We're Getting Through This

Chapter 7

And Chapter 7 is up! Sorry for taking so long everyone, things have been a bit mad here. Hope you all enjoy and let me know what you think!

The days until the meeting passed in a whirlwind of answering letters and taking some more lessons in 'how to deal with stuffy, old farts' as Sirius eloquently put it. By the day of the meeting with Griphook and the Unspeakables, they had received three more letters – two witches and one wizard – who had asked to join the farm. One of the women apparently had worked on her family's farm until her condition had driven her away and Remus was eager to meet her and put their experiences together, despite what the man said he was very clearly taking charge of this. Theo had decided to stay at the manor and do some of his homework that he'd been putting off so at precisely ten am Sirius, Remus and Harry exited the fireplace into the personal office of Accounts Manager Griphook, overseer of the Potter accounts. Hunteroff – the Black Accounts Manager – was already there too, and the both of them sat at the long mahogany table that sat in the middle of the office with piles of folders and paperwork.

They both got to their feet and bowed low as the three of them stepped up and returned the gesture. It was unusual for the Goblins to be treated with such respect and despite no outward appearance of it, it helped warm them to the men.

"If we get the details of the lycanthropes out of the way first then we can discuss some of your account details." Griphook said as they returned to their seats, they nodded their assent and immediately piles of paper were pushed in front of them.

"Read."

Obeying quickly and quietly the next 10 minutes were spent reading through the various forms and reports that the two Goblins passed to them. All in all they could run a well oiled machine of an operation. The farm was perfectly able to take on its original role as a contributor to the agricultural industry and with Remus' sensible mind, they'd managed to come up with a solid business plan. The reports highlighted the different ways that they could percentage the farm up for dairy, crops and meat and they already had a few companies looking forward to their starting up. Harry's head spun with numbers and Sirius looked like his eyes were about to fall out of his head, neither had been prepared for the long discussion of Guernseys vs Red Poll.

"Having a consistent access to Wolfsbane will obviously improve their temperament and possibly make the changes easier though from your details it'll take them a while to get used to each other. Having a strong alpha there will no doubt ease the tensions but I wouldn't advise putting animals into place until you have all been there for a few months." Griphook said easily.

"Oh I'm no alpha, but thank you for the advice and I agree with it. Although one of the witches has a history of farming, I don't believe the others will and although I know that desperate people will do anything I also need them to understand this isn't just shelter its work as well."

"Excellent, I would say then that you can move in as early as August 10th if that is agreeable to you?"

"Most agreeable, also what do you mean about them needing a strong alpha?" Sirius asked quickly before Remus could speak.

"Well although it is true that most lycanthropes are lone wolves i.e. wolves without a pack. Some revel in the sense of family they can provide, I would have thought that in a situation such as this it would be better to establish an alpha early so that the others understand the orders and are easier to work with, plus it will provide them feeling a feeling of safety and security and so they will be more indebted and loyal." Hunteroff said.

"While that would work in a normal pack." Remus interjected hurriedly. "We are witches and wizards first, plus as I said I am no alpha and I would not want those who are beginning to trust us to feel like they would have to do everything I say."

"But you will be the boss." Harry commented calmly and with only a little confusion as he stared at Remus' worried face.

"What?"

"Well you will be, you will be the head of the entire organization. You're the boss, therefore wouldn't it make sense for you to be the alpha?"

"It doesn't work like that, Prongslet. As alpha I would be responsible for all the people there-"

"So like how you have taken care of classrooms full of kids plus me and Sirius?"

"I would have to make decisions-"

"Like the ones you made that helped get me away from the Dursleys and free Sirius?"

"I would have to be a part of them and trust them-"

"Like how you trusted me after 2 minutes back in the shack?" Sirius interjected smoothly as he studied his nails.

"Those were different! Those were about protecting my pack, I'm not a leader for heavens sake! No its not me-"

Before Remus could fully sink himself into the ramblings Harry interrupted him still slightly confused as to Remus' refusal.

"Moony, you got this. You are already an alpha, you care about things, you protect people and always ensure other people's comfort before your own. You're assertive and stand up to others when they represent a threat but still take the time to nurture and be gentle."

