Chapter 5 : Chapter Five: Christmas Joy and Pain
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Christmas Joy and Pain
Seven-year-old Jakob bolted down the stairs in the entrance hall of Saxton Castle, throwing his arms around his mother at the bottom. She laughed and wrapped her thin arms around him, hugging him tightly. "And how is my handsome boy?" she asked him in German. She had a heavy accent that didn't seem to fit her thin, scarred body and her pale appearance. She had blonde hair and chocolate-brown eyes, and was overall very beautiful in a natural sort of way.
Five-year-old Harry and Adam came down the stairs after Jakob, each of them holding onto the hands of Pandora and Phelan, who were now three years old. When they reached the bottom of the stairs, the four of them sat down and watched Jakob get hugged and kissed by his mother.
"Ah, and this must be Harry," she said, walking over to the now-bespectacled boy with very messy black hair. He grinned up at her and allowed her to hug him. "And Adam! You've grown!" Adam stood up proudly and stretched his arms, eager for a hug as well. "Which leaves Pandora and Phelan...beautiful names for beautiful babies." Phelan looked up at her rather timidly, but Pandora wrinkled her nose as the woman hugged her. Harry poked her in the side and she giggled.
"How was your trip, Ana?" Thomas asked as he joined the kids, greeting the blonde woman as he descended the stairs. Phoenix, Remus and Sirius were following him, along with Sirius's wife of four months, Cassandra.
"Same as always...got here in a flash," she said with a smile, hugging Thomas when he reached out to her. "You seem...taller," she said when he realeased her.
"That's funny. You seem shorter."
Thomas was sitting on the floor a moment later, rubbing his cheek. The five children, Sirius, Cassie, Phoenix and Remus were all rolling with laughter. Even Ana was finding it hard to conceal a smirk as she stared at the red handprint on Thomas's cheek.
Though the Lupins, Potters, Sirius and Cassandra all returned home after the twins were born, they continued to visit Saxton Castle regularly. It had become like a second home and safe haven for the group. The children would play together, and the adults would talk and play games of their own. The journey to Denmark became very familiar and not at all unusual for the Marauders and their families.
Almost three and a half years after the birth of the twins, they were gathered at Saxton Castle along with a mass of other people to celebrate Christmas. Mordicus Darkheart, who had given up parties at his own home, began attending the ones at Saxton Castle to be with his daughter and grandchildren for the holidays. Even Daciana travelled to the castle from Germany to be near her son and actually share Christmas with other people instead of staying home alone as she usually did.
The Christmas festivities at Saxton Castle put Darkheart Manor to shame. Sure, there was the feast and the ballroom dancing, just like at the Manor...but the Saxton parties were always more lively and enjoyable. Everyone there would laugh and run around enjoying themselves, rather than keeping a civil composure.
"No, no, Harry," James said, kneeling down beside Harry. Phoenix was laughing as she knelt down beside Pandora, who was standing in front of Harry. The two were trying to teach Pandora and Harry how to dance together. "Hold her hand nicely, don't squeeze it."
Harry sighed and held onto Pandora's hand gently, then allowed his father to place his other hand on Pandora's waist. After correcting their stance a bit more, Phoenix and James backed away. "Okay, try it," Phoenix said encouragingly.
Harry and Pandora both started to dance, but they both tried to go forward at the same time. They bumped chests, froze for half a second in mid-air, then both fell backward onto the floor, still clutching hands. The parents laughed and rushed forward to help them up, but the two kids looked embarassed that someone had actually seen them fall.
Adam, meanwhile, was standing next to the band that his grandfather hired for the occasion. He watched them strum, beat and blow into their instruments, fascinated by the sounds coming from them. He seemed to like the guitar the most, as he kept walking closer to the guitarist without realizing it until he was almost standing on the man's feet.
"When it's time for a break, I'll teach you a few strings, allright?" the man said, chuckling as Adam's face lit up. He nodded eagerly and ran away, watching the band from a distance. Not far away, the adults were talking.
