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Echoes of Fate by timeturner
Chapter 1: Betrayal
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If you are reading this, I love you already. This is my first sequel ever so this is going to be a learning experience for me. A lot of people have asked for a sequel to Reckless and others to the present. Being the weird gal I am, I decided to give you both…in one story. So, if you haven’t read those, you may want to just to get the back story on the relationships involved if you wonder how some of the couples ended up together or if you have questions about Juliette. It’s not going to be necessary, though, as this story is intended to completely stand alone. I hope you enjoy!
it's only a cover-up for the fact you don't have control over your own life
Echoes of Fate
Chapter 1: Betrayal
Candles dimmed by hours of use flickered noiselessly against the gray stoned walls of the manor, casting memory filled shadows across the room. Strings of pearls intermingled with a mound of cream colored lace at his feet called to the few coherent thoughts left in his brain after the two bottles of celebratory scotch he’d had earlier in the evening. A dizzying mix of peppermint and whiskey touched the edges of his throat and he stifled the cough rising from deep within his lungs. Raking a shaky hand through his twisted matte of sweat soaked black hair; he closed his eyes to block out the reality of his day.
Things weren’t supposed to have happened like this. He shouldn’t have been laughing and smiling and twirling around the dance floor as if happiness had finally found its way into his life. He certainly couldn’t fathom what had prompted him to kiss her when he was ordered to. He’d been kissing her for nearly a year in secret and, suddenly, as if a veil of approval had been lifted on his wicked ways, he was being ordered to kiss her in front of a garden full of people he only half knew. He knew them ten years ago, of course. But today they were strangers – echoes of a past he was doing his damnedest to forget he ever lived.
He struggled from underneath the tangled mess of sheets that were wrapped around his legs, clinging to the end table in hopes of keeping himself from crashing into the stone floor. That would be the reality of his day…knocking himself unconscious, his blood spilling across the cold, barren floor just because he was too damn ignorant to keep his drinking in check. He grimaced then straightened with more determination. Passing out was one thing – being found passed out was entirely another.
His bare feet slid awkwardly on the rose petals some idiot party goer had decided would be a good idea. Now, really, did anyone think he was the romantic type? A good bottle of rum and an Egyptian cotton down comforter were the extent of his needs for a good time. And he was even willing to compromise on the goose down.
He dropped into the nearest chair, his fingers clasping tightly around the crystal pitcher as he tried to pour himself a glass of water. The liquid sloshed unevenly at the edges as he poured, threatening to drench his lap. Droplets splattered down his legs, causing a shiver to run through him and a realization to dawn through the fog of leftover alcohol. He’d forgotten to get dressed. Not that it mattered. It was his house and his room, after all. But hadn’t someone somewhere taught him a few more manners than that? He pushed the glass to the table and yanked on a pair of pants before toppling back into the now water slick leather chair. Could his day get any worse?
He let the water cool the burn in his throat as he puzzled over what had awoken him. But he didn’t really have to think about it. He knew what kept him awake at night. For all the changes this crazy world offered, his nightmares would forever be the one remaining constant.
Her eyes- the color of a forgotten lake in the depths of Scotland that he’d only managed to see once in his life. Her hair- the color of a reddening sun just as it set and before darkness took hold. She was the one he’d left. Deserted. And now he had betrayed her.
It was no more than a whisper but the voice caused him to wince in pain. How could he possibly be dreaming about Lily now? Not a dream exactly - more a nightmare relived, but still...it was his wedding night. He was married for chrissakes. Him. Sirius Black. Married.
He dropped his head into his hands, willing his emotions under control.
But she was too smart for him…knew him too well. She knew what haunted his dreams and caused him to falter with fear and anger and self-loathing. She knew his moods before daylight when the world was a place where his regrets could bring him to his knees. He hadn’t planned for it to happen today. It was one of the reasons he’d drank so much…so that the dreams wouldn’t come and spoil this night for them. But the soft touch with which she pulled him back to bed told him she bore him no resentment.
Of anyone, she was the one who would understand.
He slipped back under the covers, and for the moment, it was merely enough to hold her, cradling her head in the hollow beneath his chin. His hands moved over her skin and he pressed the center of her body into his. He stroked his way up her back, caressing her spine like the string of pearls at their feet until his fingers found the tender top of her neck. He took her face between his hands and drew her to him for a lingering kiss before pulling her to rest on his chest. No one had ever fit him like she did. Her curves melted into his, her tiny frame fitting neatly into his arms as if they were meant to be nowhere else. And now, she was his, his past be damned.
“What are you smiling at?” Hermione lifted her head slightly, her eyes narrowing in amusement at the stupid grin plastered on his face.
“I was just thinking how I will never have to work hard to get lucky again.”
“Wanting to fight?”
“Perhaps,” he answered with mock seriousness. “It’s been almost ten hours, you know.”
“Lovely, still time to get an annulment, then,” she chuckled but let her lips trail against the warm flesh on his neck to reassure him that she had no doubts.
His face was still flushed from whatever nightmare he’d been having…his tossing had awoken her hours ago but she’d known better than to try and force anything out of him. She had no doubt it was about James and Lily – he rarely had dreams about anything else. They had changed in the last few days, though, she knew that. The darkened grey of his eyes told him the dreams were no longer melancholy but much more sinister and heart-breaking than his previous ones.
From the shelter of his arms, she traced every plane and angle of his handsome face, wishing there was some way to ease the pain coursing through him. Her familiar touches caused his face to brighten although she could almost see the forced happiness he was displaying just for her.
She couldn’t remember a time when he had seemed unattractive to her. Back in her Hogwarts days, he drove her insane with his bouts of reckless behaviour and the quintessential bad advice she always felt he was giving Harry. But she never thought of him as unattractive. Frankly, she hadn’t given him much thought at all. Had she ever gotten past his rough exterior back then she might have even had a crush on him but, thankfully, she’d been too arrogant herself and, if truth be told, she believed him not nearly good enough for her. Funny how, decades later, she was beginning to believe that she wasn’t nearly good enough for him.
The Black family was, she guessed, the closest thing to royalty that the wizarding world knew. They had the lineage, the pureblood air, the aristocratic personality and physical traits that distinguished them from all others. Had it not been for Lucius being on the run from the Ministry, the Malfoys would probably risen to regal status themselves but, as it was, the Blacks had once again taken center stage amongst wizards. It had become almost impossible for anyone living at Grimmauld to go into the city without being plagued with questions and entreaties for Sirius to come over for dinner at so-and-so’s house. Although he was always polite and spoke with the uptmost grace, Sirius always declined.
When he did take risks, Hermione could almost see his brain working – his risks were always calculated ones…ones where he knew the odds were in his favor or would quickly turn that way with an intelligent move. What she’d seen as recklessness as a child she could now recognize as confidence and self-assurance. Where she, Harry and Ron had discussed, evaluated and analyzed how their moves should proceed, Sirius trusted in his own intuition and abilities with far more certainty than anyone she’d ever encountered save Voldemort.
The comparison sent an odd twitch of discontent through her and she snuggled tighter into his embrace. The effect of his touch was only temporary, though, and for the first time since he’d come back from the veil, Hermione experienced a cold, distant murmur of fear at being in the clutches of Sirius Black.
Chapter 2: Mrs. Black
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Echoes of Fate
Chapter 2: Mrs. Black
“Sirius, wake up!” Juliette’s aggravated voice barely registered in Sirius’ sleep deprived brain.
“Honey, let him rest. He didn’t sleep well last night.”
“Intriguing,” a male voice chuckled from somewhere nearby, rousing Sirius from sleep immediately.
Raising himself in the bed, he let his hand run through his hair as his eyes tried to focus. Across the room, Hermione was clothed in his shirt from the wedding, shuffling around the room as she tried to put it in some semblance of order. A flare of jealousy rose, finding it unfair that Remus was allowed to see her like this but then he quickly brushed it away. This was no doubt Remus’ surprise visit and Sirius couldn’t very well fault his new wife for it. He’d just have to make sure to get her a robe to keep handy at the bedside from now on. His arm wrapped instinctively around Juliette, pulling her into his lap, as he narrowed his eyes at Remus. “It is the day after my nuptials, Remus. Why am I awaking to your face instead of my bride’s?”
“I brought your favorite coffee as a peace offering for the intrusion.” Remus tilted a take away cup at him enticingly.
“Not accepted,” he grumbled. “And if you say one sentence with the word Ministry in it I will personally throw you out on your arse.”
Remus’ smile faltered and Hermione turned quickly away. It didn’t matter – Sirius knew she was laughing by the way her shoulders trembled. He smiled to himself, enjoying that he knew her moves so well. Letting out an exhausted sigh, he raised an eyebrow to Juliette, knowing she wouldn’t deny him an explanation.
“Lucius Malfoy was caught,” she supplied. “He’s in cuss….cuss…cussdee.”
“C-u-s-t-o-d-y,” he repeated gently, knowing she took offense to the slightest hint of correction in her speech. Taking a few loose tendrils of her hair, he tucked them back into the loose ponytail at her crown and tightened the sunny yellow ribbon that was coming undone in her excitement.
“Isn’t that great news?” she bounced in his lap. “Remus came to celebrate with us!”