"You're also confident in your abilities and have never felt the need to prove anything; you lead by example and are comfortable with your way of doing things. You know what is best for your pack. Try and ignore it as much as you want, but you're an alpha." Sirius finished with a smile at his best friends gobsmacked expression.

Remus – who had risen at some point during his defence – slowly sunk back into his chair as he tried to think of any other excuses. He had none.

"But…no?"

"If you don't mind me saying so sir, I think you would make a good alpha and can deal with problems rather well." Hunteroff said barely glancing up from his papers.

"In other words, you are fucking excellent so get over yourself." Sirius translated.

"I need to think about it, can we move on now please?"

"Fine, but you will think about it hard! Now how are the rest of our projects coming along?"

"The muggle investments are doing well, you have made quite a sum already and I have a few more recommendations to other companies that seem interested in your patronage of their supplies. The magical side is also doing well and I wish to know how willing you are to go overseas?"

"Very."

"Excellent, I will begin to get in touch with our American cousins. Your cruise ship line idea has merit but I do not think you have thought it through enough, the horse racing is much better idea though it is extraordinarily difficult to start rearing and training etc. Most of the stables that are used in the big competitions are already well ready cemented within that community and its hard to break into it however if you have a solid champion, everyone will want to see you put your money where your mouth is. If you used your title it would no doubt boost your standing."

"Everyone loves a title." Sirius said with a twist of his lips that no where near resembled a smile.

"Indeed. Although you turned it into a riding centre the ranch in Montana could be an excellent way to start, would you like me to formally draw up a business plan?"

"Please, I can always decide to stop it."

Hunteroff made another note.

"Your homes have all been renovated and completed; here is the list. The buildings are clean and mostly empty though I have ensured that they have all been warded against damages and certain spell fire."

"Excellent, thankyou very much for your foresight."

Hunteroff nodded his head dismissively, already scribbling on some parchment.

"Now Harry, for your investments we have the same sort of news, they appear to be doing well. Some of the stocks are doing their usual rising and falling but they can be left alone to do their own thing. The muggle side is doing slightly better but you have more of them so are there any changes you wish for me to make?" Griphook started.

"Not at present, the reports you've been sending me have kept me happy for you to continue."

"Very well, now as for the Dursleys and Dumbledore, we have made some progress as to their crimes. For the Dursleys, the men are safely tucked away in their detention facilities. The son taken in by drugs and violent behaviour and the father by extortion and assault of a police officer. The mother is still living with the aunt but her job market is narrowing as her attitude keeps getting her fired. Their bank account is seriously diminished due to their continuous use of lawyers and we have allowed only a limited withdrawal ability, however due to the circumstances I hoped you would allow us to press charges against them for their treatment of you?"

Immediately Harry stiffened and glanced away. His thoughts whirled in his head; the idea of anyone finding out about his past made his stomach roll, plus he would have to face them…

When he zoned back into the room he found Remus and Sirius watching him with concerned expressions while the goblins were still making notes on other things.

"What uh…what exactly would that process be?"

"Well, we would first ask Mrs Dursley in for questioning, see what she has to say for herself and then we can discuss the charges be brought against her. Once they have been submitted, we will need to take statements from you and also Mr Dursley and Dursley junior, then it will be a matter of time and getting a trial etc."

Harry was quiet. Remus and Sirius exchanged looks but neither opened their mouths, determined to let him come to his own decisions and come to them if he needed to.

They need to understand what they did was wrong…but they've already gone through a lot…they never tried to look after me…but they didn't want me…they kept me alive…hardly living…a part of them must have at least cared even a small amount…they hated you…what did I do to them… changed their lives forever…

The thoughts went round and round and his head dropped lowed and lower until he was staring down at his hands in his lap and fiddling with his fingers. He knew what his guardians would want him to do, and all his friends too. But he just wasn't sure.

Eventually he looked up, his eyes a dull green that held so much worry.

"I think I need to think about it a bit more, if that's okay?" He said directing his question more to Sirius than Griphook but they both nodded, with Sirius giving him a small but understanding smile.

"Course Prongslet, you take as long as you need and we'll respect your decision either way, okay."

