Story Cover by cat! at The-Dark-Arts
I woke to the sound of rain pounding on the window and the weight of Sirius' leg draped over me. He snored lightly; his mouth slightly opened and a small crease between his eyebrows. I sighed while taking in his worried expression, even in sleep. But I suppose none of us sleep soundly any longer. Not with the war going on, with news of friends and loved ones dying almost daily.
I tried to move gently, as not to wake him, but as soon as I wiggled myself from underneath him, he began to stir. With his eyes still closed, he put his arm around me and pulled me in close.
"Good morning," he mumbled sleepily, his lips brushed my forehead.
"I'm sorry, love. I didn't mean to wake you," I pouted.
With all of the work we had all been doing for The Order, that was the first night in ages we had actually had a chance to get a good eight hours in.
He shook out his shoulder-length, black hair – like a dog coming in from the rain - and sat up while stretching.
"How are you?" he asked, his brow furrowed and his grey eyes filled with concern.
I could feel that my eyes were still puffy. I cried half of the night. We learned of the deaths of two of my best friends the evening before; Gideon and Fabian Prewett. Death is never easy, but the news of theirs hit me the hardest up to that point. They were like the brothers I never had.
I nodded and forced a small smile. "I'm alright," I lied.
Sirius ran his hand through my hair and kissed my lips softy. "No you're not," he whispered as he pulled away. "None of us are."
He was right.
Slowly he got out of bed and began pulling clothes off of his floor to get dressed in. "But we will be. I can feel it," he said so quietly, I wasn't even sure if he meant for me to hear.
I was astounded that anyone could remain so positive, what with everything seemingly falling apart around us. We were losing the war and losing badly. None of us had said it out loud, but I could tell we all felt it.
Morale was down. How could it not have been? James and Lily were in hiding, Remus was rarely seen; doing underground work he could not speak of. Peter seemed so lost and overall dejected as of late. Dorcas, Marlene, Gideon and Fabian… now all dead. Alice and Frank also were ordered to lay low for a while. Despair just seemed to drift all around.
At least that afternoon would be a little bit of a respite. Since James and Lily could not take their baby Harry out for Halloween, we were going to go over there for a little party. I mean, Harry was only one, it's not like he would know the difference either way. But if we were all being honest with ourselves, it was more for us than for him. It wouldn't be a big get together. Just me, Sirius, Remus, Peter, and of course James, Lily and the baby.
Truth be told I had been very much looking forward to it, until hearing of my best friends being murdered. I made a mental note to visit Molly the following day; give her my condolences. She wasn't a member of The Order, not with six small boys – two of which were twins – and a newborn baby girl that she was raising. So I didn't get to see her as often as I used to.
"Emmeline, love? Did you hear me?"
I shook my head and brought myself back into the present. A horrible habit of mine; I'm constantly in my own head.
I felt my face flush a bit in embarrassment at being caught daydreaming again. "Sorry. I didn't," I mumbled.
Sirius chuckled and bent down to kiss my cheek. "That beautiful head of yours; always in the clouds."
"You know me," I joked.
He stood back up, put on his leather jacket and stuffed his wand in the front pocket of his jeans. "I asked if you wanted to go out for breakfast. There is a little Muggle diner near here that's pretty decent."
"Sure. That sounds lovely." I didn't feel much like cooking.
After breakfast we took a trip to Hogsmeade to pick up some sweets for baby Harry. It had finally stopped raining, but the sky was filled with black, ominous looking clouds. The wind was strong and biting and there was just an unsettling sort of atmosphere all around. People who passed by on the streets did so quickly, with their cloaks pulled up tightly around their necks. No one bothered to stop and say hello anymore. You never knew who you could trust.
We made our way into the brightly lit, colorful shop, which seemed completely out of place in contrast to everything else, and took our time picking out different treats to bring with us. Sirius, of course, went a little overboard on his godson. Not only did he nearly clean out Honeydukes, he also bought him a mini Puddlemere United shirt afterwards at Spintwitches Sporting Supplies.
"You do realize that Harry is far too young to eat even half of what you've bought for him," I scolded while we were passing The Three Broomsticks. "Which means you just spent an exuberant amount of money on sweets for James."
Sirius smirked. "And Lily. Don't think that she won't dive into this stash, too."
I laughed loudly thinking he was correct; Lily had a horrible sweet tooth. She would have hexed James faster than you could say Chocolate Frogs to get her hands on what Sirius bought. It was amazing she kept so trim.
Just as we were about to leave and return to Sirius' place, we noticed Peter coming out of The Hog's Head. He kept looking over his shoulder and seemed a bit twitchy.
"What the hell is he thinking – hanging about in there? Does he want to get killed? Bloody idiot," Sirius grumbled under his breath. "Oi!" he yelled down the road. "Peter! Come here!"