“Celebrate, hm?” Sirius frowned. He knew Remus well enough to know that an intrusion this early the day after his wedding was definitely not cause for celebration. He tilted his head for explanation but Remus remained placid, sipping his own coffee in silence. It was Hermione a pace behind, still not meeting his gaze, who touched her chest with a single finger. A tiny movement, so small no one but him would ever notice and his breath automatically caught in his throat.
Harry’s mark. No scar. The entwined rope scar above his heart that signified his acceptance as Harry’s godfather. Memories flooded through him, the ancient relics in the Black bedroom where he sat seeming to make the images that more real. He could see Harry as a baby, James standing proudly over him. He could envision Lily trying in vain to protect her son, wondering if death would be painful for them both.
“Sirius?” Juliette was worried now, unable to mask the concern in her voice. It was easy for Sirius to forget how perceptive she was at such a young age. He squeezed her shoulder in an attempt to reassure her. She wasn’t going to buy it. She could feel the tremble in his muscles and when she sent him a reprimanding glare, he scooted her off his lap to make her stand beside the bed.
“What say you at least give the newly married time to get dressed?”
“He’s kicking us out,” Juliette said, folding her arms across her chest and sending Remus a withered look.
“Yes, he is,” Remus nodded. “Come, Bill is still downstairs. Let’s go keep him company, shall we?”
Sirius didn’t bother to move as they left, remaining stone-like in the bed as the door clicked behind them and Hermione sank down beside him. Her fingers slid over his arm to comfort but he jerked away. “Don’t coddle me like a child.”
“No, I-“ she trailed off. Like always, he was right about her actions. She wanted to temper the storm before it came. It was hard for her to remember but Sirius liked the storm. He was drawn to it, as if without some dilemma to solve he wasn’t really alive. But she also knew this was a storm he wouldn’t want to be near.
“Just stop the mental analysis and tell me, Hermione. What is Lucius saying about Harry?”
“He’s not. He refuses to talk to anyone but you. That’s why Bill is here – official ministry business. Remus is along to try and get you to cooperate.”
“And Harry?” he prodded. He knew he had not mistaken her signal, there was just something she wasn’t wanting to tell him. It was times like this he wondered why he married her. She could infuriate him more than anyone on the planet.
But this time he paid more attention when she reached out to touch him. This time, she was the Hermione he knew – the needy one, the one who relied on him to be her strength, the one who trusted him and no one else- and it was her hand that was now trembling. Wordlessly, he pulled her to lie on his chest, listening attentively as her heartbeat slowly returned to normal in his arms. He married her for a lot of reasons but this was by far the biggest – she needed him. Like no one had every needed him before. Slipping his fingers to her chin, he tilted her to face him. As if looking in a mirror, betrayal infused every beautiful line of her face and it took him a moment to understand. He sighed heavily, letting his lips ghost across hers in the softest of good morning kisses. “You were right to love Harry, Hermione. How many times must I say it doesn’t bother me?”
A lie. A tiny one but still a lie. Of course it bothered him. He was now married to a woman who had shared his godson’s bed. In any era that would affect a man. She was his. His soul mate. Had he never disappeared into the veil, he had no doubt that they somehow would have found their way together. But he had left, just like he’d left Lily and now he was going to spend the rest of his life trying to rectify the results of his absence. A flash of dead bodies – Lily, James, Harry- went through his mind. Not a memory but a make-believe vision that his own head had created to fill in the blanks. But it still had the intended effect. He understood Hermione’s mood.
“Lucius has details of Harry’s death.” It was a statement not a question but she nodded anyway. He tried to fight the anger he felt rising within him. “And you want me to talk to him.”
Hearing the edge in his voice, she sat up to face him. “I need-“
“You don’t need to hear anything,” he grumbled, sliding away from her and out of the bed so he could get dressed. “You’ve allowed Remus to convince you that knowing the truth will help you move on.”
“Well-“ her head dropped, her hands twisting tightly in the covers to hide the shaking. It was true. Remus had come to her not an hour ago and they’d sat quietly in the corner of the bedroom, watching Sirius toss and turn while discussing Lucius’ capture.
“You have moved on! You’re lying in my bed as we speak. Besides, why the hell would you ever believe Lucius Malfoy would tell you the truth about anything? He doesn’t do anything to help someone. You, of all people, should know that!”
“I do know that. I do. But, Sirius, understand this has haunted me for years. For a decade I thought I was responsible for his death. I stopped doing magic because of it –“
“I don’t need the trip down memory lane. I know all this,” he spat.
Hermione raised her eyes to him, confused at his raging anger. Yes, they were known for their fights but she’d never seen him raise to this level of fury in such a short time frame. Only when he was cornered did he ever act so irrational. She frowned with sudden understanding. She was cornering him. As if his torment on their wedding night hadn’t been bad enough, now he was reliving Harry’s death before the sun even rose. Trying a different tactic, she softened, wishing she’d been able to talk to him alone rather than having him wake up to a surprise party in his own bedroom.
“I know the last thing you want is to sit in a room with Malfoy and listen to the details of Harry’s death.”
“Do you?” he seethed, yanking on his jacket and refusing to look at her.
“If I could do it myself, I would. I would have struck him down myself years ago if given the opportunity. But he won’t see me. I’m too far beneath him to have my presence even be considered.”
“You can’t reason with me on this. Sitting in a room with Malfoy while he describes in detail the vivid horrors of my godson’s death is not something he is likely to survive.” Sirius was to the door, his hand already wrapped around the doorknob when he heard her whispered, broken reply.
Of course she knew. How could he have been so blind? She knew the Ministry would never allow him to enter the interrogation chamber with a weapon. They would have it sealed against verbal and non-verbal magic. She’d spent years testifying after Voldemort’s death. She would know every safeguard they had. She knew Sirius would never be able to sit idly by while Lucius described Harry’s death. She not only knew he would strangle Lucius with his bare hands – she was depending on it.
She had watched Lucius kill her friends and family with a single wave of his wand. It wasn’t vindictive anger or blinding hatred…to her, this was justice. She was too kind hearted to want someone dead for the mere sake of revenge. No. She wanted to feel safe, to know Malfoy would not be able to tear apart her family again. But he couldn’t balance what she was telling him with who he knew she was. Rather than look at her, he dropped his head for a split second.
“I can’t control myself around him, Hermione. Lord knows I’ve tried since I was a teenager. But he’s a Malfoy. I’m a Black. You want the truth but is his death a price you are willing to pay?”
She wanted nothing more than to pull him into her arms and make him understand how traumatic this was for her but she knew better than to move toward him. He was back in his childhood, back in the mentality of being a Black – a man being asked to do something no matter what the cost to others. Tears trembled on her lashes but she sat straighter, unwilling to let him make her sound like a heartless murderer. “I don’t want him dead. Punished, yes. He deserves to rot in Azkaban for his actions. But I do want the truth and you have the ability to provide it.”
“You’ll never forgive yourself,” he whispered.
She hesitated but only for a moment. Long enough for him to know she had been considering this for years, never expecting an opportunity for truth and justice to ever arrive. “I don’t have to. I only have to forgive you. And I’ve already done that.”
He could feel the knife staking through his heart. She forgave him for leaving. She forgave him for killing Bella. She forgave him for Draco. She forgave him for who he was, where he came from, for everything that no one else in the world would ever forgive him for. She didn’t want Lucius killed but she wouldn’t hold it against Sirius if it happened. Her love was an unconditional gift. And, in repayment, she asked only for one thing: the truth.
Seemingly cold and heartless, perhaps but not unreasonable. Certainly nothing he hadn’t heard before in his years as a Black. Rather mundane after the things he’d heard and done, actually. He wondered vaguely if this is who she believed him to be – the murderer he had been named as for so many years- but then shoved the idea to the back of his mind. Hadn’t she herself witnessed him trying to kill Peter in cold blood when she was only a mere child? He was willing to kill in front of a bunch of school kids but wouldn’t kill the man who had the answers of Harry’s death? It wasn’t wrong of her to ask…it was wrong of him to think Lucius deserved anything else but the fate that was coming to him.
“Sirius?” Remus’ voice was soft as he pulled the door open, hesitating when he saw Sirius’ already fully dressed. His eyes darkened quickly, taking in the situation with a perception that drove Sirius mad. He wanted Sirius to talk to Lucius. Remus believed he could control the situation…that both Lucius and Sirius would come out unscathed. It was as obvious as the five o’clock shadow on his cheeks that told Sirius Remus had not been home in over a day.
“Take me to the ministry.”
“Sirius, wait a minute, let’s-“ Remus had caught the dangerous tone in his voice. He knew it well enough to know Sirius was going to fight rather than accommodate some Ministry request.
“That’s what you came here for, isn’t it?”
“Sirius?” Hermione’s soft voice interrupted, making them both turn her direction. “I love you.”
He nodded once, knowing it was true but having no desire to hear it right now. He didn’t deserve love, especially not from someone as good as her. He let his stormy grey eyes settle on hers, meaning to both reprimand her and offer her a tendril of forgiveness for her behavior at the same time.
“Mrs. Hermione Black,” he whispered, “odd, isn’t it? I never expected the name to suit you quite so well. Welcome to the family.”