Nodding jerkily Harry turned his attention back to the diminutive creature and motioned him to move on.

"On to Headmaster Dumbledore then, he has been keeping up with the payments back to your family vault. We also managed to part him from several of the books that he took as well as furniture –"

"The furniture?!" Echoed Remus looking baffled.

"Yes it turns out he also took a few paintings and rugs. They have all been returned and he has been charged."

"I thought the Dumbledore family was moderately wealthy?" Sirius asked.

"Oh no, their wealth has dwindled too very little. It is only because of his positions that Albus Dumbledore has managed to create the illusion that he lives in luxury."

"You said he is being charged?" Harry asked.

"Yes Harry, we have added interest to anything he tries to hide or convince us that your parents gave him. Would you like us to press charges against him for his treatment against you?"

"Well he's lied but what charges could you bring against him?"

"We could get him for numerous crimes against you, he placed you in an abusive or at least neglectful situation. He refused to have your godfather investigated and blocked your family's will therefore conducive to line theft, which the purebloods will take extremely seriously. Then we have circumstances that certainly aren't right, his inability to stop the troll, basilisk and dementors those will all have him thrown away for a very long time. We also have the physical theft that although he is paying back, we could still bring his crimes against him." Griphook listed as he shuffled papers and slipped a few in front of the green-eyed teenager who examined it closely.

"He is a more prestigious position; people should be aware of his backhanded success." Sirius said and held up a hand to Harry who looked ready to reject that. "I understand you needing to think about the Dursleys but this is different. This is a man, a man of power and authority who is in charge of making many important decisions. He needs to have the trust of people in order to work and so far he has broken that trust again and again. Think about what Daphne has said, he purposefully put a dangerous artifact in the middle of a school! And had it surrounded by 'trials' that were completely inappropriate where children might come across them. Its not right that someone like that should be allowed to carry on not feeling the consequences of their actions and I do hope you realise that."

"That was actually very impressive, Messer Padfoot."

"Thank you Messer Moony. Now lets move back to you to let Prongslet have a think about what to do about Dumbles."

Remus sighed and leaned back in his chair.

"Okay I understand why in theory it would work but I honestly don't think it will in practical. People with lycanthropy…its like being with kids, its….well it's a whole other set of instincts and understandings of how our minds work. Its not like being a teacher and that set of responsibilities its more to do with understanding how we work and constantly fighting with our inner selves."

"Sounds like puberty to me." Sirius muttered and was shot a withering glare by his friend.

"My point is that I just don't think I would be the right person for it. Besides especially in England the biggest pack is that of Fenrir Greyback who has always been vocal over the about his love of flesh etc. To come to me, to side with me would be going directly against his word and then to add the insult of being in charge. I don't think many people would appreciate that of me. I just need to think a little more about it. Please?"

Sirius was quiet for a beat before nodding slowly.

"Alright Moony, but these people they do need a leader, not nessarily one to tell them what to do but someone they can come to. Someone who will listen and talk with them and also protect them. We want this organisation set up and set up fast, they need one."

And with that meaningful comment Sirius turned back to Hunteroff to discuss the removal and reinsertion of possible family members; something Remus knew he'd been dying to do but hesitant until he and Harry were more situated and protected. He turned to see his nephew watching him carefully, the green eyes bright once more and he reached over to place his hand on his shoulder.

Remus nodded his thanks which Harry returned before turning back to the papers in front of him.

Half an hour later the three of them were heading out into the brilliant sunshine of Diagon Alley and after stopping in a few of the shops to pick up some goodies they carried on their journey to the Ministry of Magic.

"Well, this will be interesting." Remus said as the three of them stood in front of the bright red telephone box.

"Huh…did it get smaller?" Sirius asked as he walked around it, inspecting it closely. "We used to get in it no problem."

"Honestly this country, first shrinking the telephone boxes and tomorrow we'll all go mad. Right Harry you're the smallest so get into the back there, squish up right by the phone."

"You know apart from the sharp think digging into my side this is actually a perfectly adequate space."

"Enough of your cheek…oh good grief you're right, nice view out the window too."

"I wouldn't know, your shoulder is covering it." Came the dry response.

"Oh here."

"That's my foot, Pads."