"Ah, they came!" George said suddenly, smiling. He was looking over by the doors.
"Who?" Cassandra asked, looking around.
"Come, come!" he said to all of them, scooping Adam up in his arms as he walked past. He led them over to the doors to the ballroom, then set Adam down and greeted another man with a warm hug. The man seemed very similar in appearance to George, though he didn't seem as tired or run-down. Beside him was a beautiful, thin blonde woman, and beside the woman was a small girl of four with dirty-blonde hair and the same brown eyes George, Adam and Jakob had.
"My brother, John," he said, introducing the man first. "His wife Verena, and their daughter, Wilhelmina."
"Say hello, Mina," Verena said pleasantly. The girl clung to her mother, refusing to look at the others.
"Hi!" Harry said, waving eagerly at the girl. She glared at him for a moment, then hid her face in her mother's dress.
"Come now," Verena laughed. Much like Daciana, she had an accent heavier than anyone would think by their appearance. Verena's voice, however, was higher and more pleasant.
"And where are your boys?" John asked his brother.
"Jakob is over with his mother," George said, pointing across the dancefloor where Jakob was being taught to dance by his mother. Claudia was twenty feet or so away, scowling. "And Adam is right here," George added, pulling Adam out from behind his legs. "Come on, Adam...you haven't seen Mina since right after she was born. Don't you miss her?"
Adam didn't say anything, but stared at Mina for a moment before hiding behind Lily's dress. She chuckled and ran her fingers through his hair. Harry instantly became jealouse and hugged his mother's legs, causing a wave of laughter to sweep through the group.
"Is he still not talking?" John asked when the laughter died down.
"No," Thomas said sadly, looking down at the boy. Adam stared up at him for a moment, then dropped his head. It was painfully obvious that Adam knew exactly what everyone was talking about, but he simply wouldn't join in the conversation. "We thought time would bring him around...but maybe he needs more than that." His eyes drifted over to Claudia before returning back to the group he was speaking to.
"I'm sure he'll talk soon," Ecaterina said, smiling as she knelt down beside Adam. She ran her hand over his dark hair, looking at him as though she was appraising him. "And he'll have such a sweet voice, too..."
Hours later, when everything was dying down, Harry, Adam and Jakob snuck out of the party, laughing. They ran along the hall and up a flight of stairs, then another, halting dead in their tracks when they'd run as far as the fifth floor. Claudia was standing at the window, backing Daciana up against it. Ecaterina was a few feet away, pale with terror. Harry quickly shoved Adam and Jakob behind the nearest corner, and the three boys peered around it, watching.
"I don't want you near my husband, Ana," Claudia said coldly.
"That is his choice," Daciana said in her heavy accent. "I've given him up, Claudia. You know this. My only interest in him now is that he is a good father to Jakob."
"You and your half-breed son have caused me nothing but trouble," Claudia hissed.
"How dare you?!" Daciana said loudly, stepping toward Claudia. "Don't ever call my son that--!"
"But that's what he is," Claudia said with a smirk. "And you made him that way. His suffering is all your fault, as is mine!" She shoved Daciana, and she did so hard enough to send the woman crashing through the window behind her.
"Mamma!" Jakob screamed, pulling away from Adam and Harry, bolting to the window. He put his hands on the sharp ledge and looked down, tears filling his eyes. His mother's frail body stood no chance of surviving a fall from so high.
Jakob turned around and swung at Claudia, but she grabbed his hand with one of her own, then smacked him hard across the face. "If you tell anyone," she hissed menacingly, "then I'll kill everyone else you love!"
"Let him go!" Ecaterina screamed, seizing her sister by the arms. Jakob fell to the floor, sobbing. She held Claudia back, holding on tightly despite her sister's thrashing. "Run, Jakob!"
"Get off of me, Caty!" Claudia yelled, finally breaking free of her sister. She smacked her hard and sent her to the floor, then turned on Jakob again.
