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Sirius was not well for many months after the Yule Battle, as the newspapers had begun to call it. He was mentally sound as anything and often grew impatient with his own weakness, but whatever he had done -- and he refused to speak much about it, except in private, low-voiced conversations with Harry, who was at St. Mungo's often -- it had taken all of his strength and it was slow in returning. He was in hospital until spring had well and truly begun, and after that still walked slowly and tired easily.

Despite all of this, however -- or perhaps because of it, since he had little else to do -- he and Harry both took their NEWTs with the Hogwarts School seventh-years. Harry did adequately enough in a broad variety of subjects; Sirius passed with ridiculously high scores, bested only by Hermione. Moody grandfathered Ron into the Aurors and, to the surprise of many, Hermione joined their ranks as well.

Sirius was accepted to the St. Mungo's training program almost before he applied; he never did have to write the application essay they usually required. His secret ambitions had somehow got out during his sojourn in St. Mungo's, and he was there all the time anyway, so they might as well make it official.

That summer, however, he and Harry Potter mysteriously vanished.

When questioned, Remus Lupin couldn't say where they'd gone; he just shrugged and said they'd probably gone on holiday. Sirius showed up on time for his first day of training in the autumn, with a dark sun-tan and a healthy smile and an absolute refusal to answer any questions put to him. Harry began to be seen in Diagon Alley again and at Quidditch matches, including the first Hogwarts match of seventh year where Ginny Weasley fouled the Slytherin Keeper three times in four minutes, a new Hogwarts record, and was recruited for the Holyhead Harpies on the spot. Harry was seen to be sitting with Draco Malfoy and Neville Longbottom, both of whom were in for a second final year; Draco didn't seem very interested in Quidditch, but he was doing well enough in his studies.

After a year back teaching at Hogwarts, for which he claimed to be, and was, fully capable, Severus Snape turned in his resignation and founded a school of his own. A primary school. For werewolves. You could have knocked Minerva over with a feather. Remus, still teaching Dark Arts, merely grinned and pointed out that Severus would get on well with eight year olds; he really thoroughly understood their maturity level.

All of Wizarding Britain was set to talking about this bizarre new school, and really what could you expect from a man who lived openly with a werewolf -- only semi-literate and quite feral by all accounts, raised in the wilderness by that terrible Fenrir man who'd killed himself in prison. They said that very quietly, however, since Severus Snape's temper regarding the treatment of werewolves fast became legendary.

That was the second year of Sirius' Healer training, and Harry Potter still hadn't taken up a career, though he taught short courses in broomstick flying at Snape's school, and as long as the two men didn't have to actually speak to each other everything went rather smoothly. Arcadia proved to be an excellent go-between, but then she was an Alpha and used to soothing over the frets between packmates. Harry seemed content to do nothing, after having carried so much weight for so long. He read a lot, played pick-up Quidditch with the Hogwarts kids, helped Bowman tend his garden and visited often with Draco Malfoy, who had done fairly on his NEWTs -- better than he ever expected -- and was training to be a Ministry Dark Arts inspector. Malfoy was courting a Muggleborn woman who worked as a copyeditor in Luna Longbottom's department at the Quibbler, possibly to annoy his mother, who had got off with a few months in Azkaban (now Dementorless, which made it ever so much less trying) by agreeing to have her wand snapped. Lucius was still in prison, but Draco didn't visit him.

It was around this time that Colin Creevey, cub reporter for the Prophet, got a floo call at eight in the morning from Remus Lupin.

"Creevey, you may want to go down to the Wizengamot proceedings today," Remus said. "Bring your camera and a QuickQuotes and anyone else at that damn paper capable of intelligent discourse on politics, if there are any."

"All right," Colin said, sensing a scoop. "What's going on?"

"Well, Harry and Sirius will be there, and so will I, and Tonks and a few dozen of Arcadia's people, and maybe Snape if he can get away from the school," Remus said. "If you can't assemble it from that, you'll never make a proper investigative journalist. Nine-ish?"

