Dahlia waited at Sirius' bedside, she slept next to him only moving from Black when Remus made her. It had been a few days, since Harry and Sirius had been brought in. Harry had woken up before Sirius; there was no telling why Sirius was still out cold. There were so many Dementors that attacked both of them, no actual reports of how many there were. Dahlia was pacing in front of Sirius' bed one afternoon when he roused. He moved slowly, groaning as he did. The lilac haired witch heard him turning, seeing him awake and moving on his own she rushed to him throwing her arms around him.
"Thank Merlin you're ok," she cried quietly. Black smiled wrapping his arms around the witch, wincing in pain as he did.
"What happened," he asked softly.
Dahlia looked at his face, "I was hoping you could tell me. How many Dementors attacked you?"
Sirius shook his head, "There were too many to count, I don't really remember, other than thinking I wouldn't see you or Harry ever again."
"Ah, Sirius," Albus said cheerfully, "you're awake, now perhaps my niece can get some sleep," he smiled at her. Dumbledore was followed by Fudge and Harry. The headmaster turned to Cornelius, "Isn't there something you need to do Minister?"
Cornelius held his bowler tightly in his hands, he couldn't look at Dahlia or the escaped prisoner, he was ashamed of all the ugliness that transpired that year, "Yes, Albus," he nodded slowly, "It is the decision of the Ministry that Sirius Black has been cleared of all wrong doing and is now a free man. I have sent word to the Prophet and other publications so there is no mistake."
"Have you arrested Peter?" Dahlia asked through ecstatic tears.
Fudge turned his bowler in his hands, "He escaped during his transportation to Azkaban."
A shudder ran through the witch as she turned back to Sirius, "Don't worry little love," he told her holding her hands, "he won't try anything while I'm around."
"Thank you Cornelius," Albus said nodding to the minister. "I need a word with my niece, Harry, and Sirius." Fudge nodded leaving the hospital wing. Albus addressed Dahlia first, "Before you make any future plans, you will need to speak with your father," he smiled.
"Yes Uncle," she returned his smile, holding onto Sirius' hands.
"Harry," the headmaster turned to the teenager, "I understand that living with your godfather is an exciting prospect. However, I think that staying with your aunt and uncle would be best for now."
"What," Harry asked stunned, "why?"
Albus looked at Sirius and Dahlia before answering him, "There are things that have been set in motion now that Peter has escaped. While Sirius would indeed take you in and no doubt be a good provider, you are more protected with the Dursleys."
"Albus," Dahlia asked, "are you sure? From what Harry's told me…"
Dumbledore cut off his niece, "I am fully aware of the situation, but you will all have to trust me that this is for the best."
Sirius gave Dahlia's hand a squeeze, "Understood Albus," he turned to Harry, "Please know that you are welcome to visit as much and as many times you wish during the summer break."
Harry nodded smiling, "I will take you up on that. I should get my trunk, train is leaving soon." Harry hugged both Sirius and Dahlia. He paused slightly after embracing the lilac haired witch, "I'm sorry for all the things…"
Dahlia smiled pulling him in for another hug, "There is no need for an apology Harry, and all is forgiven. I'll see you during the summer yeah?" Harry nodded before bounding off to leave with his classmates. Albus turned to leave after Potter but Dahlia stopped him, "Uncle," she said, her voice halted, unsure if she wanted to bring up the subject of Peter again.
"Yes Dahlia," he turned back to her.
The headmaster's niece looked at Sirius before returning her gaze Albus, "There was a moment in the Shack after Peter had been restored to his human form where he mentioned something that's been bothering me." She paused again, fidgeting with her nails, not looking at either wizard, "he started to say he was a loyal servant to my…" the thought made her physically ill, sitting on Sirius' bed, feeling woozy.
"Dahlia," Sirius ventured, trying to remember what the traitor had said but he was too taken by his rage to recall what had been said.
"He started to say father," she whispered out, fear clouded her pale blue eyes turning them to Dumbledore; "he was talking about Voldemort wasn't he?"
Sirius was stunned, he had wondered if Voldemort was in fact her father after she talked about it in the winter, it seemed unlikely. What should he tell her after the near admission from Pettigrew? Could it have been true or just a spontaneous utterance to shock her into complying with his pleas of mercy? Sirius looked at Albus for some hint that this was false before returning his care worn eyes to Dahlia who looked sick. Her face was a light green and her posture was bent, she looked almost broken by the grave news that could possibly be the horrible truth.
Dumbledore however was contemplative at his niece's words; finally shaking his head after few moments to Dahlia felt like hours, "No, Dahlia, I'm sure the actions of Pettigrew were that to unnerve you, which unfortunately has worked. My dear niece, the identity of your father is in fact a Death Eater, by the name of Antonin Dolohov, currently serving time in Azkaban." He told her as he put a comforting arm around the witch. He hoped that telling her what the other Death Eaters knew to be true and not the actual truth that was shared with only the inner most circle of Voldemort's followers, that Tom Riddle was in fact her father. Severus was the one that told the Headmaster the truth of her parentage; it was a secret that wasn't even shared with Aberforth. An excited declaration from Pettigrew was not how he wanted her to find out; Dumbledore had hoped to never share this information with her.
Sirius crooked an eyebrow at the name, "Dolohov," he questioned the headmaster, "are you certain?"
Albus nodded, sharing the name of her actual father with Sirius would prove disastrous, "The information I have is said to be accurate. However, reports of this kind can often be misleading," he pulled his niece closer, "Dahlia you must believe that no matter who your father is or who your mother might have been, you are my niece and Aberforth's daughter. We are the ones that have raised you, comforted you, and loved you as you have grown into a stunningly intelligent and beautiful woman. Never forget that we are not made by those we came from but formed by those that have loved us."
"Thank you Uncle," she said smiling again.
"Now I'll leave you two alone, but not for long, your father should be here soon," Albus left them with an impish wink and smile, but turned again, "Happy birthday Dahlia."
Sirius smiled, "That's right," he remembered at Albus' words, "Happy birthday little love," he kissed her lightly.
Dahlia smiled returning the affectionate kiss before she climbed into bed with Sirius, snuggling up to him, breathing easier that he could now be out in the open with her. She could be with him without fear of persecution or judgment. He was free, finally, after twelve years of waiting. His heart started to race with her head on his chest and he pulled her closer, he hoped to make this a permanent arrangement with the blessing of Albus and Aberforth, of course. Sirius could not wait to live out the rest of his life with this witch.
Author's note - This is the last chapter in Prisoner of Circumstance. I cannot thank all of you enough! I've started writing in Goblet of Fire with Sirius as a free man! I think I'm gonna call that one Tournament of Trouble, so be on the look out in the next couple days for a new story. I love all of you so much and appreciate everything you've done to help me out! I would love to hear all of your thoughts on the ending of this story going into the next and what you hope to see, I'll try to incorporate as much as I can. Feel free to reach out to me any time, I don't bite, promise.