The Christmas tree glistened in the candle light, and Chloe stood back from the tree, and all the brightly wrapped presents underneath. Her mother and Aunt had long since gone to bed, and she was still up, unable to sleep. Everything looked perfect. Chloe couldn’t deny the congratulations her mother deserved after putting so much hard work into it all. The decorations around the house were simple – not so over-the-top like it had been the year before – and still the best.
The Grandfather clock in the hallway chimed two in the morning, and Chloe jumped in surprised. Laughing at herself Chloe rubbed her eyes yawning. She stretched wide, and turned to the sofa so she could lie down. She thought it would be quite nice being woken up downstairs by Danielle and Ryan and seeing first thing her son’s smiling face.
As she went to fall onto the couch a clicking noise came behind her, and she turned to the window that lay just behind the tree. Curious, and bewildered as to what it was, Chloe went behind the tree and saw in the window a large tawny owl was perched on the window sill, it’s big eyes blinking up at her. A parcel tied to it leg caught Chloe’s attention, and she wondered who it was from as she did not recognize the owl. She quickly opened the window and let it fly into the living room and watched it perch on the end of an chair arm. Chloe walked over to the owl, cooing at it, she rubbed its head as she untied the parcel from its leg. She glanced at the box, seeing the small letter taped to the top, and put it on the coffee table.
“I’ll come back with a treat for you,” she whispered to the owl, hurrying to the kitchen Chloe got a slice of bread, and walked into the living room. She gave it to the owl, letting him eat while she sat down on the sofa to open the parcel.
Chloe took the letter off first, reading the quick scrawl on the top that said her name. It was familiar, but still she did not know who it was from. Opening the letter, she pulled the folded parchment inside, and opened it up to read.
When I saw you in Diagon Alley the other day I couldn’t help but think of getting this for you. I hope you don’t hate me for it – you always hated it when I bought you gifts, but I think you’ll let this slide. Merry Christmas!
P.S you can change the picture if you’d like.
Chloe’s heart was pounding a mile a minute as she un-wrapped the parcel, a smile on her face. She could not believe Sirius had pulled such a stunt, and secretly she wondered if Sirius knew her well enough to know that she would be up at this hour to receive the gift.
The paper fell away from her hands, and left behind was a dark blue box. Chloe stared at, a little afraid to open it, but excited as well. With her left hand she opened the box and stared at the large oval locket inside. It was silver and on top was a ‘C’ that was incrusted with sapphires. She held the locket in her hands, surprised by the glowing warmth that seemed to come from the locket, and she opened it too see what made it so. A soft little tune, of an un-namable song escaped the locket, and inside was a picture of Sirius. On the other side was an inscription: To a Beautiful Girl, Who Deserves All the Love in the World.
Chloe’s eyes watered, she couldn’t help but melt by the words and sentiment. She knew what he was saying; she knew it was another way of apologizing. Slipping it around her neck, she held it up so the sapphires glimmered in the light. She let it slip beneath her night gown, and fell on to the sofa again. Sirius’ owl was still perched, eating his bread, almost finished. She watched him for a moment, smiling and thinking silently to herself. What if she were to give him a second chance? How would he react to Ryan?
They were thoughts she had had before. They were dreams she had had before. It would be impossible for her to really know unless she went ahead with it. She could dream and think all day about what would happen, but it still left her unsure. In her heart, Chloe felt that she had to tell Sirius about Ryan; that her idea that he need not know based on how he had acted all those years ago seemed immature and foolish. Sirius was a different person now, he had changed. She could see now that people could change.
Chloe’s eyes drifted, her mind grew numb, and before she could see the owl fly off through the window, Chloe fell asleep.
“Mama!” a distance voice said. Chloe couldn’t tell who it was, but she tried to ignore it. “Mama wake up!”
