Chapter Forty-one: Two-Way Mirrors
I'M BAAAAACK! I'm so sorry about this wait - my computer decided to all but fail on me, so I'm using Google Docs until further notice! Please continue to be patient with me, and thanks a million to everyone who has been patient with me so far! A big shout-out to my reviewers: HarleyQuinnSuperWhoLockHP, NicoleR85, NatNicole, elijahlover, Lorien Legacy, paulavara140, and Flamedangeres (Guest)! You guys are amazing, and I love you to pieces!
As always, read, enjoy, and review! Thanks!
The remainder of Christmas Break was spent sending letters back and forth to Theo and Tracey, playing quiet games or reading with everyone in Grimmauld Place, and flat-out ignoring what would happen after the break was over. As much as I hated the idea, we'd have to go back to Hogwarts and slide ourselves neatly back under Umbridge's thumb once we got there. I talked to Harry about it once, and we agreed that if it wasn't for the D.A., we would have begged Uncle Sirius to let us go somewhere else for school.
The final day of the break gifted us with a slap in the face concerning our reality at school. Mrs. Weasley had called Harry downstairs in the middle of an epic Wizard Chess match and said that Snape wanted to talk to him. Everyone in the room looked like she'd asked Harry to walk downstairs and stick his head in a guillotine that she'd hidden in the kitchen. I tried to sneak downstairs after Harry to eavesdrop, but Mrs. Weasley caught me and sent me back upstairs with a pointed glare. Unfortunately, we couldn't use the Extendable Ears that the Weasley twins had created because Mrs. Weasley had renewed the Imperturbable Charm on the kitchen door.
We were very pleasantly surprised by Bill arriving home with a newly-cured Mr. Weasley in tow. Everyone erupted into cheers and hurried downstairs to start a celebratory lunch, only to find Harry clearly trying to keep Uncle Sirius and Snape from going at each other's throats.
"Merlin's beard," Mr. Weasley said as he surveyed the situation, "what's going on here?"
It wasn't until Snape swooped out of the kitchen with a tight-lipped, "Six o'clock Monday evening, Potter," that I realized that I'd had my hand on my wand the whole time and had been holding my breath. I didn't know what it had been, but Snape had actually frightened me and I really didn't like it.
"What happened, Uncle?" I asked seriously, looking him right in the eye.
"Nothing, Reggie," he replied, panting as if he'd just sprinted a long distance, "just a friendly little chat between two old school friends …" With what seemed to be an immense effort, he gave Mr. Weasley a small grin. "So … Arthur, you're cured? That's great news, really great …"
The dinner Mrs. Weasley made was absolutely superb, but the meal itself was marred by the tension created by Uncle Sirius's almost bipolar behavior. When he wasn't forcing himself to laugh at Fred and George's jokes or offering more food to anyone who dared to have an empty plate at his table, he was allowing his face to adopt a darkly moody expression, much like Harry's had been at the beginning of the year. I made sure to stay close so I could play the role of hostess when Uncle Sirius was busy brooding, but I'm almost certain I was unable to distract anyone from my uncle's behavior.
After dessert was finally finished, I'd forced Mrs. Weasley to go spend some time with her husband while Uncle Sirius and I took care of the dishes. I did the scrubbing while Uncle Sirius used his magic to dry and put away the dishes. I waited until I heard a quiet but deep sigh from Uncle Sirius to broach the topic.
"Wanna explain what that was all about?" I asked, keeping my gaze on the dishes as I scrubbed. "I know I'm just a kid, but I want to know what's going on with my family, so don't you dare say –"
"Reggie," Uncle Sirius said tiredly. "Do we really have to talk about this now?"
Fed up with his juvenile pouting, I slammed a pot I was scrubbing back into the sink and turned around.
"You know what?! Yes! Yes, we bloody well have to talk about this now, because I'll be gone after breakfast tomorrow and I don't have the time or the patience to sit here and wait for your childish, pain-in-the-ass behavior to stop in order to have an intelligent, grown-up conversation with you! You are a grown-ass adult – start acting like it, and talk to me, DAMMIT!"
Uncle Sirius blinked and stood up straight as he peered at me.
"You've never sworn this much before," he said quietly.
"So you know how bloody fed up I am!" I retorted. "Honestly, you're worse than Harry was at the beginning of the year, and that's saying something! We couldn't go a single day without him jumping down our damn throats, yelling and accusing and not letting anyone talk – and when he wasn't doing that, he was sitting in a corner, brooding so damn badly I was sometimes worried about leaving him alone! And you – you're either bouncing off the walls with this … frighteningly infectious joy or you're sulking in Buckbeak's room like a spoiled teenager or you're brooding in full view of company! There's no in-between for you, and when Harry or I try to talk to you and help you, you treat us like shit, shove us away and continue what you're doing even though you say you're fine! You think I haven't noticed the 'fits of the sullens' you've been indulging in since New Year's?! Well, wake up, Uncle, because I am so sick and tired of your attitude and of being one of the adults in this little family! It's like Harry and I are taking care of you, and you're supposed to be our guardian, NOT THE OTHER BLOODY WAY AROUND!"
Uncle Sirius stared at me in shock as I fought with every ounce of self-control I had to stop myself from crying. I had been holding all of this back for a couple of weeks now, and now that everything was out on the table, it seemed like all of my emotions were wanting some attention too.
"Reggie, I … I had no idea …" Uncle Sirius gasped as he stepped forward.