"Oops, well never mind, Moony hurry up would you? Prongslet is getting tetchy."

"You stepped on my foot!"

"See what I mean!"

"Alright alright, move just an inch left Padfoot, left…left…you're still going right!"

Eventually all three of them managed to find suitable positions and the door was closed.

"Well I can't reach." Harry said blandly, his glasses slightly lopsided.

"Oh yeah I forgot that bit." Sirius said as he wrestled his way closer to the machine and pressed the relevant buttons.

"Welcome to the Ministry of Magic, please state your name and purpose."

"Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Harry Potter. Unspeakable meeting."

"Thank you, please take the badges and attach them to the front of your robes."

A small clatter occurred and Sirius handed the others a small black badge with their names and Unspeakable meeting written on it. With a woosh the box simply fell through the ground and Harry only had a split second to see the darkness around them before they landed in the lobby.

Exiting quickly, they paid no attention to those around them and hurried through the crowd, avoiding the looks and gasps that still occurred as they headed towards the gilded lifts. Entering the first one that arrived they waited quietly ignoring the two men that stood in the corner who seemed more interested in discussing the new filing system than checking their surroundings and eventually a blessed silence arrived as they left and the lift carried down with the three occupants.

Entering the stillness of the corridor that belonged to the Unspeakables they immediately smiled at the four that stood in front of them.

"Good to see you guys again." Harry said sincerely as he shook Vexmoors hand and then the others.

"Well we knew you would be despairing for our company." Arrans said with a wink. "How are you feeling though?"

"Surprisingly good, we're getting through it."

"Glad to hear it, now we do have some vague ideas on the sort of exercises you can do that we wanted to run past you before your birthday just so you can prepare yourself."

"Thanks, we appreciate it." Sirius said as he wrapped an arm around his godson's shoulders. Harry didn't complain, seeing the worry in the grey eyes.

They walked along the vast corridor to a similar room to their last conference. A long table with pieces of parchment scattered around and a few blackboards, ready and waiting for any and all notes that wished to be written. Biscuits were already waiting in the middle of the table.

"Everyone take a seat. Killick has been heading up the investigation so she will take lead on this, any questions before we start?"

All three quickly shook their heads and Killick began.

"We have already decided it likely that he would have made more than a few horcruxes. I believe that using you as an anchor we would be able to trace the others, it wouldn't be a completely painless procedure but it certainly won't be as painful as the removal of it completely. The theory of it is quite easy; all the horcruxes will have a piece of Riddle's soul, based on that we can use a rather old and not exactly light spell to follow the essence of it. However if you would like to get rid of it straight away I totally understand and we can do it but will need to receive help from the goblins."

"Any reason?"

"Goblin magic is much older and has more strength connected to body, mind and soul etc. We will naturally be contributing to it but the way of removal is equivalent to ripping a piece from you, also the Goblins will have more of an idea of removal and containment of an evil spirit as humans haven't been allowed to do that for decades due to it being closely linked to dark magic."

"I think I'd like to trace first, although I want to get it out of me. If it does help us track down the others then its better in the long run." Harry said a tad gloomily and he saw his guardians look as happy as he did.

"Will Riddle be able to tell what we are doing? Or at least sense from his other horcruxes that they're being traced?" Remus asked.

"I'm afraid I can't answer that 100%; I don't believe so. Partly because they're split from him and unlike Harry who is a person whose emotions he could feel and get visions from and vice versa, the others are certainly inanimate objects that he won't feel anything from. The only thing I would be worried about is Harry's occlumency, I would estimate that you're either back to your original level or just under?"

"Yes, though I have been practicing with some more borders and strengthening the shields."

"Well if it's alright with you I'd like to have a spar with you to test it. When we do the tracing Riddle might be able to feel something from you and investigate and that would put an end to all our plans."

Harry nodded in understanding.

"What happens then?"

"We begin hunting, it won't be easy and no doubt Riddle will have placed several protective charms around it but we will do our best, we thought it would be a good idea to recruit a curse-breaker or two. We think he may have gone as far to spread them around the globe, we know as a young man he spent time in Albania."

Again Harry nodded, his mind sifting through through his last run in with the Dark Lord.