Chloe shook awake, and sat up on the sofa, blinking madly and looking around her. Danielle was on the floor, picking up presents in her hands and shaking them. On the other sofa sat her Aunt sipping on a cup of tea, and Chloe could hear her mother walking around just down the hall. Ryan sat on the ground in front of Chloe, his wild curly hair a mess, and a huge grin on his face.
Smiling, Chloe reached and picked up Ryan. He squealed in delight as she thrust him in the air before sitting him on her lap. She bounced him on her knee and looked to her Aunt who was laughing at Danielle’s antics.
“Happy Christmas!” Chloe exclaimed, and her Aunt looked at her and smiled.
“Happy Christmas,” she returned. “I see you never made it to your bed last night.”
“I couldn’t sleep.” Chloe told her, looking to Ryan. “How is my little boy?” she asked him, holding his hands in hers.
He giggled, and pulled away from her. “Presents!” he cried, trying to crawl from her lap.
Chloe laughed, and slid on to the floor next to Danielle, holding Ryan in between her legs. Danielle had abandoned her hopes of figuring out what she got for Christmas before opening them, and looked to Chloe.
“Good morning,” she greeted.
“Morning,” Chloe replied, reaching for a small present in front of her that bared Ryan’s name. “You don’t suppose it would hurt if I let him open just one, do you?” Chloe grinned, putting the package in Ryan’s hands. Danielle shook her head no, smiling.
As she did this her mother entered with a mug of tea, and took a spot on the sofa where Chloe had just been. “Morning dear, Happy Christmas.” She told Chloe, getting comfortable.
“Morning,” Chloe chimed watching as Ryan tried to pull the wrapping paper away.
“I see you’ve already started,” Mrs. Roberts said laughing.
“Just to keep him busy,” Chloe answered, watching as her sister went for the biggest present under the tree.
“My turn is next after Ryan,” she said, already starting to peel at a corner of the box.
Chloe laughed and turned back to watch Ryan pull the last of the wrapping paper away and discover the knitted jumper and mittens he had received from his grandmother. Once she had the jumper on, Danielle had already opened her gift to find a book on beauty potions, and things alike. Chloe was quickly passed a gift, and her Aunt and mother were handed one as well. They all took turns opening their presents, watching and seeing who got what, and then repeated the process until all the gifts were open. It was a lasting tradition, as waiting seemed to make the whole thing go much slower and last longer; something no one could disagree with.
It was nearing noon, and Chloe left Ryan to play with his new toys – the broom included – and sat on the sofa sipping on a cup of tea and planning on going for a nap later. Danielle sat on the floor with Ryan, playing with him and admiring her own gifts. When Mrs. Roberts proposed to make some good, their aunt with her and left the three alone. This seemed to give Danielle the perfect opportunity to inform Chloe of what she had found when she came down stairs that morning.
“You should really make sure that you hide these things or something – Mum would not like seeing that Sirius and you are talking.” Danielle said, handing Chloe the letter he had written.
“I forgot – I was so tired.” Chloe muttered, taking the letter and slipping it into her night gown pocket.
“More like stunned, I’m sure.” Danielle laughed, nodding at the locket. “It is quite a gem.”
Chloe looked down, holding the locket in her hands. “I have no idea where he found the money to buy it, it’s not like his parents gave it to him.” Chloe said quietly. “I feel a little guilty about it, but it is beautiful, and I don’t think Sirius would ever let me give it back.” Chloe concluded looking up at her sister.
She was wearing a knowing grin, but didn’t respond. She turned back to Ryan who was tossing a miniature Quaffle into the air – a gift he had received from his Grandmother. It seemed everyone assumed he would be a Quidditch player when he got older. And maybe he would.
