Disclaimer - I don't own anything from Harry Potter, nor do I make a profit from this. Any Original Characters are of my own creation.
AN: This is a long one-shot that I've split up into four parts, sort of. I'd love to hear feedback.
Is the story really that horrible?
This is the last part! Hope...someone enjoyed it...
I was thinking of writing a companion piece of Eryss' POV...
What do you think?
Recap: As if answering my calls, the door to the other room opened. Eryss stumbled out, panting and, by the looks of it, in pain. James and I were to our feet before she uttered a word. Her hand shook as it closed the bedroom door then she leaned heavily on the wall behind her. I was about to ask her what was wrong when James' hand gripped my shoulder. A quickly flick of his eyes and I received his warning.
Eryss' hand was gripping her opposite forearm as pain flared through it. Gently shrugging James' hand off, I slowly made my over to her. Her eyes were squeezed shut and a thin sheen of sweat graced her brow. Whispering her name, I removed the vice grip her hand had and stepped closer to her. I felt her body shudder, no doubt from the burning of her mark.
A True Masquerade
"It's okay," I muttered as I rested my head on her shoulder. Carefully rolling up her sleeve, I had to force myself to look at her flesh. The black mark glared angrily from her arm, the edges such a fierce red I feared it was bleeding. A whimper left my throat before I could hold it back and I pulled the aching arm to my chest. "I'm sorry." I didn't know what I was apologizing for but I couldn't stop the words from leaving my lips. My other arm pulled the rest of her trembling body into my hold. "I'm sorry," I repeated again, wishing I could take away the pain.
Eryss promptly passed out after the pain in her arm dulled into a stinging ache. I held her against my body as we both lowered to the floor. James sat on the sofa, watching us for what seemed like hours before he stood. "Bring her over here to lie on the couch till she wakes up."
I nodded dumbly and did as I was told. As if handling precious china I propped her against the cushions. "How do I go about getting Lily to do the test? The sooner it's done the sooner we can figure out what to do next. I can't let them go back and I won't let Eryss be taken away." Gently brushing the slightly damp hair from her forehead, I resisted the urge to wake Eryss and make sure she was alright.
"How much to you trust her?" James asked, confusing me enough that I tore my gaze from my angel to lock onto him. "Do you really, truly trust her?"
I felt my lips turn into a frown and I was again offended by my friends doubt in me. "With my life!" I wanted to scream at him but I didn't want to wake Eryss or Lyra.
"Honestly Sirius?" James' seriousness baffled me more and before I could call him out on it, he began pacing the room. "I'm risking my wife's life if I allow her to come here. If Eryss is lying at all and something happens to Lily I'll…" His eyes shot to me and I knew he would destroy me if this brought harm to his family.
I took a deep breath, reminding myself that this was James I was talking to. I reminded myself of my slight insight of the feelings he had lived with since Harry was born. The fierce desire to protect and treasure a child was only now starting to burn within me. "I don't know why and I can't say it's more than my instincts telling me…but I trust her." I hesitated for a moment, trying to think of a way to get him to understand. "I'd trust her with Harry…alone and I'd give up my life if she said it would save her and Nessa from everything they run from." I stood finally, and walked to my friend. "I'd leave the Order and run away with her if I thought it would protect them. She told me to leave her, James, and I know I saw something break in her at the thought of being without Nessa and me. I trust her James."
James sighed and I saw his shoulders fall in either relief or defeat. He rubbed a hand down his tired face and I knew he was debating on what to do. "I need your help James. I'm too prideful and I never asked for help when I needed it, but I'm asking now. I don't have anywhere else to go."
I must have gotten through to him because James suddenly gripped my shoulder and squeezed hard. "I trust you Sirius," he said with a tight voice. "I'm just hoping you are right." He gave my shoulder one last squeeze before releasing me. "We have a meeting tomorrow. Hopefully we won't get any assignments. After that I'll bring Lil's here do the spell. Once we know that, we'll figure everything else out. Lily will be a good help in that, she's pretty smart you know." He smiled and it was so full of pride for his wife that I couldn't help but smile in return.
