Chapter 76 : This Is Quick But Not Quite Painless
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This is quick but not quite painless,
It sits perched on your arms.
Tacky and irrelevant (So what?)
A permanent reminder that... oh Christ...
-Taking Back Sunday
“Alright, William,” I said sweetly to the baby. “Now, be good to mommy, because a long time ago, you put me in lots of pain, and I don’t hold that against you. But, for Godric’s sake, will you bloody go to sleep?”
Instead of complying, William just looked up and me, blinked, and bashed his (noisy) rattle on the side of the crib. However, I didn’t have the heart to take it away from him; it looked like too much fun.
I was about to reach in and grab him when I heard the back door crash open. I ran out into the kitchen to see a ragged-looking Remus, riddled with cuts, bruises, and gashes. He was gasping, and leaning on his knees, trying to catch his breath.
“I can’t believe the fucker did it.”
“Peter, the sick fuck, did it.”
I looked at Remus strangely, especially since he was supposed to be pretending to be a Voldemort-supporting werewolf at that moment. “Er, Remus? Pete’s been ‘doing it’ for a long time now.”
He glared at me. “You mean, you don’t know?”
His eyes widened. “Uh-oh.”
“Remus Lupin, you tell me right now what’s going on.”
He sighed, and looked around the house. “Where’s Sirius?”
I didn’t know if he was avoiding the subject, or if it was so serious that Sirius needed to be here. (And for once, there was no pun intended in that thought.)
“He’s right outside. He should be in any-”
Yeah, I’m good.
“Er, Sirius?” I ran from the kitchen to meet in him in the entrance area. “Remus is here with some . . . Confusing news.”
Remus looked darkly at Sirius. Sirius gasped, and returned the look.
Perhaps, at that point, I should have figured out what was going on, but I didn’t.
“Peter sold Lily and James out to Voldemort.”
“Sirius Get your arse back over here, right now!”
After informing us, Remus had gone on to explain how he had heard it through the other werewolves in his clan. He had risked his cover (which was ultimately blown, when he furiously tried to escape) and his life to rush back to civilization and inform us.
Sirius had ranted and screamed for a few minutes before deciding to set out to Godric’s Hollow, hoping to catch Lily and James before the worst could happen.
And, he wouldn’t let me go with him.
So, I wasn’t going to let him go either.
“No! I’m going to save my best mate!”
He pulled his coat of the hanger and threw it on.
“Well, why can’t I?” I protested.
“Someone needs to stay with the kids.”
Sirius, who was on his way out the door, stopped. I walked up to him and stood as tall as I could. “Look, just because I’m not big and strong and a boy doesn’t mean I can’t help save our best friends’ lives.”
Sirius groaned, and was about to speak when Remus appeared out of the kids’ bedroom. “Aldan and William are asleep.”
“See!” I took my chance. “He’s great with the kids!”
“Go look for Peter,” he growled, before slamming the door shut.
Dammit, give me the difficult job. Okay, Anna, you can do this.
As I heard Sirius’ motorcycle roar into life and speed away, I went to grab my coat from the hanger only to discover that it wasn’t there. I shouldn’t have expected it to be, though, as it never was.
I found it draped over the kitchen table, and threw it on.
I ran over to Remus, punched him affectionately on the shoulder, and made my way towards the door.
“Anna, wait.” Remus sounded pained. He walked over to me. “If you don’t make it back . . .”
“Don’t say it,” I said it simply. I shook my head, confident that that wouldn’t happen. “If you hope something hard enough, it actually happens.”
I stepped out the door, and closed it behind me.
Alright, now to find Peter. But, where to start?
His flat, dumbarse.
I thought of that bloody traitor’s flat, and Apparated there.
I caught my balance with some difficulty, and stumbled out of the woods I had Apparated into. Because he was Secret Keeper, we’d protected his flat against all unwanted entrances.
I twitched in anger as I stomped into the building, up the stair case, and to number seventeen. I knocked.
I tried to the door.
It didn’t open.
I programmed the secret code into the side of the knob (a safety measure we’d installed so that a simple ‘Alohomora’ wouldn’t open the door, but any Order member who needed him could get to him,) and turned it.
It didn’t open.
That bloody bastard!
It was then that the full effects of the situation hit me. Peter, little Peter Pettigrew, who’d been with us for all those years, had - at some point in time - become Benedict Arnold, and we were the Americans.