Not long after they were all called together to eat brunch, and while eating Chloe received owls from Lily and Remus. She opened both quickly, eager to hear from her friends, and if she were ever to see them during the holiday’s. The first she read was from Remus:
Merry Christmas! I tried writing sooner, but you know how things get. We got here, Wales, two days ago and my Aunt and Uncle have been driving me half mad. They keep getting upset when ever my parents leave my younger cousins alone with me. They think I’m just going too suddenly turn into a werewolf at any point in time and kill them. They think I’m a monster. My cousins don’t, so it’s all right. Reilly hasn’t stopped following me since I got here, and Roger actually seems interested in what I plan on doing after Hogwarts. He works for the Ministry; maybe he can get me a job or something. I don’t count on it, but it’s a hope.
On to other things it looks like I won’t be seeing you any time soon. James and Sirius wrote me yesterday asking me to stay with them. I guess you know (James told me he had seen you with Danielle in Diagon Alley), but they decided to go home. Something about it not being fun without Slytherins to pick on. They invited me mostly on the basis that they know how horrible my Aunt and Uncle can be; they think they’re ‘saving me’. I had hoped I could come visit you on your birthday, but I doubt James and Sirius will let me go without coming along. James would probably assume that Lily would be there, and go just to see her.
I hope your Christmas has been fun so far. I have a gift for you, but I don’t trust my cousin’s owl to carry it. I’ll give it to you when we get back. Say hello to Danielle and Ryan for me.
Chloe folded the letter and put it back on the table. She looked up at Danielle who was looking at her expectantly. “It’s from Remus, says he’s having absolutely no fun at his Aunt and Uncles.” She told her, and reached for the letter from Lily. It was much different from Remus’, she could tell before even reading as Lily’s handwriting was a mess on the parchment.
I hope you are having a better Christmas then I am. As soon as I arrived home I was bombarded with glares from Petunia and her fiancé. Vernon Dursley meanest man I have ever met. My mother, of course, was pleased to see me, and hasn’t stopped asking me questions about school and James since I got here.
That’s another story. James sent me a gift this morning, by owl. I haven’t opened it yet – I’m not sure if I want to. What ever he has sent, I know he is using it as some kind of ‘peace offering’ so to speak. I just can’t stand it. What can’t he get that I want him to leave me alone? Is it that hard? Maybe it is, for him. All I know is I hope this is the last I hear of him during my holiday’s, or I am seriously considering hexing him into the next century when we get back to school.
About your letter, I would love to come visit! I’ve already asked my mother, and said I could some in two days, just make it to your birthday. I’ll have to take the train to London, so maybe we could meet there. Write me back as soon as possible when you find out.
Chloe couldn’t stop laughing, when she had finished reading Lily’s letter. Through out she had imagined what Lily would have looked like if she were there to tell Chloe to her face. Looking to her mother, who was staring at her with a curious look she smiled. “Lily can come in two days – just in time for my birthday!” Chloe told her.
“What about Remus?” Danielle asked.
Chloe turned to her sister. “He can’t – he’s gone to stay with James.” Chloe explained.
“James can come if he likes. Lily and he are dating aren’t they?” Mrs. Roberts suggested, before taking a sip of her drink.
“Mum!” Danielle exclaimed before Chloe could. “Does that not defeat the whole purpose of trying to keep people from finding out about Ryan?” Danielle reminded her mother.
“Not to mention if James came, so would Sirius and Peter who are staying with James as well.” Chloe added.
Mrs. Roberts shook her head, looking to Ryan. “I’m sorry dear, I forgot.”
“Well I didn’t,” Chloe’s Aunt broke in looking slightly annoyed. “I know it’s not my decision to make, but that boy deserves to know he has a son. You keep using the same excuse that he isn’t responsible enough to know, but you can never know that without trying. Sooner or later your secret will get out, and Sirius won’t look like the bad guy.” Her Aunt concluded coolly.
“Fae!” Mrs. Roberts shouted, turning to her sister-in-law. “That is enough,” she commanded. “You are right; it is not your decision to make. Now be quiet, so we can all enjoy our Christmas brunch.” Mrs. Roberts said calmly, and looked to Chloe.