Author’s Note: Well, it only took a year and a half to get me to write fanfic again! That should be like a site record or something. I want to thank staffers AndrinaBlack, Arthimany Wiz, Lovly Rita (who gets credit for the fabulous summary!) and LisaMackay for staying up in the wee hours of the morning holding my hand as I tried to pluck up the courage to write and then post this thing. Also thanks to members tell_me_what_the_truth_is and Violet_Gryfindor who have been nothing but the kindest of cheerleaders as I battled whether or not to try and enter the fanfic world again. Thank you all!
Chapter 3: Old Vendettas
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Echoes of Fate
Chapter 3: Old Vendettas
Sirius rolled his eyes in exasperation as he watched Remus huddling with Bill in the Black family kitchen. Grabbing the cup of coffee Remus had brought him off the table, he leaned against the door frame, waiting impatiently for their conversation to end. He chuckled as Bill’s face flushed red, taking a sip of his drink to hide his amusement. Special coffee, indeed. Sirius fought to compose himself as the burn of Irish whiskey slid down his throat. Apparently, Remus had known what a rough morning this would be before he even entered the doors of Grimmauld.
With a brief nod Sirius’ direction, Bill stormed passed the both of them and toward the main hallway. A second later, the echo of the heavy front doors slamming shut reverberated through the mansion. Turning to Remus, his mouth spread into a grin. “Making friends again, Remus?”
“Don’t start, Sirius,” Remus grumbled, rubbing the growing stubble on his face.
“When was the last time you went home? Two days? Three?”
“I’m not worried about Tonks,” he returned easily. “Were you in the group that went after Lucius?”
Remus hesitated before nodding. He’d find out anyway, there was no use in hiding it. “I went home two nights ago. Briefly. Very briefly. I saw Tonks at the wedding.”
“Suicide mission that was,” Sirius mumbled. “but you knew that and that’s why you didn’t invite me along, isn’t it?”
“I didn’t figure Hermione would forgive me for taking you away from the wedding to go hunt down Malfoy. Or making her a widow on her wedding night, of course.”
“Yes,” Sirius nodded, “she can be a bit peculiar about things like that. So…want to sit down and face her wrath in the next few minutes or go for a walk and deal with the repercussions later?”
Remus opened his mouth to object but Sirius raised a hand for silence. “You aren’t going to allow me to see Malfoy. We can pretend you were fighting with Bill over confidential Ministry business or just deal with your lack of faith in my ability to control my more murderous tendencies. Neither choice will likely help my marriage. So…shall we go?”
Rather than wait for a response, Sirius turned on his heel and headed toward the door. Slipping on his darkest sunglasses as the summer sun blinded his vision, he hesitated to give Remus time to catch up and then started down the sidewalk to the busier part of town. While he hated the attention he drew when out in a crowd, he knew Remus would feel much safer with a public audience. At least he wouldn’t expect Sirius to punch a hole in the wall if a hundred witnesses were around to ruin his calm, cool under pressure reputation.
They walked in silence for some time, both trying to avoid gazing at the other, until Remus finally motioned to a nearby café. Taking seats across from each other, Sirius waved for fresh coffees before the waitress could leave their area. Stretching out his legs and relaxing back in the wrought iron chair, Sirius was thankful for the dark glasses which helped hide his eyes and, consequently, kept Remus from being able to analyze his emotional state.
“Seems you had a boisterous evening last night,” Remus offered as he took delivery of their coffees and waved the waitress away.
“Have I ever been one to kiss and tell?” Sirius chuckled. “Surely you aren’t curious enough to be asking about the details of my wedding night.”
Remus frowned. “I meant the dreams, Sirius. When I came you were tossing like the devil was after you. A bit disconcerting to happen on what should have been such a glorious day, don’t you think?”
“I prefer not to think, if truth be told. That’s more your department.”
Remus fell quiet, thinking through the things Sirius was trying hide behind his joking statements. But, like Hermione, he knew all too well what drove Sirius’ nightmares. He wondered if there was something he could say to help ease the grief Sirius was placing on himself over Lily and Harry but then shrugged off the attempt. Nothing he could say would ease that pain and they both knew it. “Are you and Hermione still going to go visit the coast?”
“Highlands maybe. She’s indecisive enough already and this Malfoy debacle may have ruined my best laid plans.”
“You know how the Ministry is…”
“Yes, but I didn’t expect you to create such drama in my household and then suddenly change your mind and prevent my admission to the Ministry. Come on, Remus,” Sirius grumbled. “You show up before dawn, disrupt everyone the day after the wedding and then decide ‘oh, wait, never mind’?”
“I didn’t know you were going to rush out and attempt to kill the man, now did I?” Remus hissed, lowering his voice to prevent the neighboring patrons from overhearing. “How was I supposed to guess that murder had suddenly become an acceptable practice to you? What choice did you leave me? Let you go, let you kill him, and then be the one who had to arrest you and send you back to Azkaban? Sorry, brother, but that’s not a road I intend to let either of us travel down.”
Shaking his head, Sirius pulled off his glasses and tossed them onto the table. Leaning forward, he rested one arm on the edge of the table to stare directly at his friend. When he was certain he had Remus’ full attention, his voice turned to a near growl of impatience.
“I would never put you in such a position. Nor will I ever go back to that place. Never assume that I'm sacrificial enough to destroy my own life for what you or Hermione or anyone else believes is the right course of action. You forget I am a Black. We are always out for ourselves.”
“You’re a Black in name only, Sirius.”
“Really?” Sirius gave a single, sardonic laugh. “Then why are you so ready to believe I’ll commit murder at the drop of a hat?”
“Because whether you say it out loud or not, you love her, Sirius,” Remus explained. “And you’ll do anything for those you love. I, of anyone, know that best.”
Sirius leaned away, sliding his sunglasses back over his eyes and dropping his head to lean against the back of his chair. He hated it when Remus was right. If he’d gone to see Malfoy, he probably would have strangled him. The man wouldn’t have had to utter word and Sirius’ fury at the pain he was vicariously inflicting on Hermione would have been enough to fuel his rage. Harry’s death aside, Malfoy deserved nothing but death for his misdeeds. Even the darkest throws of Azkaban weren’t vicious enough to serve as punishment for all of Lucius’ actions. But none of that mattered. He wasn’t going to be admitted to see Malfoy…Remus had undoubtedly seen to restricting his access already.
“Why did he want me, do you think?”
“Not many purebloods left?” Remus shrugged. “To try and get a rise out of you? To share some aristocratic secret than none of us lower beings are allowed to be privy to? Who the hell knows, Sirius.”
“What will the Ministry do?”
“Do you care?” Remus chuckled.
“If me not talking to him means he’s going to walk then yes, I care.”
“The Ministry has plenty of recourse against him, Sirius. Risking your freedom to only add a few other charges would be a pointless exercise.”
Sirius nodded, not sure if he could trust Remus to be objective in his statements. He would protect Sirius even if it meant Lucius walked…he had no doubt about that. He made mental note to talk privately with Bill and see what the true story of Malfoy’s incarceration might be.
“How bad did he fight?”
A shadow flickered across Remus' face, making Sirius' stomach clench. So it had been bad. Worse than bad. Few things ruffled Remus, he was too accustomed to facing eminent death each month to allow any daily entanglements to phase him. But the shadowy gloom still prevailed and Remus seemed unable to shake it.
“Remus?” Sirius prodded, worried now.
“He had Tonks,” he whispered. “Not for long. But he had her.”
“Any time is too long,” Sirius growled. “And you just now thought to tell me about this?”
“It was more important for you to stay with Hermione and Juliette, Sirius.”
“Screw my wedding, Remus! Tonks is my-”
“He took her from the wedding, Sirius. Malfoy was at Grimmauld,” Remus' broken voice was a mere whisper. “Had you gone after Tonks with me you would have left Hermione and Juliette open for attack. I have no doubt that was his intention.”
In took Sirius several moments to process that information. “You have no doubt?”
“He told Tonks as much,” Remus offered. “She's at home. Fleur is staying with her.” He dropped his voice, as if he was embarrassed to continue. “Our house, well, we don't have the funds to make it as safe as it should be. She doesn't feel right being there alone. I know she would have preferred Hermione for company but considering the circumstances I felt Hermione was safer at Grimmauld.”
“Does Hermione know all this?”
Remus shook his head quickly. “No. I only told her about Lucius' demand at the Ministry. She knows nothing else. I assure you, she isn't keeping something from you.”
“She is always keeping something from me. I just wanted to know if this was another of those things,” Sirius corrected, exhaling heavily. “You and Tonks should move into Grimmauld as soon as possible. I can help you collect your things this afternoon. Bill can-”
“No, Sirius,” Remus threw his head back in laughter, despite the situation. “I'm not moving into the newly married couple's home.”
“It is my home, Remus. And I'm not going to have my cousin lying terrified in her own bed because Lucius Malfoy decided to pull her into some idiotic decades old vendetta against me. Besides, Juliette would love to have you both and if I'm lucky she'll spend her time up on the fifth floor with you so I can actually have time alone with my new bride before her pregnancy makes her as big as a house.”
“Leave it to you to try and act like we'd be doing you a favor by moving in,” Remus smiled. “But we can't possibly impose-”
“Remus,” Sirius cut him off in exasperation. “You are at my house when I go to bed and I wake up to you hovering over my bedside each morning before dawn. Do you really think moving into a wing three floors above me is going to be any more of an imposition?”
