Chapter 8 : A Glittering World Built on a Façade of Lies
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A Glittering World Built on a Façade of Lies
“Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.”- Marcus Aurelius
I have been in this ball room more times than I can count. Growing up the Minister’s Palace was home to many of the social events my parents dragged me to. I remember being draped in the finest velvets and silks and having my blonde hair magically curled to perfection by my mother or our house elf Lila, just so I could be paraded about by my parents in front of the rest of the wizarding world. I was their pride and joy. Their little piece of perfection.
My parents had always wanted a big family, but complications when I was born rendered my mum incapable of having any more children. Thus I became my mum’s angel and my daddy’s princess. Hence the pampering and spoiling that I grew up around. That’s probably why James and I became so close as children. We were both so alike.
We were both our parents most precious objects; worth more than all the gallons in the world as my daddy used to say. James and I made quite the pair. He dark and handsome, even as a little kid, and me pale and blond. We were both mischievous and had quick tempers, but we were both deathly loyal and secretly compassionate. Which is probably why Sirius became so quickly integrated in out group.
We met Sirius at one of the balls here. Like me and James, Sirius was his parents pride. The heir to the noble house of Black. He was beautiful even as a child. I remember asking my mom why all the big girls were looking at him so funnily; but he was funny, hyperactive, and loyal like me and James and so we allowed him to be a part of our tightly knit friendship. The Summer we were eight the three of us made a pact to be best friends till we died. James and I never broke that promise. Sirius and I shattered it a few short years later.
The Minister’s Palace is a beautiful place. White marble walls, gold leaf on the ceiling, mahogany floors, rose gardens, peacocks on the front lawn and the occasional unicorn sighting in the forest on the outskirts of the property were just a few of the manor’s characteristics. It was and is a special place to me. It was where I met Sirius, had my first kiss, and broke my first bone (my wrist, Sirius shoved me and I fell. We were fighting over the last cookie.)
Often times, since becoming Celestina, I’ve found myself wandering about the rose garden drinking in the moonlight and reminiscing. In the rose garden I’m no longer the wizarding world sensation. I am simply Jessie; and it’s a beautiful thing.
But tonight there is no room for reminiscing and prancing about in the roses. I have a job to do and I’ll be damned if I let Narcissa Malfoy out of my sight. She makes me sad inside. I remember her, Andromeda, and Bellatrix when we were younger. Cissy was the oldest, pale and blonde like me; but while I was loud and obnoxious she was quiet and shy. Always trailing behind Bellatrix, attempting to keep her out of trouble. Bella was the middle child. Sometimes I wonder if that contributed to who she is today, then again maybe she really was dropped on her head as a child. The opposite of Cissy, Bella was dark both in and out. She always had to have her way and tended to make quite the scene when someone didn’t do what she wanted. Even though she was about four years older than me, I got in a fist fight with her when I was 12 and she was 16, well it was more of a one sided fist fight. I refused to let her have the last pastry and she tried to hex me. I punched her and broke her nose (My mum nearly died at the sight and grounded me for a week, my daddy gave me five gallons and a dozen chocolate frogs.) Andromeda was completely different than the other two. Three years older than Sirius, James and I and the baby of her family. Dromeda was always more mature than both her sisters. She was bold and brave and was the one who took care of Sirius when James and I weren’t around. She was a mix of her siblings in looks with wavy brown hair and the characteristic deep brown Black eyes. That was the one thing that linked all of them, their eyes. Brown and wide, just like Sirius.
Dumbledore had forced me to attend the ball tonight for the reason that the Malfoys would be there. He wanted me to observe who they were talking to. I had wanted to take a bubble bath and stuff my face with bon bons; but apparently the fate of the wizarding world was more important that me spending quality time with my rubber ducky.
I was going to bring Remus along, dressed up as Lou Lou of course (I even had the magenta robes and zebra print satchel picked out!), but Dumbledore insisted that he needed him more than I did this evening; and after complementing my choice of heels sent me out to the car all by my lonesome. And thus here I am, sitting at one of the many champagne colored tables, sipping a glass of sparkling water and spying on Narcissa Malfoy. Oh how joyous and exciting the life of an international magical pop star sensation is. I’ve literally been here for four hours doing nothing but this, good thing the mini quiches are to die for…
Two hooded and cloaked figures hurried down the gray, concrete, sidewalk silently. They moved gracefully and swiftly, being careful not to let their black cloaks catch on the wrought iron or picket fences separating the houses to their right from the sidewalk they were walking on. Every so often they would pass a flickering streetlight or one would stop to check the number on the house they were about to pass; but they never lessened their quick pace, nor spoke.
