A/N: Gah, I'm so sorry for the long wait. I've had very limited time on the computer, and even less on this site. That is also why my unanswered review count is high right now. I do intend to get them all answered, though. =]
Disclaimer: Ah, I do not own Harry Potter...maybe if I did that hot foreign exchange student would notice me. Haha. =]
The next few months passed more or less without incident. James and Lily found a low costing flat near the heart of London. It fit them perfectly. It was their hope that they could save up enough money to buy a permanent home. Their cash flow was still low, but they were managing…just barely.
Sirius, not wanting to live alone in the flat he had shared with James, gave it up and moved in with Emma at the bakery. Their grand opening had been a major success and the store was now self-sufficient. The couple’s relationship was still going strong. They didn’t know it, but there was a large bet on their engagement between James and Remus.
Remus was living near Gringotts with a lady friend he had met at work. They were happy together, but nothing serious was going on, as James was quick to comment on.
Frank and Alice were still not engaged. They were nearly done with their auror training and almost qualified for the full-time job.
Peter was working hard at his job in the International Use of Magic Department. He hadn’t been able to fine a girlfriend. His schedule was very full and he was barely making the weekly visits his friends had established.
Sarah and Nathan had patched up their relationship and were now living together on the edge of town. Sarah was seven months pregnant and her stomach and swollen to the size of a watermelon. The proud father of this child was constantly at his girlfriend’s side and went with her to all the healer appointments. They were told that they would be having a baby boy, and he was in perfect condition.
Order meetings were becoming more frequent. Voldemort was becoming even more merciless. According to Dumbledore, he was in a particularly foul mood about something. The headmaster refused to say what, causing a lot of curiosity between members.
Lily and Sarah were sitting at the table together, sipping from mugs of cocoa. It was the middle of winter and nothing felt better than a hot beverage. James was still off at work so the girls had the flat to themselves.
“So have you thought about names yet?” asked Lily.
Sarah smiled. “A little. Nathan and I are having some trouble narrowing it down. We can’t agree on one.”
“Well, run what you have by me.”
“We’ve both decided that we like the letter ‘H’.”
“It’s good to agree on something.”
“We’ve narrowed it down to Henry, Harry, or Harold.”
“All very fine names,” commented Lily. “Which is your favorite?”
Sarah sighed. “I like Harry…but I kind of want to save that for a girl. You know…instead of a ‘y’, I use an ‘i’?”
Lily made a face. “I’ve never heard of that before. Which does Nathan like?”
“Then why don’t you name him Harold and use Harry as a nickname?”
“Because it’s not the same…”
“You’re hopeless,” cried Lily, throwing her hands up in the air.
“Harold sounds like a teddy bear!”
Lily thought about it. “That’s true…but what do you think Harry sounds like?”
“Oh shut up. I think living with James is starting to rub off on you.”
Mrs. Potter grinned mischievously. “Maybe you’re right.”
“So what’s it like living with him?”
“It’s pretty much the same as the Head Dorm…except we share a room.”
“And a bed,” pointed out Sarah.
“That is true,” came a voice from the doorway.
James had returned home from work. After setting a bag of groceries on the counter he came over and gave his wife a kiss. “And she loves every minute of living with me. Right, Love?”
Lily tried to look disdainful and scold him for eavesdropping, but she couldn’t — the silly look on his face made her start laughing.
“All right,” said Sarah, standing up. “I’ll leave you two now.”
“Whoa,” cried James, looking her up and down. “You’re about ready to pop!”
“Two more months,” was Sarah’s reply. “I’m due in February. Wouldn’t it be romantic for him to be born on Valentine’s Day?”
“That it would,” said James. “Give my regards to Nathan. Tell him I’ll meet up with him this weekend.”
“Will do.” Sarah gave Lily a hug and left the flat.
Lily was boiling water in the kitchen for dinner when a knock sounded on the front door. She turned the burner on low and admitted a man who was wearing a St. Mungos uniform. “Err…can I help you?”
“Is this the home of Mr. James Potter?”
“What’s going on?” James came out of the kitchen, a soup ladle in his hand.
The healer stepped into the flat. “I’ve been sent to inform you of your mother’s passing.”
