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Chapter 21: Preview: In The Dark
The Unraveling Chapter One:
In The Dark
Chloe Roberts stared absently out of the window of her bedroom in her flat, down at the streets of London below. Anger and worry clouded her mind, and she could think of nothing but the events that had occurred hours earlier. Sirius Black, her boyfriend, and possible fiance had disappeared into the night without an explanation or a word of where he what he was doing or where he was going. Annoyed, and worried, Chloe had contacted his three best friends, and none had written back, and she assumed they were with him.
The street below was relatively busy, even though it was nearing one in the morning. In the passing figures and groups, Chloe’s eyes searched for the familiar red hair of her best friend, Lily Evans who was supposed to be arriving any moment. After her anger of Sirius’ disappearance and worry of his non-reappearance and the lack of response from his friends she wrote to Lily, who was at the Ministry working, to come over and give her some confidence and make her believe that everything was okay.
In the bedroom next to the one she was standing in she could hear the soft mumbling of her son, Ryan, in his sleep. Nearing three years old, Ryan was known to talk in his sleep. Sirius and Chloe had found it concerning at first, but after a while they got used to it. For many it was strange to hear that Chloe, almost nineteen was the mother of a four year old. It had been a well-kept secret when Chloe first got pregnant with Ryan, not telling a soul but her family, and Professor Dumbledore, the Headmaster of her school when she had been attending. She left for a year, telling the lie that she had gone to Beauxbatons, only to return for her seventh year to finish her schooling.
There was a distant sound of someone knocking on her front door, and Chloe left her bedroom, and rushed to the door, passing Ryan’s room, the living room and kitchen as she went. Peering into the eye hole, Chloe felt relieved to see Lily’s green eyes staring back at her. Unlocking the door, and opening it, Chloe jumped into Lily’s arms.
“What’s wrong? You sounded urgent in your letter?” Lily asked her friend immediately when Chloe let go. They entered the flat, and shut the door behind her.
“Sirius disappeared, and no one else would answer. I owled and Flooed James, Remus, and Peter. They didn’t respond to any of it, and I knew immediately that they were probably with Sirius. I thought, maybe, you would know where they had gone.” Chloe quickly explained.
Lily looked thoughtful for a moment, but not worried when she shook her head no. “I haven’t a clue where they’ve gone, but I’m sure it’s nothing we should worry about. Though I’m happy to stay here and wait for them to come home if you’d like.”
“How can you be so calm?” Chloe burst.
Lily didn’t respond, merely glanced down the dark hall to where she could see Ryan’s bedroom door wide open. “Is he talking in his sleep again?”
Chloe, a little annoyed by the change of topic, answered a little bitterly. “Yes, he’s been doing it a lot lately. Sirius thinks he senses everything that’s going wrong.”
“I wouldn’t put it past him. Every where you go now a days it seems there is another reminder of You-Know-Who. Last week James and Alice found old Edgar Bones dead in his home. It looked like there had been a real fight – the house was just in pieces.” Lily said ghostly.
For the first time, Chloe noticed how strange Lily looked. Her skin was the palest Chloe had ever seen, dark circles around her usually bright green eyes. There were new frown lines, and Chloe immediately lost all interest in wanting to know where Sirius was when she saw how upset Lily was.
“What’s wrong Lily?” Chloe asked softly.
Lily looked at Chloe, and frowned. “It’s my mother, she’s sick. Petunia says it pneumonia. I told her I could get her a transfer to St. Mungo’s and that they would get her healthy in a jiff, but Petunia won’t let me. James says I should just go against what she says, and do what’s best for my mother, but I can’t help but think, is having Petunia and I arguing again really what my mother needs?” There were tears in Lily’s eyes, and Chloe pulled her friend close.
“Do what you think you should do. Don’t listen to James, we all know how he despises your sister.” Chloe comforted Lily.
“That’s the problem; I don’t know what I should do.” Lily looked at Chloe exasperated, and then frowned even deeper. “I’m sorry Chloe, I came over here to comfort you, and here I am babbling on about my problems.”