Shaking his head, Sirius rose and dropped several bills on the table. “Can we wrap up the humility scene? I'd like to get back into bed with my wife before I lose all of this day as well.”
“Sirius?” Remus asked quietly as he started to stride away. “You can't go after Malfoy. He's under constant guard. The Ministry has pulled wizards from all over the globe for their specialties in security and threat deflection. It would be a death race to attempt to get through one of them, much less the entire guard.”
Tilting his head to the side, he sent Remus an amused, cocky grin. “I'm a married man, Remus. A father even. Why ever would you think I'd do a reckless thing like that?”
Chapter 4: Acceptance
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Echoes of Fate
Chapter 4: Acceptance
Her mousy brown hair, unruly and drifting across her face, caused Hermione to let out a puff of air to remove it and he could barely contain his amusement. Seeing her sitting on the stairway, her knees tucked under her flowered skirt and her brow creased with hours worth of worry, Sirius couldn't imagine anything he wouldn't do for this woman. She hadn't eaten, she hadn't showered, she hadn't done anything other than take up vigilance waiting for either his safe return or bad news about his fate. How could you not adore someone who could wrap themselves so neatly into your life as if they had always been there? As if their breaths were entwined, their pasts interwoven, their futures aligned...her every movement called to his soul like a drought starved plant receiving its first rain.
But he didn't love her. No, he couldn't love her. Not if he wanted to protect her.
Shaking off his melancholy thoughts, Sirius moved stealthily toward her and tugged her into his arms before she could react. His lips caressed hers, gentle and welcoming – his way of thanking her for the needless worry over his own safety. Her hands interlinked behind his neck, trying to pull him closer into her but he resisted, smiling broadly.
“I regretted everything the moment you left,” she whispered. “But you knew I would, didn't you?”
“Of course,” he grinned and kissed her again, refusing to stop until he could feel the tension in her body melt away. “Remus had my access restricted. Won't let me see Malfoy.”
“What?” her eyes opened wider, confusion evident. “But he's the one-”
Sirius waved his hand in the air. “Something about not wanting me sent away to Azkaban for killing Malfoy. I tried not to listen to his rambling.”
“Well, I don't want you sent off either,” she defended. “But-”
“Relax, love,” he let his lips drift along her neck, placing errant kisses in the places he knew she loved best. “When have you ever known the Ministry to be capable of keeping me from what I want?”
“You aren't going to go conspiring against Remus, are you?” she demanded, pulling away to send him a reprimanding glare.
“Are you kidding?” he laughed. “Conspiring against Remus is one of my favorite past times. The poor bloke would have no adventures whatsoever if I didn't egg him on.”
Shaking her head, Hermione sent him a crooked smile. “Being your wife is going to take a hell of a lot of patience, isn't it?”
“My wife,” he mused, letting the word roll off his tongue. It would definitely take some getting used to. Tugging her body tighter into his, he let his his fingers slip along her spine, his lips tracing an imaginary line down her jaw. His voice, soft and inviting, brushed across her ear in a whisper. “I like the sound of it. Fetch me dinner, wife! Another glass of ale, wife! Wife, bring me my tea!”
“Prat,” she murmured chuckling, pulling away from him to start up the stairs.
But he was behind her in a second, his arms locking her along the banister where they had first kissed so many moons ago. His lips caressed hers, his fingers sliding into her hair and holding her head gently in place so she couldn't move. As he'd expected, though, any thoughts she'd had of storming away were soon gone and her breath became warmer as he continued to explore her mouth with his own. “Wife,” he murmured silkily, “come to bed before I lose my last ounce of self control.”
Sirius let his hand slip along her burgeoning stomach, his hand drifting lightly so as to not wake her. Although they rarely talked about it, he knew Hermione was worried about the child. It was growing steadily, healthily if its size was any indication, but she feared finding out who the father was almost as much as Sirius did. He knew her thoughts without hearing them but her worry filled dreams as she curled beside him each night were descriptive enough to fill any voids he might have had.
It was impossible for him not to see the resemblance to his long ago affair with Lily. It was years before her involvement with James, nearly a decade before thoughts of Harry came into play. They had been stupid, careless, wild and free teenagers and never bothered with any type of sexual protection. And then she was late. Not a little late but days turned into weeks. When they could steal moments alone between their schoolwork, they would lie in each others arms contemplating where this possible child might lead them. He – an already disgraced Black – having a child with a muggle born. She – the reserved head girl – bearing the offspring of the notoriously reckless Sirius Black. A rough life lay ahead of them but to have created something that was a part of them and them alone had been one of the most magical things in the universe. Just about the time they had both gotten used to the idea and adjusted their perceptions on life, the news came: she was no longer pregnant. And instead of relief as most normal people might have felt, they both were heartbroken.
Sirius could still taste the salt of her tears as she sobbed uncontrollably in his embrace, could still feel the tremble in his own arms as he tried to hold her tight and not fail her, could still smell the scent of winter's first snowfall as it drifted silently through the open window panes. They had lost what may have been their only chance and both of them knew it. She considered it an omen of her future; he knew it was the gods punishing him for his misdeeds.
Had it remained true, the entire course of magical history would have been changed.
Had it remained true, Lily would still be in his arms today.
Hermione stirred beside him, causing Sirius to shirk away and come back to reality. Sliding out of the covers, he pulled on a pair of pants without bothering to button them and strode quickly to the window. It was as much space as the room allowed but he still felt suffocated. He had no right to lay next to her with the memories that were surging through his head. Hermione deserved better.
He jumped as a soft hand slid up his back, her touch causing his trembles to cease. “You're remembering Lily, aren't you? That time when she was-”
Sirius could not bear her to say the word out loud and cut her off. “I forget you have my memories.”
“You told me there were some memories that Remus couldn't know. This is one of those, isn't it? You never told him, or any of the marauders, did you?”
“No,” he murmured, “we never told anyone. Come, you need your rest.”
He tried to steer her toward the bed but she was unwilling to let him slip by her. Instead, she cupped his face in her palms forcing him to face her. It worked for only a moment and then he dropped his eyes away. But Hermione was persistent. She held tight until he finally gave in and met her gaze once again.
“Sirius, I love you. But you need to tell him. You need Remus beside you during this. If it turns out to be....” she trailed off, unwilling to voice the fear that it was Draco's child out loud. “I'm not strong enough for both of us. I wish I was but I'm not. You'll need Remus. We both will.”
He sank down onto a chair rather than respond, his eyes drifting closed as he listened to her move about the room. Burning off her emotions he assumed but as the sounds continued, he opened his eyes to see her at the dressing table attempting to make some sense of her unruly hair.
“I don't think you need to dress for Remus and Tonks,” he said, already leery.
“We're having guests tonight, remember?”
“What guests? I can't think of anyone I care to dress up for.”
“That's because you are always dressed up,” she countered smiling. “You would look impeccable in a paper bag, I should think.”
“Hm,” he chuckled, amused at her attempt to soften him. “So guests I am not likely to approve of then. Will these blasted parties of yours ever end?”
“It's not my fault you restored Grimmauld and now everyone and their dog wants to come visit. I don't even know half these people. They just seem to keep inviting themselves over to congratulate us. The Blacks,” she frowned, “seem to have been known for their gracious hospitality.”
“So lock the damn doors,” he mumbled. “I don't care what anyone thinks.”
It was far from true and they both knew it. He did care what people thought. He wanted to change his family's name – to make it known for better things that just its previous pureblood mentality. It was one of the reasons he had allowed such events to go on rather than slamming the door in the faces of the people that shower up unbidden on his doorstep. He wanted to erase the stigma of the Black name, even if deep down he knew it was an impossible hope.
He watched as she shuffled around the room, going through a dozen different outfits to try and find one she might look appropriate in. In childhood, he'd watched Narcissa spend hours doing the same thing, looking for the outfit that would best showcase herself. For Narcissa, it was an attempt to be the most beautiful belle at any ball. To Hermione, though, he knew it was something completely different.
“Come here,” he whispered, holding out his hand to her as she began to get more frustrated. Sighing, she dropped into his lap.
“How is it you always look amazing?” she questioned. “No effort at all. Is it that pureblood air about you? Aristocratic blood and all that?”
“You have the money, Hermione. What's mine is yours. If you want new things just go get them. I don't do shopping but I'm sure Tonks would be delighted to go with you.”
“I might,” she gave him a faint smile then dropped her head to his shoulder.
“You are now head mistress of the Black household.”
“Oh, no pressure there,” she grumbled.
“Only that which you put upon yourself,” he countered. “You could wear a sack on your head and go barefoot and it wouldn't matter. Everyone would mimic you no matter how ridiculous you might look.”
“Because my name is now Black?”
Sirius shuffled her off his lap, moving to get himself dressed. Her disbelief was obvious. Her background, her childhood, were so much different than his. It was impossible for her to believe that a simple thing like taking the Black name could have such far reaching consequences. Of course, that was one reason he married her – she didn't love him for his name but for who he actually was. But it was also one of the dark fears that rose within him if he lingered too much in his own head. It seemed silly in the daylight, but he sometimes wondered if bringing Hermione into his world would change her into someone he didn't recognize. He'd seen a glimpse of it when she was ready to destroy Malfoy but otherwise, his fears of her name change seemed to have remained unfounded.
