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Once Again by Ink Laden Quill
Chapter 36 : Guilt
 
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Heylo. Oh, and just so you know...I can continue posting chapter during this little "all validators are gone" week. So, if you guys care enough to come on, my story'll be here. Well, actually, it depends on how miserable I am after I finish reading Deathly Hallows. FOUR DAYS!! 

So...I'm really hoping that you guys like this chapter better. Tell me what you think at the end.

Disclaimer: If I owned Harry Potter, would I be freaking out about the release? Welll...maybe I would...but NOT at this magnitude. I am going to faint from excitement. yayayayayayayay









James woke up with a start and started at the ceiling.
 
The bed across the room was empty. 

He sighed; it had been a week since Emma had been taken.

Sirius had not been home since. He was spending all his time at the Order Headquarters. He had been very quiet since her capture. The Order had invited him to join them for meals, but he had politely declined and took his meals in the room that had been set up for him. 

James had gone up the next day, bringing along some of Sirius’ clothes and personal items. 

When he had knocked on the bedroom door Sirius had taken the bag, and thanked him quietly, not meeting his eyes.

“Do you want to talk?” James had asked.

“Not right now.” The door had closed with a snap.

There was still no sign of Emma. She and Voldemort had vanished without a trace. Neither of them had been heard of since. 

Fabian Prewett, whom James had become friends with, privately confided in him that Sirius had been up late every night, looking through all the maps and documents, trying to find a pattern so he could track down Voldemort. 

Marlene McKinnon had taken a different view on the matter. After offering her condolences to Sirius she had saddled up next to James and said, “Oh, it’s so romantic. He’s searching for his lost love. I’m going to write a novel about this one day.”

James, who had just watched Sirius slink out of the room, his shoulders slouched forward, had not been sure how to respond to that, so he had just grunted and walked away.



Nothing could stop James form feeling extreme guilt about what had happened. If he had not sprung at Lily, Emma might not have been taken. But what if Voldemort had killed Lily? What were the chances of that happening? Would Dumbledore have been able to prevent it? It all came down to chance—It had to be either Lily or Emma.

Did Sirius blame him? The two boys had not really spoken since the time James dropped off the clothes. He tried to recall that day, trying to remember if there had been any accusing glares. Sirius’ look had been blank when they had last met. All the emotions had been concealed, and if James knew Sirius well enough, boxed away.
 
Maybe the blank look had been a sign, telling James that he was no longer wanted as a friend. What if that was it? He could not lose his best friend. Not when things were just starting to become challenging and hard to deal with. Sirius would not do that, would he? But then again, who even said that just because his expression was blank meant he wanted to throw everything down he drain. But what else could it have meant? There was not explanation. It was his fault Emma was gone.

James swore and leapt out of bed, tired of arguing with himself. He pulled on a tee shirt and jeans. He jerked a wet comb through his hair in front of the mirror. 

“I’ll just go down and talk to Sirius,” he said out loud to himself.

“Good luck,” his mirror muttered from in front of him, “Seriousness is a hard thing to communicate with. You would be the first to conquer it.”

James grabbed his coat and ran out the door.








Fifteen minutes later he was in front of the Order headquarters. A few leaves flew by as he knocked on the door.

Dedalus Diggle received him.

“How ya doing James? We weren’t expecting you until tomorrow.”

“Oh, well, uh, actually, I fancied a chat with Sirius.”

“Well, that’s not going to happen. He left.”

James turned around to look at him sharply, “What do you mean, he left? He hasn’t taken a step outside in a week.”

“Yes, well, he did this time. He walked right out.”

“Where did he go? The market? Will he be back soon? I can wa—,”

“I don’t know when he’ll be back. He took all his stuff with him. He has to come back sometime though—he did sign the book.”

“Wait. Did you say he took all his stuff?” asked James.

“That’s correct.”

“When did he go?”

“About two in the morning," said Dedalus, as if it were perfectly normal for people to walk out in dead of night.

“Well, where did he go?”

“No idea. He didn’t say.”

“Why did he leave?”

“He didn’t say. But it was right after we told him we called the search off his girlfriend—,”

“What!” exclaimed James, “You called the search of Emma? Why would you do that?”

“Look James. If You-Know-Who captures you and you aren’t heard from for a week then it’s ninety percent certain that you’re dead.”

“But there’s a ten percent chance she’s still alive.”

“That’s true. But we need the wizards looking for her for other projects. We can’t look for her forever.”

“Did you find any leads?”

“None that was helpful. We really did try our hardest to find Emma. But we haven’t found anything yet.”

“Come on. Keep looking. What if he’s torturing Emma right now? There has to be some way to find her.”

“Voldemort is a cruel, twisted man. He may have tortured her, he may have imperiused her into working for him, anything could have happened to her. The thing you learn in this business, is that not everyone can be saved.”

James sighed angrily, a lump starting to form in his throat. “What did Sirius do when he found out? Did he explode?”

“Nope. He stayed as cool as a cucumber. He went into his room, packed his stuff, informed us that he was leaving…and then walked out the door.”

James groaned. “And you don’t know where he went?”

“No. But he acted really good when we told him.”

“That’s really bad.”








James ran through Diagon Alley and came to a halt in front of the soon to be bakery. 

Even though the sign said closed he pushed open the door and heard the familiar sound of bells tinkling overhead. 