Chloe was frozen, trying not to show that she was hurt. She avoided her Aunt’s eye, looking forward to where Danielle and Ryan sat. Her little boy looked scared, confused as to what was going on. Chloe glanced at her mother, and stood up. She didn’t look at anyone as she went around the table to where Ryan sat.
“I’m finished – I’m going to go change Ryan into some nice clothes.” Chloe said, picking up Ryan from his high chair. Nobody said anything as she left the dinning room, and entered the hall. Chloe held Ryan close, biting her lip as she tried not to cry. But as soon as she entered Ryan’s room, and closed the door the tears escaped and she put Ryan on the floor while she sat down on the rocking chair.
Ryan at first went to play with his toys that were scattered on the ground, but seeing his mother upset he looked at her confused. Crawling over to her, he pulled on her robe. Chloe looked at her son, tears impairing her vision, and let out a smile at his little worried face. She reached down, and picked up, sitting him in her lap.
“Sorry Ryan,” she said to him holding him close, “Mummy is fine, let’s get you dressed in some nice clothes so we can take pictures.” Chloe said, standing up. She carried Ryan over to the changing table, and sat him there. She got some clothes out of the dresser and started to put them on Ryan when a knock came at the door. She didn’t turn to see who it was when the door opened.
“You know Aunt Fae meant nothing cruel behind it. She just wants the best for Ryan.” Danielle accosted.
“She doesn’t know what’s best for Ryan,” Chloe retorted.
“I didn’t say she did.” Danielle defended. “I just said she was trying to tell you what she thought about the whole thing.”
“And what do you think?” Chloe asked, turning to face her sister. “Do you think she is right?”
Danielle glanced away from Chloe. “I can’t really say what I think...” She trailed off.
“Because you agree with Aunt Fae, don’t you?” Chloe asked, getting angry now. “You agree that I’m the bad guy in this whole thing. You think that I should tell Sirius about Ryan – that I’ve been wrong this whole time to keep Ryan from his father!” Chloe shouted, not caring if Ryan was crying now. “Because that isn’t fair, Danielle! I was fifteen when I had to make that decision, what I thought was the best decision. Do you think I like keeping this secret from Sirius? Do you think I like pretending that I am okay all of the time around him – that I can’t be with him. This was not what I wanted, but it’s what I have and I have to live with it. I won’t live in regret, Danielle.” Chloe finished darkly.
Danielle looked angry, and pushed past Chloe without a word. “Look what you’d done, Chloe.” She chastised.
Chloe breathed hard, and slowly her mind cleared and she heard the shrill cry Ryan was making. She whipped around to see Ryan’s face covered in tears, his face bright red. She felt guilty, and rushed over to him, taking him from Danielle’s arms.
“I am so sorry Ryan, I should not have done that.” She said soothingly, bouncing up and down and rubbing his back. She looked to Danielle; she had her hands on her hips. She did not look happy, but she turned to leave. “I’m sorry Danielle,” Chloe called as Danielle left, closing the door behind her.
Finally getting Ryan to calm down enough that he was only hiccoughing, she sat back down on the rocking chair, trying to calm Ryan even more. She rocked back and forth, worry filling her soul. She should not have yelled at Danielle; she had been talking about what was fair to say, and she had gone and yelled at Danielle for doing exactly what she asked of her.
In her heart, Chloe knew that Danielle and her Aunt were right. There was nothing stopping her from telling Sirius now. And if she did, the possibility that something good coming from it would be good. Chloe looked at Ryan, who was now asleep in her arms, and kissed his forehead.
“Now I just have to figure out how to tell him.” She murmured to herself, leaning back in the chair.
It was early in the morning when Chloe woke up two days later, and she hit her alarm clock quickly, hoping Danielle would not wake up. It was seven in the morning, and Chloe only had an hour to get ready, as she had to meet Lily at King’s Cross station at nine twenty. She got out of bed and put on some fresh robes, and left the dark bedroom and headed down to the kitchen, pausing once in the hall to check on Ryan, who was sleeping peacefully in his crib.
