be frightened over.”

“No,” Ginny interjected, taking out her wand.  “I think this Isabella needs to stay here.  Is she the girl you’re marrying?  I heard from Hermione that you—“

“Isabella, go into the bedroom,” Harry stated firmly and Bella didn’t need to be told twice.  She still didn’t have her cell phone.

She crouched down on the bed, holding James and hearing Harry and Ginny yelling at each other.  It was clear that Harry’s ex-wife was angry that he was remarrying and Harry was angry that she had found out where he was living—from this Hermione, it appeared.

After what must have been only half an hour, there was another popping noise and Harry entered the room, his hand outstretched, phone in hand.  Bella accepted it gratefully.

“Is she—is she gone?”

“Yes, and she’ll stay that way,” Harry promised darkly, going to the closet and pulling out the wand that Bella had found earlier.  He starting making various motions and chanting in what seemed like Latin and Bella could only stare and hope that James wouldn’t make a fuss.  However, the infant seemed to be fascinated at what appeared to be his father’s spellcasting.  He clapped his hands and smiled widely.

Harry glanced over at them and smiled at the picture they made.  Bella must have looked intrigued and James was clearly overjoyed.

Finally, he put the wand down on the bedside table and he came over and took James.  Leaning down, he kissed Bella.  “Ask.”

“That was—magic,” she stated, trying to wrap her head around it.  “There aren’t just vampires in this world, there are magicians.”

“We’re called wizards, but yes.”

The two looked at each other for a long time.

“What’s a Muggle?”

“A non-magical human,” Harry supplied.

She nodded.  “So you’re human.”  She held her breath.

“Yes.”

“Oh thank God.”  Bella collapsed in on herself.  “I was so worried.”

“Do you want me to sleep on the couch tonight so you can think or–?”

Bella leaned forward and kissed him.  “No.  I want you to put James to bed, get undressed from work, and tell me everything.”  And he did.  Bella learned of magic, and blood purity, and Harry’s mother being a Muggleborn, and Hogwarts, and Voldemort, and the curse scar, and the Order of the Phoenix, and the War and Harry’s part in it.  She learned more and more—of Quidditch, of Weasley Wizard Wheezes, of werewolves and Veela, and tournaments where you could die and Harry almost did.

In the end, Bella was snuggled in Harry’s arms as he talked to her about the future that had been planned out for him, how he was supposed to be an Auror, then chief, then go into politics and become Minister for Magic.  How he had wanted none of that but wanted to heal so that he could save someone else’s parents, like he hadn’t been able to save his own, or his godson Teddy’s.

“No, I’m not angry,” Bella finally said.  “I—I want you to be who you are.  I want you to use magic around the house, when Angela is not around.  I want you to be who you are, I want you to heal, just like you want me to be who I am and to have the full college experience.”

Harry kissed her temple.  “I love you, Isabella Swan.”

“I love you, Dr. Harry Potter,” she murmured back.

She fell asleep in his arms.

The wand was later kept in the nightstand and was always out when it was just the three of them.  Harry would cook with it, do the family laundry although Bella insisted she was more than capable.  Harry would also make lights dance in front of James so that he would laugh and clap his hands.  Clearly this was an old game between the two of them.

Bella had been thinking about it for almost a week when she finally brought up over dinner—“Harry, I think we should reenter the magical world.”

He looked up at her startled.  “Isabella?”

“You’re a wizard.  You should be with your kind.  And you’re a healer—you knew about my vampire bite.  I’m sure there’s so much more you could do in a magic hospital than a—a Muggle one.  If you were ready to we could go back to London.  I got accepted two days ago to UCL.”

She looked down at her food, afraid to see his reaction.  The sound of a chair scraping across the floor met her ears and then there were lips pressed against hers.  “I love you, Isabella.”

“Is that a yes?”

He nodded, looking down at her.  “How do you know I’ve been missing it?”

“I—well—I miss Phoenix.  I figured you must be missing England and that hospital was in London, right?”

He smiled and kissed her again.  “It’s settled then.  I’ll put back in my application for September, and I already have a house.  It needs some serious work done on it, you’ll see what I mean, but you’ll grow to love it.  Kreacher, our house elf, has revitalized the place since the War but it needs a woman’s touch.”

Bella was laughing now.  “Yes, yes, and yes to all of that.”

Telling Charlie had been difficult.  At first he looked angry at Harry but then he seemed more upset than anything, that they would be so far away.

Harry insisted the packing could take place easily after the wedding and so, on a Saturday morning in June, Bella walked down the aisle in the little town of Forks.  Angela was her only bridesmaid.  Reneé had flown up with Phil but also, in the audience, had been Edward.

When he got her alone for a dance, Harry recognizing him as a vampire but being none the wiser as to who he was, although Charlie had been staring daggers at him all morning, Bella felt chills run through her.  This wasn’t right.  Edward was too hard, too unyielding—too cold. 

“You married a wizard,” he stated by way of a greeting, “or didn’t you know?”

“A human, like you always wanted,” she spat back.  “Why are you here, Edward?”

“Alice told me how you wouldn’t come to Volterra.  I’m glad you didn’t.  I wouldn’t want the Volturi to know about you.”

Bella scrunched up her brow.  That was rather cryptic.  “Wish me well and then please leave.  There’s nothing left for you here,” she whispered, breaking from his grip.  She stared into his golden eyes and was thankful that he had recently fed.