"LEAVE HIM ALONE!" Adam yelled suddenly, charging at his mother. He shoved her aside and took Jakob by the hand, dragging him away. Harry ran with them as they headed back downstairs, sprinting to get to the ballroom. It was hard to keep ahead of Claudia with Jakob almost collapsing to the ground in tears everytime they had to slow down for a corner. At last, they reached the ballroom doors, which they threw open wide.
"HELP!" Harry shouted once they were inside. The party seemed to die instantly, and James and Lily rushed over to the boys with George, Robert, Thomas, Phoenix and Sirius.
"What is it, Harry?" James asked. "What's wrong?"
Claudia caught up to them, standing in the doorway of the ballroom, completely out of breath. Jakob refused to speak but kept trying to get away and run to his mother, and Harry shifted his glance to Adam, who started speaking immediately.
"She pushed Mamma," he told his father.
George stared. "Adam..."
"Hurry!" Adam shouted at his father. "She pushed her! She's hurt!"
George snapped out of it and stared questioningly at Adam. "Who pushed who, Adam?"
"She did it!" Adam yelled, turning to point at his mother. She looked surprised at first, then scowled at her son.
"Wipe that glare off your face right now, Adam!" she shouted at him.
"She pushed Mamma," Adam said, turning around to face his father again. "She fell through the window!"
George leapt to his feet and rushed out of the ballroom, and Jakob followed him closely. Robert seized his daughter by the arm and dragged her out of the room, out of the sight of the guests. The Potters, Lupins, Blacks, and the remainder of the Saxtons and Smethwycks followed. Thomas and Phoenix were the only two who did not, and they followed George outside the castle to look for Daciana.
"What on earth did you do?!" Robert yelled at her.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Claudia said smoothly. "Seems to me like she jumped."
"Jumped my ass," John growled, advancing on her. "Why would someone who looked so happy decide to finish themself off?!"
"Grandpa," Adam said, tugging his grandfather's sleeve. Robert looked down at him. "She hit Aunt Caty..."
"I'll go look for her," Remus said. He left his own children with Mordicus downstairs, not wishing for either of them to see any of this. He swept from the room quickly, disappearing around the corner.
"I'm telling you...she jumped," Claudia repeated a moment later.
"Someone who jumps would have cuts from the glass on the front of their body, not the back," Phoenix said as she re-entered the room. She looked very pale. "And people instinctively put their arms in front of their faces when jumping through glass. This would leave either cuts or bruises upon the person's forearms..."
"I'm guessing Ana didn't have any," James said.
"Correct," Phoenix replied. "Her cuts were on the back, like the injuries that would be on a person who was pushed."
"How is she?" Robert asked quietly.
Phoenix frowned. "She's dead. There was nothing Thomas could do."
Everyone sat in silence for a few moments, except for Claudia, who kept flicking at the hem of her dress. Thomas entered the room shortly after, and Robert approached him. "Brain trauma," Thomas said quietly. "Too bad to be repaired."
Robert nodded. "We'll deal with her body. For now, James..." He turned to James, who stood up straighter and listened. "You do not have authorization to make arrests, but you know how to get in touch with the Denmark authorities, correct?"
"I do," James said, leaving the room quickly. Sirius watched him go, but remained behind, not taking his eyes off of Claudia.
"You're going to turn in your own daughter?" Claudia asked coldly.
"Without a second thought," Robert growled, tears in his eyes.
Claudia sighed, then turned her eyes to Adam. "Adam...give Mommy a hug before they take her away."
Claudia stared at him. "Adam, I said--"
"NO!" Adam yelled at her. "YOU'RE NOT MY MOMMY!"
For the first time that many of them had seen, Claudia appeared to have been stung. "What did you just say to me?!"
"I HATE YOU!" Adam yelled at her. "GO AWAY AND DON'T COME BACK!"
"Why you little--!" Symona began, walking toward her grandson, but Adam turned on her next.
"DON'T TOUCH ME!" he shouted. "YOU ARE BAD LIKE HER!"
