Mia hated crying, she really did, and she also hated knowing that she tended to do it in more occasions than she was proud of. That was one of those occasions. She wasn’t sure if it was out of heartbreak or out of fear that the tears kept on falling as she paced left and right inside the kitchen. Likely, it was both… She was both miserable because of Sirius’s broken promise and fearful that he might be hurt or worse in his stupid vengeful field trip.
Part of her saw it as a nightmare. It wouldn’t be the first time that she closed her eyes and opened them again, hoping to wake up in bed that morning and have her loving husband, who hadn’t betrayed her trust like it was nothing and shut her out completely just to go get his revenge. But it didn’t work.
Those you love are those who can hurt you the most, Mia thought. She’d heard those words somewhere… or maybe read them. Either way, they made a whole lot of sense now.
Still, she prayed he was alright. It was past nine o’clock already, three hours since he’d gone after Wormtail. She hoped it didn’t mean he was… Don’t think of it, she told herself. She needed to know he was okay, even if facing him would make her heart ache more than it already did. Mia let out a sigh and took a seat by the kitchen’s fireplace, feeling incredibly cold, despite it being a relatively warm near-Summer night.
That was where Sirius found her, minutes later. She hadn’t even noticed him watching her from the kitchen doorway or else she would have tried to hide the tears. He’d spent two bloody hours making himself feel awful for having lied to Mia like that. But none of it made him feel half as terrible as seeing her crying over him.
When Sirius had stepped into the house after apparating outside, Kreacher had been standing by the door sending him chilling looks. There was no questioning the house elf was completely loyal to his most recent mistress. And though Sirius liked to believe Kreacher didn’t generally hate him these days, there had certainly been accusation in the house-elf’s glare when he’d seen him. Strangely enough, that only made Sirius a little fonder of the damn house-elf – he was defending Mia. “Mistress is in kitchen,” Kreacher had informed him, implicitly demanding that he went there and apologize to her. That had been his intention all along but now he didn’t quite know what to tell her.
He saw her eyes leaving the flames as she noticed him from the corner of her eye and turned her face to him. Their eyes met for a single, painful moment that only lasted until she looked away.
“Was it worth it?” Mia asked, wiping the tears from her eyes with her sleeve.
He heard her tone wasn’t angry. It was just… sad. Empty. Heartbroken. How much damage he had made to her with a single action… He could barely find his voice to talk. “No,” he said. Not even slightly.
Her lip trembled as she asked the next question… Merlin helped her if the answer was ‘yes’. “Did you kill him?”
“No. It was a trap. I don’t even know if he was actually there.” She nodded silently. There was no ‘I told you so’. No words at all… He needed to fill that silence or he’d go mad. “Mia, I…”
“Don’t. For Merlin’s sake, don’t apologize. You looked me in the eyes and lied to me, Sirius. You made a promise and broke it as soon as I was out of your sight.” She pursed her lips, fighting the urge to look him in the eyes. It just hurt too much meeting those silver orbs and feeling the betrayal, the heartbreak… the pain. “It just kills me, you know?” It was ripping her heart out…
Then, she lost her internal battle. To look or not to look… she looked. Mia swallowed the pain and her eyes met his one more time, not looking away this time around. He seemed sorry – apologies had fixed things between them before. Heartfelt conversations had done it too. But she knew they wouldn’t do the job now, despite wishing they would… Suddenly, her eyes dropped and her breath caught when she saw blood staining the left shoulder of his shirt. “You’re bleeding. What happened to your shoulder?”
He covered it with his hand instinctively. “It’s just a burn. I healed it as much as I could before. It’s not so bad…”
Before he could finish the sentence, she was already up and making her way to him, ripping the shoulder of his shirt and removing the bandage he’d conjured earlier to patch the wound. “You got this from a curse. Damn it, if it had been stronger, even just a little bit, you could have permanent damage, Sirius!” Or you could have died on the spot, she thought. He’d lied to her and gotten himself hurt.
Sirius didn’t reply – he didn’t know what to say at that moment. He saw her stepping away for a moment and reaching for one of the kitchen cabinets to remove a wooden box from it, which she put on the kitchen table.