Without thinking sensibly (when did I ever?) I blasted the door down. It was quite quiet, as such blastings go. Actually, I was rather surprised that no neighbours rushed out to check.
I bet they all hate his guts, and hoped that that blast would kill him.
I stepped through the now clear doorway into the rubble-strewn flat. After fully inspecting it, and deciding that he wasn’t there, I made my way back to the woods and Apparated to Headquarters. I didn’t know where else to go, but decided it would be a good idea to inform the others of the situation, in case Sirius hadn’t already.
When I arrived, it was conspicuously empty, and quiet unnerving. Headquarters was never empty.
I glanced at my watch. It was nearly midnight. Sirius had left a half an hour ago. With no other prospects, I Apparated just outside of Godric’s Hollow, and wandered in inconspicuously.
I had barely walked a kilometer when I saw it. A house with a large chunk missing from the upper floor. It was flaming slightly, and I could see debris raining down on the garden. Without thinking, I ran towards it. I ran for about two minutes before I got near.
Close enough to see a large, angry man, yelling and stomping. And a motorcycle parked nearby.
Around us, Muggles started coming out of their houses to see what the fuss was. Sirius was quite oblivious, but a familiar face put me somewhat at ease, and reassured me for the time being.
A large, hulking form hurried up to Sirius - Hagrid. I got closer, trying to hear without being seen.
“Oh, ‘ello there, Sirius. I see you’ve got Harry.”
Sirius nodded solemnly. “I was going to bring him back with us.”
Hagrid shook his head sadly. “I’m sorry, Sirius. I’ve got strict orders from Dumbledore; I’m ‘sposed bring ‘im to ‘im, right away.”
They quietly argued for a little while, until Sirius, resigned, handed Harry to Hagrid. “Here.” I saw him gesture towards the large motorcycle. “Take it, I won’t need it anymore.”
“Thanks, Sirius. See you ‘round.” He hopped onto the bike, started it and flew away quickly, despite the large population of fascinated Muggles.
It wasn’t a minute later before a team of Obliviators was on the scene, and a few Aurors were around, as well, to clean up the mess.
Sirius managed to slip by them, unnoticed, and began walking down the very street that I was on.
“Sirius,” I called quietly.
“Fuck!” he yelped, and dropped to the ground. I suppose he must have realized that I was Anna, and not some intruder. He looked up, and stood up. “What are you doing here?” He didn’t sound that nice, either.
“I couldn’t find Peter. There’s no one at Headquarters . . . Something’s going on here.”
“Yeah?” he spat. “Well, we’ve got bigger problems. Lily and James are dead.”
Before I could respond to the devastating news, Sirius jumped, and reached quickly into his pocket, pulling out his two-way mirror.
James has the other one! James has the other one!
The amount of joy in that thought was unbelievable.
“It’s Remus,” Sirius solemnly informed me.
“Sirius!” the mirror-Remus gasped. “I don’t know if Anna’s with you, but you’ve got to find her and get to Headquarters, straight away.”
With no other instructions from Remus, we were forced to follow them.
Holding too tightly for comfort onto my hand, Sirius Apparated to just outside Headquarters, (Which was, temporarily, at the old Potter Manor - we had moved to there since Lily and James moved out.) Luckily for us, we landed in a pile of leaves. We grumbled and clambered out of the mess we had made.
Sirius stepped in ahead of me, while I stayed outside to clear all evidence of our messy arrival.
All I heard was a yelp, and a thud. I stopped, mid clean-up, and rushed inside. The scene I met was not pretty. Frank Longbottom had tackled Sirius to the ground (quite an impressive feat) and various order members were crowding around him.
“Bloody hell! What are you all doing?”
And, before I knew it, Alice had come up behind me and hooked my hands behind my back.
“What are you all doing? ” I screamed. “Shouldn’t we be a little more concerned about Lily, James, and Harry right now?”
“We are concerned about them,” Alice growled into my ear.
And for once, the gears in my mind began to turn. It was quite a while since I’d figured something out so quickly . . . As far as everyone knew, Sirius was the Secret Keeper that had sold our best mates out to Voldemort.
Remus was the only one that knew.
“Remus!” I cried. “Remus!”
“How’s he going to help you?” Alice spat. “He’s on a mission - a real, true member of the Order.”
“Where’s Dumbledore?” I was getting angry at that point. “McGonagall?”
“They’ll be here in minutes . . . You’d better hope you two last until then.”