"Thank you," I mumbled as he began walking to the door. "I'll see you at the meeting?" He nodded and sent me a questioning look to which I ran my hand through my hair. "I want to stay here and make sure Eryss is alright." Nodding again, James opened the door and left the small cottage. I stared at the door for a few minutes before I turned to the still sleeping woman on the couch. "I know I'm right," I muttered before plopping onto another couch to rest for a minute.
I was awoken by the most glorious sound ever, my child laughing and screeching Da at the top of her lungs. No sooner than I opened my eyes did a small body launch itself onto my own. I caught her with ease and an uncomfortable oomph when her knee almost hit my tender parts. She tried to bury herself under my arm and it was then that I noticed the thing she was running from.
Eryss flew into the room, her hands up like claws and her teeth out in a low roar. She froze when she saw me and I could see the subtle bit of red creeping onto her cheeks. It was enough to make me laugh and, even though she had no idea why, Lyra soon joined in on the joyful sound. Eryss covered her face in embarrassment before walking over and scooping Lyra out of my lap. "I said you have to finish your breakfast before waking up Daddy, silly."
The simple sentence sent warmth throughout my entire body. For a moment I thought I had woken up from a horrible dream and this was my reality. Wishing that I lived in a place where Eryss and I were together always and I had been with Lyra since her birth. A quick look around reminded me that while this was reality, it was nothing like the one I had hoped for. The shabby cabin we were in was far from my dream home.
"Sirius?" I looked up and realized my girls were both looking down at me with an identical raised eyebrow. "You alright? I asked if you were hungry. There is food in the kitchen. I made enough for you too."
Before I could answer, Lyra turned her wide eyes to her mother. "Nuuu, MINES!" she proclaimed, holding her hands to her chest.
"You don't want to share?" Eryss asked with a tiled of her head. When my daughter answered with a shake of her head, Eryss sighed sadly. "Well I guess Daddy won't get any food then. Poor poor daddy, he's probably so hungry."
When I saw Lyra's shocked eyes turn to me, I hid the smirk that was growing on my lips. Doubling over, I held my stomach and groaned as if I was in pain. "So …hungry." As I peeked up, I could almost see the wheels turning in my girls head.
Glancing from me to her mother and then back again, Lyra finally gave in. "I share!" She reached out and I lifted my hand for her to take. She pulled, as if her small body could pull mine from the chair, and I stood. Holding her hand, Lyra and Eryss led me to the kitchen to eat.
It was simple but amazing at the same time. Lyra was chattering again in half English, half Lyra-language as the three of us sat at the rickety dinning table. Even as time ticked by and I reminded myself that I had to attend the meeting, I wished I could spend more time with the two of them. When I had pushed the limit to the furthest I stood and stretched. Eryss continued to clean up the toys on the floor but Lyra stopped playing and turned to me. The small girl didn't voice her question but I already felt complied to answer.
"I've got to run some errands," I began but my voice died in my throat at the look of horror on Lyra's face. Eryss had frozen and her eyes quickly snapped to me, if I had been looking at her I would have read the warning in her eyes.
"Ma!" Lyra screamed before scrambling over to me and clinging to my one leg. I began to panic and looked to Eryss for help, only to find her looking sadly at our daughter.
"What?" I was lost and I didn't know what to do. Eryss finally stepped toward us and crouched down beside Lyra.
"Darling," I was always amazed by how soft and caring her voice could get and I only wished she never had to hide behind her cold mask. "Daddy is only going to talk to James for a bit. Remember, the man from yesterday." Eryss' blue eyes slowly rose to meet my still nervous ones. "He'll be back soon, isn't that right Sirius?" The question seemed innocent enough but I knew that the answer held so much for not only Lyra, but Eryss as well.
I still didn't get it but something I had said triggered a fear in my child that I didn't want to be there. Leaning down, I gently untangled my girl from my leg and squatted down beside the two. "I'll be back as fast as I can," I said pulling Lyra's crying face into my chest. "I would never want to be away from you for too long, sweetheart." I looked over to see Eryss mouthing something to me and I quickly nodded. "I promise." Eryss gave me a small smile and Lyra seemed to calm down.
Eryss stood after giving Lyra a kiss on the top of her head, and made her way toward the bedroom. Soon after, Lyra filtered from my lap and went back to her toys. I followed Eryss' steps and entered the bedroom, half closing the door behind me. "Want to inform me what that was about?" My eyes were locked on her hunched form sitting on the bed. I could see her body rising with a large breath and she let her head rise from her hands.