“I wish you well,” Edward stated and then he walked away.

She took in a deep breath and then exhaled slowly.  Finding Harry again, she kissed him deeply to the sound of catcalls from their onlookers.  The two broke apart and laughed, looking into each other’s eyes.

This is where she belonged.  Here.  In the present.  With Harry.

Black Moon Brightening

Kreacher had frightened Bella when she first floo’d to Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place.  She had said her goodbyes to Charlie, given him her new cell phone number, and had trusted Harry when he had held her hand and pulled her through the fireplace at the Seattle International Airport.

One thing she could say for Grimmauld Place was that it was clean.  Very, very clean.  However, it was very dark.  She looked at Harry and said, “James can’t grow up here.”

He had kissed her for it, and promised her that they would redecorate.  “Kreacher has done his best,” he had stated solemnly.  The small Kreacher had looked up proudly.  “However, it does need to be modernized.”

That was putting it mildly.


Still, whenever Kreacher appeared without any warning, Bella squeaked despite herself.  He was the oddest little creature.  All wrinkles, big ears, and large tennis ball eyes.  If Bella had to think of what an elf looked like before meeting Kreacher, she would have thought something along the lines of tall, beautiful beings the likes of which were seen in The Lord of the Rings.  Clearly this was not the case.

Bella was in the bedroom, just sitting and contemplating what color would look best on the wall, when Kreacher popped into existence.

“Mistress,” the little thing said, “Mr. and Mrs. Weazzes be here.”

Bella stared at him.  Weazzes.  Could he mean Weasley?

“Mr. and Mrs. Weasley?”  She gaped at him.  What were Weasleys doing here?  Her one encounter with a Weasley—the former Mrs. Potter—had been horrifying.  She wasn’t certain she could stand to meet any more.  “Tell them I’m not at home.”  That sounded like something the lady of the house would say.

“Theys be seeing Master Jamesie in the livingses room.”

Oh, that’s right.  There was a playpen set up for him in there and Harry liked it if he didn’t spend all of his time in the bedrooms.  Also, Harry thought that it would be nice for him to soak up the family magics that came with the Black and Potter tapestries that were housed in that room.  As Harry was also determined that Bella was not a babysitter and that Kreacher was more than capable, young James was sometimes left in his care for half an hour or so.  Bella thought that this Mr. and Mrs. Weasley probably knew Harry well enough that he wouldn’t leave James alone in a house with only a house elf.

She sighed.

The decision was made for her.

Slipping on the teal house robe Harry had gotten her over her purple shirt and jeans, Bella made her way downstairs.  They really had to find a better solution to this Kreacher-taking-care-of-James problem.  They needed a babysitter, especially when Bella’s classes started next week.  However, a Muggle couldn’t come in to a magical house and a wizard might be a stalker fan.  It was quite the conundrum.

She came into the room to see a bushy haired witch holding James and cooing at him.  Immediately, Bella’s instincts reared up.  “You put him down immediately,” she demanded, rushing forward and taking James from the unknown witch.  Looking James up and down to make sure he was all right, Bella kissed his forehead, and brushed back his auburn hair.  Bella turned to the witch and the red haired wizard who were both staring at her in shock.  “May I help you?”

The wizard was the first to answer.  He gave her lop-sided grin and said, “We’re looking for Harry.”

“Well, he’s at St. Mungo’s.”  Shouldn’t they know that Harry was a healer and a bit of a workaholic?

The two looked at each other.  This time, it was the bushy haired witch who spoke.  “We thought this might be the case, but thought we might come along and see you anyway.  Harry sent us an owl that he was getting married.  It’s our lunch break.”

Bella stared at them.  Hard.  “You’re Weasleys?” she accused.

The red haired one obviously didn’t pick up her tone of voice.  “Ron Weasley,” he said, holding out his hand for her to take.  “And this is Hermione.  We were Harry’s best mates at school.”

Bella looked at them hard and then looked over at the mantle, which showed three pictures.  The largest one was of Bella and Harry on their wedding day.  The second of Bella and Charlie.  The third showed a younger Harry and a red haired boy and a bushy haired girl.  This must be them then.  “Yes,” Bella said hesitantly.  “Harry has mentioned you.”

She sat down and the Weasleys took that as invitation to sit down as well.  Bella looked down at James and he curled his small hands into her long hair.  “You perhaps should call when Harry is at home,” she stated.

“We were hoping we might catch him,” Hermione reiterated.  “And we were hoping to meet you if you weren’t at work.  We heard from Ginny that there was someone new in his life, as well.  We hadn’t realized until Kreacher told us that Harry had actually remarried.  I had the announcement but so much can change…”

So, Bella was somehow supposed to be fickle.  “Yes,” Bella offered.  “It was a private ceremony back in America.  I didn’t even have time to get a wedding dress, not that it mattered.  I’ve never liked parties or celebrations.”  Bella’s mind turned to Alice and her ill-fated eighteenth birthday party.  She shook the unwanted thought away.

Hermione eyed her and Ron just looked lost.  “Harry,” Hermione offered, “had a large wedding the first time.  Ginny loved it…”

“I’ve met Ginny,” Bella said coldly.  “She held James and me hostage for over an hour.”

Neither of them had anything to say to that.  Fortunately, when the silence became too awkward, they both left.  Bella made a note to tell Harry to secure the floo, if he were capable of doing that.  She didn’t want any more unannounced visitors.

