Chapter 36 : The Dog Star
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The Dog Star
Harry and I are sitting at the kitchen table, a game of Exploding Snaps well under way. He carefully places one on top of the pile, giggling as it sizzles. “God, kid, you’re gonna be a champ at this game before long,” I mutter, slowly putting a card down. “Put me out of business,” I continue, grinning as he puts another card down.
“Hey boys. How’s it go?” Lily asks as she walks into the kitchen, positively beaming.
Harry mumbles something unintelligible, causing me to smile and ruffle his hair. “Just playing some cards.”
“Cool, cool,” she continues, nodding.
“What’s up with you?”
“Oh, you know, nothing much.”
“Lily, you’re fit to burst. What’s going on?”
“Oh my God, I can’t hold it in any longer! Sirius just took Chloe to St. Mungo’s!”
“What?!” I exclaim, jumping up.
“He stopped by to drop Hailey and Molly off before leaving for Chloe again. He had to leave the girls home in order to get her to the hospital, but he figured he could drop them off here.”
“This is crazy! Damn it, I wish I could be with him. He must be freaking out right now.” I ground my teeth together, fidgeting nervously.
“James, don’t even think about it,” Lily warns, putting a hand on my shoulder.
“Hi, Uncle James!” Hailey exclaims as she skips into the kitchen, Molly quickly trailing behind her.
“Hello Hailey, darling.”
“What’re you and Harry doing?”
“Playing a game of Exploding Snaps.”
“Ooh, really? My daddy taught me how and he said I’m wicked good.” I smile up at Lily as Molly starts pulling on Harry’s shorts.
“Can Harry come outside and play?”
“Sure, sweetie.” As Lily lets Harry down and the two kids toddle outside, Hailey clambers up onto his vacant seat and lets out a breath. The clumsy castle tumbles over and Hailey smiles deviously before slowly gathering the cards into an even pile.
“I think it’s going to be a girl,” she chimes as she shuffles the cards delicately and then begins dealing them between us.
“Do they know what they’re going to name it?”
“My mummy really likes Miley, but my daddy likes Laura. So they’re not sure.”
“Laura,” I murmur thoughtfully.
“D’you wanna go first?”
“Uncle James, I have a question,” she says after a few moments of silence, and after a few turns gone.
“Did you know your daddy?”
“He was a nice man.”
“Did he die?”
“Yes. He was working in America and Voldemort found him.”
“It’s okay. Why do you ask?”
“I’ve never met my daddy before.” I don’t respond to this, but instead remove my gaze from her icy blue ones, feeling uncomfortable. “Do you think he wants to see me?”
“I’m not sure, honey.”
“I don’t want to see him.”
Hailey shrugs as she puts a card on the castle, aligns it to her liking, and then waits for me to put mine on. “I don’t want to meet him. If he didn’t love me enough to keep me, then I don’t love him.”
“Honey, don’t think of him that way.”
“Besides, I love Sirius.” She sighs heavily, before leaning her small chin on her hand and putting a card on the growing castle.
“James, it’s alright,” Lily assures as she reaches me and leans down to kiss me on the cheek. “Don’t worry about comforting her. She’s made up her mind. Hailey, would you mind if I did your hair?”
“Can I braid it?”
“In two French braids?”
“If you want.”
“Okay!” She sits up obediently, grinning widely. Although glad for the distraction, I feel slightly puzzled by her words. I could never imagine not wanting to meet my father. Shrugging, I put a card on the top of the castle, surprised at how fast it grew, right before it blows up in flames. Hailey giggles happily and claps her hands together as I sigh, roll my eyes, and start cleaning up the mess. “Do you have any puzzles?” she suddenly sings, looking over at me.
“Sure. Do you want to do one?”
“Okay.” Hailey falls silent, fiddling with her thumbs, as I head out of the kitchen to run upstairs. Once in mine and Lily’s room, I start toward the closet only to stop halfway there. Furrowing my eyebrows, I walk over to the dresser and pick up a photograph lying on the wooden surface. Four shining faces wave back at me, dressed in graduation robes, and laughing insane. Fireworks are exploding above their heads, and every teacher in Hogwarts is beaming cheerfully.