"I went on errands sometimes," she whispered and I knew I wasn't going to like where this story was going. "I never once allowed anyone to every lay a hand on Lyra. I never let her see anything bad or be exposed to all the darkness around us. Never." She stared at me as if trying to make me believe her words, even though I already knew she would protect Lyra with her life. "After Reg disappeared everything turned bad. I was being called by him more and he was asking about Lyra. The last time…I suppose I said something he didn't enjoy hearing."
I was holding my anger back but her eyes, usually so full of confidence and pride were flicking around in poorly hidden fright. "I passed out after about the twentieth curse and woke up three days later." I couldn't take it anymore, with only three steps I was before her, pulling her trembling body into my arms. "Severus had apparently been called to treat me and he took me back to my rooms. He said that he had locked my door and watched over Lyra for me, but she managed to get into my room on the second day. I must have looked rather horrid but I had only told her I was running an errand before I left, she gets terrified if anyone she knows says they are going on one."
I let the information sink in and for once I found myself happy that Severus Snape was alive. I wished he had more courage and was able to save Eryss from the pain she'd experience but I would settle for saving her after the fact. In the back of my mind it still irked me that Snivellus had more interaction with Lyra than I did, but I was working on changing that fact.
Eryss leaned away from me and I felt her smaller hands skimming up my arms. "You have to get to your meeting." I could tell she didn't want me to go, she wanted to stay in my hold but I also knew she knew I had to. Without thought, I leaned down and kissed her gently on her lips. I had been holding back the urge to kiss her freely since the time in school when I caught her by the lake. Now that I was able to, I was going to steal her lips whenever I could.
"I'll be back as soon as I can," I mumbled against her cheek, where I placed another kiss. She stood with me and we both went to the living room, where she would play with Lyra and I would say goodbye to them.
The meeting was dragging on. Report after report, it all seemed never-ending. James kept elbowing me every time I glanced at a clock. I was bringing unwanted attention to myself and it would only hurt Lyra and Eryss in the end. I felt eyes concentrating on me and found both Peter and Remus staring. I felt a chill run up my spine and quickly turned back to Dumbledore as he began speaking again. I had momentarily forgotten about the battle I was waging with myself before Eryss' arrival. It was both difficult and agonizing to feel my trust for my dear friend slipping. The thought of Remus' turning to the other side still hovered at the edges of my mind like a deadly plague. Never more than now did I wish I could confide in the werewolf. But as I glanced back at my other two best mates I realized I couldn't risk it, I couldn't allow them to know of Eryss if there was even a slither of a chance they were supplying the information to the Dark Lord. Remus nor Peter would know of my new found family.
Suddenly everyone began to stand and it came to my attention that, while I was lost in my inner workings of my mind, the meeting had ended. Before Remus or Peter could come over to us, I stood and grabbed James' arm. Pulling James out of the room behind me, I quickly made way for the exit.
"Calm down Padfoot," James grumbled, yanking his arm out of my hold. "Way to not look suspicious." He continued to follow me out of the building and into the busy streets beyond. "Hey!" he yelled, finally grabbing my arm and pulling me to a stop.
I couldn't wipe the wild look of hysteria from my face. "Calm down!" he repeated again, grabbing my shoulders to steady me. "Stop it! You're behaving like a caged beast!" I nodded, taking a few deep breaths to try and calm my frazzled nerves. "Good," he started, letting me go and smoothing his shirt out. "Now I have to get home and get Lil's and Harry. We'll meet you at the…"
"Is Harry coming?" I asked, as if we were going out to dinner and not to meet Eryss.
"Yeah, he's not old enough to watch the house by himself yet Sirius." The raised eyebrow was enough to convey his thoughts on my state of mind. "We'll be there in about thirty minutes okay? You better get back, before you blow the cover."
I didn't need to be told twice, with a firm nod we separated and I popped back to my girls. My feet couldn't get me to the cottage fast enough. Though this time I was smart enough to knock before bursting in, and I was greeted with a small body flying at me.
