Life at Grimmauld Place was—well, if not pleasant, then at least it was decent. There was the ancient house-elf Kreacher whom no one seemed to like, particularly Sirius; and the portrait of Walburga Black that put up a terrific racket whenever someone rang the doorbell or made any loud noise; and the assortment of wizards and witches who came through the door every evening for meetings, though sadly the Hogwartians (and Shealin) were not allowed to listen.
And, of course, the massive amount of cleaning that had to be done. The room that the girls were in—a worn-smooth plaque on the door read Elphaba—was relatively clean, but that didn’t apply to the rest of the house. Mrs Weasley was manic about cleanliness in this place, a fact the students (and Shealin) bemoaned when they were in their separate bedrooms.
“I mean, really, why do we have to do it?” complained Ginny after a very hard day of scrubbing out the cupboards in the kitchen: Ten years’ worth of dirt had accumulated, and all the girls’ fingers were stained with the black grimy stuff, rather like typewriter-ink residue. “It’s not our house. Why can’t Kreacher clean?”
Hermione, who normally spent her time in Harry and Ron’s room, rolled her eyes. “He’s old, Ginny. Old and feeble. He most likely can’t clean. This is why I founded S.P.—”
“Oh don’t start that 'spew' rubbish,” said Ginny, sounding very much like her brother Ron. “Kierra, may I ask what you’re doing?”
Everyone glanced over in Kierra’s direction; she was rummaging in the drawer of the elegantly carved desk that was in the corner of the bedroom, apparently searching for something.
She turned, her hands still inside the drawer, and grinned guiltily. “There’s a secret compartment here, but I can’t get it open.”
Ginny hopped off the bed. “How fascinating. Move, let me try. Ah—here it is, a little knothole.” Her face contorted with the effort, and then she smiled. “There we go.” She began to dig. “Blimey, this must be half a foot deep, give or take an inch. It’s packed with parchment, and—wait—a book.”
“Pull it out, all of it,” Kierra urged.
Ginny did, finally emerging with a stack of yellowed parchment. “The book’s at the bottom. Grab it. I reckon this stuff was placed on top to hide it.”
She dumped the papers on the bed and began to flick through them. “Not much to them,” she said disappointedly, “they’re all blank. Must be spares.”
“Or, as you said, used to conceal these books,” said Kierra. “There is more than one. One’s a photograph album—the other is a diary.”
“Open the photograph album,” said Angel, looking interested in spite of herself.
“Amazing,” breathed Kierra, as she opened to the first page. ‘“This book is the property of Elphaba B. Black, of the Most Noble & Ancient House of Black.’”
“It figures,” Ginny snorted, “the Blacks would do something so snobbish.”
“I don’t believe she means it to be ‘snobbish’,” sniffed Hermione. “She means it ironically.”
Ginny let out another unladylike snort. “Rubbish! What makes you think that?”
“The tone of the writing,” Hermione snapped.
“Enough, you two,” said Kierra. “Look at the pictures, they were all taken at Hogwarts! And…that’s Sirius there, look. With a very pretty girl.”
“Some things never change,” said Ginny with a laugh. She peered over Kierra’s shoulder. “Hmmm. She is very pretty. And she sort of looks like him.”
Kierra took the photograph out of the book and turned it over. Written on the back was:
Congrats on becoming a prefect. Now I’ve got permission to sneak out!
“Oh, isn’t that so typical of Sirius?” said Ginny. “And ‘Fabala’ and ‘Siri’, how sweet. Like how Fred and George call Ron ‘ickle Ronniekins’.”
“She was a prefect, there’s the little badge on her robes. Interesting…” Angel squinted, struggling to look into the detail of the picture. “That looks like the Gryffindor badge, doesn’t it, ’Mione?”
“Yes,” said Hermione, sounding very surprised. “But if she was a Black…”
Rolling her eyes, Ginny interrupted with, “She couldn’t’ve been. Now shut up, and go on, Kierra, what else?”
“Six girls,” said Kierra, and she tilted the book in the direction of the others. Shealin went closer, intrigued. Kierra pointed to an inscription on the bottom:
The Six, 1977. From left to right: Lily Evans, Eden Crouch, Mary Macdonald, Alice Prewett, Megara Trelawney, Elphaba Black.
Shealin felt a rush of surprise overwhelm her as her eyes fell upon the fifth name. Megara Trelawney.
She didn’t remember her mother. Sometimes she could recall certain sounds—someone shouting, glass breaking, a door slamming shut—but only if she fought to remember them. And then excruciating pain—screaming—the feeling of a person touching her face; a person with gentle hands and a warm wet cloth.
“Shealin,” said a voice. “You’ve gone awfully pale. Are you all right?”
Shealin blinked. Ginny and the others were staring at her. “I’m fine, thank you. Just thinking.”
“Elphaba Black is the girl with Sirius,” said Kierra. She smirked at Ginny. “So they weren’t a couple.”
There were also several photographs of each of the Six, as the group must have named themselves, with their boyfriends.
‘“Lily Evans and James Potter,”’ said Ginny. “Harry’s parents. He might like to see that one.”
‘“Alice Prewett loves Franklin Longbottom,”’ read Kierra, and she giggled.
“Probably Neville’s mum and dad,” said Angel. She flipped the page. ‘“Sirius Black plus Megara Trelawney.’”
Shealin’s eyes widened; she looked over Angel’s shoulder and, indeed, there were her mother and Sirius.
They made a good pairing, she had to admit. Both had dark hair, and were relatively close in height. They weren’t looking at the camera but at each other, passionately.