That, however, was not the last time she saw Ron and Hermione. 

UCL was like nothing Bella had ever experienced before.  She found that being American put her somewhat at a disadvantage, at least among her peers.  They didn’t take her as seriously as they did other students and the professors looked at her strangely whenever she asked questions.

Still, she was able to make a friend.  Thomas was from Hammersmith and had Bella around for tea and his mother rather gushed over her until Bella mentioned that she was married.  The woman barely paid her any attention after that.  Then, perhaps under pressure, Thomas stopped speaking to her entirely.

It was the weekend after Bella matriculated and Harry had taken her out to Diagon Alley to celebrate.  He promised her ice cream for lunch and when they were sitting at Florean Fortescue’s, the Weasleys found them again.

“Harry!” Hermione almost squealed, ambushing him with a hug.  Harry quickly shifted James to another arm.  “You haven’t answered any of my owls since the divorce.”

Bella looked between her husband’s pained expression and James.  She quickly grabbed her stepson.  He gurgled happily in her arms.

Hermione finally pulled away and Ron clapped Harry on the back.  Both turned toward her.  “Lady Black,” Hermione said with a bit of a curtsey and Bella just stared. 

She looked over at Harry in confusion.  He smiled at her, that wonderful, lost smile that promised that he knew something yet didn’t quite comprehend it.

“I’m sorry I didn’t greet you properly last time,” Hermione was saying.  “You must have thought me quite rude.”

Ron looked over at Harry.  “We thought that’s why she seemed so offended when we floo’d earlier.  Before, well, everything else.”

“I—“ Bella began, but she looked over at Harry.

“People don’t have titles back in America,” Harry added in.  “I hadn’t told Isabella about mine.”

Hermione looked between them.  “So you don’t stand on formalities?”

Bella shook her head.  Lady Black?  She had a title now?  She had to get used to Harry’s obscene amount of wealth—fortunately, he didn’t seem keen on spending it unlike the Cullens—but this was just strange. 

Suddenly Hermione was hugging her, too.  Bella had to shift James in her arms to make sure he wasn’t squashed.  “Welcome to the family,” she beamed.

“We’re not Weasleys,” Bella said, looking over at Harry again.

“No, we’re not.  She meant the ‘Golden Trio,’ but really, Hermione, you can’t pretend the divorce didn’t happen and that you didn’t take Ginny’s side.”

“She’s my sister,” Ron put in.

“I know, and I respect that, but you have to look at it from my point of view.  Anyway, it doesn’t matter anymore.  I’ve married Isabella.”

The two Weasleys looked at her.  The conversation fortunately ended after that.

Harry was curled around Bella, two nights later, when she mused about the bedroom they were in.  “Did you share it with Ginny?”

“No,” he promised.  “She didn’t much care for it.”

“Isn’t it the Master Bedroom, though?”

“Hmm.”  He kissed her bare shoulder.  He was drawing circles on her hip, which was oddly soothing.

“Do you think of her?” Bella asked, feeling a little bold.

Harry stilled.  “From time to time.  I think about how she was when we first dated.  How much I missed her when we were on the run during the War.  Do you think of Edward still, despite the potion?”

“I think of his sisters and how they raided my closet,” she confessed.  “I think of how I never felt good enough, pretty enough, wealthy enough.”  She turned in his embrace.  “Do you ever think you married beneath you?  I’m a plain Muggle and I’m not rich—“  She was crying now and Harry was kissing the tears away.

“You’re a strong woman,” he corrected, “and you’re beautiful even though you can’t see it.  On our wedding day I thought I was the luckiest man in the world.  I didn’t feel that on one single day with Ginny.”

“Why didn’t you tell me you were Lord Black?” she sniffled.

“Honestly?” he sighed.  “My godfather was Lord Black and the title passed to me when he died.  Whenever I hear it—I think of him.”

“Oh.”

“I use it in high society, though, to be taken seriously.”  He shrugged.  He looked at her hard, for a moment, as if considering something.  “Does it bother you?”

“A little,” she answered honestly.  “But I love you.  I suppose I will just have to get used to it.”

And he kissed her then, warm and long and slow.

The title didn’t just go away.  It was a good month into term when Harry found her at UCL when she was putting away her books as class had just broken up.  The professor was still at the podium and there were several students still in the vicinity.

“Lady Black,” he greeted her with a kiss, just loud enough so that his words carried.  Somehow, Bella later wondered, if he had done it on purpose.

She smiled back at him.  “Lord Black.  I thought you hated titles.”

“I’ve been thinking.”  He looked pensive.  “I want you to have everything I can possibly give you, and I can give you this.  It translates into your—studies—just as it does at my work.”  She understood the subtext.  Harry was Lord Black in both the Muggle and wizarding worlds.  “Plus it suits you.”

Bella, feeling a little self-conscious at the other students who were watching her, looked at him earnestly.  “Did, well, did she use it?”

“No, to her being ‘Mrs. Harry Potter’ was more important.”  She cared more for his fame and notoriety than for social pleasantries.  Interesting.  It painted a fuller picture of the woman that Harry had once been married to.

She paused, trying to parse out what he was trying to tell her.  “Harry, are you saying that you simply want me to be your wife and everything it comes with and not married to your image?”  The idea was an important one.  Bella, as she had come to know Harry, had seen how unpretentious he was.  He was good at what he did—better than good.  He wanted to be lauded for his merits and nothing more.  He was humble.  And, if to him being simply Lord and Lady Black, another well bred couple in a sea of dozens, instead of the Mr. and Mrs. Boy-Who-Lived was important to him, then that’s what she would give him.  Bella nodded before Harry could answer.  “I could do that.”