"Everything alright Prongslet?" Sirius asked noticing his godsons lack of attention.

Harry turned to look at him or more through him before the green eyes focussed on Killick.

"Are you so sure that the horcruxes are objects?"

Killick frowned, leaning back in her chair, eyes steady on the man in front of her.

"We're as sure as we can be, while it is obviously possible to make live beings horcruxes it would be dangerous if they came into contact of anything. And he'd probably want to keep it close to him. Why?"

A whisper of a conversation came to him.

"You're so sure, you'll find her alive?"

Another pause.

"I am sure of it.

Riddle had definitely hesitated. Harry was certain of it.

"In the graveyard, I jeered at Tom. That his pet snake had been killed, he said he would have known. I don't know if its just because it was his familiar but something about it just made me wonder."

Now it was Killicks turn to think carefully as she nodded absentmindedly, her mind running over the possibilities and the repercussions of what it meant.

"It is entirely possible, from what I remember from the memory its not exactly a small snake. Either an exotic species that has brought over or as you theorise maybe something has been done to it to make it more protected or defensive. Perhaps becoming a horcrux gave it a little extra something." Killick mused as she pulled some parchment over to her and began to scribble as her mind started to go down different paths.

"Do you have clues on what the other horcruxes could be?" Remus asked his eyes on Killick as she quietly muttered to herself.

"Not really, we have vague theories but nothing we can be sure of. The diary was a personal piece so it stands to reason that he might carry on down that route but from what we have gathered of his past life there really isn't anything else."

"Meaning?"

"Well he grew up in an orphanage and stayed their during all the holidays, he had friends but none of them close while he was at Hogwarts and when he turned 18 and could legally leave he travelled until Tom Riddle disappeared and Lord Voldemort appeared. We know he went back and murdered his father and grandparents obviously but apart from that there is nothing that we have come across that he might wish to keep. In all honestly it could be anything."

"So its less going to be a treasure hunt and more an anything hunt?" Sirius said blandly as he picked up a coffee cup and examined it closely. Harry's lips twitched at that though he now realised how long of an undertaking this would be.

"You said you have theories?" Remus asked also with a small grin as he watched his friend.

"Bearing in mind this is only a theory." Cautioned Vexmoor as she leaned forward. "We found out recently that for a few months Riddle worked in Borgins and Burkes in Knockturn Alley. After some negotiating Borgin revealed that he was very interested in heirlooms not his own but that of the founders."

"The founders?"

"Of Hogwarts, they each had their own heirloom that is present in their portraits and provided them with a additional powers – at least according to legend."

"What are they?" Harry asked eagerly.

"Gryffindor had his sword, Slytherin, a locket, Ravenclaw had her diadem and Hufflepuff, a golden cup. Hufflepuff is the only one that people really know about, it was passed through her descendants to the Smiths but Hepizbah Smith was found murdered and the box that contained the cup was gone."

"How did she die?"

"The house elf took full responsibility, apparently she mistakenly put poison in her mistresses tea."

"But you doubt that?" Sirius asked noting the derision in Vexmoors voice.

"Certainly, a house elf making such a careless mistake. Not possible but there is unfortunately no other explanation, Riddle had disappeared from Burins and no one even considered him a suspect because as far as they were aware he knew nothing about the Smiths having it."

"What about the others?"

"Disappeared over time. The diadem is lost and has been for centuries now though some think it was her daughter who stole it. The locket was also passed down through family, this time ending up with the Gaunts, after the daughter became pregnant she stole it and sold it to Burke where it got brought by Hepzibah Smith."

"That is way too much of a coincidence, right? I mean come on, he finds out its his heirloom and Smith has another! Then she's dead and he's disappeared."

"Yes we know but there is no proof, we don't even know if Riddle knew Smith had the locket let alone the cup."

"But that's just-"

"Sirius! We can't do anything about it right now, what about the others?"

"The sword is enchanted, it vanishes and appears when it feels as though its necessary for a true Gryffindor. Or at least one that embodies everything Godric Gryffindor stood for."

"But where does it vanish to?" Harry asked in confusion.

"Only magic knows that." Robins said with a wink.