"She's been sitting by the door for the last half an hour," Eryss' grumbled from the couch. When she turned her head and her eyes connected with mine, I knew she was waiting on the couch just as our daughter was by the door for my return. Again the odd warmth spread through me and I was becoming very accepting of the new feeling. Propping Lyra on my side, I walked into the house and kicked the door closed behind me.
"James will be here soon," I stated before plopping down next to Eryss with Lyra in my lap. "They're bringing Harry."
Eryss' head snapped in my direction and I had to smirk at the surprise in her eyes. "Little Potter?" she asked and I could see that, as the surprise diminished, excitement was gleaming in her eyes. "I bet he is adorable. Lily is very pretty and James isn't half bad to look at."
I frowned and nudged her with my elbow. Her eyes were sparkling with humor as she looked over at me shyly. "What? He is! Lily has amazing taste." I knew she was trying to lighten the mood and it was working. I just wished she did it in any other way besides telling me she fancied my best mates looks. Lyra was in my lap, oblivious to the conversation her parents were having.
"Well I think you have splendid taste, love." I could see the smirk working its way onto her lips and I had a feeling that if Lyra wasn't in the room, something naughty would have spilled from my loves lips. The three of us spent the next fifteen minutes behaving like a rather normal family. It was odd, but only because it felt so ordinary and routine. If one would have asked me I would have thought the three of us had been together our whole lives.
The hesitant knock on the door broke the peace surround us. Eryss stiffened for a moment before she gathered Lyra into her arms. "Call us when you're ready." I was going to stop her and tell her to wait but I didn't know how much of the story Lily knew and I didn't want to put any one in danger. It didn't matter either way because before I could utter a word, Eryss was already in the bedroom with the door closed.
The visitor knocked again and I sighed before opening the door. James waved as Lily peeked into the house behind him, Harry held securely in her arms. I gestured for the two of them to come in and followed them into the living room. "What do you know Lils?" I asked, letting the two of them get comfortable on the couch.
Lily's eyes weren't on me but on the few toys that had escaped Eryss' cleaning. "Hmm, only that you needed me to check over someone. By the way James was talking and avoiding my questions I assumed it had something to do with Ms. Valenti." She finally sat on the couch and let her eyes lift up to mine. "I assume there is more to the story." She seemed so calm that I wondered what she really thought of the situation. It was as if we were merely talking about one of my past flings and not my Death Eater lover. I was both relieved yet suspicious of the odd behavior. Lily set Harry into James' arms before standing and turning to me. "Well, where is she?"
"Eryss," I called and the bedroom door creaked open. A brown head slowly popped out and Eryss' baby blues flittered around the room before she opened the door further. "Come on." I held my hand out and waited for her to fully exit the room.
Eryss' glanced at me but it wasn't until her eyes fell on Harry that she ventured out of the room. I turned half of my attention to Lily to see her reaction but the redhead merely smiled in Eryss' direction. Not until Lyra came tottering out after her mother did Lily's green eyes widen.
Lyra noticed the stranger and hid behind her mothers legs. But when she saw me she darted from behind Eryss, much to her mother's dismay, and held up her arms to me to be picked up. I smiled as I lifted her into my arms and nearly laughed at the shocked look on Lily's face. Lyra immediately buried her face into my neck and I felt the urge to grin like a fool. "Nessa," I said happily, gently brushing the curls from her face. "This is James' wife Lily and his son Harry."
My little girl peeked out from her hiding spot and peered at both Lily and the smaller baby in her husband's arms. Eryss continued to stand off to the side, her eyes watching for any wrong move against her child. Lily stood cautiously, having noticed Eryss' uneasiness, and tilted her head to get a better view of my daughter. "Lily this is Lyra Nessa, my little girl." I can see the shock return to Lily's face but she did her best to hide it. "And you know Eryss." I didn't mention her last name, worried that it would remind me of her attachment to my brother.
"Hello Ms. Potter," Eryss managed to say as she took a few hesitant steps forward. She didn't offer her hand in greeting; she was too busy wringing them nervously together.
Lily turned her attention to Eryss and smiled sweetly. "Call me Lily, please Eryss, we are the same age." One side of Eryss' lips tilted up but it was quickly covered when Lyra called for her. All thoughts of distrust flew from her mind as Eryss made her way over to me. Lyra quickly switched from my arms to hers and Eryss seemed to transform before our eyes.