It was at that point, with me unable to move, and Sirius now needed three separate people to hold him down, that a ‘crack’ was heard outside. Frantic footsteps. The door burst open, and Remus stood there, our knight in shining armour.
“Will you lot let them go? Sirius wasn’t the Secret Keeper - it was Peter.”
Mass chaos and hysteria ensued in the next few minutes. For the first minute after Remus burst in, he was taken as well, his outburst having convinced everyone that he was on Voldemort’s side, as well.
But as soon as we’d gotten a chance to explain we were all reluctantly released. Sirius stomped over to my side and refused to talk to anyone in the room besides Remus and I. A few minutes later, Dumbledore arrived, with Minnie hot on his tail.
I was not surprised to see that he was not surprised that we were there.
The first thing he said was, “I should have known you lot would come up with a bluff.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was why Dumbledore was my favourite person in the world. He saw Sirius, and didn’t immediately condemn him as the others had. He knew that Sirius was the last person in the world that would’ve sent his best mates and their kid to death.
Dumbledore quickly ushered everyone into the meeting room. “I’m assuming,” he started, right off the bat, “that if the Secret Keeper for Lily and James was neither of you, it was Peter?”
Remus nodded. Sirius dug his nails into the solid, wooden table.
“Do any of you know where he is?”
I took that question, as it was my area of expertise. “He’s not at his flat-”
“But I suspect that he’ll be over to Sirius and Anna’s house sometime today, to confront Sirius.” That was Remus talking. I was rather shocked by that revelation, but I suppose it made sense.
Dumbledore began to speak again, “Well, then-”
“That’s it!” Sirius yelled angrily, standing up and sending his chair flying. “I won’t stand for this! I’m going to find Peter, now!”
Sirius stormed out of the room, and no one tried to stop him.
Dumbledore only had a few final words for Sirius. “Be careful. Do not get caught; as far as the Order knows, you are responsible for betraying information to Voldemort. And I have a feeling that Peter may want the world to know.”
Sirius nodded tersely and ran out.
I ran out after him, with no words to the others. I caught up to him and grabbed his hand just before he was about to Disapparate.
“Come on, let’s go,” I urged him.
He looked down at me and didn’t say anything, but squeezed my hand and kissed me on the cheek before going. We landed roughly, just outside our house. It was then that it occurred to me . . . “Where the hell are the kids?”
And, my question was answered momentarily. With a loud, snapping sound, Remus appeared beside us. “Aldan and William are next door . . . I explained that there was an emergency and they were more than kind at being disturbed so late at night.”
Yay, for nice neighbours!
Sirius, still basically silent, stormed into the house, and to the bathroom, where he opened the medicine cabinet and threw various potions into a sack he had picked up. Then, he stomped off to the kitchen, threw some food in, and put his coat back on.
Remus had hurried back over to the neighbours to retrieve the boys.
Sirius, no longer stomping, but definitely walking with a distinct anger, made his way over to me. “I know you want to come with me, but I need you to wait here. If Remus is right, that bastard will be here looking for us.”
I looked up at him (very up) and nodded. “Anastasia, no matter what happens, I am always going to love you . . . I know, I know, you probably don’t want me getting all mushy on you, but I have to say it. Now that Lily and James have-have-have . . . gone, it’s really hard for me to keep what I feel inside.”
I bit my lip; Sirius was getting me really sad. It was an extremely good thing that Lily and James’ deaths hadn’t sunk in yet. I believe that, somewhere deep down, I believed it was all a scam, that Lily and James had really just escaped, and were biding their time until it was safe to reappear. That was what kept me from freaking out. “Sirius, I love you, too.”
“Come here, nutter.” Sirius wrapped his arms tightly around me, and lifted me up to his height so that I could hug something besides his waist. “I’m going to come back a completely innocent man, and Peter will be in the hands of the Dementors. And you, and me, and Remus are going to live a happy, happy life. Okay?”
I nodded, unable to speak, because I was still biting my lip. I was face-to-face with him, because he was still holding me up, and I could see a few tears leak out of his eye. Impulsively, I smashed my lips onto his; perhaps it was a little bit rough. I heard clicking teeth. But it was wonderful, and may or may not have had to last me a lifetime.
And it was at that moment, nearly one o’clock in the morning, the day after Halloween, that I finally admitted that Romeo and Juliet (while certainly drastic in their actions,) might’ve had something going.