He smiled at her and leaned forward to kiss her again.

“Lady Black,” the sound of Professor West sounded from behind her.  “Would you be kind enough to present me to your husband?”

Bella had to stifle a laugh as the man had never sounded so obsequious to her before, but she introduced him to Harry just the same.

She wasn’t surprised at all when at her following lecture two hours later, she was referred to as “Lady Black.”

With the title came a new friend, a Lady Mary Wesley, who was happy to have someone to complain to about the endless parties her mother held and the fact that her father, an Earl, slept his way through England.  Still, Mary was loyal and true, and the two were often found in the Union giggling over the exploits of Lord Byron or discussing a passage from Coleridge.

The second time Bella received an unexpected visitor at home, she was in the living room doing homework with James in his playpen.  Her Muggle mobile was just out of sight behind a pile of books as she had just received a text from Mary about the model her brother was dating.  Apparently she was entirely unsuitable as she was American, which made Bella laugh a little.  Kreacher was nearby, replenishing her glass of water and looking after James more closely than she was.

A card was presented to her on a little silver platter.  She picked it up, thinking she was in an episode of Masterpiece Theatre, and looked at it.  It read Heir Draco Malfoy.  She had no idea what that meant.

“Who’s Heir Draco Malfoy?” she asked Kreacher.

He gestured to the Black Family Tree.  She went over to it and saw, near the bottom, the picture of a blond haired young man stitched in above the title.  His parents, it seemed, were Lucius, Lord Malfoy, and Narcissa, Lady Malfoy.  He must be heir to the title then.

“Yous be calling him ‘Heir Draco,’ Mistress,” Kreacher supplied helpfully.

She sighed.  “Well, show him in.”  She went over to James and made sure his magical train was working and hadn’t fallen over.

A step sounded in the hall.  “Ah, the picture of domesticity,” a drawling voice said, not unkindly.  “I hope Lord Black is greeted with such a sight whenever he ventures homeward.”

Bella stood.  “Heir Draco,” she greeted, holding out her hand for him to shake.  Instead, he picked it up, placed it to just under his lips and then released it.  Her hand hovered in the air for the barest of moments before Bella reclaimed it.  She smiled at him.

“Lady Black.”  Heir Draco was a rather tall man, with hair so blond it could be called white and with pointed features.  His eyes were gray.

Taking his cue, Bella sat and gestured for him to take a seat.  “I’m afraid Lord Black is still at St. Mungo’s.”

“I had heard that he had taken up residency there again,” Heir Draco began politely.  “I myself am a law wizard and find myself on the opposite end of town.”

“Of course,” Bella murmured, having no idea what he was talking about.

“I did find myself near Grimmauld Place and I promised Lady Astoria Greengrass that I would drop off our invitation if I could.”  He held out a sheet of folded parchment. 

Bella took it and carefully unfolded it.  It appeared that she and Harry were invited to dine at Malfoy Manor the following week.  Fortunately, she didn’t have any quizzes.  She was supposed to be going out with Mary, but she could put her off.  All she had to say was ‘a friend of Lord Black’s’ and all would be forgiven.  Then again, Bella wasn’t sure if Heir Draco was a friend of Harry’s.

“It will just be a small party.  You, Lord Black, myself, and Lady Astoria,” Heir Draco was saying.

“Is Lady Astoria a friend?” Bella asked, a little curious.

“My fiancée.”

Bella smiled at him in what she hoped was a warm manner.  “I hope you two will be very happy.”

“Thank you.  Do convince Lord Black to come.  Tell him that bygones should be bygones, and we are ever so grateful for his help after the War.  Friendships should be sprung on such unlikely alliances, I believe.”

She looked at him blankly.

Heir Draco seemed to understand.  “Lord Black and I were rivals at school.  However, he spoke on behalf on the entire Malfoy family in front of the Wizengamot about our involvement in the War.  The Americas were fortunate not to have to deal with that—unpleasantness.”

Well, that certainly explained some things.

“You will give him the message along with the invitation.  I know it is the purview of the Lady of the House to accept or reject invitations, but I can’t imagine Potter marrying someone who was merely a socialite.”

He called him ‘Potter.’  How interesting.  “No, I’m hardly that,” Bella agreed.

Heir Draco glanced at the books.  “A scholar then.”

“I do like to read,” Bella conceded.  “Do you, Heir Draco?”

He ended up having to leave once he had an appointment, but the two had discussed various Muggle authors and he had recommended a few wizarding ones to her, too.  If he had guessed that she wasn’t a witch, he hadn’t said a word.  True, there was no wand lying around but she had been wearing her house robe.  She’d grown rather fond of it.

There were also magical bits of wallpaper hanging by magic about the room for her to later peruse.  She was making over the house one room at a time.

“I like him,” Bella told Harry later.  “I know you two were school rivals, but could we go?”

“You like Draco Malfoy?” Harry asked in surprise.  They were sitting over a dinner which Kreacher had made.  No matter what Bella did, she couldn’t get the house elf to let her cook.  It did, Bella mused, allow her more time to study.

“Is that so surprising?”

Harry blinked at her behind his glasses.  “Well, yes.  He hates Muggles and Muggleborns.”