Mrs. Roberts was awake and making breakfast for her and Chloe, as she was going to drop Chloe off when she went into work at the Ministry of Magic – she had never been one to like Apparating. “Morning,” she greeted, turning around to place a plate sausages, toast, and eggs on the kitchen table.
“Good morning,” Chloe replied happily. Things had been rough since the fight Christmas day between Chloe and her Aunt, but her mother had been very understanding, and told Chloe to ignore all that her Aunt had said. Meanwhile, Danielle had remained silent around Chloe, choosing to ignore her presences. Chloe couldn’t be angry at her however; as Chloe knew she probably deserved it. So she decided it would be best to just let her sister decided when she wanted to talk to Chloe again.
“Where does Lily live again?” Mrs. Roberts asked, sitting across from Chloe.
“An old mill town near Manchester.” Chloe replied, not remembering the exact name of the place, only the street.
“That’s a long train ride to be taking – she is probably already on the train now.” Mrs. Roberts commented.
“Probably,” Chloe answered, not feeling like talking much. She poked at her food, once every so often putting it into her mouth and swallowing.
“Is something bothering you dear?” Mrs. Roberts asked attentively.
Chloe perked up a little and glanced at her mother. She shrugged, not really wanting to explain to her what was wrong. She hadn’t much sleep in the last few day, trying to think of an easy way to break it to Sirius, or even if she had the nerve to do it. She hoped seeing Lily again would help her decide, and possibly help her come up with a way to tell him. Coming back to her senses she noticed how her mother was still looking at her expectant.
“Don’t worry Mum, it’s nothing.” Chloe told her mother, sitting up, and forcing herself to eat more to make it look like she was normal, that really nothing was bothering her. As she scraped at her plate, she glanced at the clock on the stove and saw that it read seven forty-five. Looking to her mother, she stood up and put her plate into the sink. “I’m going to grab my purse and coat.” She told her and left the kitchen.
She walked slowly through the hall and up the stairs. She entered her room, and quietly in the early morning sun got her purse from the floor, and quickly left the room, closing the door behind her. Once again as she went downstairs she paused to check on Ryan who was still sound asleep. She shut his door, and went down stairs to the front hall where she found her mother waiting with her winter cloak on.
“Come on,” she teased as Chloe pulled on her winter coat, and tied her scarf around her neck. She put her purse over her shoulder, and followed her mother out the door.
It was a short drive into the heart of London, passing quickly as Chloe stared off into space, half listening to what her mother was saying to her. She didn’t really care – all she wanted was to see her best friend, and spill everything. As the car drew closer to the station, Chloe’s hand sub-consciously reached for the locket, just like she had done for the last two days.
“Here we are,” Mrs. Roberts said pulling to the curb where Chloe could get out. The station was abuzz with early morning commuters going in and out of the station, and Chloe turned to her mother and kissed her on the cheek.
“I’ll see you later then,” she told her, opening the car door to step out, “I love you.” Chloe said getting out.
“Love you too,” Mrs. Roberts said before Chloe shut the door. Chloe stood facing King’s Cross and the car drove away behind her. Without hesitation, Chloe stepped forward and made her way to the station.
Inside was less hectic and Chloe weaved past the others with ease until she came to the right platform where a train was pulling in. She stood with a few others who were waiting for it to stop. She watched as the train slowed to a stop, and a few minutes later the platform was filled with the few people who had been on the train. Chloe watched intently for the heart-shaped face that belonged to Lily.
“Chloe!” Lily shouted, coming off the train, and running right to Chloe, dropping her bags there, and jumping into Chloe’s arms.
Chloe stumbled back, surprised by Lily’s sudden appearance. Recovering quickly, Chloe wrapped her arms around her friend, and laughed at how she reacted. “Glad to see that your spirit is still in tact.” Chloe joked.