It was early on the morning of November second, barely three o’clock, when there was a ‘pop’ outside the house. Always easily awakened, I looked around. It never occurred to me that it was the sound of Apparation.
But, out of curiosity, I got up from the couch and - too lazy too stand up - crawled to the window. I put my face to the window just in time to see a rather rotund figure shrink, and shrink, and shrink, until it was nothing but a rustle in the grass.
I ran quietly into Aldan and William’s bedroom, where Remus was asleep on the floor.
“Remus!” I whispered, kicking him in the ribs.
He groaned and clutched at the afflicted area. “What they hell, Anna?”
“Give me the mirror,” I urged. “Quickly!”
Remus had jumped to his feet in an instant. “What? Why? What’s going on?”
“I saw Peter.”
The half of Sirius’ two-way mirror pair was in my hands a second later. I called to Sirius in it, and his ragged, tired face appeared a moment later.
“What?” he seemed tense.
“Get back here, now . . . Peter’s here.”
He didn’t even answer. The mirror simply went cold. I threw the mirror into Remus’ waiting hands, grabbed my wand from my pocket and rushed outside.
Not bothering to close the door or lower my voice, I screamed, “Where are you, you traitorous bastard? You fucking coward! Where the hell are you?” I heard a rustling over by the bushes and ran.
“Huh? Where the fuck are you, Peter? Afraid of me? I’m just a little ‘ol girl, now aren’t I?”
I wasn’t sure where I was going with my taunts, but I was just about put a barrier around our entire property when a loud ‘crack’ signalled Sirius’ arrival.
“You better hope the Aurors get here before I find you, Peter,” Sirius warned. “You’d be better off in the hands of the dementors than me ”
A loud squeak alerted us to Peter’s frantic escape attempt. I saw a furry, little creature running on the street.
“Barricade it!" I screamed to Sirius.
His wand slashed through the air and I could feel a strong wind as an invisible bubble popped up around the area.
By that time, our loud yelling and screaming had attracted some of our neighbours. A dozen or-so of them were walking out of their front doors in dressing gowns and slippers. But this was no time to worry about secrecy - that could be Obliviated later.
With no where to run, Peter turned back into himself. The Muggles around gasped.
“Not cool, little man,” I spat. “You had some of the coolest friends in the world. And let me assure you - they are all gone.
Yes! I cheered inside my head, as he snapped to attention and fell flat on his back. Bastard’s going down!
I watched in satisfaction as Sirius slowly ambled over to Peter, who probably would have been cowering on his back of his own will, at that point. I made my way over to the pair. Before I could get within five meters of them, I was blasted backwards.
“Ooof!” I flew perhaps five meters into the air and twenty meters back, before landing roughly and getting the wind knocked out of me. I didn’t even waste time getting my breath back. I sat up as quickly as my ailing body would along and pulled myself along on the ground.
Why did I get blasted back?
Through the dark, I could see why. A cloaked, masked figure had come to Peter’s aid. A Death Eater.
I kept crawling, slowly regaining my breath and my strength. But by the time I could breath and was back on my feet, I knew it was too late. The Death Eater had released Peter, and together they had double-teamed Sirius and gotten him pinned to the ground. The Death Eater disappeared before I could get back over there.
I yelled and screamed unintelligible things - probably a bad idea on my part, as it once again alerted Peter to my presence. And then, I couldn’t move. I was frozen exactly in my step; Peter didn’t even have the decency to drop me so I didn’t have to watch him torture Sirius.
And then, it began. “Sirius? How could you ? Lily and James . . .”
Oh, you little fucker . . . You wouldn’t dare.
None of the crowding neighbors knew who Lily and James were, but to them, it looked obvious that Sirius was the bad guy.
Only I was close enough to hear Sirius’ response. “You lying bastard.”
Then, Peter let Sirius go. Sirius did the only natural thing. He pulled out his wand and raised it to Peter.
Before any words even left Sirius’ lips, Peter slashed his wand through the air. From my safe place on the grass, I watched hell unfold before me. I couldn’t see Sirius’ face, but I could imagine it falling in despair as he realized what was happening.
Peter’s vicious spell caused more damage than I had originally expected it to; I hadn’t thought him to be quite so evil. The obviously Dark Magic ripped apart the street, as one might imagine the pit of hell to crack open during Armageddon.