A grin stretched onto her face as Lyra whispered something into her ear. The younger girl began blushing and Eryss tried, in vain, to wipe the smile from her face. Clearing her throat, Eryss turned to the adults in the room, her eyes slyly glancing at me from under her lashes. "She didn't know James had a wife." Lyra buried herself further into her mothers' chest and Eryss could no longer hold the light laughter away. "It seems she was rather smitten with him."
I scoffed in disbelief and even though I knew my mouth was hanging open, I couldn't snap it shut. "I've been ditched," I muttered before glaring at the beaming James and the sniggering Lily. Even as she continued to giggle, Eryss placed Lyra onto the floor. My daughter looked at Harry and James for a long while before she slowly began making her way toward the two. "It's always the Potter men!" I huffed out and threw my arms into the air.
Reaching out, I grabbed Eryss' wrist and pulled her into the other couch to sit beside me. Lily took a seat beside her husband and the three of us merely watched as Lyra delicately played with Harry's smaller fingers. After a while, Eryss cleared her throat and sat up straighter.
"I believe we have some things to do." Eryss avoided the word test and I wondered if it was another trigger to watch out for around Lyra. I added it to the list of things I wanted to ask but I knew we had time for questions later.
Lily nodded and turned her attention to Eryss, allowing James to distract Lyra for the time being. "A parental spell, I'm guessing?" Lily asked and received a nod from me even if a frown was on my face. "I don't doubt you Sirius, or you Eryss but this is a good idea. Having the proof will help in the future." I nodded again and managed to pull my lips into a neutral line. "All I need is a blood sample from all of you," Eryss' back became even straighter and Lily quickly turned to reassure her. "I just need a drop and I can draw from all of you without needles. Only a simple spell that pulls the drop through your finger, it will only sting for a second and leaves no marks."
"I understand. Can you take mine first so I can show Nessa that it's okay?" Eryss asked and I unconsciously wrapped my arm around her shoulder in support. Lily nodded again and Eryss breathed a sigh of relief. "Nessa come here please." When the girl finally tore herself away from James, she climbed into Eryss' lap. "Now I told you that we had to do some test to make sure both of us are alright, remember?" Lyra pouted but nodded. "Be a good girl okay?" Again Lyra nodded and Lily stood to crouch before Eryss and my girl.
"May I see your hand, Eryss?" Eryss held out her right hand, palm up, and Lyra watched in slight fascination as Lily drew her wand. "Now it's going to sting a bit but I promise it won't be horrible, okay?" I smiled when Lyra nodded, even though Lily was talking about Eryss' pain. With a flick of her wand, Lily transformed a pillow into a clear plastic cup and set it on the floor. Lily muttered a spell and a drop of dark red liquid leaked from Eryss' thumb. The red head gestured for me to give her my hand as she dropped Eryss' blood into the cup. She repeated the process with me and then smiled gently to Lyra.
Eryss cupped our daughters hand and held it out for Lily. I felt my heart squeeze as my baby's brows knitted together and tears already sprung to her eyes. Gently tilting her head toward me, I leaned down and kissed Lyra scrunched up nose. "It's okay, sweetheart." She sniffled but by then Lily was already finished with her deed.
"All done." Lily dropped the last drop into the cup, picked it up and walked into the kitchen. I sent Eryss a glance and kissed Lyra's cheek before I got up to follow her.
"What now?" I asked, coming up beside her as she set the almost empty cup on the counter. She didn't answer but only muttered another spell and the cup glowed white before a white fog filled within it.
"Now we wait," she supplied quietly and leaned heavily on the counter. "If it turns purple she's the child of both of you."
"And…if she isn't." But she is, I reminded myself.
Lily gave me a half smile before turning back to the milky substance. "Ironically it will turn black." We both stared and I didn't dare ask how long it would take. "So want to explain to me how you and Eryss might have had the chance to produce Lyra?" I knew I owed her an explanation, I hadn't told James but he had figured it out on his own.
"When I didn't return that time and James was freaking out," I told her quietly, with a smile on my face as I remembered that night. It was a bittersweet memory for me. A time where I held everything only to have it all disappear on me in the morning. I chanced a glance back at Eryss and saw her talking with James as Lyra again played with Harry.