As they walked the distance between the houses began to enlarge and the amount of plant life around them began to increase. Soon they reached a small, boarded up place. In the moonlight, one could see that the front yard was overgrown with grass and other vegetation. The dark blue and white paint on the house was faded and peeling and what must of once been a porch swing, was now a jumble heap of broken rotting wood on the front porch. The picket fence around the property was broken and all together missing in some areas and the gate was laying on its side, half covered by an overgrown bush.
The two figures stopped in front of the house.
“This is the place, yes?” The fist one spoke laying his hand on the other’s shoulder. The other slowly nodded and took a tentative step toward the house, but faltered, “I… I can’t…” he said quietly.
“But we must,” the other said softly.
“I can’t go in there Remus,” Sirius shrugged off his hood and looked at his friend.
“Put your hood back on Padfoot!” Remus hissed, “We can’t risk…”
“Oh for heaven’s sake Moony! What happened to your love for adventure? Besides no one is going to recognize me here!”
“Sirius,” Remus said warningly as he wrapped his own cloak tighter around himself, “put it back on!”
“Moony. It’s dark outside, looks like it’s about to storm, and we are in an entirely muggle area.”
“Sirius Black! Either put the damn hood on or get your sorry arse in the house!” Remus said shoving the escaped convict towards the broken gate.
“Yes mum,” Sirius grumbled under his breath and he quickly made his way towards the front steps. Pain flooded his features as he ran his palm along the length of the porch railing. When he got to the door he tapped it with his wand and the lock clicked. He then placed his hand around the knob, but found he could not turn it.
“Moony, I…” he choked out. Remus patted his shoulder, “It’s just a door Padfoot, just open it up,” he said softly. Sirius bit his lip as he turned the knob the rest of the way and the door creaked open.
The two friends walked through the threshold and into the darkness. Remus shut the door behind them and lit up the room they were standing in.
Unlike the outside of the house, the inside had not been touched by time. Only a few cobwebs in the corners and they inch of dust that seemed to cover everything marked the passage of time. Underneath the dust the dark wooden floor gleamed in the moonlight. The light blue paint on the walls was as vibrant as the day it had been put up, and the pictures on the walls hung perfectly straight.
Sirius walked silently through the nearest doorway, into the kitchen, his eyes beginning to fill with tears. Like the entryway, the kitchen was seemingly untouched by time. A newspaper sat on the wooden table in the corner of the room and a tea towel hung over the handle on the front of the oven. A few dishes sat on the counter, ready to be put away in the cupboards. On the wall a white wooden plaque bearing the words, “home sweet home,” hung. Sirius ran his hands through his hair as he walked into the next room. He turned the silver doorknob and slowly opened the door.
Like everywhere else, a thick layer of dust covered the bedroom. Sirius sighed deeply as he walked over to the dresser and picked up the photo sitting on it. Inside the black frame Jessie and him were laughing and hugging one another. It had been taken the day of graduation. They both had on their wizards hats and black robes. Sirius smiled to himself as he recalled the day. Lily and Mary had attacked Jessie that morning and done both her hair and makeup, much to Jess’ chagrin. That afternoon, Sirius himself had been on the receiving end of quite a few f-bombs and punches from his girlfriend due to the comments about the incident.
Sirius set the picture down and did not move to wipe the tears that were freely rolling down his cheeks. He sat down on the bed, ignoring the dust that swirled around him as he did so. His head fell to his hand s and he whispered aloud to no one, “Why Jess? Why did you do it?”
Meanwhile in the living room Remus had collapsed onto the sofa, teary eyed himself as memories flooded into his head.
He remembered the day Sirius and Jessie announced they were going to move in together. It had been only a few months after Harry was born and the first words out of an exhausted and hormonal Lily were, “You’ll kill one another within the first week.”
But the two hadn’t done so. In fact, for the most part (minus a few arguments about drapes and paint colors) they had worked together to clean and decorate the cottage.