Chloe quickly shook her head. “It’s fine Lily, really. Besides, I think I may have been overreacting. For all I know, Sirius had to go out with the blokes to do something for Dumbledore. He does seem to ask for there help a lot.” Chloe wondered aloud.
“Maybe,” Lily said distractedly. Chloe attributed it to her worries with her mother, and stood up.
“I’m going to make some tea,” Chloe suggested, and went into kitchen and fetched a kettle from the cupboard, and filled it with water. She knew it would have been easier to do it the magical way, but she needed the distraction. Turning the stove on, she placed the kettle on top, and grabbed some large mugs from the other cupboard. Setting them down, she went back into the living room, and saw that Lily had moved from the couch and to the large slanted window that showed an even bigger view of London.
“They’ll be home soon,” Lily murmured against the glass, her warm breath momentarily fogging up the window pane.
Chloe approached Lily slowly. “There is something you aren’t telling me Lily.” Chloe said knowingly.
Lily turned to face her, her arms crossed over her chest. “It’s nothing you need to worry about, Chloe, really.”
“Yes it is. You’re my friend, seeing you upset is something I need to worry about.” Chloe persisted, and moved Lily back to the sofa. “Is it still about your mother?” Chloe tried.
Lily shook her head. “No, no, it’s not that. I think… I think I may just let Petunia have her way on that one. It’s just that…” Lily broke off, and looked at Chloe with an apologetic look. “I can’t tell you, as much as I want to, I can’t. It’s not that I don’t trust you, I do very much so, but I’ve been ordered not to tell a soul about it. You understand, don’t you?” Lily seemed to plead Chloe.
A little surprised by Lily’s outburst, Chloe just nodded in agreement. She could see that whatever it was was eating Lily up, but if she couldn’t talk about it then she couldn’t. “This has to do with work, right?”
“Yes, yes I suppose it does.” Lily agreed a vague tone in your voice.
Chloe wasn’t convinced, but as the kettle in the kitchen started to shrill loudly, she got up quickly to pull it off the stove to avoid waking Ryan. She reached it in the nick of time. Absently waving her wand, two saucers and cups soared out of the cupboard and tea bags floated into them, and she tipped the hot water inside. Hurrying back into the living room, Chloe handed Lily her tea, and sat down with a quick sip of her own.
Lily took a sip of her tea, and Chloe watched her intently. This was why Lily wasn’t so frazzled by the boy’s disappearance. She knew where they were. But still as she looked at Lily’s face Chloe could see the stress lines, and worry in her eyes. Snuggling a little closer into the sofa, Chloe changed her glance down the hall where she could see Ryan’s door a little open.
“He didn’t even say good bye to Ryan – he never does that.” Chloe murmured to herself.
“It’s… don’t worry about it Chloe, really.” Lily said, looking at Chloe finally.
“I’m not going to anymore. Seeing you so relaxed…ish… is sort of convincing me that everything is fine. I just, I understand that you can’t talk about it, but it still sucks.” Chloe confessed, hoping Lily would understand.
Of course she would, as Lily nodded with a knowing smile. “I get it Chloe, I would be the same. In fact, if I were you I would probably be worrying a thousand times more. I honestly don’t know how you can be engaged with the irrational Sirius Black.” Lily said lightly.
Chloe snorted. “Engaged,” she paused rolling her eyes, “If you want to call it that. All we’ve done or said is that we would like to get married, but we’re not going be too irrational like everyone else is right now. Were still only nineteen – we’re not going to be like the Weasley’s.” Chloe grinned, and Lily smiled back. The Weasley’s were Molly and Arthur, who had six children and had married at the age of twenty. Chloe knew them through Sirius who was distantly related to the two.
“I think they were made for each other though, just like you and Sirius are meant for each other. I think you should just spring it on him one day, get a person to marry you, and get all the guys here. Don’t bother with the big white wedding – it’s not you and Sirius.” Lily told her, looking very serious.
Chloe changed the subject. “What about you and James? You can’t tell me that he still hasn’t thought about marriage.”
Lily shrunk a little in the couch, and Chloe got suspicious. “Lily, is there something else you haven’t told me?”
