A/N: Firstly; A great big fat hug to all that have stay faithful to the story!
Second; the story has be reworked. As we (honestly, I! But a good deal to my beta!) Realized the story was almost done, yet you (the reader!) Really had no idea about the who's where's and holy shit! How? Well. I've gone back and reworked it, (thank-you my beta for bringing the fallacies to my attn!) to republish, as I really wanted it in the first place. No more fear or 'what do I think I'm doing?' so please, Read and review. The feedback means so much and without it, an author must think, what's the point?
Sirius held the paper, just staring at the headline with a lopsided grin.
"Must feel pretty good." Harry slapped his shoulder as he set a cup of tea in front of him. "No more hiding."
Sirius nodded. He couldn't believe it. The headline read, "Sirius Black Cleared!!" After almost eighteen years, he was truly a free man. Thanks in no small part to Harry and Remus. The two had worked endlessly to prove his innocence. Even after the Order defeated Voldemort, the Ministry was still hesitant to clear him. After all, he had been in Azkaban for twelve years, escaped from prison, caused much public terror, and hidden from the law. He must have done something illegal in all that time. But Harry and Remus were relentless. They refused to stop fighting for Sirius until his name was cleared. Ultimately it was Harry simply blackmailing Fudge. If they wouldn't take responsibility and give Sirius back his life, Harry told Fudge he and Sirius would go to the Daily Prophet and tell them everything. They came to an agreement that if they could produce conclusive evidence of Peter's involvement, the Ministry would clear Sirius. It wasn't much work after that. There were too many Death Eaters at Azkaban that wanted to deal to shorten their sentences.
Molly Weasley sat down at the table next to Sirius. "You finally get to start rebuilding your life." She said fondly to him. Most of the Order of the Phoenix were gathering at Number Twelve Grimmauld today to help Sirius celebrate his freedom. It was still early in the day, but most of the Weasley's, Remus and Harry were already there. "Where are you going to start? Here?" She gestured round the room.
He honestly hadn't really thought about it. The ex-con finally gets to rebuild his life. Although, Number Twelve Grimmauld was not his favorite place. The Order had used it over the last few years as headquarters, and had cleaned most of it up quite nicely. However, no amount of scouring or spells could clear his memories. But the old place did have possibilities. He'd never run out of room for one. If he could just get rid of some of those damn portraits this could possibly become a decent home. On the other hand, what's a home without a family? He smiled at Molly, "Rebuild, hmm? I was barely twenty. I didn't have much built by then."
"You had me!" Harry smiled, taking a seat across from his Godfather.
"Yes, but I didn't build you, your parents did!" Sirius smiled back at his Godson. Yes, he had Harry. He also had James and Lily, Peter, Remus, and- abruptly he stopped that line of thought.
Remus understood the meaning the look that passed quickly over his friends face. It was an expression he'd seen often over the last few years. Especially when it started to look like Sirius would be cleared. The girl Sirius stopped himself from thinking about, vanished eighteen years ago and nobody seemed to know where she ended up. He knew Sirius would want to find her, and he had spent time looking. Remus had valid rights to look for her; she had been his friend too. And at times Remus felt guilty because he'd been the last person to see her and if he'd handled that situation with a bit more care she may not have literally vanished. Her Brother n The States hadn't seen her, or if he had, he was an exceptional liar. The Healers she'd been training with were distraught by her absence; they didn't have any idea where she was either. Even the Ministry had lost track of her. There weren't even any death records that he could find. If she was still alive, she didn't want to be found.
"I guess I could start by redecorating this place." Sirius said, pulling Remus's attention back to the present. "Harry, do you think during your big Auror training you could dig up a banishing spell for bitchy portraits?"
They all laughed. "I'll see what I can do. Do I get to set up a nice room?"
"Yes, if you're a good boy!" Sirius swirled his tea and sipped it. "And you're going to have to contribute!"
Harry tried to look pathetic, "But I'm just a lowly trainee, you're the one with the job at the Ministry. They should be paying you all kinds of money."
Molly scoffed, "The Ministry doesn't pay that well.
"They pay just fine, Molly," Remus grinned. "You just can't tell because you've had an entire village at the Burrow. Sirius," Remus changed his tone and looked at his friend, "Are you really going to work for the Ministry? I mean they scarcely helped you. Why help them?"
Sipping his tea he shrugged a shoulder, "What better way to start 'rebuilding'," he glanced at Molly. "Than to help round up the rest of those idiot Death Eaters? Besides, I think it would be good public relations. You know, show the community that I am a nice good guy after all that's happened. I am innocent you realize."