“I don’t think he knew I was a Muggle,” she tossed out the word as if it were beneath her.  And it really was.  It was the magical version of the vampire usage of the word “human.”  “Well, if he asks, just tell him that I’m a survivor of Dominium de Sanguine,” she said.  “That should shut him up.”

Bella wasn’t certain, but she was almost positive that her position as a survivor of having a vampire maker, remaining human, and living to tell the tale without being his blood slave was something of a feat in magical Britain.  She didn’t like to be noticed, but she would be noticed and she would be acknowledged, for Harry’s sake.

“Why can’t you remain my Isabella?” Harry asked, leaning forward and kissing her lightly.

“I’ll always be ‘your Isabella.’  But I don’t want to be—inferior here.  I’ve been inferior before and it’s—words can’t describe it.”  Bella knew that Harry didn’t like to be a status symbol, but she wouldn’t be seen as being unworthy of him.

Harry pulled her chair closer and snaked an arm around her.  “I’m sorry, Isabella.”

“It’s not your fault.  Blame the Cullens.”

“Was I selfish, in marrying you?”  He was looking away from her now, but she could hear the pain in his voice.

She shook her head, her hair falling around her face.  “No, Harry.  I knew what I was getting into.  I love you.”

He looked back at her and smiled.  Everything was once again right with the world.

They had to go out shopping so she would have proper robes for the occasion.  Bella hadn’t been quite prepared for the press that wanted to get a photograph of the new Lady Black—or Mrs. Potter.  She’d always hated shopping, but this just made it worse.  “Can’t Kreacher just sew something for me?”

“I hadn’t thought of that,” Harry admitted as Bella tried on the fourth set of robes.  They were dark blue with sleeves that almost draped the floor and a decorative hood.  “I think this one would be perfect.”

“Really?” Bella asked skeptically, looking at herself in the mirror.  She did look rather pretty in them but the style was so strange.

“Really.”

It seemed the robe buying excursion was over.  They hadn’t bothered to stay in Diagon Alley, though Harry promised to take her to The White Witch, an exclusive restaurant for purebloods, later on.

She bemoaned to Mary the very next day about it all.  “And then, I’m in the society pages.  There are pictures!”

“I hadn’t looked at The Times,” Mary admitted.  “I’ll let it pass for your sake.”

Bella rolled her eyes.  “It’s all one big joke.  I’m a nobody, from nowhere, Washington State.  I have this boyfriend who’s a multimillionaire who leaves me in the forest to die of exposure and Harry finds me.  He seems to be an innocent doctor who just happens to send me flowers—but he turns out to be Earl Black!  Apparently it’s one of the oldest peerages in England!” she complained.

“One of the oldest? It’s in the top five,” Mary added unhelpfully.  “Now tell me about this multimillionaire American ex of yours so I can marry his brother and annoy my family.”

Bella could only laugh.

Bella had lost track of time the day of the dinner.  She was lying on the living room couch, reading Tennyson, when Harry breezed in in dress robes.  “There you are.  We have just about half an hour.”

She looked between him and James, who was in a Moses basket beside her.  “Just enough time then,” she groused, throwing a pillow at her husband.  She got up and kissed him long and deep, before running out of the room.  “Take care of James!” she called out after her and she could hear his “I will!” following her up the stairs.

Putting on the robes, Bella applied some purple eye shadow and let Kreacher put up her hair so that the hood wouldn’t be covered by it.  Looking at herself critically in the mirror, she decided that she would just have to do, and, grabbing the invitation, she met Harry back in the living room.  “We need to find a baby sitter.”

“I was going to ask Malfoy about that, actually.  Purebloods must have a network or something.”

“Or something,” Bella agreed as they made their way down to the floo.  She grasped Harry’s hand (she couldn’t use the floo otherwise as she was a Muggle) and after a terrifying trip later she was stepping out of a fireplace in a large marble hall.

Heir Draco and a beautiful witch with strawberry blonde curls were waiting for them.  “Potter!” Heir Draco exclaimed.  “So good of you to come.”

“Not at all, Malfoy.  I was hoping Isabella would meet some witches her own age,” he admitted.

“Of course.”  Malfoy bowed to her and she lifted up her hand as Harry had coached her to.  Once again it was taken and left hovering half an inch below the lips before being released.  “Lady Black.”

“Heir Draco,” she greeted.  “Thanks again for the invitation.”

He smirked at her.  It must be his way of smiling.  “May I present my fiancée, Lady Astoria Greengrass.”  Harry took her hand and the two women shook hands briefly.

“Shall we go up?” Lady Astoria asked, playing the hostess.  “Lady Black, you simply must tell me about your romance.”

Bella blushed.  “There really isn’t much to tell,” she offered.

“I hardly believe that.  Everyone thought that Lord Black would never marry again, especially when he went off to America, but he comes back with a blushing bride.”

“Astoria,” Malfoy said, placing a hand on her arm.  “Why don’t you tell Lady Black about how we met instead?”

That was certainly an interesting story.  The two had known each other since they were children, being about only a year apart, but Malfoy had gone off to Hogwarts and Lady Astoria, because her birthday was in October, had to wait two years to follow him.  They had ended up in different houses—fortunately Harry had told Bella all about them—and Lady Astoria had thought she had lost him to the pug-faced Miss Pansy Parkinson.

Bella looked at her questioningly.