Remus chuckled to himself as he recalled the day Sirius had shown up pissed as hell because Jessie wouldn’t let them paint the bedroom maroon and gold. Apparently, at least according to Sirius, doing anything else was blasphemy and would be an insult to their Gryffindor legacy. In the end the two had compromised and painted it a light tan.
After a few more moments of reflection Remus stood up and made his way to the back bedroom where he was sure Sirius had been hiding out. He softly pushed open the door fully and walked over to Sirius. He sat down beside him and wrapped his arm around Sirius’ shoulders, “You okay mate?”
Sirius nodded, his shoulders sagging, “Thanks for coming with me Moony,” he said quietly.
“Anytime buddy,” Remus said softly back, “Anytime.”
“I learned absolutely nothing Professor,” Jessie moaned as she popped out of the flames into Dumbledore’s office. She stumbled onto the rug and plopped down in one of the seats in front of Dumbledore’s desk un-gracefully. Dumbledore took on look at her most unladylike seating position and chuckled, “Your mother would be having a heart attack if she could see you right now Celestina.”
Jessie shrugged, “If my mother knew I’d been voluntarily wearing dresses for the past decade, she would have had a heart attack Professor. Now, as for the way I am seated, this would just cause her to shake her head and lecture me on how to be a proper lady. Merlin rest her soul,” Jessie said dramatically, averting her eyes to the ceiling of the office, “As I was saying, nothing happened tonight. Cissy simpered along after her darling husband as per usual, chatted with several other ladies briefly about dresses and makeup and continued to act like the delicate, pale, flower her mummy dearest brainwashed her to be.”
“Well the Celestina my dear, if nothing exciting happened, why are you in such a good mood?” Dumbledore asked quietly, Jessie smiled evilly, “Cassidy Monroe, the Italian keeper was there tonight. I got to watch the eldest Leblanc boy get completely smashed and attempt to seduce her. Twas quite entertaining Professor.”
“Sounds fascinating, my dear,” Dumbledore smiled at her, “If that is all I must request that you floo home. Remus should be arriving shortly.”
Jess stood up to leave.
“And Celestina, I must tell you. It has come to my attention that I need to inform one more individual about your existence,” Jessie’s eyes brightened and Dumbeldore mentally kicked himself for giving her any hope that he might decide to inform Sirius of the situation, “Due to a number of things I have deemed it prudent to inform Minerva of the situation,” Jessie’s eyes dulled considerably at this. She looked at him as she threw the powder into the fire, “Tell Minnie I miss her Professor,” and with that she was gone.
“You got everything you need Padfoot?” Remus asked as he shrunk the last of the cases and stuck it in his pocket. The entire point of the night was to get Sirius the things he needed and transfer them to Grimmlaud Place; unfortunately it had taken longer that anyone could of anticipated. Remus groaned, Jessie was going to give him hell later.
“I can’t find it!” was Sirius’ frantic and pained reply. Remus gut sunk, he had a feeling that he knew what Sirius was talking about. He also knew exactly where the object was; but there was no way he could just prance in there and say, “Oh hey Jess has it. She’s actually alive and we’ve been lying to you. Surprise!”
“Can’t find what?” Remus asked tentatively.
“Ummm…” Remus could hear the blush in Sirius’ words. He walked out of the closet, red in the face and crossed his arms, “thering,” he mumbled.
“What?” Remus asked smirking, he had waited over a decade for this moment and he‘d be damned if he let a chance to tease Sirius Black about his feelings pass him up.
“The Ring,” Sirius said clearing his throat as he looked at the ground nervously, “it’s in a blue velvet box. It’s a small thing… Oh stop looking at me like that!” Sirius groaned. Remus chuckled, “ Sorry Padfoot. It’s just, you were going to propose to her.”
Sirius turned even redder and kicked the carpet on the ground, “It’s not that funny Remus.” Remus just smiled at Sirius.
“It‘s not!” remus raised an eyebrow.
“Oh shut up you stupid puff ball!” Sirius scowled.
Remus chuckled to himself, “I haven’t seen anything Sirius.”
The two stood in silence for a monet. Sirius sighed and bit his lip, “Was she… did…” he took a deep breathe, “When they… was… do you think she could have had it on when they… you know?”
“I don’t really remember Padfoot, she could of though.”
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