I smile at the memory of our graduation before moving to put it back down. There’s another picture lying beneath it, so I pick that one up before putting the first down and my grin only widens. It is of me, Sirius, Lily, Remus, and Peter on a fine summer day, all laughing at something stupid and waving. I sigh, put the picture down, and head over to the closet again. It seems all the lighthearted times have disappeared in all this chaos.
“Hey, Lils, we need to take a family picture soon,” I comment as I jog back into the kitchen, puzzle in hand.
“Like me, you, and Harry?”
“No, like everyone. Me, you, Harry, Sirius, Chloe, Hailey, Molly, the baby, Remus, Daisy, Niky, and Peter. Everyone.”
“Sounds like a good idea. What d’you think?” I nod at Hailey’s beautiful braids as she smiles weakly when I put the puzzle down on the table. It’s not long before noon hits and Molly and Harry totter back into the house, complaining about being hungry. While I keep the kids quiet with the puzzle, Lily cooks us all lunch.
Before long, we’re gathered outside after lunch, Lily and I sitting back against the house, watching the kids run around. “He sure is growing up fast,” I whisper, pulling Lily against me and kissing her forehead.
“I can’t believe it. He’s so big.”
“Gosh, Lily, I miss you,” I suddenly mumble, tucking a finger under her chin and lifting her face to mine. I kiss her fully on the lips, my hands sliding to her neck as I receive almost immediate entrance. She kisses back just as fervently, her fingers wrapped tightly around my wrists.
“Think we can get Harry to go to bed early tonight?” she whispers against my lips as we break apart for air.
“If we wear him out enough,” I mutter before kissing her again. It’s not two minutes before someone clears their throat cutely, causing us to quickly pull away.
“Yes?” Lily gasps as I lean my head against the house and try to even my breathing. Hailey gives us a sheepish grin and looks down, shuffling her feet. “I’m sorry, honey. What’s wrong?”
“It’s alright. I’ve seen my daddy and mummy kiss before. Anyway, I was wondering, do you happen to have a phone?”
“A phone?” I look up as Lily repeats the phrase. “James, isn’t there a phone somewhere in the house? A telephone?”
“I believe so,” I murmur, casting Hailey a curious look, “What do you need it for, Hailey?”
“I want to call someone,” she says matter-of-factly, sending the look right back. It’s impossible for her to only be four. She’s so grownup.
“Anyone in particular?” Lily asks as she leads Hailey into the house.
“Hailey, are you okay?” I stand to follow the girls, but still keeping an eye on Molly and Harry. Hailey’s lower lip trembles awfully as she sniffs and tries to refrain from crying.
“I just want to use the telephone,” she whispers, blinking furiously.
“Honey, what’s wrong?” Lily kneels down in front of her, meeting her height and gaze.
“I’m scared,” she admits, turning her eyes to her feet.
“There’s no phone at the hospital,” Lily reminds, stroking her hair.
“I don’t want to call the hospital.”
“Hailey, you’re going to have to tell me who-Hailey!” Lily jumps to her feet as Hailey turns and runs off, sobbing. “Did I say something?” she questions, turning to me.
“Didn’t seem like it. I wonder why she’s so upset.”
“Watch the kids. I’m going to go find her.”
“No, Lily, let me,” I say, grabbing her arm before she can jog off. “I have my wand on me. You don’t,” I add, motioning to her empty pocket.
“Oh, shit, I can’t believe I forgot it in the house!” she exclaims heatedly, glaring back at the door.
“You can get it when I retrieve Hailey.” She nods and watches me walk off. I find Hailey sitting with her knees drawn against her in the front, tucked almost out of sight between the bushes, and rocking back and forth as she cries. “Sweetheart, come out here. It does you no good to hide.”
“I don’t want to come out.”
“You can call whomever you want to.”
“Hailey, please come out.”
“Leave me alone.”