“Oh! But you don’t have titles in America!  I’m so sorry,” Lady Astoria exclaimed.  “A ‘Mr.’ or a ‘Miss’ is someone who is a pureblood but from an offshoot from a family line.  If Draco had a younger brother, he would be ‘Master’ and all of his children would be ‘Mr.’s’ and ‘Misses.’”

“I see.”  And Bella kind of did in a strange way.  “What was the former Lady Black?” she asked cautiously.

“Miss Ginevra Weasley, but she was considered a blood traitor.”  Lady Astoria had the decency to blush.  They had now come to a table and there were place names at each seat.  Lady Astoria and Bella were sitting across from one another. 

Bella filed away the term ‘blood traitor’ for later and said instead, “So you hadn’t lost him to Miss Pansy?”  Obviously she hadn’t.

“Did you go to Salem?” Malfoy asked her during the first course and Harry choked on his water. 

Bella looked at him in concern before turning again to Malfoy.  He was smiling at her now.  “No, I’ve never been to Salem,” she said in confusion.

“Oh,” he said, clearly taken aback.  “You must have been homeschooled then.”

She looked to Harry for help. 

“Isabella is a survivor of Dominium de Sanguine,” he stated, his green eyes flashing with danger.  “A Muggle survivor.”

The assessing gazes of Malfoy and Lady Astoria fell on her.  Feeling herself blush, she wanted to run from the room.  Perhaps this was a bad idea, after all.  It was then that she felt a warm, strong, male hand slide on top of hers.  She looked over at Harry but he was looking directly at Malfoy.

“It’s rare to survive,” Malfoy said carefully, all attention on him.  His eyes, however, held Bella’s.  “It hasn’t been done for half a millennium and I don’t believe there’s ever been a recorded Muggle case…” His voice trailed off.  He shook himself as if from a spell and turned toward Harry.  “You are to be congratulated, Potter.  A fine match, indeed.  I honestly didn’t think that any witch could live up to your status of Boy Who Lived, but you seem to have found a woman who can.”

Bella visibly relaxed.  Lady Astoria was now smiling at her.

“That’s not why I married her.”

“Of course not.  I’m not marrying Astoria for her title, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t help appearances.”

“No,” Harry conceded.  “I suppose not.”

The news broke the next day.  Bella never read the papers but even she couldn’t help but notice a picture of herself in her dress robes with the words Lord Black marries Muggle Dominium ex Sanguine Survivor” splayed on top of it.  Fortunately, the reporters hadn’t found her at UCL, otherwise she wasn’t sure how she would have gotten to class.  However, they were camped outside of St. Mungo’s, where she stopped by between classes to see if Harry wanted to take a walk.  Where before she had been a mere interest piece, now she was news.

The receptionist actually squeaked when she saw her, though she did direct her to Harry’s office.

However, one clever reporter must have made the leap between the young American Lady Black at UCL and the Dominium de Sanguine surviving Lady Black within the week.  Mary came up to her in class and whispered, “Why is there a reporter interviewing students about you?”

“What?”  Bella looked at her, horrified.

“Yeah, she has these really strange glasses and is carrying around a green quill.  It’s just plain bizarre.”

The witch was gone from the campus when Bella got out of lecture.

The invitations flooded in, but Bella only accepted those for Friday or Saturday nights.  Lady Astoria was always at her side, telling her who was who and what was what.

It was strange, though.  Malfoy was her true friend.

“I quite like you for a Muggle,” he said companionably as they sat drinking tea.  Lady Astoria was chatting with a school friend and Harry was—somewhere.

“Have you met any Muggles?” Bella teased.

“No.  But I have met a vampire.”  He looked at her seriously.

“What was that like?”

“It was sixth year.  I ended up accidentally crashing a party a professor was throwing and there was a vampire there—Sanguini.  He came up to me, took my arm, pushed up my robes, and smelled me.  I was in shock.”

Bella laughed.  “I would think so.”

“He said I smelled like lavender.”  Heir Draco visibly shivered.

Setting down her teacup, Bella replied, “Edward said something similar about me.  Apparently my blood was like a bouquet of scents.  Very hard to resist.”

“But he did.”

“He did.  And he dated me instead.”

“Vampires are strange creatures.”  Bella could only agree silently.

It wasn’t until December when reality finally hit Harry and Bella.  They’d found a babysitter, thanks to Lady Malfoy, who was an unassuming witch named Miss Poppett.

“Mrs. Weasley is demanding to see her grandson,” Harry said one morning after reading a letter.  “The woman was like a mother to me growing up, and I suppose it is the least I can do.”

“I thought you gained full custody?” Bella asked as she once again tried not to vomit.  For some reason food had been turning her stomach this past week.

Harry sighed.  “I did, but I feel like I should—“

Bella nodded.  She didn’t need him to finish the thought.  Harry was an orphan and to him family meant everything.  He still sent out monthly checks to his aunt’s family, the Dursleys, even though in Bella’s mind they should all go to a special ring of Hell.

She brought the whole question up to Mary.  “Am I being too—territorial?  I mean, this woman’s daughter decided she would rather have an abortion—and I’m not talking one of those early ones—than screw up her sports career and then held me captive when she found out that Harry was remarrying.”  She puffed out some air over her tea.  She was trying to like it for Harry’s sake, but she was having difficulty.  Bella was actually trying different blends each time she was in a café in the hopes that she would find one she actually liked.