“Fear of a name...” he murmured, shaking his head.
“I can look the part. I can play the part even,” she whispered, “but I'll still never be accepted.”
That she might want the acceptance of the devilish, worthless people that had been congregated at Grimmauld as of late both terrified and angered him.
“You need no acceptance other than mine. You'd do well to remember that.”
The idea that she could become like any of the other Black women he'd known in his life made his words come out much more threatening than he intended. He had meant to let her know she belonged by his side and nothing else mattered but the way she flushed and backed away from him told her she had taken it differently.
No matter, he assured himself. If it kept her from safe from all of them, she could take it however she wanted.
Chapter 5: Collusion
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Echoes of Fate
Chapter 5: Collusion
“Remus, it's more than that. I'm telling you, he's just not himself.”
“More than becoming a husband and father all at once?” he chuckled, refilling Hermione's glass of lemonade. “You'd be amazed what a loss of freedom can do to a man.”
“I know Sirius,” she protested, “and so do you. You should have heard him. He sounded like-”
Remus tilted his head her direction as she trailed off. “Like what?”
Remus smiled and steered Hermione toward one of the few remaining empty tables in the Grimmauld gardens. After helping her ease into a chair, he sank beside her. He wasn't about to tell her she was imagining things- he'd seen her temper enough to know better than to do something as foolhardy as that.
But, from where he sat, Sirius was just being Sirius. He watched as Sirius made the rounds of their guests, making small talk, complimenting the ladies, offering false laughs to the men standing beside them. This wasn't Sirius' world. It never had been and certainly wasn't now. Yes, he could play the rich, house of Black bastard that everyone expected but underneath, he was still Sirius.
“You know he's doing this for you, don't you?”
“He's not suffering through the mindless chatter for his own benefit. He wants you to feel at home here, like you belong in his world.” He quieted for a moment. “Me too, for that matter.”
“These aren't our people, Hermione. You know that. Would they talk to either of us on the street if it weren't for our relationship with Sirius?”
“No, they wouldn't,” he cut her off gently. “But as long as Sirius plays the Black family card for all its worth, we will be recognized. Not only recognized but safer, more protected. From gossip or anything else that might be out there. No one, not even Lucius Malfoy, is stupid enough to cross a Black when the world is on his side.”
Hermione let out an exhausted sigh. “He must hate us then. Doing something he despises so much just to keep us safe.”
“He loves us. Otherwise he wouldn't waste his time on these people.” He lifted his head a few inches as Sirius headed their direction. “I wouldn't worry yourself so much. I don't think he's drifted that far into the mentality of being a Black.”
“Wife,” Sirius leaned down to give her a kiss on the cheek, “kick off those fancy shoes and come dance with me.”
“My shoes?” she asked, sending a befuddled look Remus' direction.
“Come,” Sirius tugged her up and into his arms. His voice was soft and warm against her ear. “I want to show you something.”
Sliding into his arms, it was easy to forget how many people were watching them. Like always, a single touch from him seemed to be able to make the rest of the world disappear. She wanted to be angry with him, or at least frustrated, but Remus' epiphany kept her emotions in check. He didn't want to be the center of attention and she would just have to keep reminding herself of that.
“Have you seen Juliette lately?”
He tilted his head backwards without looking. “She's behind the rose bushes with Bill's boys. She's getting frustrated they won't let her play.”
“Won't let her-”
“They're boys, Hermione,” he chuckled as he felt her ruffle in his arms. “No need to call in the mommy police.”
“How do you know where she is at all times? I can't even do that,” she grumbled but dropped her head onto his shoulder anyway.
“The rose bushes provide the best cover for hiding from parental supervision,” he laughed. “Where else would she be?”
“She's too much like you for her own good. You know that, don't you?”
“I do,” he kissed her gently. “I'm sorry to cut this dance short, love, but I see someone I need to talk to.”
Hermione's eyes drifted around the party goers, seeing no one out of place. Then, off to the side of the festivities, she noticed Bill hovering near the doors to Grimmauld. “Bill?” she hissed. “You're going to talk to him about Lucius, aren't you?”
“Going to distract Remus for me?” he asked, nuzzling her neck. “Conspiring can be addictive, can't it?”
“You're such a prat,” she huffed as she watched him move away. “Wait, what were you going to show me?”
Sirius, a few paces away, grinned. “You seem to have started trend,” he said, waving his hand across the crowded dance floor. He offered her a bow. “Thank you for the dance, Mrs. Black.”
It took a moment for her to understand but as she surveyed the crowd of women on the dance floor, she couldn't help but laugh. Cocky, self-righteous, damned irritating and she loved him more than words could ever explain. She shook her head, moving to distract Remus, chuckling at each woman as she walked past. No shoes. Not a single woman was wearing shoes.
“Bill,” Sirius' voice filled with exasperation. “I didn't pull you aside to be given the same bureaucratic shit you give the newspapers. You've spent the last twenty minutes telling me about his capture, knowing full well I already know more than what's in the official Ministry file.”
“Sirius, when you wouldn't-”
“I wouldn't?” he hissed. “Remus prevented me from seeing him and you know it! Don't act like I'm in need of punishment for failing to assist with Lucius. If you give me two minutes alone with him, he won't be anyone's problem anymore.”
“I can't undo it,” Bill shook his head. “Remus is in charge of Lucius' case. My influence is minimal at best.”
“Remus? In charge?” Sirius scoffed. “No, there's no conflict of interest there.”
“Well, if it wasn't for your damn Black family name he wouldn't have gotten the assignment,” Bill returned hotly. “But when he demanded it, no one was about to mess with Sirius Black's closest ally.”
Of course not, Sirius grimaced. While it was nice to know Remus was finally getting some measure of respect, it was piss poor timing for it to happen. He leveled a gaze at Bill, who was still fuming. Conjuring a drink, he pushed it toward Bill as a peace offering. He swallowed it in one gulp, but his anger hadn't dissipated. It took a few minutes for Sirius to understand.
He lowered his voice several notches. “You want him as bad as I do.”
“Yes,” Bill growled. “Ministry rules be damned, I want him to pay for everything he's done to my family.”
Sirius felt a surge of hope. Remus might want to be rule abiding but it seemed Bill would be more amenable to doing whatever it took to get Lucius out of the picture. Given the right circumstances, of course. “He has details of Harry's death?” he asked.
“So he says.”
“And I assume Ginny and Ron's as well, then.” Sirius almost cursed himself for the pained look that washed over Bill.
“In all likelihood, yes.”
Sirius' face darkened. “You realize I have no desire to listen to those details.”
“Nor do I.”
“Are you certain-”
Bill's eyes focused on him without wavering and Sirius nodded. Okay, then. Bill was definitely on his side. “Will the Ministry win at his trial?”
Bill nodded. “Perhaps not on all charges but there are a few that will stick no matter what.”
“It would be much easier if he was allowed to walk,” Sirius mumbled. “No guards, no questions to answer...”
“You can't count on that happening.”
“Has he had any visitors?”
“Other than the Ministry?” Bill chuckled darkly. “Only one.”
Sirius knew without even bothering to think about it. “Snape.”
“That I can do something about,” he grumbled.
But Sirius was already waving him off. “Malfoy will be transferred during the trial, correct? They'll want him closer.”
“Under heavier guard,” Bill added.
“No offense, Bill, but Ministry guards don't concern me.”
Bill nodded. “That will be the best chance to get to him. Barring a change in your admittance to see him anyway.”
“So,” Sirius sighed, “we wait.”
“We wait,” Bill nodded.
Chapter 6: Avada Kedavra
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Echoes of Fate
Chapter 6: Avada Kedavra
Hugging the back wall of the mansion, Sirius let his gaze travel over the dwindling crowd. Although there were still at least sixty people in the garden, a quieter, more somber tone had blanketed the group. The lively dancing had been replaced by smaller conversations at the tables, and Sirius made note of the curious alliances he was seeing drawn across his lawn. Official ties by damned – everyone seemed to find Grimmauld a place to conduct their own private business with few prying eyes. His eyes drifted to Tonks, who had been avoided him all evening. She'd offered him a few quick waves but managed to side step him at every turn. She'd settled into a table with Remus a few minutes earlier and, knowing she wasn't likely to get up soon, Sirius offered a quick goodbye to Bill before striding toward her.
“Saw you talking to Bill. Anything I should know about?” Remus asked, kicking out a chair for Sirius to join them.
“I've forgotten, were you always this nosy when we were kids?” he countered.
Tonks was on her feet instantly, the smile she offered him as fake as her lilac hair color. “I'll let you two-”
Grabbing her arm before she could get away, he shook his head. “Not this time, cousin.”
He watched amused as she turned to Remus for an escape plan but Remus only offered a helpless shrug. This, Sirius knew, was one family argument that even Remus wasn't idiotic enough to get in the middle of.
“Come,” he murmured, tucking her arm into his. “I promise not to raise my voice loud enough others can hear. How's that?”
“Not comforting,” she sighed and, casting a baleful look at Remus, let him lead her away.