Peter jumped when Sirius yelled for him and hesitated for a moment.
"Do you think he's alright?" I asked. Peter did seem a bit out of sorts.
Sirius' eyes narrowed. He looked worried. "I don't know."
As Peter approached, I noticed he did not look well at all. I hadn't seen him for nearly two weeks at that point, and was shocked by how much weight he seemed to have lost in that time. He was always a bit plump with a pink tint to his skin, but not then. He could almost be classified as thin and was extremely pale. He looked ill.
"H-hello, S-Sirius. Em-Em-Emmeline," he sputtered. He trembled from head to toe.
"Merlin's Beard, Pete! What happened to you? You're a mess!" Sirius exclaimed.
Peter shuffled his feet and twisted his fingers. He looked from me then back to Sirius and seemed, I don't know, just off.
"Emmeline, love? Would you mind heading back home without me, so I can talk to Peter?" Sirius asked slowly, not taking his eyes from him.
I had a bad feeling. I did not want to leave Sirius alone, for some reason I could not explain and raised my eyebrow. "Why? Surely anything you have to say to Peter could be said in front of me?" I challenged.
Sirius huffed impatiently. "Always so difficult," he mumbled. "Em, please?" he nearly begged.
I was not very happy about it, but I did want to avoid a row. I stomped my foot – a bit immaturely, I'll admit – and reluctantly agreed. "Fine," I snapped. "I'll leave."
I stood on my tip-toes and gave Sirius a small peck on his cheek and then engulfed Peter in a strong hug. He looked like he needed it.
At first Peter stood frozen, then carefully returned my hug. "You look horrible, Pete. Sirius is right. After you two are finished speaking, go home and get a bit of rest before the party, alright?" I told him.
I pulled away and Peter gave me a strained smile. "I'll try, Em. I'll – I'll see you later."
I waited nearly an hour for Sirius to return and when he finally appeared in the middle of the living room, he looked worse than when I left him. His hair was a mess and he lost just a little bit of the light that usually filled his eyes.
"Everything alright?" I asked and tried to keep my voice casual.
"Yes," he responded shortly.
I thought about pressing further, and finding out what truly happened, but thought better of it. Everyone had been under enough stress lately and I was not about to begin an argument unnecessarily. If he really wished to share with me what was wrong, he would have. I would just have to be patient.
"I'm going to have a shower and get ready," he said before storming off.
I winced upon hearing the bathroom door slam shut and heard the water begin shortly after. The foreboding feeling I had started getting stronger.
Later that afternoon, Sirius and I appeared in the middle of a cobble-stone road in Godric's Hollow. No one was out yet, but soon the streets would be filled with children in their costumes, happily trick-or-treating without a care in the world. If only we could have been so lucky.
"Alright, here." He handed me a piece of paper that had, Number Seven, Peverell Lane – Godric's Hollow written in sloppy handwriting. "Remember that." Sirius told me.
I thought it strange that he found the need show me the address when clearly he knew where his best friend lived. But I shrugged and told him I would remember.
We walked hand in hand down a few streets and made a left into a somewhat deserted area of the small town. To my left was a tiny little cottage with a fence around it, surrounded by bushes. It looked warm and inviting and I just knew that was where James and Lily must had been in hiding. I shivered softly as the cool wind began to pick up and Sirius led me through the gate and up the stairs. After he knocked on the door, he looked all around – a habit most of us had picked up – checking to make sure no one had followed us.
"Hey, Pads!" James yelled as he opened the door to let us in. "Em! So glad you both showed! I've been going bonkers – cooped up in here."
He stepped aside to let us both in and the smell of chocolate chip cookies assaulted me immediately.
As we walked into their sitting room, Lily and Remus were sat on the couch, Remus bounced little Harry – who squealed delightfully – on his knee. The sound brought a genuine smile to my face as Sirius and I greeted them and I stole Harry from Remus – who pouted.
"May I?" I smirked, after he was already in my arms.
He really was the most beautiful baby – dark black hair; as messy as his father's, and shockingly bright, green eyes. He smiled happily as I rocked him back and forth.
"Who has presents for Harry?" I cooed as Sirius ruffled his hair.
"Come here, mate," Sirius said as he took him from me; Harry's face lit up immediately. He truly loved his godfather. Probably because he spoiled him rotten.
We all sat down on the floor while Sirius conjured up the parcel which held all of Harry's sweets and the shirt we had bought him. I heard Lily groan quietly and James whine – not so quietly.
"You never buy me presents. What, you don't love me anymore?" James teased.
"Well," Lily intervened. "Harry is a bit cuter than you James," she giggled.
We all laughed as James ran a hand through his hair. "I can't argue with you there, love."
I stood up near Lily while the men – for lack of a better word – were crawling about on the floor with the baby, tearing their way through the chocolate and other sweets. She turned to look at me with a half-smile.