Lily rushed forward and grabbed Adam, lifting him up into her arms. In return, he wrapped his arms and legs around her tightly, crying into her shoulder. Claudia made to move toward them, but Phoenix stepped into her path and threw the back of her hand into Claudia's cheek so hard it knocked the woman backwards to the floor.
"If you come near either of those boys again, I'll do more than smack you," she growled in warning. She drew her wand and waved it at Claudia, binding her body with ropes. Claudia thrashed around on the ground, screaming, but Phoenix paid no more attention to her. "Take the kids to the kitchen and get them a snack, okay?" she asked Lily, who nodded and led Cassandra and Harry out of the room as well. Phoenix then looked at Sirius. "You'll watch her, right?"
Sirius nodded. "And what are you going to do?"
"Going to make sure Azkaban has a prison cell ready for her," Phoenix stated. "And then arrange to have her locked up there."
"You hate Azkaban, though," Sirius said, staring at her.
"There are some people that deserve it," Phoenix said with a slight glance to Claudia. "And I believe that she is one of those people."
An hour later, Claudia was being dragged away by law officials, and Robert was receiving a thorough ass-chewing from his wife. Daciana's body had been moved inside and hidden so that Jakob couldn't run to her anymore, and George locked himself in a room upstairs with Jakob, both of them crying. Near dawn, the door opened up and Adam rushed in, clinging to his brother and father. Jakob kept muttering the word "danke" to Adam as he hugged him, unable to stop crying. In return, Adam said the same thing...but in English.
After Daciana's death, Jakob was no longer the sweet, smiling boy he had been. Even with Claudia gone, he still spent his days hiding in different rooms of the castle, not speaking to anyone. He didn't speak, and when he did, he was so quiet he often had to repeat himself in order for anyone to understand him. He wasn't even smiling anymore...which made George worry about him a great deal.
The Lupins, the Potters and the Blacks spent a great deal more time at Saxton Castle than usual after this incident. The children played with Jakob and Adam while the adults talked, read or played chess together. It seemed that everyone was simply trying to stay closer, refusing to let another incident like Daciana's death happen.
A few years later, Jakob began his first year at Hogwarts. Adam was so devastated to be away from his brother. George allowed him to live with the Potters during that time, so he would have Harry, at least. When George, Adam and Harry met Jakob on Platform 9¾ at the beginning of the Christmas holidays, however, they received quite a shock.
Jakob got off of the train with a pair of redheaded twins and a dark-skinned boy. He was laughing! The four boys had their arms around each other, swaying as though they were drunk on laughter. The dark-skinned boy was the first to depart, his parents watching him as though they expected he'd gotten into a vat of mead. The twins dragged Jakob over to a plump, red-haired woman who threw her arms around all three of them at the same time. She greeted Jakob warmly, then, when Jakob spotted his father, she turned to greet him as well.
"You must be Mr. Hillenbrand!" she said, shaking his hand eagerly.
"Smethwyck," George corrected her, smiling as he shook her hand. "You can call me George."
"Ah, George!" she said, smiling at one of the twins. "These are two of my boys, Fred and George. I have three others getting off the train...and, oh!" She spotted Harry and Adam, then turned around and pulled a smaller red-haired boy toward her. "This is my youngest son, Ron! You two look about his age," she said to the two dark-haired boys.
"We're nine," Harry said to her.
"So is Ronald!" she said, beaming. She shoved Ron closer to the two boys. He blushed so hard that his whole face turned almost as red as his hair. "So, Mr. -- Sorry! George..." She pulled George off to the side, allowing Jakob to talk to the twins, and Adam and Harry to stand awkwardly in front of Ron.
"Sorry about her," Ron muttered, staring down at his feet. "She gets really excited when she meets new people."
Harry laughed, but Adam stared at Mrs. Weasley. Harry seemed to sense something from his friend, so he continued to speak to Ron without mentioning anything to Adam about how "zoned out" he was acting. "So, you're starting Hogwarts the year after next, right? Same as us?"
"Yeah," Ron nodded. "Sounds brilliant, doesn't it! I wish I could go now...Fred and George write home all the time to tell me about it. Do you think there are really dragons living under the castle?"