Mary looked at her.  “She’s in sports?”

“Never quite makes the cut,” Bella explained.  “I have no idea what she even plays.”  That, of course, was a lie.  Ginny played quidditch.  Or at least wanted to.

“How did she hold you captive?” Mary asked tentatively.

Bella glanced away.  “She used force and I had James to think about.”

“Okay, well, she’s clearly insane.  Hopefully she didn’t get it from her mother.  If Harry’s determined, you’re just going to have to trust his judgment.  Have you told him you’re worried?”

“I didn’t want to interfere.”  And it was true.  Bella didn’t want to interfere.

“Then there’s your answer.”

Bella only wore a house robe and carried James when they went to the Burrow.  The place was warm and full of light and Bella sat uncomfortably around a wooden table in the kitchen.

“Is this Lady Black?” a woman, Mrs. Weasley, asked Harry.

Nodding, Harry took the seat next to Bella. 

The woman curtseyed.  Strangely, Bella was getting used to it.  She then, however, ruined any cordiality there might have been in the proceedings.  “So you replaced Ginny with a Muggle.”

Harry rolled his eyes.  “I didn’t replace Ginny.  You make it sound like I was having a torrid affair.  I assure you Chief Swan would have had my head if that were the case.”

“My dad,” Bella put in helpfully.

“Well,” Mrs. Weasley said.  “Let me see my grandson.”

Bella, however, held onto him.  “James is sleeping,” she murmured.

“Hush, now, I’m his grandmother.”

“And I’m his mother,” Bella shot back.

Ginny’s his mother!”

“Ginny,” Harry put in, “was never a mother to him.  If Isabella says he’s sleeping, then he’s sleeping.  Just wait until he wakes up, Mrs. Weasley.”

James had eventually awakened and Bella grudgingly let Mrs. Weasley hold him.  The two women didn’t like each other in the least, but they were coldly polite to each other the rest of the evening.

The following night had been just as trying.  James was left at home with Miss Poppett and Harry and Bella were at a dinner of select healers and their spouses.  Here Bella was still “Lady Black,” but Harry was “Healer Potter.”  It was an interesting change.

One healer wouldn’t stop staring at Bella to the point where Harry had to draw him aside and have a word with him.  The pretty witch next to him came over to Bella and whispered, “Forgive my husband.  It’s just we’re all fascinated by the fact that you survived.”  Ah, so it was Dominium de Sanguine again.  The witch, however, hadn’t finished yet.  “We were hoping that you would allow us, Lady Black, to write a paper on you and how you survived.”

Bella’s head snapped around so quickly that she was surprised she didn’t hear it crack.  “I—what?”

“My husband, Healer Figg, and I are researchers into dark creatures.  You would be the perfect specimen—“

“My wife is not a specimen, Healer Marlow-Figg.”

Healer Marlow-Figg, who was a witch in her thirties with red hair, colored.  “I never meant to say that she was—“

“I think it’s rather a racist comment.  I’ve read some of your research, healer, and I’ve seen the respect you pay to other humanoid ‘dark’ creatures and even to Muggles.  Now, please step away from Lady Black.”  Harry’s eyes were flashing dangerously and Healer Marlow-Figg swallowed.

“Of course, Healer Potter,” she muttered, stepping away.

Bella looked at Harry incredulously.  “Harry, what was that–?”

“She and her husband believe that cures for medical illnesses should be tested on Muggles as if they were animals.  I didn’t want you to become their latest science experiment,” he said quietly.

She looked into his eyes and saw only honesty there.  Bella nodded in acceptance.

Lying in bed a week later, Bella asked, “Harry, would you like more children?”  It was a tentative question.  She was afraid of the answer.  Bella was still a little unsure about being a mother.  She was so young, but she was a mother to James, she reminded herself.  She was not Renée.  She would not make the same mistakes.

“You know I do,” Harry reassured her, running a hand through her long hair.  “You are a wonderful mother to James.”

“He’ll call me ‘Mom’ though, when he grows up, right?”

“‘Mum,’ probably,” Harry chuckled.

The op-ed broke the next day in the Daily Prophet.  Bella had been so angry that she had arrived to her lecture still carrying it and had to shove it away so that Mary wouldn’t see.

“What is it?” Mary asked.

“Nothing, it’s just—“  She sighed.  How could she explain it?  Ginny Weasley had opened up and given a tell-all about her marriage to Harry.  In it she claimed that he wasn’t supportive of her career, shirked his responsibility to the public as the Boy-Who-Lived, and only married Bella because she was young, impressionable, and convenient.

“There’s nothing special about her,” Ginny was quoted as saying.  “I spent about an hour in a room with her and she had absolutely nothing to say.  It’s clear she’s only after Harry for the fame.  As a Muggle, she would have to hide her involvement with and survival of vampires.  With a wizard, she can proclaim it to the world.  And she clearly has.”

Mary looked at Bella expectantly.  “It’s my husband’s ex-wife.  Drama.”

She’d shown up at Heir Draco’s office later that day.  He’d had a client, so she had to wait (the little receptionist was staring between her and a moving picture of her from one of the society receptions in The Daily Prophet.  When Heir Draco was finally free after what seemed like ten hours, Bella walked in with James on her hip.  She had picked him up on the way to James Street.

“Lady Black,” he said, rising.  “Is everything all right?”