Sirius flew into the air and landed back on the grass, just a bit in front of me. He scuttled backwards towards me as I watched the cracking street throw all of our Muggle neighbors who had come to watch into the air. What goes up, must come down . . . And they all came down. Hard.
“Oh my god.” As large chunks of gravel flew about, and fire lit the edges of the grass.
Thick, black smoke glided down the street. When it finally cleared, Peter was no where to be seen.
“No,” Sirius whispered. Then, more loudly and madly. “No!”
With twelve dead bodies and Peter missing - the spot where he had been completely bloodied up - there was a problem.
“What do we do?” I whispered. Aurors would undoubtedly be on the spot in minutes.
“We explain what happened,” Sirius answered calmly.
I shook my head; even I wasn’t that overly-optimistic. “You heard what Dumbledore said,” I stressed. “Everyone thinks you’re the bad guy.”
He shook his head. “Relax. It will all be okay.”
Boy, was he wrong.
The Aurors arrived on the scene less than a minute later. They hurried quickly over to us and restrained us both with magical binds, thinking we had caused the scene.
Sirius explained the situation to them; Lily and James Potter had been killed - they undoubtedly knew. He had gone after the reason for their death, and things had gotten a little mixed up.
Upon Sirius’ completion of the narration, they let me go.
They restrained Sirius further.
“Don’t think we don’t know who you are,” one Auror spat. He looked so familiar; he was probably at Hogwarts at the same time we were. It was unbelievable that anyone could think a Marauder to be the bad guy.
But just look at Peter . . .
“You betrayed Lily and Harry Potter. And where is Peter Pettigrew? What a terrible alibi.” The Aurors laughed in a nasty mean way that made me want to punch their lights out. The only thing that restrained me was knowing that that would make it worse for Sirius. “It’s quite obvious that you killed him and twelve Muggles.”
I could see the gears of irony in his head turning and spinning. He was to laugh maniacally. His laugh had always been rather unique - a harsh blend of a dog’s bark and a hyena’s cackle. It was endearing. But the hopeless sound that came out of him was too much to bear.
"Sirius. Sirius!" I screamed. I watched in horror as my best friend was dragged away by Aurors. "He’s innocent I swear to God - he’s done nothing!" I unleashed a high-pitched, enraged scream, and time everywhere seemed to slow down. It took me a few moments to realize that it indeed had.
I wondered for a moment, if it had been an uncontrollable burst of my own magic that had slowed down time; but when I saw a tall, elegant figure with a long sweeping beard walking towards me, I knew that it hadn’t been me that had slowed time to an almost stop.
"Dumbledore," I breathed.
His long, quick paces and my frantic leaps brought us face-to-face in a short amount of time. Before I had a chance to talk, Dumbledore did. "Miss Xanthis , there is little time. Lily and James’ fate has already, unfortunately, been decided. Sirius’, however, has not."
“Tell me,” I implored, trying not to grab and shake the answers out of the old man.
“This.” He pulled something strange out of his pocket. It was a tiny hourglass on a string. “This is a Time Turner.”
I’d never seen one before. I had no idea what it was, but Dumbledore cleared that up quickly.
“It’s a new invention from the Department of Mysteries. Very dangerous, as it always is to mess with time, and the way things are supposed to be. However, the way things turn out is not always fate . . . Sometimes it requires a little bit of work.”
Bloody Dumbledore and his confusing me.
“Take this.” He handed me the hourglass. “You will spin this one half of a rotation; that will put you back a half hour. When you get back, you must immediately hide, because Peter will be coming to the property soon. Disillusion yourself, and keep tales on Peter; be sure to keep clear of any spell that you or Sirius send at him. You mustn’t cease to be.
“Your goal: Do not let Peter escape ”
Dumbledore looked covertly around. “Miss Xanthis, I must go. Be back here at exactly this time. If you are too early, you will be seen, and if you are too late, well, the consequence will be far greater. Remember - half a turn, and do not be seen!”
But he was already gone, and I could tell the events around me were going to return to normal speed quite soon.
I looked at the wretched little time piece in my hand.
Dumbledore . . . You should know better by now that you can’t entrust me with important tasks. Why can’t you go back and save him?
Because he doesn’t love him like you do, duh. Actually, it would be rather creepy if he did . . .
Shut up! I do not have time for this right now.
I cried out loud. I wasn’t going to do it. No way. So many things could go wrong.
But then I saw Remus, looking woefully out the window of the house.