Adam and Harry looked at each other. They guessed this was some sort of trick the twins decided to play on Ron. They knew very well that there were no dragons anywhere near Hogwarts.
"My other brothers say they're full of rubbish," Ron went on. "Bill is the oldest...he'll be graduating soon. Charlie made Quidditch Captain this year! He's next to oldest, behind Bill. And Percy..." Ron stopped and scowled.
"Who is Percy?" Harry asked curiously.
"Our prat of a brother," Fred interrupted, leaning in on their conversation. Jakob chuckled.
"Two years older than me and Fred," said George. "He's the kind who likes to follow the rules to a T."
"Ass-kisser, too," Fred added, checking over his shoulder to make sure he was not overheard by his mother.
"Sounds boring," Adam said, craning his neck to look around. "Is that him?"
The others looked around. Adam was pointing out a red-haired boy of about thirteen, wearing a sweater with a tie. "How'd you guess?" George asked, grinning.
"Well, the red hair narrowed it down," Adam said. "Then, from what you described, he seemed like he'd try to dress as if he was actually important. And with the way he's puffing out his chest like a jackass..."
Fred and George howled with laughter. "Right on the mark, mate!" Fred said, patting him on the shoulder.
"I love your brother!" George wheezed to Jakob, who was also laughing.
"Why don't you marry him?" Jakob asked, smirking. His accent had become less noticable, though no one was able to tell this before he left for school since he barely talked then.
"Don't tempt me," George said, batting his eyelashes. The boys all laughed.
"Do you have any more siblings?" Harry asked Ron when the laughter finally died down.
"Yeah," Ron said, nodding. "We have a sister named Ginny. She's with Dad, looking for Bill and Charlie, I think."
"Cool," said Harry.
"Do you guys have any brothers or sisters?" Fred asked. "Well, not you, Adam. We know about your family."
"I don't have any," Harry answered.
"Bummer," Fred sighed. "We were hoping you might have a good-looking sister..."
"Well, we don't have a sister, but there's always Pandora," Adam said.
"Pandora..." Fred said, as though trying to think of where he'd heard the name.
"Pandora Lupin," Jakob said. "I told you about Phoenix and Remus, friends of my dad right? It's their daughter. She has a twin brother named Phelan."
"Oh yeah!" said Fred, grinning. "Is she cute?"
"She's seven," said Harry, grimacing. He was, of course, still in his "girls are gross" phase.
"That's a shame," George sighed.
"Allright, boys!" Mrs. Weasley said when she and George returned to them. "Let's get moving. Your father has already left the platform with your brothers and Ginny. Say goodbye to your friends...you'll see them again very soon!"
Jakob said goodbye to the twins, and Harry and Adam said goodbye to Ron, then the two families left each other. "What did she mean?" Jakob asked his father. "She said we'll see them again very soon."
"I've invited them to come to the castle for Christmas," George said with a smile. "She said that she would talk to her husband, but she was sure they could come."
"Cool!" Jakob said excitedly, grinning as he walked along, lugging his trunk behind him. Adam got tired of watching him, so he seized the other end of the trunk and they carried it between them.
The Christmas holidays seemed very different now that Jakob was a happy member of the family again. He was laughing, smiling and playing with the other children, most especially Fred and George, who stayed for most of the holidays along with the rest of the Weasley family.
Not only were the holidays blissful, but the next year and a half were, as well. But when it came time for Adam and Harry to begin their first year at Hogwarts, it seemed inevitable that everything would change.
A/N: We're going to Hogwarts, folks!
Took a bit longer for this chapter, but I wanted it to be perfect. It's not, really...but it's damn close, if I do say so my self. :) We got to meet Mina and her parents, who are far more loving than hinted in previous fics. We may or may not get to learn more about this later. I want to, but I'll have to see if it fits...
Please leave me lots of reviews! I enjoy reading them. In fact, this chapter is dedicated to one of my first fans, and my oldest reviewer! ^_^ Yay for Sydney!
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