A/N: Ah, sorry about the not updating bug that has been going through my system, haha, I suck at metaphors. Anyways, this is the LAST chapter in the story! Of course there will be a sequel, but I am not releasing it for a little while, so you'll have to wait.
Disclaimer: JK Rowling, you are a genius, such a genius that I could never create something as marvelous as Harry Potter or Sirius, or Hogwarts, or James, or Remus or anyone else in the HP books. So, not mine.
It was almost midnight and the ball was almost over. Claire was sitting at a table with Sirius, not even hungry. Lily and James were…in the dormitories doing goodness only knows what. Remus and Tanya were yelling at each other from across the room, and everyone else, professors included, was dancing. Lily and James came down a few moments later, James's hair messier than usual and his tie slightly askew.
"Mate, tie," said Sirius, holding in his laughter.
"Oh, thanks," said James, fixing his tie.
"Lils," called Claire. Lily rushed over and sat next to her best friend after admiring how stunning she looked yet again.
"Yeah?" asked Lily.
"Soon," whispered Claire, too quiet for Sirius to hear.
"Okay," said Lily, biting back the tears that were threatening to appear.
"Sirius, let's go dance," said Claire softly, standing up. Sirius caught the shaky and nervous note in her voice, but took her hand and led her to the dance floor anyway. A slow song was playing, the tune floating across the room like a dream. Sirius and Claire were very close.
"I have to tell you something," she said quietly.
"Okay," Sirius answered warily.
"When I went home last summer and my father found out about the problem I had with drinking, he tried to get me to give the rest to him. When I said no, he was so drunk that he tried to strangle me and it left bruises on my neck. It's the scariest memory I have. All I remember is him holding me up off the ground and trying to choke me. When I realized he wasn't going to let me down without a fight, I began to fight back, clawing at his hands and arms. When he dropped me to the ground, I grabbed all of my things and loaded it onto my broom and flew to London where I was given a free room at the Leaky Cauldron because my mother had always been friends with the innkeeper there. I haven't been home since then."
"Claire, you father is too terrible. Anything I can do to bring him to justice I will do," Sirius vowed.
"No, I don't want my parents in jail. You need to promise me not to tell anyone, please," she breathed.
"Claire…. I promise."
"I'll miss you," Claire whispered, tears beginning to crawl down her paling cheeks.
"Not yet," Sirius said angrily, shaking her, but not too hard. She only looked away from him, tears falling onto the ballroom floor. "Look at me," he urged her. She didn't move, and Sirius felt her go limp in his hands. He supported all of her weight as he lowered her to the ground, her eyes wide in a state of shock, her mouth open as though she were screaming. She was going into one of her fits. An earsplitting scream echoed through the ballroom as Claire's shocked eyes changed to a mass of pure fear. She rose form the ground as though someone was holding her, but no one was. She clasped around her throat at a pair of invisible hands that were choking her to death and then she screamed again. Her face changed from fear to anger and then to rage as she scratched at the invisible hands. Sirius went for her, pulled her from the air and held her tightly against his chest. He felt her go up on her tiptoes and he loosened his grip as she kissed him for last time, passionately on the lips and then went limp, her eyes and mouth closed, a peaceful and serene expression on her face.
Sirius lifted her into his arms like he would a baby and carried her towards the hospital wing. Madam Pompfrey was bustling along behind him and telling him to hurry. Everyone, Lily, James, Remus, and Tanya were crying as they followed, but Sirius didn't notice them because he was only concerned with Claire. He kicked open the doors to the ward and laid her on one of the beds. Madam Pompfrey placed her hand over Claire's heart, a sad expression crossing her face.
"NO!" Sirius screamed, picking up a vase and throwing it at the nearest wall, letting it shatter.
"Sirius…" James said, trying to calm his friend.
"Shut up!" Sirius yelled, storming from the hospital wing. Tanya and Lily were hugging as they both fell to the ground, sobbing uncontrollably and James and Remus were even crying, James with one hand pressed up against the wall, supporting him, and Remus trying to comfort the girls, but to no avail.
"Someone needs to find Mr. Black," said Dumbledore, striding in unnoticed, even he looked very sad.
"I'll go," sighed James, knowing where his friend would probably go. James walked form the hospital wing unwillingly and found his way to the common room. He looked about, and, making sure no one was around, he changed into a stag and trotted up the girls' dormitory stairs. He used his antlers to turn the knob and changed back into himself upon entering the room. Sirius was lying, a big black dog, on Claire's bed, whining uncontrollably. All of Claire's things were strewn about the floor and her bed. When Sirius saw James, he turned back into a human, tears falling down his face.
"Why her?" asked Sirius.
"I don't know," said James quietly, walking over to sit next to his friend.
"I had never been in love before. It was like a thousand times worse than getting halfway through a slice of cake and having them take it away from you."
"I know. Do you want to go back downstairs? Dumbledore wants to see you," said James, getting up slowly.
"Yeah, sure," said Sirius, standing up and walking past James out of the room. They walked back to the hospital wing in silence, no one daring to talk for fear of bringing up something they didn't want to discuss. Sirius opened the door and walked in to see all the professors around the bed Claire was in. She was not there now. "What did you do with her?" Sirius accused them immediately.
"She's in another ward for now, but please, stay here, we need to talk with you all," said McGonagall. Sirius's face turned hard and angry, but he did what she said and sat down next to Lily and Tanya. Remus was standing behind them and James was still at the door. "Potter, get in here," McGonagall urged. James did and came to stand behind Lily, stroking her hair comfortingly. She curled her fingers around his wrist and it helped her feel better.