I saw the Aurors shut the doors of the ministry car that they were going to carry Sirius - who was still laughing like crazy - away in. I saw him press his face and hand up against the back window as it drove away. He was yelling and pointing madly at something behind me. But I didn’t have to time to look.
There was no doubt in my mind. Taking a deep, non-so-steadying breath, and turned the time piece around my neck a half a rotation. Suddenly, it was as if everything around me was going backwards at a breakneck speed. It was half a minute later when everything returned to normal.
Following Dumbledore’s instructions I dropped quickly to the ground. Then, I army-crawled my way to the bushes.
I wasn’t in there for even a minute before an echoing crack scared the living shit out of me. I definitely screamed, but the crack of Apparation drowned it out.
I knew this was the part when Peter came.
And I was confused as hell. I looked inside my house and saw me glancing out the big window in the front.
. . .
What the hell am I doing in there?
Then, I remembered what Dumbledore had said: “Do not be seen!”
I pressed as close against the wall of my house as I could, hoping that Anna the First would not open the window. Inside, I heard rapid footsteps, and Remus crying out.
Then I remembered what had transpired earlier. Things were playing out exactly as they had the first time they happened.
That is not normal.
But there was no time to marvel over that, because at that moment, Anna the First came barreling out of the house, screaming.
Ooo, I’m intimidating when I’m angry. Good! I hope I scared that little shit out of his mind.
Anna the First was taunting Peter and I was still watching from the bushes when Sirius Apparated onto the scene.
“You better hope the Aurors get here before I find you, Peter,” Sirius warned. “You’d be better off in the hands of the dementors than me ”
I heard Peter squeak, and before I could even see him, I remembered this was when the fight moved to the street and neighbours started coming.
“Barricade it!” Anna the First screamed to Sirius.
In moments, Peter was barricaded and turned back into a human.
I watched myself taunt Peter some more; apparently, I could be quite nasty when there was reason. Then, Sirius petrified him. He snapped and fell straight back.
Wow, that was a nicely aimed spell . . . And I'm a good distration . . . Good job, self.
I watched, trying to remember what happened here. Sirius made his way over to Peter, where there was a fellow Death Eater fighting by his side. Then, said Death Eater would blast me back from aiding Sirius.
I waited. Then, the unnamed Death Eater sent a curse at me . . . But it wasn’t the one I thought it was. A conspicuous green light was flying at me . . . Avada Kedavra.
Bloody hell, I thought. It’s going to kill me.
Then, without thinking, I drew back my wand and blasted myself back.
Holy shit. Did I just mess up the future here? I was so busy freaking out that I didn’t even notice Anna the First landing. I felt my breath leave me again, just as it had the first time I’d landed.
What is going on!?
As I regained my breath, so did my other self. She began to crawl towards the scene, where the Death Eater and Peter had Sirius pinned. Then, the Death Eater Apparated away.
Anna the First began to scream and yell and swear at Peter.
Wow, I really do have quite a mouth on me.
Then, Peter froze her.
And then, it began . . . Again. “Sirius? How could you ? Lily and James . . .”
I couldn’t hear Sirius’ response so far away, but I knew this was the part when he called Peter a lying bastard. And now, when they were distracted, it was my time. I crawled slowly and quietly out of the bushes, and dragged myself across the soft, dewy grass.
It was a reverse situation now; Peter was taunting Sirius. I had the strongest urge to run across the lawn and tackled Peter to the ground, but I remembered Dumbledore’s warning: Do not be seen.
I could see that as being reasonable. But I was rather convinced that if Anna the First was to see me, she wouldn’t be too surprised. I tended to accept strange things for what they were.
I was on the street, now. Not knowing where to go from there, I decided to Disillusion myself. Once I had, I slowly crept up the street towards the center of the problem. Which, incidentally, was also the center of the universe, at the moment.
Then, Peter let Sirius go. Both Anna the First and I watched Sirius pull out his wand. Only I knew what would happen next. Up close, I noticed something I hadn’t before; a smirk on Peter’s face.
Peter had planned this to happen the whole time. He purposely coaxed Sirius into fighting him. He’d purposely let him think he had the advantage, and then that he was down. He purposely let Sirius go and all for one reason. So he could make it look like Sirius was the murderer.
He would leave blood on the ground and make Sirius look like the bad guy.
And for that, the bastard had to die.
Anna the First was safe on the grass, but Sirius and I would receive full blast of the fatal spell that was cast. I moved next to Peter, unbeknownst to him, and cast a protective spell on myself, and blasted Sirius backwards onto the grass as I had to myself earlier.