Sinking down on a bench at the fringes of the garden, Sirius tried to douse the rage within him. He should've taken a few minutes to get himself under control after his conversation with Bill before approaching Tonks but she hadn't given him a lot of opportunity. Instead, he'd rushed to her with the adrenaline of an imagined face-off with Lucius still running through his system. It didn't help, of course, that he knew Lucius was going to be the main topic of this conversation.
“You throw a good party,” she offered.
It took all his willpower not to roll his eyes at her. “Indeed?”
She heaved a deep sigh and straightened her shoulders. “I know you are upset but, honestly, Remus has blown this completely out of proportion. You know how he gets-”
“Yes, I do,” he drawled. “And I've never known him to overreact. Come on, Tonks, Malfoy? Are you kidding me?” Sirius could feel his temper begin to flare and he fought to lower his voice. “You're living in my fucking house for safety. For chrissakes, you gotta give me something here.”
“Now, you're overreacting,” she huffed. “Like I told Remus, he grabbed me at the wedding. Did a lot of bullying, and threatening of everyone we know and then the cavalry arrived. Really, Sirius-”
“And I'm sure it was that simple,” he growled, cutting her evasive tirade off at the knees. “He bullied you around a bit and then we swept in and saved the day? He certainly didn't threaten to hurt you, didn't actually hurt you? Did threaten to torture Remus or Bill-”
Sirius watched as she flinched and gave a visible shudder. She closed her eyes, twisting the hem of her skirt in her hands. “Sirius don't," she begged, her voice a broken whisper.
“What, am I getting warmer? What happened, Tonks? What aren't you willing share with Remus? Did he tie you up in some Malfoy dungeon? Or merely let the others take a turn beating the snot out of you? Or maybe Lucius decided to keep you entirely for himself. Two days is a long time to be held captive, Tonks. Tell me, did he get you dressed again before the Ministry arrived or were you conscious enough to do that yourself?”
“Sirius, just stop it!” She shoved at him angrily but her tears were unmistakable.
“Sounds like I hit a nerve,” he whispered, perching his elbows on his knees and dropping his head into his hands. He hated yelling at her, hated forcing her to relive whatever nightmare Lucius had made her live through. But he had to know. And, she had to stop hiding from something that wasn't her fault.
“Lucius was always a heartless bastard. He would curse anyone that even looked at a fellow Slytherin the wrong way. But it wasn't until I was a year out of Hogwarts that I learned the true cruelty he could inflict on people,” Sirius murmured, never raising his head. “We got into a fight with some Slytherins during the summer and one of the girls was taken by some death eaters. It took months to find her. The stories she came back with – the torture, the practicing of curses on her, the repeated rape and abuse at the hands of all of them but particularly Lucius – destroyed her. To hear it, from her mouth in her own words, was devastating. But to not hear it and know she might live with that in silence for the rest of her life....well, that's something I couldn't bear the thought of.”
He glanced her direction, slipping his fingers to intertwine with hers. When she finally turned her tear filled eyes to met his, he squeezed her hand gently. “No one, absolutely no one, should have to face the world alone.”
He could feel her grip tighten on his hand, not caring how long they had been away from the party or who might be looking for them. Instead, he waited patiently, hoping to give her some measure of support. He'd already failed her by not being there, by not even knowing what she was going through in order to help save her. Maybe, at least now, he could offer her some solace.
“He didn't rape me, Sirius,” she whispered, after several minutes of complete silence. “I can't say it didn't cross his mind but it didn't happen. But,” she hesitated and Sirius raised his eyes, wondering what could possibly be worse. “The curses he knows, I just....I have no idea where he learned such things. And, god,” she tried to let out a light chuckle but it ended up coming out as a strangled cough. “He has a right hook on him that would down just about any man.”
Sirius sent her a dubious gaze. “Tonks, a right hook wouldn't send you into my arms for safety.”
“Tonks, please,” Sirius' voice broke, unable to take anymore. “I failed you already. Don't make it happen again just because you are too stubborn to tell me what I need to be protecting you from.”
But she remained silent. It was only the slight drift of her eyes into the party crowd that gave him any indication of her worries. Had he blinked he would have missed it but his eyes followed quickly to the cursory glance she gave Juliette before looking away. In one swift move, he was on his knees in front of her, his hands gripping her arms.
“Juliette?” he hissed. “My Juliette?”
She seemed unable to respond and Sirius fought the urge to shake her silly. “Tell me!” he demanded.
“He...” she began but then fell quiet as she gathered her thoughts. She sat a little straighter, even though the tears were falling once again. “He knows she's Harry's daughter. He said he'd personally make sure that she never saw another birthday. Sirius, I'm sorry, I-”
Blinding hatred. Visions of his year with Juliette flew through his mind – secrets they'd shared, adventures in Grimmauld that only they knew about, shared bedtime stories that Hermione would never approve of – and he could do nothing to keep the hate at bay. His body shook as he moved to standing. “I'll get Remus for you.”
“Sirius, wait-” Tonks was tugging on his cloak, trying to hold him back but he shook her loose.
He would kill him. Stride into the Ministry, past all the guards and strangle him before he had a chance to utter a syllable of protest. Screw Azkaban, screw Remus. Lucius deserved death and nothing less.
“Juliette is looking a bit frustrated there, isn't she?” Remus asked, nodding toward where Juliette and Bill's kids were standing in a circle away from the main crowd. “Boys still not letting her play?”
Sirius glanced toward Juliette, only vaguely aware of the conversation he had interrupted. She had one hand on her hip and, in the other, her wand dangled loosely at her side. But the tense hold of her shoulders and her reddened face gave her growing anger away.
“Probably better that way. There's no telling what kind of things Bill's kids could teach her,” Hermione laughed. “She does have a temper on her, though. She can flare up just like Harry and Sirius. Must be something in the Grimmauld water.”
His fists tightened into his cloak, feeling Tonks rushing in on him from behind. Ignoring her pleas, he turned what little attention he could back to Remus. “Remus, Tonks needs you. She's-” he trailed off.
“She's too much like you for her own good. You know that, don't you?”
Hermione's words speed through his mind with lightning quickness and the world around him came to a stand still.
Murmuring voices drowned out beside him as he focused entirely on Juliette, her furious scarlet red face causing his own to blanch. He knew this moment...he'd lived this moment himself. Pure childish anger with no thought to repercussions. Not much different than the look he'd probably just had when he'd learned Lucius had threatened her life. And what had he been headed to do, Ministry be damned? His eyes narrowed at her with sudden understanding and, just as she opened her mouth to speak, his hand lifted in the air.
“Avada Ked--” Juliette's screamed words caused silence to fall across the gardens but Sirius was too fast for her.
His arm still stretched out between Hermione and Remus, he'd managed to cut off her voice before she could even finish the phrase. A brief moment of stunned silence and then everyone began moving at once. Hermione running to grab Juliette by the shoulders, Remus' eying Sirius with confusion, Bill rushing to wrap his arms around his children and Juliette's intended targets and the party-goers shuffling away from the entire scene.
“How did you-” Remus began but Tonks grabbed his arm to silence him.
Hermione was sobbing as she shook her daughter but Juliette seemed oblivious. Her eyes were only on Sirius, struggling away from her mother and through the crowd to get at his side. By the time she made it to him, her tears were falling freely, cascading down her cheeks and tumbling down the front of her dress.
“Sirius?” she whispered.
He couldn't bring himself to look at her. He had done this- turned a once, loving child into a near murderer. No, that wasn't true. She had been playing with dark magic from the day she brought him back from the veil perhaps even before. It had been his job, his duty, to change that and if tonight's episode was any indication, he had failed miserably. He could feel her touch on his cloak, knew she was wanting him to say something that would let her know she was forgiven. But he couldn't do it. He couldn't touch her, couldn't look at what he knew would be a tear stained face, afraid any further closeness to her would bring out even more Black family traits in her.
“Please,” she begged, tugging even harder on his cloak to get his attention. When he still didn't respond, she dropped to her knees, holding onto his pants leg for all she was worth. “Daddy, please.”
Daddy. She was at his feet, wanting only his forgiveness and acceptance. He had never hated himself more than in this one singular moment and he couldn't disguise the fury filled growl in his own voice when he spoke. “Bed, now.”
He could feel Remus and Hermione both circle him at once. “My apologies, Hermione,” he gave her a shallow nod without looking at her. He couldn't look at her. He wasn't sure he could ever look at her again. “It seems my Black family values have somehow influenced your daughter. I assure you, I did not intend-”
“Sirius-” her voice was soft, forgiving and he wasn't going to allow it.
He jerked away from her touch, offering them both a tiny nod. “Please excuse me.”
Chapter 7: Memories in Question
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Echoes of Fate
Chapter 7: Memories in Question
“Hermione,” Remus' voice was quiet, afraid of waking Juliette. “Can we-” he motionned with his head toward the door and she nodded, moving away from her daughter's beside and into the hall.
“Is she all right?” he asked as they traveled down the hallway and into the kitchen.
“She thinks Sirius is going to leave. She's terrified of it actually,” she said sinking down into the nearest chair.
“As are you.”
“Yes,” she nodded not meeting his eyes, “as am I.”
Although he could have conjured it quickly, he put a teakettle on the stove just to give his hands something to do. Taking two cups out of the cupboard, he sat them on the table and then returned to wait by the stove, keeping his gaze away from Hermione. “He won't.”