“Sit down,” she said in a low tone, opening the box and lifting a little bottle of transparent liquid from it.
He obliged and Mia carefully opened the little bottle, approaching him. She poured small drops of the liquid over the burn. There was a tickling sensation and, seconds later, the stinging that he’d been feeling due to the wound subsided as Sirius witnessed it quickly healing.
“It will leave a scar. Dittany can only do so much when the damage comes from a curse,” Mia said, as she put the bottle back in the box.
His hand gripped her arm, making her look at him out of reflex. “You can’t hate me as much as I hate myself for doing what I did to you, Mia,” he finally said. “I let the anger take control.”
“I can’t hate you at all, Sirius,” Mia confessed softly. “But it doesn’t make it hurt any less. I never thought you could ever look me in the eyes and lie like that – I believed in you when you promised you wouldn’t go after him. Like I always did. But you broke it. I can’t look at you and not think that you picked taking revenge on Peter over your promise to me. Over our family. I sat here waiting for hours, not knowing if you’d been killed.”
“I’m so sorry, Mia,” he murmured as he let go of her arm, feeling even worse. While he’d been in her old house, beating himself up for hurting her, he hadn’t even considered she might be back home worrying herself sick…
“I wish that could fix everything. I really do. But I doesn’t,” she murmured. “I’m going to stay in the nursery tonight.”
“You can take our room, Mia. I’ll go sleep somewhere else.”
She shook her head. “No. Stay there. I just want to stay with Alex tonight.” After Sirius had gone to chase Wormtail, holding her son had been the only comfort she’d had. With a sigh, Mia turned around to leave and took a couple of steps in the door’s direction before turning to him again. “Never lie to me like that again.” And then she was gone.
He watched her leave, wanting to punch himself in the face. Nicely done, Black, he thought sarcastically. He’d been the only person in the world, maybe apart from Lulu, she’d completely opened herself to … she’d spent twelve years waiting for him because she trusted he would come back to her… and now he’d paid back that trust with betrayal. He’d ignored his promise, discarded her just like her adoptive parents had done to her so long ago. And for what? To walk into a trap? A trap he knew was there from the beginning. In his blindness, he’d hurt one of the things he loved the most in his whole existence. And it hadn’t been worth it at all. Not that it would ever be.
He wanted to kneel and beg for her forgiveness. But an apology wasn’t enough this time – she’d said it herself. And her forgiveness wasn’t something he had the right to ask for after what he’d done. He just hoped, dearly hoped, she’d give it to him sometime.
Six days later
“She’s miserable, Moony,” Sirius told his friend, huffing. “I messed up really bad this time. Merlin, I’m such an…”
“Insulting yourself won’t solve anything, Padfoot,” Remus told him. He didn’t really know what to tell his friend. Sirius was right: he’d messed up. But then again, it was easy to see Mia wasn’t the only one miserable because of their fight. It was full moon and, like all full moons, Sirius came by to help even if Remus had quite a stash of Wolfsbane Potion and could be by himself. But, being Sirius, he usually tried to lift up his friend’s mood with jokes in the minutes that preceded the transformation. Today, the Sirius that sat opposite him certainly didn’t sound at all like the Sirius he usually knew. “Well, is she talking to you?”
“Yeah, but not much,” Sirius mumbled. Their conversations these days, if those could even be called ‘conversations’ at all, involved little more than half a dozen words each, were very rare and pretty much just for informative purposes. He didn’t remember a time when Mia had been so distant… and, as much as he wished that was her way of punishing him, he knew it wasn’t. She just barely spoke to him or looked at him or reached for him because it was too painful…
“She’ll come around,” Remus told him. It was hard to fill in the role of the positive bloke in the pair. But it was his duty as a friend. He understood what it was like hating Wormtail. He understood why Sirius had gone after him. The only thing he didn’t understand was him lying to Mia to do it. But he wouldn’t bother lecturing him… the guy was doing it enough himself. “You know, if you’d rather go home and stay there just in case she decides to talk to you, I’ll be fine.”
