A Promise Restored
Summary: This story is the long-promised, but much delayed sequel to my much earlier (December 2004-July 2005) story Keeping a Promise. If you haven't read it already, or if it has been a long time since you read it, I would highly recommend that you do so before starting on this one. If you don't, I'm certain you will be confused trying to follow along in this story. This shouldn't be especially critical until the third chapter, though. To help you, I will be providing links to external reference material as needed. Now I'll wait for you to finish. Portkey's stats show there are only 261,669 words (in 50+ chapters) for you to read.
(*Jeopardy Think Music plays...and plays...and plays...*)
So, you're done already? You must be a very fast reader if you can finish it in 3 hours!
DISCLAIMER: Harry Potter and related characters are the property of JK Rowling, various publishing companies, Warner Brothers, etc. I'm not making any money from this. If I were, I'd probably get a newer computer or something.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: First, thanks to my beta and friend, IronChefOR, for agreeing to help me with this story over the last few years. Without him to both bounce ideas against and to get some great ideas from, the story you see here would not have been possible. I don't know if the final product is "thrilling" and "exciting" enough for him, but I hope it at least ends up being "interesting" enough. (That's a private joke, BTW.)
Second, my thanks to one of my favorite Portkey authors, romulus lupin, who "led by example" when he began posting Grâce au Malfoys way back in April of 2009. Prior to that posting, I had been considering the idea of writing something new (either a sequel or a new short story) for Portkey, but when I started reading his wonderfully detailed story, the metaphorical wheels started turning in my head, then one thing led to another...and this is the result. I'm sorry it took so long, but I've been quite busy with "Real Life" and that tends to take priority over my writing.
Third, I thank those of you who have left reviews on Keeping a Promise or emailed me asking if I was ever going to write a sequel to "repair" the canon timeline as documented in Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows in the same manner I had done in Keeping a Promise for the first five books. Without your encouragement and the influence of a certain muse who will remain nameless for now, I wouldn't have considered writing this sequel.
Since I've been involved in the past as a beta for IronChefOR's Their Way and my daughter Renaiya880727's stories, I have intentionally avoided reading most of the post-DH Portkey stories (with the exception of Grâce au Malfoys, and, more recently, Return to Sender) just so I won't inadvertently pick up anyone else's ideas or storylines. Any similarity between this story and any other fan fiction on Portkey or elsewhere is, I assure you, PURELY coincidental, although as you'll see as you read the story, the basic idea is nothing really new. Please read/review and let me know what you think!
20 August 2119
Number twelve, Grimmauld Place
The tall, dark-haired young man took one more step up the ancient staircase, holding his lit wand, looking and listening for any signs of life or possibly a glint of wand light. He had only found the hidden entrance to this stairwell by sheer luck. While most of the household had been unsuccessfully searching for his sister all day, at this moment the early evening light was such that he just happened to notice (maybe it was his Seeker's eye) a faint partial footprint that seemed to go under the baseboard downstairs in the entryway.
As of now, however, the only sound he heard was his own heart beating in his ears; the stairs were steep and numerous and he hadn't been keeping up with his Quidditch drills during the summer break.
Raising his voice slightly as he continued to climb, he tried again.
"Lily, where are you? You are up here, right? Is this where you have been hiding all day long for the last week? Now Mum, Dad, Grandma, and Grandmama have all told me to find you and tell you to stop playing around and come down for dinner. It's nearly 6:30." All he heard in response was what sounded like a hardbound book being slammed shut.
He continued to climb while he waited, but there was still no answer. Finally, he could hold it in no longer as he finally reached a darkened room at the top of the stairs.
"Lily Minerva Potter! If you don't come out here this instant, I'm going to go get Mum and Dad and they won't be too happy with you. Grandma and Aunt Rose have made us a magnificent feast and it's getting cold."
At the thought of the wonderful evening feast that awaited him, the boy's stomach growled loudly and echoed slightly in the apparently empty attic room. This sound was followed by a quickly stifled giggle that seemed to be coming from behind him. As he turned toward the sound and his trained eyes became more accustomed to the dark, the boy could barely make out that the wood grain in the wall behind him had a slight break in it. He followed the break around and recognized what appeared to be the outline of a hidden door.
"Lily! I have you now! Come on out! I'm serious!"
The giggle started up again and quickly expanded into a laugh. "No you're not. Remember, you're James. Honestly! I'll bet Sirius is downstairs at the table begging Grandmama to let him start eating without us."
"Ha...Ha...Very funny, Lily," James groaned at the oft-repeated pun on his oldest sibling's name. "Surely a newly appointed Head Girl such as yourself can come up with something better than that."