“He feels so guilty, Remus. He's blaming this all on himself when it turns out she learned it from one of Bill's kids. They were just talking as kids do, of course, and she remembered it. She had no idea...”
He turned to face her. “Of course she didn't.”
“Why must he put everything on his own shoulders?”
“That's who he is.” Remus sighed as the kettle began to whirl and clicked off the stove. He took his time in pouring the cups, holding his own in his hand as he tried to get his own muddled thoughts together. Tonks was a wreck, Juliette a basket case, Hermione scared to death and Sirius had disappeared off to who knew where. Sighing, he dropped into a chair opposite her. “I should have listened to you earlier. I apologize for that. You were right. He's not himself. I know it's none of my business, Hermione-”
“Where Sirius is concerned, I've come to understand everything is your business, Remus. Whether I like having my bedroom escapades talked about or not I know you two keep no secrets.” She could feel Remus blush next to her. “I only meant-”
“I know,” he nodded, “but for the record, we don't discuss that.”
She chuckled miserably. “Good to know.”
He let out an uneasy cough to change the subject. “Have there been any visitors to Grimmauld? Anyone out of the ordinary I mean? Does he disappear at odd times? Go anywhere in secret?”
“Remus we were married just days ago. Either you or I has been with him every hour of the day.”
“The dreams then,” he mumbled. “I would never ask you to share private-”
Hermione waved him off. “I'd tell every one of his damn secrets if I thought it would help, Remus, but it won't. The dreams never change, you know that. James, Lily, Harry, Draco. Never anything else.”
“And Lucius,” he added thoughtfully. “But that's not your problem or his.”
“You know he's going to fight you on that.”
Remus nodded. “He wouldn't be Sirius if he didn't.”
“I saw him with Tonks earlier. Is everything all right?”
“I'm not sure anything will be right again,” he murmured. “But, he did manage to break through that shell she's kept around herself since the wedding. I owe him more than you can imagine for that-”
“Wait, the wedding? What happened at the wedding?”
Remus hesitated, surprised that Sirius hadn't already told her when he'd informed her they were moving in. “Lucius took her from the wedding.”
“Lucius was here?” she choked. “Why don't I know about this? He was here, at Grimmauld?”
“You and Sirius kept this from me?” she accused, her temper raising.
“No, no,” Remus shook his head. “I kept it from Sirius. Don't blame him. We thought he had enough on his plate. He only learned about it today.”
“That was the urgency about having you two move in,” she guessed. “And he took Tonks? As in kidnapped her?” Hermione dropped her head in her hands. “God, when did I become the trophy wife here? Why has no one told me any of this?”
“Hermione, please,” Remus tried to soothe her. “I've just got her to bed with a heavy dose of some not so legal substances. I don't think I can handle going another round with a female tonight.”
She nodded, straightening to try and get her thoughts together. “Is Tonks okay?”
“Better now,” he conceded. “Sirius turned her into a blubbering mess but she's opened up and starting talking about what she went through.”
“If we could only get him to do the same...” Hermione sighed.
“Hermione,” Remus locked his gaze with her. “How did he know what Juliette was going to do?”
“He heard her, like the rest of us.”
“No. He had his hand raised and prevented it before any of us knew what was happening,” he corrected. “Did he--”
“Did he what?” Hermione raised her eyes in confusion.
“Never mind, I have no right to ask.”
It took Hermione several minutes to pull together the confused tangle of Remus' conversation. When she did, she was glad Sirius wasn't around to hear it. It would only hurt him more to know that Remus was questioning him. “You want to know if he used the killing curse. You think he remembered something from his own childhood and that's how he knew.”
“No,” he choked but then dropped his eyes away from her. “Yes,” he whispered. “I love him, don't get me wrong. But, his life was so different and he keeps it so private...” he turned a pained look her way. “Sometimes, he just keeps things so concealed it makes it impossible for me to help him. Makes it impossible for me to understand what he's going through or to understand what he needs.”
Hermione nodded. Hadn't that been just what she and Sirius were talking about? Memories and secrets that Sirius kept hidden from Remus and how desperately he needed to stop? She moved to place her hand on Remus' shoulder, hating the broken look she saw in him but knowing she wasn't the one who could fix it.
“He didn't use it. Not as a child.” She tugged him up. “Come, I'll check on Tonks and you can check on Sirius. We're probably both better off if we divide and conquer at this point.”
“I have to talk to Juliette.”
“I'm sure she'd love that but, Remus, the only person that can fix her right now is Sirius. And I doubt he's in any condition to do so.”
Remus nodded, allowing her to loop her arm into his as he began walking her to his room. The dark of Grimmauld closed in on him and he wondered if she knew how thankful he was for her presence. Where Sirius was concerned, he'd felt alone in his battles since James' death. Only now, with her here, did he seem to have a fighting chance.
“Remus, do you remember when Slughorn was teaching at Hogwarts?” she asked quietly. “When I was a student I mean.”
He eyed her quizzically, confused by her seemingly random question. “Yes, of course.”
“Dumbledore was trying to get a memory from him but he had tampered with it. It was there but Harry said it was foggy, confused...a memory but one so cloudy it didn't make any sense to those who viewed it.”
“Yes, Harry talked to me about that.”
“Do you think...” she hesitated as they reached his bedroom doorway, unsure of how to phrase her question. It was going to sound almost as bad as Remus' questioning of Sirius using a killing curse as a mere child. “I mean, is it possible...”
Remus tightened his grip on her arm as understanding washed over him. “You are wondering if Sirius tampered with the memories in the Black family memory collector.”
“No,” she answered quickly but then his patient smile won her over. “Yes. I mean, is it possible?”
“Anything in magic is possible, Hermione, you know that. But Sirius would have had no opportunity to tamper with it. It was collected at his death, remember?”
“But after his return-”
“He was too terrified to touch it. He didn't even want to be in the same room with it. I assure you, Sirius, at least, didn't tamper with the memories it held. Now, why do you ask?”
She exhaled, not realizing she'd been holding her breath as she waited for his answer. “There are some that are just as confused. Unclear, I mean. Not exactly a jumbled mess but ones that seem so bewildering.”
He chuckled gently. “Have you ever considered that maybe it was Sirius himself who was confused?”
“Actually, no,” she shook her head.
“Sirius did a lot of lying to himself when he was younger, Hermione. To protect others, to protect himself...I'm sure that makes a lot of his memories seem rather mixed up. For a long time, he lived two separate lives, that had to have some effect on him.”
“Thank you,” she whispered, stretching up to kiss him on the cheek. “Juliette said he's in the west wing.”
Chapter 8: Gift of Legends
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Echoes of Fate
Chapter 8: Legends
Sirius had hidden himself as much as he possibly knew how. Far removed from any public area of Grimmauld, the only person who likely knew of this room was Juliette and she knew better than to seek him at a time like this. He thought the room had been cordoned off years ago but apparently someone had seen fit to keep it open and in some semblance of order. The layer of dust, at least, seemed only thick enough to have been accumulated since Harry had inherited the castle. Before that, Kreacher must have been keeping it immaculate.
Waving his hand from one edge of the room to another, the dark wood tables and deep leather chairs began to glow again from his cleaning. He paced along the edges of the oriental carpet, unsure of whether he felt comfortable here or not. Less than conference room, more than a parlor it had served as an office of sorts for his father and, of course, his father before him. It was a private area – off limits to children and anyone else not worthy of his father's time. When he had been sorted into Gryffindor, this was where his father brought him to demean him for hours. When, as a teen, he'd made the decision to move out, this is where he had come to the finals blows with his father. And this room, with its horribly conflicting history, was the last place he had seen his brother alive.
Shrugging off his cloak, he tossed it onto the desk. He stepped behind it and, brushing aside a centuries old oil painting of Hogwarts, he waited expectantly as the wall came to life and revealed a hidden compartment. He chuckled to himself. After his break from the family, his father had put some kind of spell on the device to keep Sirius from accessing it. He wouldn't be able to open it “for the rest of his life” his father had threatened. Now, having died twice already, Sirius was apparently free of his father's constraints. Reaching inside, he pulled out a handful of documents, a ribboned adorned stack of letters and what he had hoped for – a nondescript opaque bottle no bigger than his hand.
Ordering some candles to flicker awake, he dropped the papers onto the desk and surveyed the bottle with interest. Even with the changing of the light, the green liquid inside remained vibrant – a shimmering hue that couldn't quite be described. Brighter than summer grass, more muted than emeralds, the infusion called to him like a long lost friend. Illegal? Definitely. Idiotic? Undoubtedly. The only thing he possibly knew that might dull the ache of his memories? Without question.
Tipping some of the bottles contents into a dusty glass, he balanced a silver spoon across its rim. Conjuring a bowl of sugar cubes, he grabbed one and balanced it on the spoon. Closing his eyes he let the memories invade and reached his hand out to the lowest desk drawer and pulled out a small amber bottle, its dropper yellowed with age. Sinking down into his father's chair, so intent on his ritual, he barely registered the change in the room. When he finally did, his back straightened but his eyes still didn't lift. The bay rum cologne Remus had been wearing since he was fourteen was a dead give away and Sirius gave a single accepting nod of his head. “Juliette?”
“Of course,” Remus responded but stayed where he was rather than moving out of the shadows.