“It’s this horrible op-ed piece,” she said, slamming down the paper and taking the seat offered to her.  “I just—I don’t know what to do.  I don’t want to worry Harry.  He doesn’t read the papers.  And if our family were to grow—“ She looked Heir Draco in the eyes.  “I can’t let her get away with it, Heir Draco.”

“I understand Potter likes to rise above all of this,” Heir Draco began tentatively. 

“Yes, but she also attacked me.  As Lady Black.  I’m not some attention-seeking girl who was simply convenient.”  She spat the last word out.

Heir Draco looked at her for several long moments.  “We can’t do anything without Potter, you have to understand that.”

Bella slumped in her chair.  “Yes.  I suppose so.  It’s just—you’re my best friend apart from Mary and she’s a Muggle who wouldn’t understand.”

He puffed up his chest a bit at that and, questioningly, touched her shoulder.  “We’ll find our way out of this.”

Heir Draco and Lady Astoria had come around for dinner at Gimmauld Place later that evening.  Harry, of course, hadn’t been expecting them, but with a kiss to Bella he greeted them before getting changed out of his work robes.

“There’s a stink at the hospital,” he murmured.  “The Figgses are demanding that a study be done of you.”

Bella rolled her eyes.  “Well, I nominate you, then.  You’ve been there for all of the—side effects.”

Heir Draco was very cunning about bringing up the article, about how he didn’t believe a word of what Ginny had printed, that clearly Bella was more than just a young body that could have been gotten anywhere. 

Harry hadn’t read the article.  Bella handed it to him and she saw his ears go pink with anger.

“Why didn’t you trust me with this?” he asked her later that night as he undressed her.  “You know all I want to do is take care of you and James.”

“I know,” Bella murmured, turning toward him.  She was in nothing but a bra and a pair of jeans.  “It’s just—you’re so divorced from your fame.  Some of us have to live in it though.”

His features hardened.  “This is not the life I wanted for you.  The life I wanted for all of us.”

“No,” she agreed after she had kissed him slowly.  “But this is the life we have.  We chose to come back to England, to come back to all of this.  You know I love you.”

“Then why an intermediary?”

“I—I’ve never been good with words.   And he’s my best friend.”

“Malfoy, the best friend of a Potter.  Soon our children will be growing up together.”

The thought brought a smile to Bella’s face.

Two days later Bella was dressed impeccably and James was roving around on the floor.  She could have left him with Miss Poppett, but she wanted to appear as a family.  Harry, running late, rushed in and planted a kiss to her waiting lips.  “Sorry, Isabella.  I had a patient.”

She smiled at him.  “We hadn’t even gotten started yet.”

They turned to the unassuming little reporter who squeaked.

The following interview explained how they met, how Harry had healed her, how she hadn’t known of the wizarding world until Ginny Weasley had appeared and held her hostage, how they decided to move back to England where Bella could be away from her memories of the Cullens and Harry could return to his beloved St Mungo’s.

A photograph of the three of them was emblazoned on the front cover of The Daily Prophet the next morning.  The edition sold out in less than an hour across wizarding Britain.

Bella was all alone and as the unassuming Muggle Lady Black, however, when Edward appeared one gray day when she was coming out of a literature lecture.  He was as beautiful as ever, all hard lines and soulful golden eyes.  Bella looked at him, before turning with the tide of students to walk away.  He pushed toward her through the crowd and grabbed her arm.  “Bella,” he murmured, so that only she could hear him.  It was strange how she had come to dislike the name in favor of Isabella, which is what Harry called her.

Bella looked up at him and closed her eyes.  “I’m married,” she stated.  “Just like you wanted.  And I thought I told you to leave.”

“It’s what I thought I wanted.  But losing you—“  His eyes begged her to understand.  He held up the famous edition of The Prophet.

Bella tensed.  “What do you want me to say?  It’s all true.”

“Our love was real.”

They were starting to gather a bit of a crowd.  Bella was well known on campus and Edward was, well, gorgeous. 

“Our love was nothing because you made it nothing, Edward Cullen,” she hissed.   “Listen,” Bella told him, her voice low.  “Surely you can hear another heartbeat.”  Bella hadn’t gone to St. Mungo’s, wanting to be sure of it before she told Harry.  However, now she knew.  She was two months pregnant.  This would be her last semester until after the baby was born and had grown up a bit.  And she could live with that—because this was her family, and she loved Harry, and she loved James Sirius, and she loved this little sea monkey that was growing inside her.

Shock and then horror crossed Edward’s face.

“You didn’t think I would remain celibate, did you?” she asked bitterly.  “Not even you could be that dense.”

“You’re so young.  You have your whole life ahead of you.”

“Which you want me to spend with you, while still being human.”

His nonanswer was answer enough.

“You know, when you sucked out James’s venom with my blood you became my maker, did you know that?”

He opened his mouth, but she glared daggers at him.

“I had horrible nightmares for months.  I would wake up screaming from them and it felt like there was a hole in my chest and I couldn’t make it better.  It’s called Dominium de Sanguine and I’m the first survivor in about five hundred years.  Tell Carlisle that.  And leave me alone.”  She pushed past him, tears stinging her eyes.

She never saw him again.

That night, when Harry came home exhausted from a grueling day at St. Mungo’s, Bella met him in the kitchen with the ultrasound picture waiting for him in his usual spot.  He picked it up, staring at it in disbelief, before looking over at her.  “Isabella?”

She smiled up at him and kissed him.  All was right in her world.

The End.

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