Sirius shook his head. “No, it´s okay. Elizabeth’s staying with her tonight. I asked her to come by, lend her shoulder for Mia to cry on or something.” He sighed – and to make sure that the sickly pale tone Mia’s skin had these days wasn’t something too serious… “Merlin, this sucks, Moony. I wish I’d listened to you when you tried to stop me… Since we got together, all I wanted was to protect her from being hurt. Turns out I was the one to do it, after all.”
“We all make mistakes, Padfoot,” Remus said before looking up at the clock on the wall to check the time. “Sunset is in a couple of minutes. You should change.”
“Yeah,” Sirius mumbled. He had feeling that night he wouldn’t be such a great company to Moony. But then again, he wouldn’t be god company to anyone these days.
Mia tried to concentrate on the book she was reading in the living room but didn’t seem to be all that successful… That was just one more of her failed attempts to clear her mind of thoughts about Sirius. And of that constant low-grade headache that seemed to be affecting her for the past six days.
Her mind kept flooding back to all of it even if she tried to keep it from doing such. Alex seemed to be the only distraction that worked on keeping her sanity but, after several hours playing at the park down the street, the little boy had fallen asleep in her arms and had to be put in his cot for a nap.
She considered just going to bed herself too. It was seven in the evening, which was pretty early, but she was rather tired, to be honest. She hadn’t been sleeping much… or eating much. Her nights were restless and her appetite was gone. The few things she managed to choke down her throat weren’t enough to give her energy for the whole day so she lay down more times and longer than usual…
“Lost in your thoughts, aren’t you?” Elizabeth’s voice came from the doorway as she made her way to join her friend at the sofa, Kreacher following her closely, as he seemed to be Mia’s shadow lately.
Mia’s head shot up to face the blonde in surprise. “Elizabeth, what are you doing here?”
Elizabeth sat down and let out a sigh. Her friend looked like she’d spent a few hours around Dementors – Sirius hadn’t been exaggerating about how unhealthily pale she seemed. Or how sad. Maybe she should have come sooner… “Well, as you were alone tonight because Sirius must be helping Remus out during full-moon, I thought you might use some company. My Dad is watching the kids, so I’m free.”
“You didn’t have to, Elizabeth,” Mia told her.
The blonde shook her head. “Yes, I did. That’s what friends are for.”
Mia sighed. “Thanks, then. Well, I suppose I should play the host and go get us some tea, then,” she said, starting to get up.
From that point on, everything happened in a blur. Just as Kreacher insisted he’d get the tea for them himself, her ears started ringing and her vision became blotted. She felt so… so tired. What was happening to her? That was the last thought in her mind before her world turned completely dark.
Next thing she remembered was Elizabeth’s voice calling out her name, shaking her. “Mia, Mia!” The voice sounded yards away and it took her several seconds to be able to open her eyes. When she did, she saw herself looking up at the ceiling with Elizabeth’s face over hers.
“Oh, my god,” the healer said, trying very hard to keep herself calm. “Mia, can you hear me?”
“What… what happened?” she asked hoarsely.
“You fainted, Mia. You were out for a whole minute!”
One minute? she wondered, hearing her friend in the background asking Kreacher for some sugared water. She’d lost her sense of time at some point… Her body still felt sort of numb, though, and it was only with Elizabeth’s help that she was able to sit up on the sofa, where she’d apparently fallen flat earlier. Better the sofa than floor.
“Okay, there you go,” Elizabeth said, handing her a glass of water. “Drink this. All of it.”
Mia took a deep breath and accepted the glass, taking a large gulp of it. “Thank you,” she murmured to her friend.
“Thank you?! Merlin, Mia, what was that? What are you doing to yourself? Have you been eating at all?”
“I… I had some toast and tea for breakfast… some soup for lunch.”
“Mistress left most of it in bowl,” Kreacher pointed out.
“So, it’s nearly seven p.m. and you’ve been running all day on toast, tea and half a dozen spoonfuls of soup?! Damn it, Mia! That can hardly be called eating,” Elizabeth told her before turning to Kreacher. “Can you fix her a snack? And then something filling for dinner? I’ll make sure she eats.”
Kreacher nodded and disappeared with a ‘pop’.
“Alright, lie down,” Elizabeth demanded firmly.
“What? I’ve just sat up.”