“Mr. Potter?” I turn at the voice, whipping my wand out and bracing myself in front of Hailey. I sigh at the sight of Dumbledore, however. “Hello, Mr. Potter. Is that Miss Black behind you?”
“Hello, Mr. Dumbledore, sir,” Hailey responds politely from behind me.
“Darling, whatever are you doing in the bushes?”
“I want to be left alone.”
“Well, it’s much safer inside. Come now.”
“Fine.” Begrudgingly, Hailey gets up and follows Dumbledore into the house, I trailing after them.
“Is there any news?” I ask as Dumbledore sits at the kitchen table. Lily hurries in with Harry in her arms and Molly following while Hailey meanders off over to the counter.
“Auntie Lily, can you lift me up? I’m too short,” she murmurs, pointing to the counter. A corded phone sits in its cradle on the wall. I’ve never noticed it. Lily obliges and puts her on the counter before turning to us.
“Quite a bit, actually,” Dumbledore says, nodding as he presses his fingertips together, “There has been a prophecy made,” he continues solemnly, glancing at each of us in turn, “It concerns two people, one of which is already being protected. Neville Longbottom is being withheld alongside his parents, Frank and Alice, in a home covered with the Fidelius Charm. The other child is young Harry here.”
“Oh God,” Lily breathes, sinking onto my lap. I hold her tight against me, rubbing her back comfortingly.
“Lord Voldemort knows of this prophecy, and plans to… take out, if you will, those it involves.” Lily breaks out in tears, reaching over and picking Harry up from his chair. She holds his face against her chest, burying her nose in his messy black hair. “I am terribly sorry to bring you this news.”
“We have to cover this house with a Fidelius Charm, right?” I ask, barely able to comprehend the danger in my old headmaster’s words.
“That would be recommended. You need a Secret Keeper, though.”
“Sirius,” I say without a second thought.
“He is a very wise choice. Where is he at the moment?”
“With Chloe at St. Mungo’s. May I go there?”
“Make it brief. I trust you know how to perform the charm. Unfortunately, I must depart. I can grant you some comfort, however. You are safe until the charm has been cast. I bid you both goodbye, and hopefully for only a short time.” We exchange farewells with Dumbledore and as he’s leaving, I turn to Lily, my heart sinking.
“I’ll be right back, I promise.” I kiss her for as long as she allows me before hurrying out the door and disapparating. Upon arriving at St. Mungo’s, I ask for Chloe’s room, and then fly up the stairs three at a time. Sirius is just exiting the room when I reach the hallway. “Padfoot!” I exclaim, jogging over to him. “Dude, I need to talk to you.”
“You’re supposed to be at home!” he reprimands, pushing me back down the hall.
“James, you’re in danger! You need to leave!”
“Hey! Stop! I need to talk to you!”
“Look, Lily and I need to cast the Fidelius Charm around the house. We need a Secret Keeper.”
“I can’t,” he mutters through gritted teeth.
“That sure was a quick denial.”
“Dumbledore paid a visit. Got Chloe nice and riled up.” I can see the anger flaring in his eyes as the blood heats up his face.
“Why can’t you?”
“It’s too risky. I can’t put two kids, two babies, and a mother who’s just given birth in hiding. And if he finds us, what am I going to do? I have to protect my family.”
“Two babies?” I interrupt, narrowing my eyes.
“Chloe had twins,” he breathes, closing his eyes as he pales and the anger diminishes.
“Laura Emily and Mary Sara.”
“What’s Molly’s middle name, by the way?”
“You’ve had me curious for a while. I keep forgetting to ask.”
“Jane,” he responds quickly before moving back to his former attitude, “Look, James, I don’t want to be the reason you die. Go home.”
“Sirius, who am I supposed to turn to?”
“Someone’s who not married and doesn’t have kids?” he suggests, shrugging.
“Peter!” we both exclaim at the same time. We break out laughing, shaking our heads.
“I have a feeling I’m not going to see you for a while,” I say, casting my eyes downward.
“I’m gonna miss you, kid.”
“Not more than I’m gonna miss you.”
“I’ll send Lily some pictures of the girls.”