“Huh,” said Angel. She cocked her head to one side. “Who would have thought Sirius’d ever have a girlfriend? Flings, maybe, but never a steady girlfriend. I wonder what happened to her. She was beautiful, wasn’t she?”
Was. The tightness around Shealin’s chest seemed to be becoming stronger, until she could barely breathe. She had never seen any photographs of her absent mother, though she knew she had a mother. But Megara Trelawney had been a distant part of her memory, she’d viewed her as the woman who had given birth to her, and then left her in Remus’s care. Now here was proof Megara had actually existed. This Megara was staring at Sirius with a look that made Shealin distinctly uncomfortable—like it was a private moment, and shouldn’t be disturbed.
As she watched, Megara ran her fingers through Sirius’s long hair, tilted his face down for a kiss, and bile rose in Shealin’s constricting throat.
'My mother. My mother. That’s my mother, there, she was a part of this world, and I’m a part of her. I don’t know my father but I’m a part of her.'
Absently she reached up round her neck and toyed with the necklace she always wore: a heavy silver circular pendant, with an onyx stone in the centre. Etched onto the surface, around the stone, were several sunbursts inlaid on top of each other. It looked, to her, rather like the front cover of a timepiece. On the back was a cracked mirror, so that when Shealin glanced at herself, her face was in fragments.
It was her only connection to her mother, Megara.
And she, Shealin, looked remarkably similar to her. There were some decently sized differences, of course: Shealin’s face was a bit sharper, her eyes not as slanted, her limbs not as willowy. She didn’t have Megara’s nose or perfectly formed mouth. Only in colouring did she fully have her mother’s looks—fair skin, dark hair. But the eyes…the eyes were different colours. Megara’s were slightly darker, though Shealin couldn’t tell precisely what colour due to the sepia photograph.
“That’s a very beautiful necklace,” said Kierra.
Shealin smiled slightly. “Thank you. It belonged to my mother.”
“Oh, I know how that is,” said Kierra. She held up her hand. “This is my mum’s.” On her index finger was a small gold ring with a little ruby set into the band. “It’s not much, but she gave it to me a few months ago, said she thought it would fit me.” She looked fondly at the ring. “But yours is prettier,” she said, gesturing. Without being asked she stepped nearer, lifted Shealin’s necklace.
Shealin stiffened, unused to her personal things being handled so disrespectfully.
“Very old,” said Kierra, studying the piece of jewellery, “and it looks Celtic, sort of. You said you come from a line of Seers?”
“I said no such thing,” said Shealin tersely.
“Remus, then.” Unperturbed, Kierra continued, “It appears to be an eye—the Seeing Eye. My mum said one of her former friends had a necklace like this, and she was of Seer descent. The sunburst could signify the vessels in the eye, but the Celtics put their design in it, a bit of a twist. The black stone, that’s interesting. Could be a symbol of the prophecies Seers predicted, how they’re often extremely dark. Blood, torture, that sort of thing.”
Shealin was quite awestruck. She took an uncertain step back, clutching the necklace protectively. “How…how can you tell?”
“My mum taught me,” said Kierra, with a shrug. “As for age, it was most likely crafted…oh, at least quite a few hundred years ago, before the Middle Ages, even. Is there a mirror on the back?”
“Yes,” said Shealin.
“When Seers have prophecies, their eyes change colour, mostly to white, although there are some I’ve read about whose eyes go black, or at least several shades deeper than their original shade. May I…”
Kierra’s voice faded away as something overcame Shealin, with voices. And someone with white, pure white, eyes setting her down, making her walk away, although she didn’t want to go back to bed…she’d had a horrible nightmare and she wanted her da to comfort her…
* * * FLASHBACK * * *
“You must accept—”
“Accept what? Her? I don’t want a bloody Seer for a daughter! I want her to be normal, goddammit, instead of suffering! No child should see these things, Megara…You gave it to her!”
“…I never existed, Megara Trelawney…”
* * * END * * *
The man’s voice filled Shealin’s mind, a long-ago memory, with the force of a speeding vehicle. She remembered, now, sitting outside a room, listening to the two people: the man, and her mother. She concentrated, struggling to remember the rest, but nothing came to her.
Without thinking she reached out, plucked the photograph from the book and stared at it fiercely, willing the memory to come back.
“…let’s ask Sirius,” said Angel, and Shealin jumped, startled. “We might get a confession out of him.”
“Did someone say my name?” said the voice of Sirius Black. He poked his head in the door. “And what, may I ask, confession are you trying to get out of me? You’re not getting into mischief, are you?”
“We found this photograph album in that desk over there, and we wondered about your girlfriend,” said Angel innocently.
Shealin, coming to her senses, handed the photograph to Sirius.
Sirius laughed. “D’you mean…?” And then he stopped, as he focused on the picture of him and Megara Trelawney. He didn’t say a word for nearly five minutes. “Where did you…find this, again?” he said at last.
“That desk,” said Angel, motioning.
“I should have known,” Sirius said softly. “I’ll have to…” He swallowed, as though he’d just reminded himself there were underage girls present.
“But who is she?” said Ginny.
“Oh, she’s just a girl I went out with for a month or so. I can’t even remember her name.” He said this forcefully, but there was an undercurrent of nervousness in his voice.
“You’re lying,” said Shealin, under her breath.
Sirius turned a shade paler, and his gaze was suddenly focused on her necklace—the pendant Kierra had so carefully scrutinised. Shealin saw his lips form a single word—Meg—in complete shock. He almost moved forward to touch the necklace, but halted. And then he spoke, roughly:
“You’re her daughter,” he said. “So lies should come first-nature to you.”