"I'm on my way now," Colin promised, which is how an eighteen-year-old's name went out on the Wizarding Press wire when Professor Remus Lupin (O.M 1st, Hogwarts Deputy Headmaster) addressed the Wizengamot on the subject of the mistreatment of werewolves in British society and refused to leave the chamber until he was answered satisfactorily. The Werewolf Talks, as the history books called them -- but then what did they know; if they'd been accurate they'd have been called The Werewolf Shouting Matches -- went on throughout the year after that. They weren't easy on Remus or Arcadia, or Snape for that matter; every time he saw his nose made fun of by the political cartoonists, he flew into a fury and sent Howlers to the Prophet by the dozen. Remus grew resigned to always having wolf ears and a tail. Arcadia was very amused by it all and romped around in politics as if she'd been made for it, since she had nothing to lose and nowhere to go but up. Tonks gaily braved it out as well, since it's very hard to discomfit an Auror, and when Remus finally gave her a ring (small but pretty, using money he'd borrowed from Sirius) her mother united every woman in her upper-class, polite-society circle of friends against the Wizengamot. Some of them were in the Wizengamot, which made things even more exciting.

Two years after the Werewolf Talks began (as every child in third-year History of Magic class knows, having read Creevey and Potter's textbook on the subject), Apprentice Healer Sirius Black helped deliver Canis Theodore Lupin, son of Nymphadora Tonks and Remus Lupin, technically born illegally since the kid had the gall to be concieved without a permit.

The ensuing riot when members of the Wizengamot gave orders that the child was to be taken into government custody, and Minister Rufus Scrimgeour (who knew what side his bread was buttered on) refused to give his approval, involved the arrest of twelve Aurors who wouldn't budge from Tonks' door when MLE came for young Canis. Ron and Hermione Weasley were the most vocal of the lot, followed by Alastor Moody and Kingsley Shacklebolt. It looked especially terrible in the papers that Hermione, seven months pregnant herself because no contraceptive in the world apparently worked on Weasleys, was led away in handcuffs.

A few days later, the Wizengamot attempted to privately and quietly repeal a number of very embarrassing laws. It was a brilliant plan right up until the point where the Quibbler broke the story wide open. Colin never really forgave Luna for that scoop, even if he got to take the first photos of the squalling, red-faced baby who'd caused all the fuss.

The Academy for the Education of Young Lycanthropes began formal negotiations with Hogwarts School for the admittal of its pupils to those hallowed halls, and Severus was gratified when the first openly lycanthropic Hogwarts student to be sorted by the Hat went into Slytherin, where he thrived.

After time, even legendary feats and mythical heroes fade from the mind a little, which Harry Potter personally couldn't have been happier about. Of course it caused plenty of talk when he kissed Sirius at his graduation to Healer rather more passionately than Sirius thought proper, but the papers had learned that whenever they pressed Harry Potter, Harry Potter simply disappeared, so he was left more or less to his own devices. These often included Sirius, a portkey to the north of Scotland, and a week in a vacation cottage on the windy coast, cut off from the troublesome, complaining, argumentative world.

It wasn't that nobody would call Harry Potter names, since we like to see our heroes fall as often as thrive, but Harry simply refused to hear them.

Remus never quite got past the name-calling of politics, but on the other hand he didn't mind them too much. He didn't seem to be able to keep his hand out of politics, in fact; after the Werewolf Talks ended, he moved on to lobbying for increased funding for Hogwarts and partial Ministry subsidy for Snape's school. When he got that, he asked for reform of the Wizengamot selection process, and when he didn't get that, he talked Rufus Scrimgeour into taking him on as chief of staff, where he was a happy thorn in the side of everyone, indiscriminately. After teaching at Hogwarts for years, being the second in command to the Minister for Magic was a bit of a relief, actually.

Severus left the Academy in Arcadia's capable hands and went to teach Dark Arts as Remus' replacement, around the time Sirius began his in-depth work on Lycanthropy. In four years he had advanced the Wolfsbane potion considerably and in ten years had perfected it, but it would be another twenty years before his breakthrough. Even then the process of separating wolf from human only worked on those who truly put in the effort and were willing to stick it out, but the Black Process was offered free to every werewolf over the age of seventeen and made most of Remus' work for adult Werewolf rights obsolete.

Minister for Magic Remus Lupin took this fairly philosophically and declined to participate in the process on the grounds that he was a bit old now to be changing his ways, and the new Wolfsbane meant that he lost hardly two days to the full moon anymore, and could they please bugger off because he was trying to have a quiet dinner with his wife (MLE supervisor Tonks) children (Canis, Albus, and Andromeda) and friends (Harry and Sirius).

Harry Potter never got a regular job. He worked off and on for the Academy or for Hogwarts, occasionally helped out in the Minister's office, and could often be found working in the Black Lycanthropy Programme he helped to found, but he never had a steady salary or regular occupation. Unless one counted his collection of antique maps, which he grew to become quite an expert on.

Whenever anyone asked him if he was bored with his life, he smiled.

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