"How are you holding up?" she asked softly.
I shrugged. How would anyone feel after hearing their two closest friends had been murdered? "I'm heartbroken, Lily," I admitted honestly. "But they went out fighting, and I know they wouldn't have had it any other way."
She put her arm around my shoulders and gave me a squeeze. "I suppose you're right."
"How about you? How are you doing?" I asked. Lily and Dorcas were nearly inseparable since they were eleven years old. We had found out a week prior that she had been killed as well. From what we heard, You-Know-Who killed her personally.
A single tear fell from Lily's eye. "I'm managing," she simply answered and quickly wiped her face.
While we waited for Peter to arrive, James, Sirius and Remus – much to Lily's dismay – made a game out of levitating Harry between the three of them. Harry's adorable belly laugh filled the room as he spun, bobbed, flipped and floated around and around. The little thing looked like he was having the time of his life.
"Alright you lot," Lily finally said. "He's going to get sick. That's enough now," she ordered firmly. James took one look at Lily's face – her jaw was set – and must have known she meant business; he set down his son at once.
Remus took a glance at his wristwatch and his mouth twisted. "What is keeping Peter?" he wondered out loud.
"I was just thinking the same thing," Sirius said as he scratched his head.
We had all been there nearly an hour at the point and would be leaving within the following hour.
"Maybe he still isn't feeling well?" I suggested.
Sirius and I told them how we had run into Peter earlier in the day and how he was not looking right at all. Lily's brow furrowed and James, once again, ruffled up his hair.
"He has been looking rather ragged lately," Lily said sadly. "I mean, with everything –" her voice hitched.
James put an arm around her as tears formed in her eyes again. I felt the corners of my own begin to prickle. There had just been too much death for any person to handle at that point. As much as we all tried to have a good time that evening, we all could not ignore the hopelessness that hovered around us all.
Remus pulled out his wand and conjured up his patronus – a large silver wolf. He gave it a message for Peter and we watched it soar out the living room window.
We all waited in vain for another forty-five minutes, but no response came. It was extremely unusual and very unsettling.
Lily and James exchanged a look. "I think I'm going to put Harry to bed shortly," Lily announced.
"I have to see Dumbledore, anyhow. I should probably be off," Remus told us.
Remus said goodbye to us all and I noticed, before he left, sweat dripped from his brow. He looked very worried. We all were.
"We're going to go, too," Sirius said assertively and looked in my direction.
I narrowed my eyes and cocked my head to the side. Something was going on that Sirius was not telling me. I agreed that we should be on our way, silently deciding I would question him once we returned home and said goodnight to Lily, kissed Harry and hugged James.
Right before we left, Sirius engulfed James in a hug and whispered something to him. James pulled away and shook his head.
"Don't be silly, Pads. I – just – no. Don't say things like that," James said almost angrily.
Sirius opened his mouth to argue, closed it, then dropped his arms to his sides in defeat and stormed over towards me. "Let's go," he grumbled.
As I turned to thank James and Lily for having us, James sat down in an armchair and begun to conjure colored puffs of smoke, which Harry seemed to really enjoy – his cubby little hands reached in the air to try to grab them.
When we walked outside, the sun was nearly set and the air turned cold. Sirius scowled next to me and breathed heavily.
"Sirius? What's – "
"Not here!" he hissed.
He grabbed onto my hand tightly as we twisted into the nothingness and reappeared at his house.
Sirius paced the living room and pulled at his hair with both hands.
"Something is not right," he growled. "It's not like Peter to not show up without telling us. I – I have to go check on him."
I went rigid. All I could think of was how I could not handle another one. Not so soon after Gideon and Fabian. I did not want to think that anything happened to Peter. Or worse – That Sirius would arrive to Peter's and the Death Eaters would be there and take him away from me, too. I didn't think I would be able to live through that.
"I'm coming with you," I said firmly.
He stopped abruptly and turned to face me. "NO!" he yelled. His face was set and determined.
I flinched then squared my shoulders. "Yes," I said through clenched teeth. I was not letting him run off to possibly fight alone. And I did not want him to – I shuddered at the thought – find one of his best friend's body alone, either.
Sirius exhaled loudly and walked over. He placed both hands on my shoulders and looked me right in the eye. His expression was beyond anything I had ever seen on him before. He looked almost mad.
"Emmeline, for the love of everything, could you please – just once in your life – listen to something I tell you and just stay here?" he begged.
"But Sirius –"
He shook me, almost violently. It honestly frightened me a bit. My eyes widened.
"But nothing! You're staying here, and that is the end of it!" he yelled.
Without warning, he brought his head down to mine and kissed me roughly – as if it were the last time, turned on the spot and disappeared before my eyes. A wave of hopelessness that I couldn't explain washed over me and I dissolved into tears. Little did I know of what was to come.