"I want to know what you know about the memory Claire had to relive at the ball tonight," said Dumbledore quietly, but sadly. Everyone, even Lily, James, Remus, and Tanya, turned to look at Sirius.
"I can't tell you," he said quietly, not looking at them at all.
"You must. If it will bring someone who tried to kill her to justice, tell us."
"I made a promise," Sirius said, tears rolling down his cheek as he still refused to look at the teachers.
"Sirius, we need to know. It was clear that the last memory was when someone tried to kill Claire. We aren't dumb, we have seen bruises on her legs and arms when she forgets to cover them, and we have once seen bruises around her neckline. Someone beats Claire, and we know it is none of you, but we are sure you know. Who has been hurting her?"
"I made a promise," Sirius repeated.
"Sirius, just tell them," Lily whispered.
"I can't," said Sirius firmly.
"Very well then," sighed Dumbledore. "It would have meant Azkaban for whoever did it though."
"That's why I can't tell you. If you would let me take care of this monster on y own, perhaps with the help of my friends, I could tell you. If you go after him, I will have betrayed her," said Sirius softly.
"You want to go after him and go after him you may do. Go, by all means, destroy him, but we need a record of who it was," said McGonagall.
"It was Claire's father," sighed Sirius.
"I expected as much," said Dumbledore, shaking his head. "Such a talented and beautiful girl. Who tries to murder someone like her?"
"It's a cruel world we live in, professor," said Sirius harshly.
"But there are some who make it a good place to live, don't you think, Sirius?" asked the Professor kindly.
"Depends on who and where," said Sirius angrily.
"Well, James and Remus for instance. Lily and Tanya too. You are going to need to help each other, and I think it would be best if you all went ahead up to your dormitories and get some rest for the ceremony tomorrow."
"Ceremony?" sniffled Lily.
"For Claire, dear," said McGonagall, bending down to help the two girls off the floor.
"Could we…" began James.
"Go ahead and say goodbye to her, she is in the ward across the room," said Madam Pompfrey. Everyone nodded and proceeded to the curtained area. Claire laid there, the same peaceful expression on her face, a smile creasing her lips slightly. Her hair was shining as it always had been before she had died, and the color was almost returning to her cheeks.
"I'm sorry," Sirius whispered, stroking the back of her hand.
"Come on now, dears, best not dally," said Madam Pompfrey, escorting them back to the main area.
"Professor?" asked Sirius sadly, looking at the floor.
"Yes, Sirius?" asked Dumbledore.
"Could you bury Claire in the dress she has on? It's probably one of the nicest things she owns, and I want my last view of her to be what she will be like forever. Could you do that?"
"Of course, Sirius."
"Thanks," sighed Sirius. After a few last words between teachers and students, the teenages went up to their common room. No one wanted to go to sleep, no one wanted to forget, to wake up and think it was all a dream and then to look to Claire's bed and see all of her stuff packed by the house elves. So, they all just sat. There was nothing else to do but sit. Lily spent the night curled up in James's arms, her face against his chest as she continued to cry uncontrollably. Sirius sat in the corner and stared at the fire, sometimes getting up to try and comfort the girls. Tanya was curled up on the floor, hugging her knees to her chest and Remus sat next to her, them obviously forgetting their little spat and remembering how close friends they would always be. He kept his arm draped around her shoulders and would rub her back when she would start crying again.
This went on the entire night. No one fell asleep, there was too much going through their heads. There was too much to realize. The school year ended tomorrow as soon as the ceremony was over, and they would never see nything of Claire again but photos. Lily would go to see her mother and father and then leave to live with James. Tanya would buy her own house and so would Remus. Sirius would probably get his own house too. They would all start working and become great at everything they did, but there would never be another Clara Shay Martin in their lives. They would never see her flying again and never see her blush or scream because she was so outgoing. They would never see her compete in eating contests with Sirius again either. Sirius…what was going on in his head right now?
The Next Morning
The loud call from the younger kids came down the stairs as they rushed in to say goodbye to the seventh years for the last time. Claire's funeral was a private one, and only Sirius, Remus, Lily, Tanya, and James were invited to it besides heer family and teachers. It was going to be down on the Quidditch Pitch, Claire's favorite place in the entire world. Her casket was white and black marble with silver trim. All of her favorite things were to be buried with her, except her broom. Her will said that her broom went to Sirius. No one knew when she had made this will, but it was probably as soon as she found out she was dying.
No one spoke during the ceremony. Dumbledore said a few things at the end, but no one, especially not Sirius paid any attention. It was like a horrible nightmare and he was trying to wake himself up. It was like a babbling of sounds in a loud hallway and he just wanted them to all shut up. As soon as the ceremony was over, the coffin vanished. Sirius had asked that they send her body to Godric's Hollow to be buried near Lily and James's house. Dumbledore agreed. The seventh years loaded into the carriages and left for the station where they loaded into the train. It was eerie, very eerie. It felt like no one was able to speak because no one did speak. James and Lily and Sirius left together, and Tanya and Remus parted ways with them. They knew they would all see each other soon, as soon as life was given some meaning once again, but it was scary. They didn't know how long it would take. All they knew was that they wanted Claire back.
A/N: YES! That's the end of this one, the sequel is on it's way…in a week or two. It's a sad ending, I know, but don't cry forever because the next story is more Lily and James and less of the others. I know you loved Sirius and Claire as a couple to death and all, but you should definitely get over it because I will make it all better in the next one!