"I just want to be a kid, Uncle Sirius!" I said, finally giving up on my tears and letting them fall. "I … I'm only fifteen years old, and I already know how to clean blood out of jeans and T-shirts, how to cook a good meal with almost-bad food from the garbage, how to get out of drugstores with what I need but can't afford, how to hide things I don't want the wrong people to find … I shouldn't know how to do all this! I should be going to rock concerts just to lose my voice with cheering and flirting with stupid boys just to see them blush and learning how to drive just to go on a joy-ride and-and … complaining about how much homework I have and … and …"
I burst into tears when I found myself wrapped up in my uncle's loving embrace. Despite how hard I was crying, I could tell he was falling apart too, so I squeezed him even tighter. I don't know how long we stood there, holding each other and crying, but when we finally let go of each other, I was emotionally and physically exhausted. Uncle Sirius whipped out a handkerchief and started wiping my tears away, kissing me on the forehead when he was all done.
"You're right," he said heavily. "You are just a kid and I … well, I've been acting too much like one for my own good."
We went and sat down at the table hand-in-hand before Uncle Sirius started talking. He told me about his past relationship with Snape and how he admittedly hadn't treated Snape very well (for which I gave him a very pointed look) and how Snape never really seemed to be able to let go of what happened during his school years and how he seemed intent on making Sirius's life miserable.
He even told me what had happened in the meeting with Snape today. He seemed rather put out as he told me about how Snape had shown up earlier with a letter from Dumbledore saying that Harry had to learn Occlumency this year. When I asked what Occlumency was, Uncle Sirius described it as a magical method of blocking mental intrusion, which made sense as to why Harry needed to learn it. Despite how cool it was for Harry to have a way into Voldemort's mind, it was entirely possible that the connection was a two-way street. Harry had already told me how he felt like darkness was inside him, and now that I thought about it, it was possible that some of Voldemort's emotions and thoughts were bleeding into Harry.
Then Sirius talked about how Snape had spent the entire meeting sneering at him and putting him down, emphasizing how useless he was, sitting in Grimmauld Place and just cleaning or wallowing away instead of actively doing something for the Order of the Phoenix. As he talked about that, I saw him getting more and more depressed, which inspired me to do something about it.
"How would you like consulting with the D.A.?" I asked, grinning when I saw the surprise on his face.
"What about the others?" Uncle Sirius asked. "They don't know … who I am, what really happened …"
"I'll talk to Harry and the others about it," I said, "but if we can convince the others that you were framed, would you be interested?"
"I … yes!" Uncle Sirius gasped with a face-splitting grin. "Yes, of course I would be interested! Just … just let me know how everything goes!"
"OK, yeah!" I said before I realized I didn't know how to contact him. "Uhh … how? Mail is checked before going in or out, and most of the Floos are watched – I don't think the one in the Room of Requirement is being watched, though."
Uncle Sirius began tapping his fingers on the table before his eyes suddenly brightened and he stood up.
"Follow me," he said, flicking his fingers toward me as he hurried towards the door.
On our way up to Sirius's room, we passed many curious faces but ignored them while in pursuit of whatever Uncle Sirius was looking for. I couldn't help looking around the room when we got there. It was large, with an enormous bed that had a carved headboard, a single tall window with long velvet curtains, and a candle chandelier. It was almost impossible to tell what colors the walls were because Uncle Sirius had stuck an insane amount of Muggle posters and Gryffindor banners on them.
I smiled when I saw a picture of four teenage boys stuck to the wall just underneath the largest of the Gryffindor banners. The boy that was third from the left could only be James Potter - he looked just like Harry, except for his shorter nose, cocky grin, and round hazel eyes. To James's left (my right), there was a very plump, mousy-looking boy with watery blue eyes and an almost worshipful look on his face. To James's right (my left), there was a rough-looking but gently-smiling young man with light brown hair and forest-green eyes. And the boy on the far left … I almost didn't recognize him until he flashed a toothy grin up at me - it was my Uncle during his prime at Hogwarts, and damn, was he hot! I blushed as the thought went across my mind, but as I looked at the piercing dark eyes, the roguishly charming smirk, and the thick, luxurious dark hair, I couldn't help but think that if he wasn't my uncle, he would have been exactly the kind of boy that I'd go after back at Ilvermorny.
"That was taken during our fifth year," Uncle Sirius said, smiling over my shoulder at the photo. "We were young, wild, and completely confident in ourselves."
"I know that's James," I said, pointing at him, "and I know that's you, but who are the other two?"
"That's Moony - or Professor Lupin, as Harry calls him," Uncle Sirius said, pointing at the boy with the gentle smile. "He's got more scars and much more grey in his hair now, but that's him. And that …"
"Wormtail," I interrupted, not wanting Uncle Sirius to get angry again just when I managed to get him to smile again. "Harry told me what he did. Once we get him, I've got a pair of heels with his name on it. I'm gonna step all over his face and turn it to Swiss Cheese!"
Uncle Sirius let out a small bark of laughter. "If he's still got a face when I'm through with him, you may do whatever you please!"
"Thanks!" I smirked before getting serious again. "So, what are we looking for?"
"This!" Uncle Sirius said excitedly, holding up a small rectangular mirror. "Go out into the hallway and call my name. Go on!"
Feeling more than a little confused, I did as he'd requested, calling for "Uncle Padfoot" and jumping when his face showed up in the mirror.
"Two-way mirrors!" he crowed excitedly. "James and I used to use them when we were in separate detentions! They're not Dark, so they won't set off any of the wards at Hogwarts, and it won't look strange for a lovely young lady, such as yourself, to be carrying a hand-mirror! It's foolproof!"
"Uncle, this is brilliant!" I cried, punching the air in equal excitement. "I'll make sure to use this as often as I can at Hogwarts! Hold on, can this become bigger? Maybe we can use this to help tell your story!"
"You mean, make it bigger so the entire D.A. can see and hear me?" Uncle asked, sounding a little nervous.
"Exactly!" I said. "Would the mirror still work?"
"We'd need to test that a bit before we try it out for an audience," Uncle Sirius said, "but I don't see why not!"