The disembodied voice of his sister seemed to be moving around behind the walls until it was coming from directly in front of him. "Oh, I'm sure I can, James. And don't call me Shirley."
James groaned again as he fell for the old family joke. "Wow. I walked right into that one, didn't I? What do I owe you this time?" In this branch of the Potter family, Tra tradition dictated that if anyone in the family was heard saying "the word," the first one to repeat "And don't call me Shirley," was able to claim a penance from the guilty party. None of the current Potter generation, at least, really knew why. It was just "tradition."
He winced as he considered what his punishment would be. Last time she had caught him saying "the word," he had to let her ride his recently acquired Lightning Bolt 2150 for a whole week - which ended up being the same week he had planned to hold summer Quidditch drills with his teammates. He began to plead with her. "Lily, please don't borrow my new broom again. I've GOT to get used to it AND get back in playing shape before school starts. If I show up to the first practice like I am now, I'm sure they won't let me be Quidditch Captain anymore."
"Hmmm...don't tempt me, James. If you weren't the Hufflepuff Captain this year, maybe Ravenclaw's team would have a chance at winning the Cup for the first time since you've been on the team."
"LILY! Please don't kid about that!" James' voice sounded a bit panicky even to him. "You're just being mean now, and Grandmama says the penance can't be intentionally cruel or harmful."
"Oh, don't worry, James. I know the rules. Grandmama taught them to me first, you know. Besides, there's something else I have in mind this time." Lily's voice had continued to move around so James couldn't get a fix on where she was hiding.
"Lily, come out where I can see you! You're hiding in the walls somewhere, right?"
"Very good, James. And I mean 'Good', as in 'Good guess, but incorrect'. Which leads directly to what you owe me. I want you to promise to not tell anyone about where and how you found me or what I'm doing up here, okay?"
James, who had been holding his breath waiting to hear his fine, quickly let it out with relief. "Is that all? That's so much easier than what you usually have me do." He had paid "the fine" to Lily many more times than she had paid him, and generally it was much steeper. The more James considered this apparent show of mercy from his older sister, the more he smelled a rat.
"Hey...wait a minute...you're up to something, aren't you? What did you find up here? Hidden treasure? Galleons? Old house elf heads? Come on, tell me - what is it?"
Lily remained out of James' sight, but her voice sounded like it was coming from next to his left ear. "Uh-uh...not until you promise."
"Not good enough, James. Say it all and mean it...and stop crossing your fingers."
Startled by being caught by his unseen sister, James jumped, "How did you know I was... oh, okay...I, James Cedric Potter, solemnly promise that I will not tell anyone where or how I found my sister..."
"...my beautiful, talented, and much smarter sister..." Lily's voice had a smirk in it now.
James sighed. "...my beautiful, talented, and much smarter sister..."
"...the wonderful and great Lily Minerva Potter, who will always beat you at this game no matter how hard you try."
James rebelled at this last instruction "HEY...you can't do that. Grandmama says..."
"Yes, yes, you're so quick with the 'Grandmama says...' whenever I catch you, but not so much the few times you've caught me. Okay, skip that last. But finish the promise and then I'll come out. Actually, you'd better start over. Knowing you you'll claim the promise isn't binding since I interrupted you before you finished it."
James was getting annoyed now. "What is this I'm hearing? Are you accusing me of plotting ahead to twist your words around to get out of a PROMISE? That's pretty rich, especially coming from you, Miss Smarty-knickers with her '…words can be interpreted in so many ways…' defence. Oh, whatever, Lily. I'm getting hungrier by the moment and arguing with you isn't going to get us down to the feast any quicker, so here goes."
James held up his wand and said quickly, "'I, James Cedric Potter, solemnly promise that I will not tell anyone where or how I found my annoying and swotty big sister or what she's doing sneaking around without permission here in the attic."
Now it was Lily's turn to complain from her hiding place. "Hey, watch it, little brother. I'll tell Grandmama on YOU if you're not careful."
"Yeah, but then you'd have to tell her what you had made me promise, and that would blow your whole secret, now wouldn't it?" James grinned in the glow of his lit wand tip. "Gotcha, Lily! Now come out here so we can go eat! PLEASE?"
"Pretty quick thinking there, little bro. Are you sure the sorting hat didn't offer to put you in Ravenclaw? Or were you just not quite up to Rowena's standards?"
James knew that Lily was just teasing him now out of habit, but he couldn't resist responding to her challenge. "No, Lily...remember I told you - my first evening at Hogwarts the Sorting Hat made it clear to me that 'the older Potter girl' was causing Ravenclaw house more than enough trouble. The hat then decided that a fine, loyal young man with a name like mine belonged in Hufflepuff so the houses would be in balance for a few years."