Sirius nodded, hesitating another moment before waving his hand over the glass and setting the sugar cube on fire. He watched as the cube melted, trickling down into the green liquid as the flames continued to burn. It lasted only a few seconds, but the blue-green flames seemed to alight the entire room. Pouring a trickle of water over the glass, Sirius extinguished the flame. The green liquid immediately obscured, transforming into a pearly, opaque white that reminded Sirius of watered down milk. He hesitated with the glass in his hand, knowing Remus would disapprove and then, deciding he was past caring, downed it in one swallow. The drug took effect instantly, warming every muscle in his body and making it impossible for him to maintain his physicality. His head dropped unbidden to the back of the chair, bouncing slightly with the force, and then his eyes drifted closed. “Go away, Remus.”
Remus tipped the amber bottle up, noted the skull and cross bones and looked to Sirius for answer. Receiving none, he lifted the empty glass to his nose, the intoxicating smell of clove, amber, orange and licorice made him instantly dizzy...a smell from his childhood, a demon from his Marauder years. “Absinthe, Sirius?” Remus reprimanded. “This is a class one banned substance from the Ministry.”
“So arrest me already,” he returned without bothering to open his eyes. “Maybe we'll luck out and I'll be put in the same cell as Lucius.”
Remus was at his side in one swift step, yanking on Sirius shirt collar to observe him better. “How much have you had?”
Grumbling, Sirius forced himself to sit up and face his friend. Although he tried to be serious, the intense worry on Remus' face was more than he could stand and he chuckled out loud. “I'm not killing myself, Remus. And drop the holier-than-thou attitude. I know of your childhood escapades.”
Still perturbed but feeling more assured that Sirius was in no immediate health danger, he dropped into a chair across from him. “That's because you led me in to half of them.”
“Indeed, I'm usually the bad influence.”
“How did you get your hands on that anyway?”
Sirius gave out a loud sigh then pushed himself to standing. Waiting several seconds to try and get his muscles to cooperate with his brain, he narrowed his eyes as Remus. Drifting away, he moved to the desk to finger the documents still laying undisturbed. His hand fluttered across a yellowed envelope, the impression of the Black family crest still vivid in its dark green puddle of melted wax. He'd forgotten his mother used to seal every piece of correspondence that way. Traditional, she told him. Anachronistic, he had argued back.
“I am a Black,” he exhaled, answering Remus' question.
“Sirius, let me help you-”
“Help me what?” he growled. “Give innocence back to a child that's already lost it?”
“She didn't know-”
“She has you all fooled,” he chuckled darkly. “Looking at her is like looking in a mirror. Have no doubt, she knew what that curse did. She just didn't give a damn.”
Sirius maneuvered himself for another glass, ignoring the glares Remus was sending. With one more glass, he knew he wouldn't care anyway and that's what he needed if he was going to try and make it through this conversation.
“Damn you, Hermione,” he murmured. Her and her stupid advice.
“I know you are upset about Juliette but, Sirius, I don't understand. You in this place,” Remus gestured around him with obvious disapproval. “Help me understand. Please.”
Sirius downed the drink and moved across the room as he felt it take affect. Instant dizziness overcame him, an ethereal fog closing in on his senses. Had his life ever been this screwed up? Perhaps. He just couldn't remember. That wasn't true. He could remember. No matter how many times he tried to forget, James and Lily would always come back to haunt him. And for his deeds, it was the least he deserved. A permanent reminder of what a foul creature he was.
“I had a child with Lily.”
He could feel Remus tense even across the room. He could feel his searching look on his back, knew he was trying to determine if this was drug induced wistfulness or fact. A sudden electricity filled the room, almost as if lightning would strike at any moment. In his haze, it took a moment for Sirius to understand the reaction. When he did understand, he felt even worse because it told him exactly what Remus thought of him.
“Long before James,” he added quietly. “No matter what you think of me, I would never do that to James.”
“I didn't mean-”
“Yes,” Sirius nodded, “you did.”
“Okay, I did. But how did you expect me to act? I don't know whether you are even telling me the truth, Sirius. You've either lied to me for years about something or are lying now. Neither is a prospect I want to consider.”
Sirius moved to sit on the edge of the desk, waiting for Remus to appear in front of him and slug him senseless. He ran his hand through his hair, taking in a breath that caused his entire body to shudder. When he looked up, Remus was in front of him gazing intensely.
“Sirius,” Remus' voice was near begging, “please, tell me the truth.”
Was it too late to take it all back? No. He could say he was just drunk and was lying. He knew he could make Remus believe it. Remus was willing to be believe the lie as easily as he would the truth. But the glint of his wedding band under the candlelight reminded him he couldn't afford to take it back. Hermione was right – if this child was Draco's they were going to need Remus' steadfast support more than anything. He waved to the sofa, allowing Remus to take the lead and then sank down across from him.
Sirius opened his mouth to begin and then closed it again. Glancing at his hands, his saw the shake in them and cursed himself. This shouldn't be that hard. He tried again and still couldn't manage it. He sent an apologetic stare Remus' direction before dropping his head in his hands.
“You're telling the truth,” Remus whispered.
He didn't bother to nod, just rushed ahead before he could regain his common sense. “Years went by before we were able to talk objectively to each other about it. Much less even consider talking to someone else. And, of course, by that time James had entered the picture,” Sirius said with solemn finality. “Both her and James had their future ahead of them. To tell anyone at that point would have destroyed that.”
“And that is something you could never have done,” Remus finished what Sirius was unable to say aloud. “The baby, did she-”
“No,” Sirius mumbled. “Despite everything, despite me and who I was – who I am- she believed it was right. We were happy. For probably the only fucking time in my life I was happy. We knew how hard it would be but were ready to face it. Wanted to face it even. But then it was gone.”
But Sirius couldn't answer, just sat in silence, refusing to look at Remus.
It was the Sirius twirling his wedding ring that made Remus' stomach clench. “Has something happened to the baby? Is this why you're-”
“No,” he shook his head. “The baby's fine. It's just, the closer it gets the more, well,” he quieted, “the sooner we learn...” he tailed off, unable to continue.
“Who the father is.” Remus couldn't help the heartbreak in his voice. He had known, long before Sirius did, that he would want this child to be his. Facing the idea now that it might not be, especially in light of his previously lost child, must be killing the two of them. But what could he possibly say to ease the torment? “Sirius, it's not as if this is your only chance. You and Hermione have a long future ahead of you. You may not see it but I do.”
“In all my years, I've never considered it. Do you know that?” Sirius asked, his words coming in a desperate rush. “The idea of a child to bear my name? A child to carry on the family name. It should be ingrained in me as a Black – preservation of the family line and all that. But after Lils, the concept of a child never entered my mind. And then, coming back here. To you, Hermione, seeing Juliette – seeing Harry living and breathing within her, I could almost envision it. A child, born of the Black line, who could help me make amends for the generations of wrongs we've committed.”
Sirius' voice fell short, his mind teeming with thoughts he couldn't bear to say out loud. He could have any old child. He could be like King Henry in the Boleyn years where he'd bed any female in the country in hopes of having a male heir to carry on his name. But, though he hated to admit it, as much as he did want a son he didn't want one that way. No matter how many times he told himself otherwise and cursed himself for even having the thoughts, he wanted Hermione to give him that. He wanted her to be the mother of his child, he wanted her to be carrying and protecting his son and no one else. Did he deserve such a happiness? No. Not after the life he'd led. Did he still maintain a glimmer of hope anyway? Yes. Because he was a damn blessed fool.
He sent his glass sailing across the room and into the wall, a thousand pieces scattering down to the hardwood as it broke. It was only when he felt Remus take a step back that he remembered he wasn't alone. Dropping heavily into the nearest chair, he put his head in his hands, barely able to vocalize anything.
“Sorry,” he choked.
Rather than his normal consoling remarks and quick apology acceptance, Remus dropped to sit on the arm of Sirius' chair. Folding his hands into his lap, he lowered his head and sat in silence. He knew there was nothing he could say that would ease Sirius' latest torment and standing beside him was perhaps the only thing he could successfully offer. Although he had no idea what Sirius was thinking, he could guess enough to imagine how conflicted he must be. Remus knew his friend would love Draco's child as if it were his own but he also knew how alone Sirius had felt for decades. A life with the Blacks, a life with Lily, a life with Harry - every dream of family that Sirius had had been decimated. The hope of having a real family, one of his very own, could only be tearing into his soul. It was no wonder he was so certain this child would be Draco's...he likely couldn't survive the news if he allowed himself to believe anything else and then all his hopes were shattered again.
“Remus?” Sirius' muffled, broken voice was hard to hear.
Sirius didn't look up, couldn't bear to face his dearest friend. “Would you want a Black for a son?”
Remus knew he didn't expect an answer. He didn't want an answer even. He wanted to allow Remus some insight into the horrible emotions that were coursing through him. It was inevitable really – Sirius would believe that no one could ever want a Black for a son. Especially after tonight's ordeal with Juliette where Sirius believed his influence had caused her to act out. No one had ever wanted him and, to Sirius, that was evidence enough that an heir to the Black family was a near hellish thing to consider. But Remus was unwilling to let Sirius continue to compare himself to his ancestors.
“A son to Sirius Black,” he said mildly, “would be a gift on which legends are made.”