“I’ll see you soon, Prongs. Don’t worry.” Sirius and I embrace before I step back and disapparate, a sad smile creasing my features.
Once at Peter’s house, I laugh as he falls out of his chair with a girlish scream. “Damn it, Prongs, you nearly gave me a heart attack!” he squeaks, scrambling upward when he realizes it’s me.
“I need a favor, Wormtail.”
“Typical. Haven’t seen you in ages, and you need a favor.” I shake my head at his grin before helping him pat off the dirt. “What d’you need?”
“Well, Lily and I need some protection. We’re casting a Fidelius Charm over the house and-”
“You want me to be your Secret Keeper?” he asks, disbelief dripping from his voice.
“That’s right,” I confirm, putting forth my most convincing smile.
“If you’re sure,” he says, sounding unconvinced.
“I trust you, Peter. I know you won’t tell anyone. Please?”
“I guess so.”
“Alright, let’s go. We gotta head back to the house.”
“Kay.” Peter and I disapparate together, appearing in the living room of my house. Niky barely flinches at our appearance as he cocks an eyebrow in our direction.
“What are you doing here?” I question.
“Hailey beckoned,” he says softly before lifting his arm to reveal a sleeping Hailey curled up against him.
“Ah, so that’s who she wanted to call.”
“It was kinda crazy. She was crying about something, saying I had to come pick her up. What’s going on?” I can see the ice in his blue eyes, the viciousness threatening to break through. I can also feel Peter trembling beside me.
“There’s been an issue just arisen by Voldemort. Hailey’s right in a sense. She and Molly have to leave.” Niky doesn’t loosen a bit. In fact, it seems he stiffens even more. He locks his jaw and glares daggers at me, daring me to cross him. “She wasn’t hurt if that’s why you’re pissed.”
“She sounded hurt.”
“She’s scared, Niky. It’s not our fault,” I hiss, gritting my teeth in order to not lash out.
“Scared? Obviously. Why was she here in the first place?”
“Chloe just had twins. Sirius couldn’t bring them to the hospital.” This softens his expression, but his stature and eyes remain hard as rock.
“Who’s he?” he says, nodding at Peter.
“Peter Pettigrew. He’s helping us out with something. An old friend,” I add before stalking toward the kitchen. I can hear Niky prepping to follow us, trying not to wake Hailey as he lifts her in his arms. Lily greets me with a warm hug and a passionate kiss before releasing me and hugging Peter.
“I had a feeling Sirius would decline,” she confirms before picking up Molly and turning to Niky. “I’m sorry we’re kicking you out so soon.”
“It’s alright. Just promise you’ll be safe,” he says, sounding a little choked.
“We’ll see you soon, I’m sure.” He just nods sadly before shifting Hailey to his hip and holding out his arm for Molly. Once situated, he allows Lily to hug him and the girls, kiss his forehead and theirs, and then bid them farewell. I hug them too, give the girls a kiss, clap Niky on the back, and sigh as he disapparates with them. Lily goes to hold Harry while Peter and I prepare the charm. It seems like that picture will never get taken…
Ohh mannnn! *takes deep breath* So, I flipped out today. I realized something. There are forty chapters in total to this story. Just forty. Forty. This is chapter thirty-six. I’ve already written chapter forty. Which means I only have three chapters left to write. How scary is that? Craziness. I’ve been working on this story since January 29, 2006. It’s November 21st, 2007 right now. Holy crap. That’s practically two years. I’m in awe. I never thought I’d finish this story and look at this, four chapters left. Man, this is insane.
Anyway, moving on, this wasn’t one of my favorite chapters. There were bits and pieces that I liked, but it wasn’t like one of those GASP OMG! ones. It was very ordinary. The next chapter is too, but then 38. Woah. It’s wild. I think I actually have the first paragraph written for it. Chapter 39 is neat, and 40. Wow, dude, I had sooooo much fun writing 40. It’s just… brilliant, I won’t lie.
But, I wanna know what you think, my lovely little reader. How was this chapter? Reviews are like… drugs to me. I’m so addicted to them.
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