This time, I was front row and center as the gravel cracked beneath my feet and fired raged the edges of the street.
With the thick black smoke around, this was Peter’s escape. In my time to think, hiding in the bushes, I had figured out that Peter escaped in the sewers. As a rat. And I knew that it was time to put what I had been working towards to the test.
Dumbledore didn’t know. James, Remus or Peter didn’t know. Even Sirius didn’t know what I had taught myself to do.
I concentrated hard, despite the chaos around me.
Come on. Come on. Come on.
And then . . . It was. My spine curved painfully, and all my limbs shortened. My ears thinned out and grew longer, and my nose elongated. All the follicles in my body burst as shaggy fur erupted.
And then . . . I was. Like Sirius, I was a dog. I was fun and carefree. I loved to play. But I could be nasty when I wanted to be, and I was about to prove it. I sped down the street, enjoying my new found senses. I couldn’t see, but as a dog, I didn’t need to. I could’ve smelled a rat from miles away. And I was far faster than that fat bastard could ever hope to be.
I snarled as I leapt onto him. I squashed Peter under my front paws. I knew it was Peter by the cowardly blood that flowed from one of his paws.
“No!” Back down the street, the smoke had cleared and Sirius found Peter missing.
Anna the First and Sirius were having a conversation. I couldn’t hear it, but I didn’t need to. I already knew what transpired, and just how wrong Sirius was.
Something came speeding down the road. With Peter clenched in my teeth (I was sure to make it extra painful for him,) I jumped onto the side of the road and out of the way. I hid in the edge of the woods and watched (for the second painful time) Sirius try to explain the misunderstanding.
I watched them release me from my binds. My other self clung desperately to Sirius.
“You betrayed Lily and Harry Potter. And where is Peter Pettigrew? What a terrible alibi.” I growled at the bastard Aurors - they were in the wrong, too. “It’s quite obvious that you killed him and twelve Muggles.”
Sirius began to laugh. The sound was painful to me. It wasn’t a happy laugh.
"Sirius. Sirius! He’s innocent I swear to God - he’s done nothing!" And, just as she began to scream, I took off. I had identified my breed before; I had only ever changed one other time. I was a Golden retriever . . . Only black - not golden. And I was fast. I arrived next to myself and nearly knocked the human Anna over as time came to a halt.
And there was Dumbledore, talking to Anna and glancing at me - the retriever - all the while.
He must know. He always knows.
“. . . Do not be seen!” he instructed Anna sharply. Then, with a pointed look towards me and the bastard rat clutched in my mouth, he disappeared.
Time began to speed up again, and Anna wasn’t doing anything. She was just looking sadly at the Time Turner. She looked up at Remus. When she went to look at Sirius I began to jump up and down with Peter clutched in my mouth, hoping he would get it. But he didn’t.
Then, Anna clearly made a decision. I was quite proud of myself at that moment, actually. Anna turned the piece, and disappeared. I knew this was my time. I spat Peter out into my paws, and -concentrating harder than before, because this was of the utmost importance - transformed back into my human self.
With Peter (who had bite marks in his fur, I noticed, and was very satisfied to see,) clutched in my hands, I ran after the car. “Wait! Stop the car! Stop the fucking car, dammit!” I screeched.
Then, the car stopped. An Auror got out of the passenger door. “Anna, we’ve got to take him-”
“Don’t you dare talk nicely to me!” I spat. “I hate when people say mean things nicely.
“By the way, I just wanted to let you know that you fucked up real bad.”
He look condescendingly at me. “Oh, and why is that?”
Well, at least he’s not being nice to me anymore.
“Because I have Peter-fricking-Pettigrew right here ” I held the fat rat up by his tail.
“That’s a rat, you mad hatter,” the Auror said, looking like he was about to put me in the car with Sirius and drop me off at St. Mungo's on the way to Azkaban.
Ooo, this guy is so getting on my nerves. “I think I would know Peter better than you would. You fuckhead,” I added quietly.
“Okay, try and prove it,” he said, with that ‘I’d-like-to-see-you-try’ voice.
Oh, I’ll do more than try.
I pulled my wand out of my back pocket, waved it around a bit, and dropped the no-longer-a-rat to the ground. Peter was in limbo, being forced to turn back into a human and obviously trying to resist it.