"So hyperthetically, that could never be turned into a horcrux? Because it would go against the beliefs that…that the sword holds? Or Gryffindor holds?"

"Interesting question, and to be honest I don't know the answer to that. However we know its not a horcrux otherize when you stabbed the Basilisk it would have destroyed it, so there is no point in speculating."

"The sword has Basilisk venom on it, right?" Remus suddenly asked.

"I think Dumbledore would have cleaned it by now, or at least one of the house elves. Can't imagine they'd let all that blood and venom drip about." Sirius joked with a theatrical shiver.

"Actually that's not how it works, like I said the sword is enchanted, its goblin made and actually absorbs substances that make it stronger. Legend says it has unicorn blood and sprite magic."

"So theoretically the sword could now have basilisk venom?"

Vexmoor shrugged.

"Theoretically."

"I know what you're thinking and yes theoretically it could be used to destroy them but we need to actually find them first." Killick said, finally looking up from her papers that we covered in small details that Harry could only just make out that it was English.

"Still its an option we should keep open and available, right?" Sirius asked.

"Definitely." Arrans responded. "We're going to find them, its just going to take time and patience."

"How exactly is tracking them going to work?" Harry asked in interest, taking his eyes off of one Killicks papers that had various runes over it.

"This is all still hearsay so don't get your hopes up but we believe it'll give us a more specific location of where they will be. The goblins are the ones with knowledge and they naturally did not feel inclined to give us any more information but the essence of it is that using your mind as a sort of gateway they will be able to reach out into Riddles and retrieve information. It's a mix of legimency and warding that will allow them to do it. Of course if it doesn't go as planned they are under rather strict instructions to simply remove the piece."

"Really?" Harry asked, slightly surprised. "I mean if it doesn't work the first time, I'm happy to do it again."

"I'm not." Came Sirius reply as he shot a glare at his nephew and seeing Harry about to speak Remus quickly jumped in.

"Harry remember what they said last year, this is the equivalent to ripping a part of your soul. This is no simple procedure this is difficult and hard and who knows how long it will take you to recover. Please understand this is one of the parent dilemmas of trying to keep you safe."

Harry swallowed his words and nodded in understanding.

"Its not that we don't think your strong enough or anything like that, its just…well you have a dark lords soul inside you!" Sirius said with a very high pitched voice and Harry felt a sliver of guilt at the panic in his Godfathers eyes. "We just…I need it out of you, we're doing it your way first but after please just get rid of it." He begged and Harry moved to wrap him in a hug that Sirius desperately returned.

"I will Padfoot." Still within his guardians embrace he turned to Vexmoor who had a grim look on her face. "If it can't be traced…"

"It will be removed." She said firmly.

"Few more weeks Padfoot and then it'll either be gone or we'll be one step closer to getting rid of Riddle. We're getting through it."

They were all quiet for a spell as the family of three got their heads around it, then Harry looked up.

"You guys said you weren't really sure about what the horcruxes are? Do you have any theories on where they could be?"

"Again, only theories." Robins said as he waved his wand at one of the blackboards and 'locations?' appeared on it with several places under it, one of them being Riddle Manor. "We need to think of places that someone would want to put a personal object and have no doubt about its security, we also need to think of the possibilities of it being moved by any unfortunate soul and what protections might be surrounding it. It was Arrans who suggested Riddle Manor, it would be like displaying his birth right as well as his power and viciousness. I suggested Gringotts, its always been said you'd have to be mad to try and steal something from there so I think he's hidden one deep in a vault, but then I remembered that he originally gave one to Lucius Malfoy; one of his inner circle. I don't think it would too far of a stretch to think he's given one to another fanatically loyal servant."

"Bella." Snarled Sirius almost immediately and began pacing at Robins nod.

"Not only is she intently loyal to him she is also a Black and they are known to having the best and most severe protections ar0und themselves and their vaults."

"But still only a theory." Harry said and Robins shrugged.

"All of this is only theory. "

"Then I think I have another one."

"Please share." Arrans said and they all watched as Harry waved his wand to the board.

"Hogwarts, huh…" Killick said in slight surprise. "Explain."