I woke up on the couch early the following morning and noticed it was eerily silent. I stood up slowly and began to make my way through the house, checking to see if Sirius returned. I walked into the bedroom and my heart sank as I found the bed empty. The only thing on it was a piece of parchment, folded in half, sitting in the center of the bed. I summoned it to me and opened it. There were only two words written in Sirius' handwriting – I'm sorry.
I didn't know why, but reading his note felt like a goodbye. I felt like the breath was knocked out of my body. My knees gave out and I fell to the floor; his letter crumpled in my hand.
After what felt like hours, I managed to pull myself together. I conjured up a patronus to send to Dumbledore with the message – I need to speak with you immediately. Please let me know when and if you are available. I watched the silver Owl fly out the window, turned on the spot and apparated to James and Lily's. Surely they would know what happened.
As soon as I appeared in front of their little cottage, I felt like the ground dropped out from under me. It was not so much a cottage as it was a half-pile of rubble. Witches and Wizards from all over Britain were standing in little groups all around, staring up at the place which used to be the home of my friends. There was no way they could have survived. I knew it deep down in my bones.
I began to hear whispered conversations people were having around me.
"Gone. No one knows how, but he's vanished."
"That's right, he survived!"
"Shame about James and Lily. They truly were wonderful people."
Like a child I covered my ears with my hands and scrunched my eyes shut tightly. If I couldn't hear or see it, then maybe none of it happened. I wasn't even aware of falling to the ground until I felt someone lift me up and pull me into their arms. My first thought was it was Sirius who had finally come home and was waking me, because surely it had all been a bad dream. But this smell was different. This person did not smell like Sirius. The man who held me smelled of lemon and sugar and, as I slowly opened my eyes, had a long beard as white as snow. I looked up into his crystal clear blue eyes, which were red around the edges, and I full out sobbed.
"Come, Emmeline. Let us go somewhere more private," Dumbledore ordered softly.
We ended up in his office at Hogwarts – somewhere I landed a few times during my years there – how, I couldn't remember. He pulled out what looked like some parchment from his robes and placed it on his desk.
"I think it would be best if you heard this from myself, before you hear misinformed rumors of what may or may not have happened."
He pushed the paper closer to me, and as I got a good look at it, I gasped out loud. I was very close to reaching my breaking point.
I read the article in The Prophet and saw the picture of Sirius. He was screaming and looked utterly deranged. My brain couldn't process it. Surely it was wrong? There was just no way it could be! James was like his brother. There was no one he was closer to. I knew that even I did not share a bond with Sirius quite like James had. It could not be true.
I could not grasp anything Dumbledore said to me. I could not – or would not – believe a word of it. James and Lily were dead. Little Harry somehow survived and was placed into hiding. Remus apparently took off, upon hearing the news and was Merlin knows where. Frank and Alice were tortured this morning – horribly – and would never be the same. They were in St. Mungo's, probably permanently from the information Dumbledore shared. They wouldn't know their son, the rest of their family, me or even themselves. And then the worst of it all; Sirius. The man I shared a bed with. The man who I loved. The man I bore my heart and soul to - a traitor… I honestly just could not believe it. I wouldn't. How? How could he have done those horrible things?! He betrayed James and Lily; killed Peter – who actually confronted him. Poor, silly, brave, foolish Peter…
I was vaguely aware of Dumbledore explaining the entire situation. About He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named coming after little Harry, James and Lily making Sirius their secret keeper. Which would explain why he showed me their address when were on our way to their place the evening before. Merlin! If I only knew.
I felt all emotion drain from my body. I was empty. Just a shell of the woman I used to be. I have seen and been through too much and that was the final straw. I looked up at Dumbledore, whose piercing blue eyes were studying me over the top of his glasses.
"Is that all?" I asked in a voice I barely recognized.
I watched his eyes sparkle with unshed tears – which almost put me over. I've never seen Dumbledore cry and I did not want to. That would be something I could not handle. Not when he had always been so strong. The backbone of our whole resistance. And to see that crumble… I couldn't do it.
I got up quickly and rushed to the door. "Goodbye, Albus," I called over my shoulder softly.
I thought I heard him call after me, but I did not acknowledge it. I made my way down the spiral staircase, through the halls of Hogwarts, and out the doors into the grounds. I stood there for a moment alone and turned around to look at the castle. I was amazed at how it hadn't changed one bit since my first time there, yet I was almost unrecognizable. Everything and everyone I loved was gone – one way or another. I was alone. I knew one day I would eventually be able to feel the joy most people were experiencing, with the news of You-Know-Who vanishing, but I'm sure it would take time. As they say; time heals all wounds.
I don't want to say I've had emotional scars, because scars never disappear. Scars stay with you forever and I tend to think that I'm stronger than that. What I've had were emotional bruises. Bruises do fade after a while, but while they're there, they hurt like hell.