"Okay, little bro. You win. But before I come out, you have to close your eyes..."
"Stop kidding around, Lily. I already know where the secret door is. I saw it earlier." He looked back at the marks he had seen earlier in the wood grain and pointed his wand at the panel. "Come on out! And stop calling me 'little' - I'm a good four inches taller than you and you know it!"
The next thing he knew, he felt the tip of her wand in the middle of his back. "Nice try, little bro. You're really going to have to get your eyes checked if you thought that was the door." She laughed and reached up to give her brother a hug, which he quickly returned. "James, you'll never guess what I found up here!" she said excitedly.
"What is it, Lily? What did you find? And how did you find this room anyway?"
"Remember last week when we were playing hide-and-seek with all the cousins at your birthday party? It was the same day my Head Girl badge and our Hogwarts letters came - you have to remember that, right? Well, I was looking for a hiding place and as I was going through the entryway, I thought I heard something scuttling behind the baseboard. When I put my ear up to listen closer, I guess I must have brushed against a lever or something. The next thing I knew, I was in that stairwell. I climbed up just like you must have, and when I got to this room I started looking around. As I was feeling around on the walls searching for a lamp, I noticed my hand disappeared when I touched that wall over there - directly across from that fake door you spotted. I pulled my hand out and it seemed no worse for wear, so I tossed in a pebble I found on the floor. It disappeared too, but I heard it hit something that sounded like glass and bounce on the floor. I had to go investigate this further, and I walked on in with my wand lit and found the most...well, interesting things. You'll never believe it! Come here, let me show you!"
"Now just a second, Lily! You should know better than to go poking around in a strange dark room, especially in THIS house. I don't care how long it's been since...well... you know that bit of the Potter family history as well as I do. Grandmama always warns us not to go sticking our nose in places they don't belong each time we visit, remember?"
"Yes, James. I know the lecture by heart now. I've been hearing it longer than you have, you know. But, that doesn't matter. It's perfectly safe. I've spent a lot of time up here since then. In fact, I just finished with...oh, never mind. It is funny, though, that you mentioned the Potter family history. Oh, James, you've got to come and see." She grabbed her brother's wrist tightly and dragged him toward a dark section of the wall.
"Ouch! Okay, Lily...you win. Just let me keep my arm attached to my body! Now what is it that's so important?"
Lily and James both jumped as they heard an unexpected but familiar voice coming up the stairwell behind them. "Yes, Lily...just what is it that's so important that you feel it necessary to stick your nose in places without checking first?"
Together, they gulped as they realized who had caught them. "Grandmama Hermione! What are you doing here?
Hermione chuckled dryly as she lit her wand to illuminate the room. "Well, I live here, actually. Or had you forgotten? You, on the other hand, still haven't answered my question."
James and Lily looked at each other, then at their quite famous (and still a bit scary, to be honest) great-grandmother.
James cleared his throat carefully to speak. "Erm...well...Grandmama, it was like this... As you know, it was time for dinner a while ago. First Grandma, and then it seems like everyone else in the family asked me to go looking for Lily. After a while, I noticed a partial footprint leading into the wall downstairs, and, well, I'm sure you can figure out the rest. I found her up here and she...well...I promised I wouldn't say anything more. She caught me saying 'the word' again," he admitted with a sheepish grin.
The aged matriarch of the Potter family nodded, unsmiling, at James (while slipping in a quick wink that only he could see), and then turned her undivided attention to her great-granddaughter. "Lily Minerva Potter!" she said, mock-sternly. "What do you have to say for yourself, young lady? You should know the house rules by now. No one goes into any secret passages they may find in this house without first checking with an adult. You know quite well the allegiances of the original owners of this house. Don't think for a second that all of the 'dangerous attributes' they left here have been eliminated. Your great-grandfather and I left some of them in place on purpose. Keeps you on your toes - like a certain step on that staircase at Hogwarts does, right, Lily?"
Lily blushed until her face was almost as red as her hair as she quickly flashed back in her mind to a particularly embarrassing run-in the previous year with a trick step on one of Hogwarts' famous moving staircases. She had been returning late one Friday night from the prefect's bathroom wearing, well, not very much at all, actually-----‑--Peeves had hidden her dressing gown while she was bathing... it was VERY late and she was using the Marauder's Map to keep an eye out for anyone else in the corridors-when she forgot to jump.