"Its home, it was his first home. You said it yourself he hated the orphanage. Hated returning there. Hogwarts was his birthright, proof that he was special, proof that he could be somebody."

"But it's a school." Robbins said delicately not wanting to rain on his parade.

"Its more than that." Harry said determinedly. "I…I understand his determination for staying at Hogwarts, I think if we're saying he would want to keep a piece at the Manor I think Hogwarts should be a theory too, so much protection and people lose things there all the time."

"Leave it up." Vexmoor said as she looked at the blackboard. "I agree with Harry that it is at least a possibility."

They kept up the discussion of location for another half an hour eventually agreeing that there was little to be done but agreeing that Killick and Vexmoor would go to Riddle Manor before the birthday celebrations and at least examine the area.

"I suppose that's all we can do at the moment, feels like we've hit a wall." Robbins said as he leaned back in his chair and pressed his fingers to his temples.

"Then moving on, how is everything else going? Is everything planned for the parties?" Arrans said brightly.

Sirius eagerly leapt into the discussion of the celebrations, showcasing his organizational skills that had actually involved speaking in rather enthusiastic tones until Remus merely spelled a dicta quill to follow him around. Now though Sirius was explaining in great detail how he had chosen aqua over turquoise and why. Harry injected with comments to the delight of Arrans who enjoyed seeing the two of them interacting in such a familial way and Robbins occasionally making a sarcastic comment.

This left Vexmoor to watch Remus as he smiled at his family but something swirled in his hazel eyes that made the Unspeakable ask him if he was alright.

The former professor sighed heavily and turned slightly as though to shield their conversation from the others.

"They want me to be the Alpha…for the farm."

Vexmoor nodded slowly.

"And you don't think you'd be a right fit?" She asked hesitantly.

"Its not that exactly…to be honest I can't really explain why I just don't know."

"If you don't mind me saying Remus, it sounds more like your fear of it rather than your inability to be one."

Remus considered it and tilted his head in a rather self-pitying expression.

"That actually makes a rather lot of sense. I've spent my whole life trying to push this side of me away and now I'm…I'm welcoming it. It doesn't feel right, to be honest."

"Understandable, it's a part you don't trust."

"Whats that suppose to mean?" Remus said feeling stung.

"Well if you keep pushing it away instead of embracing that part of you, doesn't it stand to question that you're always wrestling with it. Fighting it? And that is because you don't trust that side. You don't trust yourself."

Remus stared at her in disbelief.

"I do trust myself." His statement sounded weak to his own ears and so he tried again. "The last few months with Sirius have helped tremendously. It no longer hurts and I accept what is being done. Doesn't that show that I trust myself?"

"No, it shows that you're reluctantly comfortable with it." Vexmoor said sharply. "You just said it yourself its only been when your with Sirius and you 'accept it'. You don't communicate with that side, you don't have a bond with it, you merely have stopped forcing it not to occur. That certainly does not sound like trust, so why would you feel even the slightest bit comfortable with being an Alpha."

There was silence and Vexmoor leaned over to question Harry on his cake skills while Remus carried on doing his impression of a fish while Killick watched in vague amusement. His thoughts were a whirlwind, warring with what he knew about himself and what he always feared. He had never wanted to be in charge because he never thought of himself with that amount of confidence. Could the Unspeakable be right? He thought he knew himself quite well, but did he trust himself…?

Yes I do. I have confidence in myself and even if I lean on others I know I can trust my decisions and my actions. Maybe it'll take more time to be completely comfortable with a of me but I certainly do trust myself.

He thought, nodding decisively to himself as he looked back up and caught the eye of Vexmoor who looked back at him with a gleam in her dark eyes that made him suddenly wonder if she was only baiting him all this time.

"I do trust myself, but you're right that I don't feel comfortable with it. However I know what I can do and I know who to turn to and trust as they do with me, and I can certainly adapt and become more at one with time and patience."

"So what will you do?" The unspeakable asked.

"I'm going to be Alpha."

She nodded at him, a rare quirk to her lips before turning back to the cake Sirius wanted to get Harry. Remus watched all this with a pleased smile, a feeling of warmth and strength in his chest and he swore just for a second he felt his wolf shift happily inside.

One step at a time. He warned. And we'll get through it.