"That would make sense for why she stopped being an informant for Dumbledore," Lily reasoned aloud and it brought my attention back to the cup before me. "…and the whole thing with Regulus." I cringed as I was reminded of the thing I had successfully avoided, and I had no doubt Lily noticed. "I would have done the same thing." My eyes widened as I stared at Lily while she held the counter in a death grip. "I would have done anything to protect my child, even if it meant leaving the man I loved forever. I respect Eryss for being strong enough to survive this long."
She was quiet for a minute but I still couldn't take my eyes off of her. "By the way, if you were wondering, I always had this urge to trust Eryss. Even in school she never once made me feel as if I was unsafe if she was in the group of Slytherins." I was stumped again and I was happy someone else felt the same as I did, even if it was only a mere urge in Lily's eyes. "Oh and Black?" I tilted my head and was slightly confused by the smile that slithered onto her face. "Congratulations." Her hand rose and my eyes snapped to the purple filled cup.
I couldn't stand the bubble of happiness that burst within me, so I gathered Lily in my arms in and jumped for joy. "It's purple!" I cheered loudly before releasing my best mate's wife and rushing into the living room. Without hesitation I grabbed Lyra, I threw her playfully into the air and caught her. When she was in my arms again I wrapped them around her and held her firmly against me. My eyes connected with Eryss' and my smile grew wider. "I love the color purple." Stepping over the toys on the ground, I pulled Eryss to me, sandwiching Lyra between us. "I love purple." Leaning over, I locked my lips with hers and hoped she knew that what really loved was her.
A giggle broke my concentration on Eryss' sweet kiss and I tore my lips away from her, only to smile down at my daughter. "Something funny?" As she giggled again, I wondered if my excitement and glee had rubbed off on her. Keeping Eryss tucked to my side I turned to James and I knew my goofy grin was causing his own. "Thanks Lils," I mumbled through my smile and bounced over to her to kiss her cheek.
Tiny hands stopped my lips from touching the other woman's skin and I glanced down at my daughter. Her eyes, almost identical in color to my own, glared at Lily in a signature Black family fashion. "Mines," she muttered, not removing her hands from covering my lips. I couldn't even mange to chide her for her behavior. I merely smiled wider and buried my head into her hair.
"Yeah, sweetheart." I could feel the tears of pure joy building in my eyes. "I am yours." I felt her tiny hands patting my head and I felt Lily guiding me toward the couch. I fell onto the cushions with a shuddered breath. "All yours," I wanted to hold her tighter, as if she would disappear if I let go, but I didn't want to hurt her. I heard Eryss' voice say something to James but my mind was too busy focusing on my daughter.
It was October before I knew it. Life was surreal and time seemed to come and go like water down the drain. I wanted to spend every minute with my new family but I knew that I needed to keep up my effort in the war. I wanted a perfectly safe world for my little girl to grow up in. I wanted Lyra and Harry to be able to go to Hogwarts without the underline fear of an evil wizard out for their blood. As days passed James, and by association Lily, urged me to speak to Dumbledore about Eryss. They said he could help and I knew I should tell him about the circumstances. But I was selfish, I wanted them for myself, even just for a little while. Plus there were rumors that there was a spy within the Order and I couldn't chance the news of Eryss being in my grasp get back to the Dark Lord.
No, I thought as I sat through another meeting where Dumbledore looked even older than normal, I wont let anyone take them from me. Before I could leave the Headmaster of Hogwarts stopped me, along with James and Lily. I could tell by the look in his eyes that I wasn't particularly going to like what he was about to say.
"James, Lily, I think you two should be informed," the older man spoke in a chilling voice. "There is a prophecy…" I snorted and I could see Lily roll her eyes, neither of us had put much into Division while we were in school. "It involves Harry."
The room suddenly dropped ten degrees and I knew that James eyes would have hardened into a narrowed glare but no one spoke. Just before I thought the silence would consume us, Lily spoke.
"I don't believe it," She held up her hand before anyone could comment. "I don't care what it says or who said it! I don't believe it, and because of that I wont…"
"Voldemort knows part of it already and I have no doubt he will go after your family regardless if you believe in it or not." Dumbledore said grimly and I could no long hold my tongue.