James dropped the ladle and slowly sank into a chair. “How…”
“The Wizard’s Plague,” replied the man, before he could finish the sentence. “She must have contracted it from your father. It lay dormant in her system for months…she recently began showing symptoms two days ago. By then it was too late.”
James stared at him, dumbstruck. “What do you mean, it was too late
? You’re a wizard. You can do magic. Couldn’t you have stopped it?”
The man shook his head. “We have not yet found a cure. The disease has recently mutated…it finds a way to immunities itself against magical penetration…”
James ran his hands through his hair and buried his head in his arms. “No no no,” he moaned. “I can’t do this again…not another funeral —,”
“I’m afraid a funeral is not possible,” interrupted the healer.
Lily looked up, startled. “Why ever not?”
The man looked uncomfortable. “Your mother has showed us that this form of the Wizard’s Plague is highly contagious. And since this mutation has no cure…the head of the department thought it’d be best to cremate the body at once. Your mother is currently buried in the local cemetery. If you wish to add a tomb stone then—,”
“You can’t cremate
without my permission,” growled James.
The mad fidgeted. “This was special circumstance. We cannot afford on epidemic of Wizard’s Plague.”
“When did she die?”
“About eight hours ago…”
“And was anybody planning on telling me she was in St. Mungos?”
“She was in a closed ward. Only certain healers could go in…and even then they had to wear protective gear…”
“So she died alone
?” demanded James.
“No!...well…there were Healers with her…”
James didn’t say anything. He just knocked his forehead against the table.
“I have her will with me…” He handed it to Lily and sped out of the room. Lily walked hesitantly over to where James was sitting. She took the seat next to him and took his hand in her own. “It’s going to be alright.”
He looked up. “I’m an orphan.”
Lily wasn’t quite sure how to respond to that. She chose her words very carefully. “But you are surrounded by people who love you. It’s not like you’re alone…”
“My parents are dead
“Are you going to forget about them?”
“Of course not.”
“They may have died…but they won’t be forgotten, right?”
James stared at her grudgingly. “True.”
“But it is perfectly understandable for you to be upset. They were very nice people…”
James picked up the will and quickly scanned it. He laughed bitterly. “Well, this takes care of our financial problem…”
“What do you mean?” asked Lily.
“She left me everything. Oh, wait…she says a tenth of whatever’s in Gringotts goes to Sirius. But that’s still a lot.”
“That was nice of her.”
“He was like a second son.” He continued reading. “We get the house and whatever’s in it.”
“What do you plan to do with it?”
He shrugged. “You want to move into it?”
Lily was taken back. “Are you serious?”
“There’s nothing else we can do with it…might as well. It’s roomy…”
James looked down solemnly. “Maybe in a couple weeks? I can get these affairs settled…”
“Are you going to be alright, James?”
He nodded. “They had to go eventually…no one lives forever…”
The next few days passed quietly. James had the gold from his parent’s vault transferred into his own vault. He signed the papers for the house. They were set to move in the next week or two.
Lily was packing up her bathroom supplies when James appeared in the doorway. “I am never going to understand why women need so much stuff in the bathroom.”
His wife crossed her arms. “Most have more…”
“We’ve had this conversation before, remember?” Right when we were moving into the Head Dorm together…”
“Ha-ha, I remember now.”
They were interrupted by a knock on the door.
“Wow…we are sure a popular couple,” said James, leaving the room to answer it.
It was Kingsley Shacklebolt standing in their doorway this time. He was accompanied by none other than Minerva McGonagall.
“Err…” started James, confused. “Hello Kingsley…Professor.”
“Good Evening, Mr. Potter,” said McGonagall. “I assume Miss Evans is here with you.”
“Actually…it’s Mrs. Potter now,” corrected James.
“Right. Forgive me. One does tend to forget when…” She blew her nose loudly.
“Is anything wrong Professor?” asked Lily, coming out form the bathroom.
Kingsley led McGonagall into the room and the four of them sat down.
“I-I have some bad news.”
The silence that followed was broken by Lily. “What do you mean? What kind?”
“Order members have been monitoring several areas these last few days. Early this afternoon they made a discovery.”
When no one said anything he continued. “On the outskirts of town we found that the Dark Mark had been shot into the air over a small house.”