Lily sat at one of the tables, a coffee mug in her hand. She looked a wreck. Her hair had been pulled into a sloppy bun on top of her head. Her clothes were wrinkled and there were dark circles forming under her eyes. 

She took a sip from her mug and turned to stare at him wearily. “Hey.”

“Uh, hey, what happened? You look like you’ve been up all night.”

Lily gave a hollow laugh, “No. Not all night, just since two-thirty in the morning.”

“You heard about Emma?”

“Yes, I did hear a rumor. They say that she’s dead, but I don’t believe it.”

“I don’t want to believe it. But listen, Lily, Sirius is gone.”

She looked at him with a strange expression on her face. “No he’s not.”

“Yes he is. They told him they were going to call the search of Emma and he ran out with all his stuff. You have got to help me find him—,”

“Listen, James, he’s not missing. I know where he is.”

“Yes he i—Y-You do? Where is he?”

“He upstairs,” said Lily simply, taking another sip form her mug.

“You’re kidding.”

“No, I’m not. He’s upstairs, right now…sewing.”

“Sirius doesn’t know how to sew.”

“I know. But he’s getting the hang of it now.” Lily still looked weary and tiresome.

“What is he making?”

She sighed. “He knew Emma wanted dark blue curtains for this bakery—So he’s making them.”

“How long has he been up there?”

“Since two-thirty in the morning…when he knocked on the front door.”

“And you’ve been up since then?”

“Yes. I was keeping him company.”

“How is he? How’d he sound?”

Lily set down her mug and lowered her voice. “He appears to be fine. He hasn’t mentioned Emma at all, just to tell me that they called off the search. He’s been talking about the future for the bakery…everything he wants to do with it,” she lowered her voice even more, “But I don’t think he’s doing too good. It looks like he’s repressing all his emotions, which isn’t very healthy. I tried talking to him about it, but he closed up. I think you should go up and speak to him. It’ll help.”

“He hates me.”

“Where on Earth did you get that idea?”

“It’s just that…well, uh, oh, nevermind.”

“Go up and talk to him right now. You’re his best friend. Go.”

She got up and shoved James into the staircase. 

He took the steps one at a time, trying to go as slowly as possible. What was he going to say when he got up there? What state was his friend going to be in?

He took a step into the room and closed the door behind him.

Sirius was sitting on Emma’s bed, a dark blue cloth spread over his lap and around next to him. A needle was poised in his long fingers, a long piece of white thread trailing from it. 

James cleared his throat and said, “Hey Padfoot.”

Sirius looked up, his face gaunt and emotionless. “Hey.”

“Sorry to hear about Emma.”

“Thanks.” His voice was dull. The only thing that showed any emotion was his hand. It trembled as he poked the needle into the cloth. That’s when James noticed Sirius’ fingers were smeared with blood. He must have jabbed himself when learning how to sew. Either that, or he was shaking too much. 

An awkward silence passed, in which James sat on a chair and watched Sirius make uneven stitches up the side of the material. The air was thick and it just got thicker with every passing second.

Finally, James sighed with frustration and cried out, “I’m sorry Sirius. I know it’s my entire fault that Emma is gone. If I hadn’t been so thick headed. I wasn’t thinking. I was stupid. I just didn’t want Lily to get hurt. I should have thought about what my actions would have caused. But it all happened so fast and I didn’t realize this would have been the result. All the blame is mine and I know I’m a bad friend and you hate me, but I just want you to know that I’m sorry…really, really sorry.”

It had all come out in a rush of words. James stood up and headed for the door.

“What…are you talking about?”

James turned around. Sirius was staring at him incredulously, “Do you honestly think I blame you for what happened? Nothing is your fault.”

“B-But,” he stuttered, “You’ve ignored me for a week…”

“If you think about it the other way around, you were ignoring me.”

“I wasn’t. I wanted to talk.”

“Yeah, well, Emma was gone…and I wanted to find her. I was really confused. I knew that she was still alive…but I couldn’t prove it to anyone.”

“I believe you.”

“We still can’t do anything about it.”

“God, this wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t—,”

“Don’t blame yourself James. You jumped in front of a woman you love to save her. It was a brave thing to do. I would have done the same thing in your position.”

“You would have?”

“Most likely. This has nothing to do with you.”

“Lily said that you weren’t talking about Emma.”

“Did she?”

“It’s not going to help if you pretend it didn’t happen.”

“I want to put it behind me and keep her dreams alive.”

“You’re going to get this bakery started?”

“Yeah. It’s what she would have wanted.”

“Do you think she’s alive?”

Sirius’ hands started shaking again and he stabbed himself with the needle. He took a few deep breaths. “I…don’t know.”

“So, what are we going to do?”

“We?”

“Do you really think I’m not going to do this with you?”

“Well…I just, just want closure.”

“We’ll find out what happened to her.”

“Okay,” Sirius said slowly.

James grinned, “Okay.”

Sirius held up the blob of cloth on is lap, “Do you think Emma would like these.” The stitching was uneven and they rode up on one side, so the bottom edge was slanted.

“She would love them.”

“Good.”

“So…Padfoot, we’re fine, right?”

Sirius grinned, “We’re fine.”







I hope I redeemed myself at least a little with this chapter. Don't forget to leave feedback!


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