"You mean that monster is going to try to kill my GODSON!" I screamed, standing and blowing the kitchen chair I'd been sitting into pieces. I saw the answer in my old teachers eyes and I felt the cold tingles of fear creep up into my heart. "We have to protect them," I said softly to Albus, completely forgetting James and Lily in the room. "You have to make sure they're alright."
"Of course my boy," he replied in an almost grandfatherly tone which only served to annoy me. I didn't need a comforting pat on the head, I needed the wizard that was said to be the only one Voldemort feared.
"The Fidelius Charm," Lily supplied in a steady voice. I was impressed by her calm, though I knew her emotions were brewing under the surface. "We'll use that charm on our house until the threat is gone." She nodded to herself, not waiting for an affirmative answer from the men in the room.
I could see James nodding his head in agreement after a minute of thought. "Sirius will be our Secret Keeper."
I was ready to accept when Lily shook her head. "No."
I felt a moment of hurt at her lack of trust in me, until her eyes caught with mine. Her brilliant green eyes reminded me that I had something else to protect now, that I had something to keep hidden just like they did.
"Sirius will be the obvious choice, we can't pick him. The Death Eaters would immediately go after him." I gulped as she continued to speak, wishing I could do more, wishing I could protect all of my family. "We need someone else, James."
I felt my throat go dry and I couldn't stop my hands from fisting my pant legs. A horrible feeling of dread was wrapping itself around my body and I couldn't push it away. I was lost in a sea of despair until I finally heard James' voice calling my name in concern.
"You alright, mate?" He kept his hand on my shoulder and I'd never admit how much it grounded me. "Do you want to head out?"
I knew what he meant and for a moment I thought to take the chance of escape. A moment of hesitation, where I thought I could simply leave this horrible news behind and run to my girls who were waiting for me. "No, I'm alright. Did we figure it out?" Licking my lips nervously, I turned to make sure Dumbledore was busy talking with Lily. "I'll do it, James. I'll be the Secret Keeper. She'll understand, she wouldn't want me to turn my back on this."
I could see the slight softening of James' eyes and had a feeling that it was because I was acting more mature than I ever had. I had known for a long time that it was time to grow up but I never took the final step. But now I knew that I didn't really have a choice. My family, both Eryss, Lyra and the Potters were in danger and I'd be damned if I sat back and watched them get hurt.
"We know Sirius, really we do" James said with a small smile, his hand squeezing my shoulder. "Just like Lily would understand if the situation was reversed." I nodded, ready to take on anything to help. "But she also knows the stress and fear that would run through her mind everyday and we'd never want to put either of them through that, now would we."
I let out a breath I hadn't known I'd been holding, not in relief but resigned. Lily wouldn't budge once her mind was made up and I didn't want to be on the end of her temper, not when everything was at stake. Nodding again, I stood and excused myself. Quickly I wrote a note to Eryss that I wouldn't be returning for a few days and sent it off on one of the Orders owls.
It took a few hours to work out the kinks but after turning down Dumbledore's offer of being Secret Keeper the Potters finally made a decision.
"Peter," James said with a confidence that he somehow managed to conjure up. "We'll ask Peter. He's the least likely to be suspected." Lily frowned but agreed. We all headed for empty rooms to get an hour or two of sleep before heading to Godric's Hollow to place the charm. We told no one of the choice, least the spy in our ranks find out and turn in the poor man.
It took me a day to hunt Peter down and another for Dumbledore to get prepared. The Old man cast the charm and didn't have any idea that it'd be turned over to the rat Animagus as soon as he left. By the end of the twenty-fourth the Potters home was under the charm and we were all magically drained. With another short note to Eryss, I passed out on the Potter couch for a needed nights sleep.
It was hectic, to say the least, and somehow I became an unknown decoy for Peter. It wasn't until the Thirtieth of October that I managed to get back to the cottage Eryss and Lyra were hidden in. It was well passed midnight and I knew Nessa would already be in bed. So with all my Auror training I quickly entered the house. I was surprised when I caught sight of Eryss sitting on the couch with her head in her hands.
"Ryssie?" I whispered and I was shocked when she jumped to her feet in fright. "Sorry," I muttered, stepping closer to her. "You alright? I've never seen you that out of it." I was concerned. Normally Eryss would already have me at wand point.