“You’ve just fainted on me, Mia! You’ve barely been eating and you look pale as a ghost.” Sirius had been right to ask her to come… “I need to give you a little check-up now – you could be anaemic, for all we know. So, lie down.”
She sighed but followed Elizabeth’s orders, if not for anything else, to give her friend some peace of mind.
The blonde got herself a long piece of blank parchment and a blue quill that Mia knew, as she’d owned one of those back when she practiced healing, to be used to translate results coming from diagnosis spells into written reports. Then, Elizabeth started to pat Mia with her wand and then the quill, which wrote on the parchment like a quick-quotes quill. “This thing with you and Sirius is only hurting you, Mia,” she said as she mechanically performed her task. “You need to talk, not to walk around the house like strangers. That’s not a way to deal with it!”
Mia sighed. “I miss him so much, Elizabeth,” she whispered.
“He hasn’t gone anywhere, honey,” Elizabeth told her, lowering her wand for a moment. “Merlin, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a couple as in love as the two of you are, Mia. Sirius made a mistake by breaking his promise to you but he’s just as miserable about it as you are. It just takes a look at him to see it.”
“It hurt so much having him… lying to me that way,” she said, sniffing once and letting out a single tear. “It was like all we’ve been through or our family didn’t mean a thing.”
“But you know that’s not true, Mia. And you can’t stop taking care of yourself over this. You can get really sick, Mia,” Elizabeth said as she resumed casting the diagnosis spells. “Now, be a good girl and lie still so I can make sure you’re okay. Then, we’ll talk. Just the two of us.”
Mia nodded. “Okay. You’re the best friend one could ever have, you know? You, Lily, Lulu and…” She paused, sighing. Sirius was her other best friend. He was probably the one person in the world who knew her better than any of the other three together… That had to count something for something. That had to mean she’d be able to forgive him. Her heart wanted it so much... But that wound, the one from being lied to, was blocking the way.
“Your blood sugar is awfully low and you’re a little anaemic,” Elizabeth said after a few minutes. “Nothing that can’t be fixed with decent food and a couple of strengthening potions. You have to…” she stopped talking suddenly and just stared at the parchment. “Hum.”
Elizabeth took a few seconds to respond. Then placed the parchment sheet on the coffee table and sat on the edge of the sofa where her friend was lying down. For a moment, just as the blonde let out a deep breath, Mia thought the worst. She lied there, frozen, until Elizabeth spoke. “It looks like you’re pregnant, Mia.”
Mia’s head shot up and she looked wide-eyed at Elizabeth, supporting herself on her elbows. “What… I… I’m pregnant?”
She nodded. “According to your hormone levels... they’re through the roof. The most common explanation is pregnancy, Mia. Let me just make sure…” She her eyes scrolled up the parchment and she murmured a bunch of things to herself. “Yep, this confirms it – you’re really pregnant, Mia. I should go ahead and check on the baby now… make sure everything is okay with it too…”
Mia was still a bit numb when she nodded and barely noticed as her friend kept tapping her now exposed abdomen with her wand, having the quill furiously noting down the results. She was pregnant again… and why did that only make the weight in throat seem heavier? She closed her eyes and took a breath. It wasn’t that she didn’t want the baby. Oh, Merlin, how she wanted it. How she loved it just seconds after learning of that young life’s existence. But it just… complicated things with Sirius. How was she supposed to tell him they were having a child now that they were so apart?
“Seems healthy to me,” she heard Elizabeth saying. “Around seven weeks, it seems… Ah, Kreacher, thanks.”
She opened her eyes to see the house elf leaving the room and Elizabeth with a bowl on her hands.
“Sit,” she demanded. “And eat this – it’s porridge. You need to stop doing this, Mia. This baby is your responsibility… I don’t need to tell you that you have to stay healthy to keep it healthy too.”
Mia obliged, sitting up. Knowing she was carrying another life in her, a life that completely depended on her, she couldn’t allow herself to refuse eating, even if the food tasted like cardboard to her…
At some point, Kreacher appeared, announcing Alex was up from his nap, and Elizabeth went up to get him, leaving Mia alone with her thoughts. Her heart didn’t feel as heavy as before, probably because part of it felt happy because of the baby. Sirius would feel that way too, she knew. He was always asking her for another baby. How she missed the warmness of his hold, the tenderness of his touch...