"Does the Ministry know how many Death Eaters are still out there?" Harry asked.
Sirius shook his head, "The number keeps changing. The more they catch, they more names they get. I think they're just trying to focus on the names. Figure who was working both sides of the fence. Its almost surprising how fast they turn on each other."
"Look what I found!" Ron came bounding into the kitchen with Ginny on his heels. "This is so cool!" He dropped a leather bound book on the table in front of Harry, with the Hogwarts crest just above the number 1978.
"Where did you find this?" Harry asked Ron who plopped in a chair next to him.
"Upstairs in a closet."
"Do you mind if we look?" Ginny asked Sirius with such a glee in her voice he had to chuckle.
"Go ahead." Sirius stood behind Harry to get a better look at his old classbook. "But no comments on the clothing. That was more than twenty years ago."
Ginny, Ron and Harry dove into the book with Sirius and Remus peering over their shoulders every once in a while to answer a question or look at a younger teacher. Sirius and Remus smiled at each other whenever they'd hear a comment like "So Snape has always looked like a grease ball?", "A chaser, Sirius? I always figured you to be a beater." And, "My mom was really pretty."
"Who is this?" Harry asked Sirius as he held up the book, pointing at a picture.
Sirius' breath caught in his throat when he looked at the photo. He was carrying her piggyback by the lake. It was a beautiful day, probably towards the end of term. They were both smiling and giggling. She even had tears from laughter on one cheek. They had always been laughing.
"That's Jennifer Lennox." Remus answered.
Sirius cleared his throat, "Sorry. She was an old girlfriend."
"Have you looked her up?" Harry asked with a little grin.
"Yes. No. I mean she can't be looked up." Sirius picked up his cup and turned to the sink.
"She disappeared." Remus explained to the upraised brow on Harry's face "Right after your Parents were killed. I've tried to find her several times over the years, but she's just gone."
"She can't be just gone," Ginny said. "People just don't vanish."
"She did!" Sirius said, a bit louder than he intended. He took a steadying breath. "If she wanted to be seen, we'd see her." He turned and walked from the room, leaving everyone-except Remus- in shock.
She was thinking about him again. Standing in the middle of the kitchen in her New York flat, pouring her coffee, she was thinking about him. He'd always put too much sugar in his coffee. She's ask him why even bother with coffee when he never actually tasted it. He'd usually counter with something glib, like she was just bitter and was trying to surround herself with similar things.
She was thinking about him and how she'd come to his defense when Remus told her he'd betrayed the Potters and killed Peter. She stood gaping at Remus's dark expression and realized he actually believed it! There was no way he'd done any of what he was accused, she had screamed at the stone still Remus. They had yelled and shouted at each other for almost an hour, until their throats were raw and the tears had dried up. She didn't want to admit the possibility of his guilt, but the evidence was compelling. She'd disapparated, mentally writing off Remus for having the audacity to believe him guilty, to get to Azkaban. She needed to hear it from him. She needed to know why. She needed to see his face to know in her heart if it was true. She would know if they would only let her see him. But they wouldn't let her in. She pleaded and cried, but they refused to let her in. He was serving a life sentence and would have no visitors, save those on Ministry business.
She was thinking of how lost and alone she had been. How she moved back to The States without a word to anyone.
She was thinking of him when she paid the owl that delivered the Daily Prophet that morning. And how when he escaped from Azkaban six years earlier she'd ordered the Daily Prophet once a week. Then everyday, two years later when Voldemort was resurrected. It was then she first truly believed he was guilty. He'd escaped, and then helped bring him back. Fourteen years of denial were smashed. It was as though she lost him all over again.
She was thinking she still loved him.
She was thinking of him when she set down her coffee mug to unfold the paper, seeing his face as big as life on the front page.
She was thinking of him when her heart stopped beating and her head started swimming.
She was thinking of him when she fainted, bumping the counter on the way down, still clutching the paper.
Jennifer Lennox, Hogwarts exchange student, Brazilian medical trainee, and first hopeless love of Sirius Black, lay unconscious on her kitchen floor in a puddle of coffee
That was how her seventeen-year-old twins, Jimmy and Lily Black, found her.
A/N: please take time to review! Chapters 2,3 and 4 are on their way. I'm still fighting with a bit of the characters in chapter 5, but don't worry! It'll be up soon!