But he couldn’t. The magic of my kickarseness was overpowering his traitorous arse.
Suck on that!
The Auror watched in amazement and Peter grew to full size. The other Auror climbed out of the car and stared in a similar manner.
Soon after, Peter was crawled up in a ball on the road, his pinky finger bleeding profusely and immensely tired from the effort he’d put into remaining a rat.
“Now do me a favor, and get Sirius out of that car.” I was sickly-sweet when I asked, using the same voice the Auror had tried to wave me off with at first. “Before I bind you up and put you in that car.”
The man nodded absently and hurried over to his car. He opened the door, waved his wand, and Sirius walked free.
It was seven hours later before everything was sorted out. Much of the Order had arrived, Remus had run outside. Dumbledore reappeared as well as the Minister for Magic himself.
He profusely apologized to Sirius, who was much less peeved about the situation than I was. However, with every passing minute, my anger diminished. (At least a little bit.)
Peter was bound and shoved into the car. The bloody fucking coward that he was, he ratted out the Death Eater friend that had helped him, as well as many others who hadn’t been caught the night of Voldemort’s demise.
He was to recieve the Dementor's Kiss.
As for me, I didn’t let go of Sirius the whole time. But I was tired. I began to fall asleep against him. He held me up.
If you had told me a few years earlier that I would have given my life for a mate - even my best one - I probably wouldn’t have believed you.
But I finally knew I was a Gryffindor for a reason.
As Sirius finally adjourned to the house (with me it his arms and Remus walking beside us,) a sleepy thought occurred to be.
“Oh my God . . . This is all my fault.”
“What are you talking about, Anastasia?” Sirius asked, confused.
Then, I remembered back to that drunken night at Damon’s beach house, all those years ago. “Peter. I’ve seen his Dark Mark before . . . It was that night that I went around drawing it on everyone. I saw Peter’s and didn’t even know it was a real one. I could have stopped all of this.”
They were both silent for a while, and that left me alone to wallow in horror of it all. “You couldn’t have known, Anna, you were drunk,” Sirius reasoned.
“Well, I shouldn’t have been!”
I started squirming, itching to get away, but Sirius held me tightly. He spoke to Remus in a hushed voice and I felt very patronized.
And then, I felt nothing at all.
Woah. What the hell is going on?
The next thing I remember, I was laying prostrate across the bed that Sirius and I shared. Said boy was no where to be seen.
I looked at the clock by the bedside. It was dark and I had to squint to read.
3:17 in the morning.
I looked at the calendar that was tacked up on the wall. It was the next day; I’d been out for almost twenty-four hours.
Then I remembered. The epic battle. Seven hours of waiting. And then finally realizing that I could have done something to stop the deaths of our two best friends.
Anna, relax. I tried to calm myself before the freaking out even started. Remember what Remus said.
It doesn’t matter what Remus said . . . Do you even know what it’s like, knowing that someone’s death is partially your fault?
Yes. I do. I am you, after all.
I exhaled angrily. Kind of like a fighting bull.
Listen, I’m not trying to get on your nerves, my mind confessed. I’m trying to alleviate you of guilt you unrightfully own at the moment. Peter betrayed Lily and James, not you.
Yeah, Anna . I froze in shock and almost cried out when I heard James’ voice in my head. Shocked to see me? I’ve been here all along . . . I’m part of your conscience. Even more-so now that I was before. We have pull up here. In the Beyond. If we hated you and wanted you to fail in your task of saving Sirius, we would have made it so.
Anna, we love you and Sirius. And Remus, too. It was Lily’s voice in my head. I was pretty sure she’d never chimed in before. We wouldn’t have any other people down on earth to fulfill the duties of life that we never got to do.
Anna, keep living. There’s nothing you can do about us, now . . . But there is someone you can still save. And he needs you right now.
And leapt from the body - my body aching of sore. I didn’t know what they meant by ‘saving’ Sirius. But I had to. I just had to.
A/N2: Well, hopefully this cleared some things up for you guys . . . I can't believe it, but this story is basically over. It's just so crazy to think about. Anyways, I hope y'all are satisfied with this ending. It's been the plan from the beginning (well, except the Anna is a dog part - that just happened as I was finishing it up.) But Sirius has been saved from damnation since I typed the first word of this story. It's been killer not telling you guys. But, now you know. :D
For the final installment (and what I'm sure you already know will be the longest A/N to date) check back Thursday. :D
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