“Momma!” her little boy shouted happily as his godmother placed him on the floor. He stood up on his fast little legs and toddled his way to Mia, his stuffed dog clutched in his fist. She gave him a little smile and scooped him up to her lap, placing a kiss on the top of his head.
Then, unlike his usual hyper mood, maybe because he sensed his mother was troubled or because he felt like a little spoiling session, Alex cuddled against Mia, resting his head on her armpit and remaining there calmly, sucking his thumb.
Elizabeth chuckled as she occupied a nearby armchair. “Harper used to do that all the time before he became a ‘big boy’. That’s what he calls himself since he turned four. ‘Big Boys don’t cuddle with their Mommy’. Except they do, when nobody’s watching.”
Mia caressed her son’s black hair. “They grow up so fast…”
The blonde nodded. “Time passes fast, Mia.” She let out a sigh. “You know I have plenty of experience with having a husband lying to me – Ludo did it several times a week… sometimes even several times a day – and I’m pretty sure could give you one hell of a bitter speech about men without a single tremble in between. But I won’t. Because the reason why Ludo lied is completely different from the reason why Sirius did it. It’s not worth destroying what you two have over a hot-headed mistake. You know I’m on your side here. And I see that being so distant from him is only hurting you more. You can’t be under all this stress, Mia. You’re pregnant!”
Mia tightened her hold slightly around her son, who was calmly playing with his stuffed dog, and rested her free hand on her flat abdomen. “I know.”
Elizabeth sighed. “Look, I wasn’t supposed to tell you this but Sirius was the one who asked me to come here. Not to step in for him or anything, believe me. He barely even mentioned it. He was worried about you, Mia, and didn’t think he had a right to check on you himself. And he also thought you might need a friend to talk to instead of spending the night by yourself.”
“He… he asked you to come?” Mia asked, her tone low.
Elizabeth nodded. “He loves you, Mia. Very much so. He’s giving you space but not being able to take care of you is hurting him too. Merlin, I’d bet my soul that he’d rather rip his own heart out and feed it to Thestrals than hurt you that way again. Just… don’t be angry at him for asking me to come. I think I would have come by, anyway. And don’t tell him I mentioned this to you.”
“I won’t. I’m not angry,” Mia murmured. She wasn’t angry but she also wasn’t sure of how to feel about it. Him watching out for her sure melted her heart a bit, made her want to forget the betrayal at all… but she couldn’t forgive without understanding why he’d made that promise and broke it, could she? Why going after revenge had been more important than family. That was the sort of thing she imagined even he might not be able to explain...
“Well, how about I go get you some strengthening potion? We need to get you rid of that anaemia before it makes damage,” Elizabeth said, getting up. “I’ll be right back, okay?”
Mia nodded. “Okay,” she responded seconds before the healer made her way out of the living room.
She closed her eyes, then, and took a deep breath, running the tips of her fingers over her abdomen. A baby. Hers and Sirius’s. If only she’d found out about a week before… when everything was okay. “What am I supposed to do about your daddy?” she murmured, moments before she felt Alex shifting on her lap. She opened her eyes to see the little boy looking around.
“Daddy?” he asked.
She caressed his pudgy cheek. “Daddy’s taking care of uncle Moony.” Mia sighed and kept talking, not expecting a coherent response. “Mommy’s confused, baby. About Daddy. About your baby brother or sister…”
Alex looked at her, also confused, probably because he hadn’t understood half the things his mother had said. Still, knowing she was a bit sad, he offered her his favourite stuffed toy. “Dog.”
Mia smiled at her son, accepting it. “Thanks, honey.” She pulled him against her chest in a hug, took in the soft baby smell and preyed soon she’d be able to truly forgive Sirius so they’d all be a family again.
A/N: Well, sort of depressive those two are, hum? You must be wondering why I posted early... well, like I said before, exams and procrastination inspire me... I hope you liked the chapter. If things go as planned, the battle will happen in the second half of next chapter. Feedback is very welcome - Review!