She wasn't able to get free until the next morning. All night she was stuck between those steps, wearing nothing but a towel... barely big enough to not get in trouble with the Slytherin Head Girl who freed her, but small enough to be very memorable for those who saw her before that... which just so happened to be the entire (and, coincidentally, all-male) Ravenclaw Quidditch team. Which team "just happened" to be walking by on their way to practice-thanks to Peeves' not-so-subtle hints to the team captain, on whom she "just happened" to have a big crush.
"Grandmama Hermione! How did you know about that? Wait a minute... JAMES! You promised you wouldn't say a word to anyone!" she accused as her wand pointed threateningly towards her sibling.
James quickly started to declare his innocence, but he was interrupted by Hermione. "Young lady, your brother had nothing to do with it. Never mind about how I know about that, except to say that I still keep in touch with some old friends of mine at school. Now stop changing the subject. Tell me what you were doing up here."
Lily cleared her throat, took a deep breath, and started her explanation. "Well, it's like James said just now. It all started at his birthday party back on the 15th when all of us cousins were playing hide-and-seek after the owls delivered everyone's Hogwarts schedules and my Head Girl badge," she emphasized with obvious pride, "I was trying to find a very good place to hide from Aunt Rose's boy-"
"Which one?" James interrupted, half-sarcastically, half-humorously.
"Fred, of course," Lily replied with a quick grin.
"Takes after his namesake, that one does," Hermione agreed, amused. "But Lily, you brought that on yourself, you know. You've been his favorite cousin ever since you stood up to his older brothers and cousins and stopped them from teasing him last year. Follows you like a shadow, does he?"
"Yes, well, you know, Fred was trying to follow me wherever I went because he said I always find the best hiding places. Anyway, I had just lost him by doubling back in the lower hallway when I thought I heard something scuttling behind the baseboard and when I put my ear up to listen closer, I guess I must have brushed against a lever or something. The next thing I knew, I was in that stairwell...and to make a long story short, I found... well, some very interesting items in a large bookcase.
"Actually, I'm not quite sure just what is going on any more. Grandmama Hermione, would you care to explain to me the meaning of what I found up here? I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, don't you?" she said as her tone of voice had become more and more accusatory as she took a half-step towards her elder.
Hermione blinked at the conversation's sudden change in direction and said firmly. "Don't you take that tone with me, Lily! Just because you've been appointed as Head Girl this year doesn't mean you're not too old to be civil, especially in my house. I'm the one who is asking the questions here, not you."
Lily immediately realized just who she was challenging, in her own home no less, and while she was pretty sure her great-grandmother wouldn't get too upset with her, she didn't want to find out differently...the hard way. So she took a step back and said, somewhat meekly, "Yes, ma'am. I'm sorry, Grandmama Hermione. It's just that...well, I'm just really curious...and more than a bit confused..."
As her face softened into a slight smile, Hermione nodded thoughtfully. "Lily, I completely understand. That's how I felt when I first read those items all those years ago."
James, who had been quietly observing the rapid ebb and flow of emotions between two strong-willed women, finally raised his hand in exasperation. "Hold on, now! Remember me, James, over here in the corner? Could someone tell me just what you two are going on about, and what did Lily find in a bookcase that got her so upset?"
Lily paused, and then looked at Hermione. "Well, are you going to tell him or do you want me to?" When she realized that Hermione wasn't going to say anything, she looked at her brother, took a deep breath, and said, "Books. Well, books and two scrolls, actually."
James, who, for some reason, had been expecting to be told of something a little less mundane than books in a bookcase, blurted out, "Books and scrolls? Is that all? So what's the big deal, sis? You know that Grandmama Hermione has bookcases, books and scrolls EVERYWHERE in this house. She has something of a reputation along those lines, you know. Sort of like yours, Lily," he said, smiling fondly at his older sister.
"But the books are Muggle books, James. Most of them are about Grandpapa Harry and Grandmama Hermione...and the Weasley's...and the Longbottom's, when they were all at Hogwarts, back when Lord Voldemort was defeated. What's more, according to the publishing dates on those books, they are all well over 100 years old."
James looked thoughtful for a moment. "That would mean they were written around the same time that they describe, right? So, why would Muggles be writing books about our world back then? Weren't the secrecy laws as strict back then, Grandmama? How would a Muggle be able to write books about all that - at least without having their memory modified as soon as the Ministry got wind of it?"
Hermione looked at her progeny with a faint smile as she answered quietly. "Ah, James, as a Muggle author I'm quite familiar with said in his plays, 'and thereby hangs a tale.'"
Lily's eyes slowly lit up in recognition. "That's from that Muggle named Shakespeare, right? I remember studying something about him in Muggle school before I left for Hogwarts. I haven't heard much about him since - old Muggle playwrights aren't that popular of a subject for obvious reasons - even in the Muggle Studies classes. But just recently, (she said cautiously as she glanced at Hermione) I read a very interesting reference to another one of his plays - Romeo and Juliet, right?"