“All right, I’ll tell you the truth. James asked me to marry him a month ago-”
“A month ago!” Chloe exclaimed.
“Let me finish the story!” Lily chastised.
“Right, sorry, continue.” Chloe said nodding at her friend.
Lily took a breath and began. “I told him we were too young, and well, things have been a bit awkward since. I want to marry him, some day, but as you said, we’re only nineteen.” Lily stressed.
“What does it really matter, Lily? Yes, you’re nineteen, but can you really see yourself with anyone else?” Chloe asked, knowing Lily couldn’t deny it.
Lily looked away for a moment, staring at the old fireplace that was across the room. “No, I can’t. I’d be lying if I didn’t.” Lily admitted. Chloe thought she might go on, but Lily fell silent, sipping her tea every so often.
Chloe knew there was nothing else to be said, and joined her friend in the stare off at the empty fireplace. Without much thought, Chloe pulled out her wand and ignited the charred wood, and let the yellow and orange flames warm up the main room. Lily was still silent, but Chloe could see easily that she was tired, and probably still contemplating whether she should marry James or not.
While Lily sat silently, Chloe’s own thoughts turned to marriage. She couldn’t ever see herself getting married, not after everything that had happened. She already has a son and a settled life with Sirius. They were happy where they were at, and marriage seemed a little pointless. But Sirius had talked about marriage before, and Chloe wondered if he was being serious or not.
As Chloe thought this, she almost jumped in shock as the flames in the fireplace burst into green and Sirius bounded out quickly followed by James, Remus, and Peter. They were all out of breath, and for a long time seemed to stand congregated, dusting off soot silently before at last realizing that Chloe and Lily were on the sofa.
“Where have you been?” It wasn’t Chloe who asked, but James.
“I’ve been here, with Chloe, because you four left without a word or an explanation.” Lily bit back, annoyed that James was berating her.
“You were supposed to come as well – you could have written to her for the five of us rather then skipping out.” James retorted, sounding a little too angry.
“Can we stop pointing fingers; all that matters is that you are safe.” Chloe said, standing up. She had seen the look on Sirius’s face that he was upset about something, he was quiet, and he was running his hand through his hair.
“Right,” Lily agreed, and got up herself. She went over to James, and started to inspect a cut that was on his forehead.
“I’m going to get some tea,” Remus said and went into the kitchen, Peter quickly following looking quite uncomfortable.
“I need to get out of these robes,” Sirius muttered to Chloe and headed towards their bedroom. Chloe followed concerned.
Alone in the dark room, Chloe sat at the end of their bed while Sirius changed. She hoped if she kept silent he would tell her what was wrong. As he pulled his robes off, Chloe could see him wince a little, and when she saw his bare arm she almost gasped in shock. There was a long red gash running down his left arm, and Chloe jumped up.
“What did you do?” Chloe breathed, stopping Sirius from hiding his arm, and held it tightly in her hands. Blood was trickling freely down his arm, and Chloe was quick to pull out her wand and start to perform the spells she knew off by heart after working at St. Mungo’s for a year and a half.
“You’re a life saver,” Sirius breathed as he watched the blood cease to flow, and the cut slowly heal itself until it was a long thin scar.
“What did you do?” Chloe asked, feeling scared and worried now. She didn’t like how passive Sirius was acting about all this. “Tell me the truth.”
Sirius looked away, sighing heavily, and he pulled his arm away. Digging through his wardrobe he pulled out a fresh set of robes, and turned back to Chloe. With his free hand, he reached for Chloe’s face, but she quickly backed away from him. Sighing again, he dropped his hand. “Please don’t be like this Chloe; I’m sure Lily already told you that you can’t know.”
“I can’t know?” Chloe asked shrilly. “I can’t know what is hurting the ones I love, why you are always disappearing leaving me and your son alone all the time? Why the hell can’t I know, Sirius?”
“Lower your voice or you’ll wake up Ryan.” Sirius said forcefully.
“Tell me Sirius,” Chloe bit back.