"I…" she began but quickly bit her lip in frustration. "I'm worried." I felt my tense shoulders relax and pulled her into my arms. I went to try and calm her fears but she pushed herself out of my grip. "You don't understand Sirius. I got a letter today."
My back straightened and I frowned. "From who?" Her hands shook as she plucked the white parchment from the table that I hadn't noticed earlier.
"I don't know," her voice trembled and I wanted to do anything to remove the tremor. "A raven brought it and just dropped it on the kitchen table. I checked it for any type of threat but it's just a normal letter. It came yesterday morning and I was going to wait for you but I worried someone might have found out where we were." Her eyes finally locked on mine again. "So I opened it, but I don't really…understand it. I think it's a hint or something. I mean I can't really comprehend anything right now, I…" Gulping, she handed me the short note and I took it but didn't let my eyes leave her yet. She looked so frail, even more so than when she'd first came to me. She was shaking and I could almost see that her mind was clouded in terror.
I let my free hand run around to the back of her neck. With a firm pull, her head was buried into my chest and my face in her hair. "Deep breaths Eryss," I said calmly as my fingers stroked the back of her head. It only took a few minutes before I felt her body loosen and I knew she was back to her steady self. "Come sit down."
I pulled her down onto the couch with me and tucked her body close to my side. Finally flipping the parchment open, I let my eyes rack over the words written. It was short, no more than a line or two and seemed to be talking about the weather. I had to read it over ten times before the ink on the page began to fade and morph into something entirely different.
Mutt, you have a rat in your mist who follows someone other than your precious Headmaster. Protect Eryss and Nessa, it was Regulus' last wish.
It wasn't signed and it took me a full minute for my brain to catch up with the words. "Peter," I said in disbelief. "Peter!" Jumping to my feet, I rushed out of the house, leaving a confused and slightly scared Eryss in my wake. I don't know why I believed the anonymous letter but I knew even if I didn't believe them, I wouldn't take the chance. The second I stepped outside of the wards I disappeared, only to show up in front to James' house.
I know I stumbled and even fell three times before I literally burst James' door down. A stunner hit the door frame beside my head by my startled friend. "Damnit Padfoot!" I could see the relief on his face mixed with a lingering adrenaline making his chest rise and fall rapidly. Lily had her hand to her chest as she tried to calm her own breathing.
Ignoring the two adults I ran up the stairs, taking the steps three at a time. Quickly collecting Harry, I nearly flew back down to the first floor. Only when I was back at the door did sound return to my ears.
"…Black! What are you doing? Give me my son!" Lily's face was pale and her voice seemed to rise as she got closer to me.
"Padfoot. What's going on?" James tried to remain neutral but I could tell he was struggling with it. It took me a second to realize I must have looked mad, or under the Imperius. Taking a few deep breaths but not loosening my hold on Harry, who was thankfully falling back to sleep after my rudely awaking him.
"We have to get out of here." I turned back to James and I know he could see the horror in my eyes. "Now. Peter is a traitor." The words slipped from my lips before I could stop them and somehow I knew them to be true.
James nor Lily questioned me just then, they both looked grim but nodded and quickly collected a few needed items. Within a half an hour of me reading the note I was back in front of my cottage with the Potters in tow.
Eryss didn't ask anything, simply took Lily and Harry into the bedroom and helped set the young child up in a bed. I showed James the note, both the original and the hidden, and I could see the gears turning in his head.
"It sounds like Snape." I didn't know how I missed it but it seemed to clear now that James and his family were safely locked within my own wards.
"I don't know why…" I started but shook the thought from my head. "I didn't think of that but he seemed to have helped Eryss escape. Plus even if it is a lie…I wasn't going to chance it."
"But you don't think it's a lie, do you?" I looked up and saw Lily, Eryss beside her laid a supporting hand on her arm. I shook my head no but had no reason for my answer besides basic instincts. "We trust you Sirius."
James nodded, his fingers digging into the parchment we held. "We would have been ambushed," he muttered and I couldn't help but shiver. Silence surrounded us and it was laced with the disbelief of our friends betrayal.
It was less than two hours later that James flinched as he felt his personalized wards fall around his house.