“Oh they could never get rid of that.” Lily grinned, picking up her bags. Chloe took one from Lily’s hand, and together they started to walk down the platform. “So where are we going to Apparate from?” Lily asked, glancing around.
Chloe frowned. “Lily, I don’t have my license yet. We’re getting a taxi to the Leaky Cauldron so we can take the Floo Network back.” Chloe explained.
“Oh really?” Lily said, not sounding annoyed. “Maybe we could just send my bags back and go shopping.”
“If you want to,” Chloe replied happy that Lily was happy. “How was the train ride in?”
“Oh it was boring. I mostly read my book, in between trying to ignore Severus.” Lily groaned.
“Severus was on the train?” Chloe asked, not remembering him get off.
“Oh yeah, and he sat in my compartment. He tried talking to me – he seemed pretty eager to do so but I just ignored him so he went to another one. I think he just Apparated home or to where ever he was going.” Lily explained.
“Why did he take the train in the first place then?” Chloe asked, bewildered.
“Simple, he had heard from the neighbors that I was visiting a friend, and he probably assumed it was you. So he got on the train in hopes of talking to me. He had been all year, though I have no idea why. He knows quite clearly that our friendship is finished.” Lily fumed.
Chloe thought about it for a moment. Why was Severus trying to talk to Lily? He had been doing it before she and James broke up, so it didn’t have to do with that. Then there was that night – Chloe stopped walking. He was trying to tell Lily about Ryan. He thought she didn’t know, and was going to tell her. But he probably realized that she did know because she was on the train to see Chloe and she had to know if she was going there.
“Chloe, are you all right?” Lily asked, concerned for her friend.
“No,” Chloe shook her head, her eyes welling with tears, fear washing over her. “He knows about Ryan, he’s going to tell Sirius.”
Lily looked confused. “How could Severus know?”
“He must of seen me that day when I went to Diagon Alley with him to pick up Danielle. He must of figured it out – and he wants to get back at James by telling him about Ryan. And James will tell Sirius!” Tears fell down Chloe’s face, and she put Lily’s bag down to cover her eyes with her hands.
Lily pulled Chloe over to the side of the station, and put her bags down. Holding on to her arms, she tried to calm her down. “Calm down Chloe, there is no way that you know Severus would do that. You’re over reacting – just breathe Chloe.” Lily said, and held Chloe’s shoulders tightly.
Chloe’s hands slipped from her face as she tried to breathe evenly. Her face was blotchy from the tears, and Lily took her hands in her own. Chloe blinked a few, hiccoughing a little. “I am over reacting, aren’t I?” she asked more herself then Lily. “But he knows, Lily, you can’t deny that.”
Lily smiled, letting go of one of Chloe’s hands to brush some of her hair out of her face. “We’ll worry about that later, Chloe. Severus isn’t irrational like James. He’s creative. I’m sure if I talk to him, I can bring him around to the point where I can convince him not to tell anyone. He’ll listen to me.” Lily assured Chloe.
Chloe moved away from Lily, rubbing her face and trying to think. Lily was right; Severus wouldn’t just spring the information on James and Sirius with out being provoked. But it wasn’t hard for Severus to be provoked. If Lily some how managed to talk to Severus before that happened, maybe she would be all right. But if Chloe knew Severus, there was still a possibility.
Chloe’s shoulders fell, and she turned to look at Lily. There was no use worrying anymore. She would go with what Lily said. If anyone knew Severus, Lily did, and she hoped she was right.
“Let’s go,” Chloe finally said picking up Lily’s bag, and Lily picked up the other. Together they walked the rest of the way out of the station and caught a taxi to the Leaky Cauldron. Once there they decided it would just be better to go home, Lily being eager to see Ryan.
A/N: I would like to start this by saying how sorry I am for taking so long to update. Things have been hectic. But I hope this chapter had enough romance, cuteness, and excited to make up for it. I have no idea when the next chapter will be out, but we are getting closer to the big finale. Thanks for reading!