“Not another one,” groaned Lily. “What is that? Three this week?”
Kingsley nodded grimly. “The two on Monday and Wednesday were close together. This one was twenty miles away. A man and a woman…”
Lily rubbed her temples. She could feel a headache coming on. She went to the kitchen to get some water.
“Have you identified the bodies yet?” asked James.
Kingsley cleared his throat and said very nervously. “Yes we have. Our reports have claimed that the corpses four are Nathan Larrek and Sarah Nealson.”
A loud crash signaled Lily’s water glass shattering all over the floor. She swayed alarmingly and James ran over to help her into a seat. The moment he touched her though, she burst into tears and sobbed into his shoulder.
“Why would he do this?” she choked.
“Dumbledore said that You-Know-Who was trying to force the location of the Order out of them. His spies told him that Miss Nealson went somewhere with a group of known Order members. He tried to get everything she knew out of her.”
James felt like someone had just punched him in the gut. “They didn’t know anything! You blindfolded her, remember?”
“He was under the impression she did. He visited them personally and used legilimency. When that didn’t aid him much he preformed the Cruciatus Curse…”
This only caused Lily to cry harder. “S-S-Sarah was p-p-pregnant!”
James closed his eyes, not able to believe something this horrific had happened — and to two of the kindest people on the planet. It felt like just yesterday he had been joking around with Sarah about her upcoming child.
I’m due in February. Wouldn’t it be romantic for him to be born on Valentine’s Day?
The Cruciatus Curse was one of the worst spells known to wizard kind. The idea of Lord Voldemort using it on an expecting mother…James was overcome with a sudden wave of nausea. And Nathan…Nathan having to watch it…watch his girlfriend cry out…not able to stop it, helpless and defenseless.
Each in turn being tortured for information they didn’t possess…didn’t know…who knew how long it lasted? By the end, death must have been a blessing.
James couldn’t do anything but hold his tear-wrecked wife tightly.
“A-Are you sure the Cruciatus Curse was preformed?” James asked, almost afraid of the answer.
“There were signs of a struggle. When the curse misses its target it leaves a specific scorch mark on the wall or table it touched. The house was full of them.”
James could only gape in horror at the thought…the fear that must have been invoked.
Kingsley and McGonagall stood up. “The service is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.
As the door closed James could only think of one thing. That morning, six months ago when he found that Sirius had run away form Headquarters, Dedalus Diggle had made a startling statement. “The one thing you learn in this business is that not everyone can be saved…”
This time the folding chairs were not set up for a wedding, but a double funeral. About forty witches and wizards had come out to honor Sarah Nealson and Nathan Larrek.
James and Lily sat in the second row along with Sirius and Emma. All were clothed in the blackest of black. Alice, Frank, Remus, and Peters sat in the third row, directly behind the others. Alice had her head rested on Frank’s shoulder, silent tears dripping down her face.
The first row was occupied by the two families, whose grief seemed beyond words. They only stared numbly at the two caskets, as if their penetrating stares would bring their son or daughter back.
Sirius stood up and straightened his tie. He would begin the speech.
When he got to the podium he cleared his throat and silence covered the room — silence that was only broken by a dry sob every now and then.
“Sarah and Nathan were probably two of the greatest people on this planet. They were always there to make you laugh or smile on a bad day. It was their job.
“…Nathan was the seeker of the Gryffindor Quidditch team…a bloody good one too. Led us to victory nearly every time.
“Sarah…she was Lily’s right hand man…and always had something to say.
“She and Nathan were expecting their first child and already quarrelling over a name. I can firmly say that they would have made great parents.
“…The most I can say is that I’m going to miss them a lot. I’ll always remember them.” Sirius rubbed his eyes and then looked up at his friends. “I don’t know what I’m going to do if any more of you leave me.”
He left it at that and stepped off the stage.
Lily met him on his way back to his seat and gave him a hug. “You did great…and don’t worry…we’ll never leave.”
God, I hate doing this. I hate making everything all sad. But the ending of this story is approaching. Eight chapters I believe.
For those of you who are following Deception...the next chapter is on the way. I'm almost done writing it...and I need to type it up. =]
Please please please review. I'm reading every single one!