Hermione, whose thoughts were currently distracted by the memories of when she first read the books and scrolls Lily had found, sighed in exasperation at the mention of that class. "And that, my dear great-granddaughter, still frustrates me to no end. I'm sure you've heard that I've tried many times to have Hogwarts improve their Muggle Studies curriculum beyond the mundane aspects of 'how electricity works' and 'what is a rubber duck used for?' and ...wait...what did you just say about Romeo and Juliet?"
Lily stammered in embarrassment as she recalled a certain very personal scene that she had just read about a few days previous. "Erm...well... I just read the other day about...well, you and Great-grandpa Harry...at Hogwarts...just the two of you...having a picnic..."
James, who remained clueless about what was going on (since he didn't remember Shakespeare at all from his time in Muggle school) but was a very observant seeker, immediately noticed a change in Hermione's expression as Lily started talking. Her mature, slightly wrinkled, yet still striking features softened noticeably in the dim light of the attic. As he watched, he could almost swear that if it were brighter in the room he would see Hermione blushing to match Lily as she was obviously reliving an old memory. "Grandmama", he said quietly, "what is it? Who is this Shakespeare person, and who are Romeo and Juliet? Are they friends of yours?"
Hermione's face quickly turned unreadable as she came out of her reverie. In a soft voice she said, "Friends of mine...yes, James, I guess you could say they are friends of mine. In fact, you should think of them as friends of yours, too; since without them, you and your siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents most likely would not be here... at the very least you might not have had a last name of Potter."
Lily chuckled, "Yeah...if you can believe this, James, we'd probably all be members of Arthur and Molly Weasley's extended tribe of descendants through either Ronald or Ginevra Weasley from what I gather, right, Grandmama?"
At this, James' jaw dropped. "WHAT? We'd be directly related to a former Minister for Magic? There are sure a whole lot of kids at Hogwarts now that are related to him. I guess that makes sense - he was the one that had twelve kids, right? I know that Aunt Rose is one of his granddaughters, and two of my teammates are children of his grandsons. Now that I think about it, though, I'd rather be a great-grandson of his sister, who was one of the best witch Seekers to play Quidditch ever in the entire Wizarding World when she was in her prime! I wouldn't mind that at all, to be honest - she could probably give me a few pointers..." As he noticed Hermione's unhappy scowl, he quickly dropped that line of conversation and continued asking, "So how could either of those things happened? I'm still waiting for an explanation from SOMEBODY here about what you're both on about!"
Hermione couldn't help herself and let out an uncharacteristic giggle. "James, you sound just like your dad when HE found out about the library and its contents back when he was in school. I can still hear him shouting at the top of his voice 'RONALD WEASLEY?' he said, 'YOU MIGHT HAVE MARRIED THE MINISTER FOR MAGIC? AND GRANDPA MIGHT HAVE MARRIED GINEVRA WEASLEY, THE OWNER AND GENERAL MANAGER OF THE HOLYHEAD HARPIES?" And then, it was your older brother Sirius that said almost exactly the same words about 3 years ago."
At this, Lily began to protest. "WHAT! Dad AND Sirius both know about this room? Why haven't we heard about it before? I want to know where those books and scrolls..."
James, his frustration boiling over, joined in, "WHY THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU STILL GOING ON ABOUT BOOKS AND SCROLLS IN A LIBRARY, LILY? WILL SOMEBODY TELL ME...?"
Hermione stopped trying to stifle her giggles and started to laugh as she held up her hands. "STOP! Enough of this, you two! If you are patient and calm down, everything will be made clear to you soon enough. First, we have to go down and eat that wonderful meal that's waiting for us. I don't want anyone else to come up here looking for us and I'm sure they will if we don't get out of here quickly. I'd really hate to have to make this a major family meeting. But it's time for the two of you to learn some of the Potter family secrets."
As if on cue, they heard their mum's magically amplified voice calling for them from the entryway. JAMES, COME TO DINNER RIGHT NOW, WITH OR WITHOUT YOUR SISTER! IF YOU SEE GRANDMAMA HERMIONE, BRING HER TOO! WE'RE ALL STARVING AND DINNER'S GETTING COLD!"
"See what I mean?" Hermione said with a shrug as she saw the disappointment on the faces of Lily and James. "Don't worry... I promise I'll explain everything...well, everything I can explain, that is."
Tune in next time for our next exciting chapter -
Chapter Two- A Promise Rendered