Closing his eyes for a moment, he then moved Chloe over to the bed, and forced her to sit down with him. Putting his fresh robes beside him, he took Chloe’s hands into his lap. “All I’m going to tell you is that it’s for the better good; were helping Dumbledore in the fight against You-Know-Who.” Sirius said importantly.
“Is that all your going to say, Sirius? The bloody Ministry is taking care of that – it’s none of your business-” Chloe started, a little hysterically.
“Chloe, it is my damn business! These people kill innocent people, and the Ministry barely does a thing. You’ve heard what James and Lily said the other day, He and his followers are getting stronger. Just last week the Prewett brothers were murdered while fighting Death Eaters. They are ruthless, and will kill any one who gets in their way. I’m not just going to sit around and let Him do that to people I care fore, not when the next person could be you or Ryan.” Sirius finished gravely.
Chloe sat stunned, and then leaned her head on Sirius’s shoulder, and he quickly pulled her close to him. “I’m sorry, I’m just scared. I wasn’t thinking.” Chloe mumbled, tears filling her eyes. Seeing Sirius hurt had frightened her. Over the last few months she had seen a lot of patients come in severely injured, and with injuries just like Sirius’s. The only difference is that theirs had never stopped bleeding, and it took nearly a day to find the spell that would stop the bleeding and end the curse upon it.
“I know,” Sirius whispered, holding her tightly, and running his hand through her hair, rubbing her back with the other.
Finally Chloe pulled herself together, and pulled away from Sirius. Wiping her face, she shoved her hair back. “I want to help,” she said clearly. Thinking of those frightened Aurors that had come into the hospital, and the newspaper articles that would tell of another person’s death. “Can I help?”
It was Sirius’s turn to look worried. “No, I won’t let you do that. Not with Ryan. You are helping enough at the Hospital, I won’t have the two of us both involved.” Sirius argued.
“But you said it yourself – the Ministry isn’t doing enough, St. Mungo’s is partially run by the Ministry. It’s not your choice, it’s mine. That isn’t fair.” Chloe cursed.
“Think about it Chloe, if something were to happen to the both of us, what would happen to Ryan? He would grow up without parents. I can’t let that happen.” Sirius said, trying to knock some sense in to Chloe’s head.
Chloe didn’t respond, just stared broodingly at Sirius while her chest heaved. She didn’t like what he had said, in fact she hated it. But she knew that Sirius was telling truth. Finally sighing in surrender, she relaxed, and frowned. “I don’t like it,” she mumbled.
“I know,” Sirius tried to smile a little, and the stood up. Pecking her on the cheek he moved towards the door. “I’m going to have a shower.” He said, and left the bedroom.
Shoulders slumped, Chloe stared at the open door way, and she could hear the low murmuring of her friends as they sat in the living room talking about what ever had happened earlier. She longed to be with them, to learn what had happened but she knew as soon as she even stepped outside of the bedroom they would stop talking and change the topic. It hurt her that she had to be kept in the dark, so much that Chloe felt like just lying down in her bed and waiting for Sirius so that she could go to sleep.
A soft creaking reached Chloe’s ears, and slowly Remus’s shadow loomed over her. She didn’t bother looking at his face, she was already waiting for what he was going to say, to hear his attempt at comforting her. Instead, all she felt his hand on her shoulder, and felt the sagging of the bed as Remus sat down next to her.
“I know it isn’t what you want.” Remus said quietly. “I would tell you, but it’s up to Sirius. Usually he isn’t like this, Chloe, he’s always trying to get people to join who want to help, and Dumbledore has already asked, but he’s really protective of you.”
“I know,” Chloe agreed. She could the sound of running water from the loo as Sirius started the bath. Chloe then smirked, “Though in time I think I can change that.”
Remus smiled back, and hugged Chloe to his side. “Always one to look on the happy side.”
“In the meantime I could go for a strong cup of tea, has everyone gone home?” Chloe asked.
“No, they are still in the living room.” Remus told her, and stood up.
“Good, I need some laughter.” Chloe said, and followed Remus out.
A/N: So, if you like it, check out the sequel on my Authors page. It's called The Unraveling. Thank you for putting up with me!