Chapter 9 : Potter Manor
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It had been months. Months since the fight, and months since we had discussed the Order and its consequences. I did my best to, as I always do, push my worries and anxieties into the back of my mind as I focused on how much I adored the man who caused me so much stress. However, on this particularly rough night in April, problems were a bit difficult to ignore.
I had decided to spend the night at my place, alone. Sirius was off on one of his longer Order missions, so I knew neither when I could expect to see him again nor where he was. And though I loved spending time in Sirius’ well-furnished flat, my cozy rooms offered me comfort. Plus, Demeter gave me her own sort of sense of security, perhaps only in knowing I wasn’t completely alone.
Nights when he was away were difficult. It frustrated me, because before I knew him I had spent many nights, and days, alone in the cramped flat perfectly fine. I considered that now, though, the atmosphere in the wizarding world had gotten exponentially worse. More and more reports of abducted people appeared in the Prophet, and more broken glass littered Diagon Alley. Knowing, however, that you are safely secure in a rather large, well-trained wizard’s arms is enough to make you feel well guarded and peaceful at night. When that luxury is taken away from you, though, nightmares reappear.
The nights when Sirius was gone were also difficult because I worried about him. He was, albeit, a very good fighter and was well trained in duels. But I had heard rumors from Lily, and also just generally suspected, that he was reckless. Sirius didn’t think much before acting; he just acted. He rarely gave careful consideration to any move, and this concerned me.
But enough about my anxieties that spring. That one April night, it was stormy and rainy and all the sorts of things that set the scene in the muggle mystery books I read for a guilty pleasure. I had packed up the shop and eaten dinner. I laid in my bed, relaxing while perusing the day’s Prophet, Demeter lazily purring at my feet.
Rather suddenly I heard a noise from downstairs. A loud thud, followed by the light clinks of broken glass. Followed by a male voice saying “shit.” There was about a five second delay before I truly started to panic.
Here I was, alone in my flat, with nothing to protect me but underdeveloped dueling skills and a cat so fat she would have trouble getting off the bed, let alone defeating intruders. I stood from the bed, wand at the ready.
Luckily for me, soon after the man who had swore spoke again. “Seph! Persephone!” It was a shout, loud and strained. “Seph its me!”
Upon hearing that I bolted down to the shop floor. Two men, both soaking wet, were in the room. One, Sirius, had apparently knocked over the front table of potions. The other was unrecognizable. He had a bloodied face and torn clothes, and he was being almost completely supported by Sirius. His head lolled slightly, as though unsupported.
“Oh my God.” My hand went uncontrollably to my mouth. I ran over to support the man’s other side. His breathing was ragged and harsh. I looked to Sirius.
He whispered, “It’s Remus. We’ve got to get him upstairs. I’ll explain everything later, okay?”
I nodded, and we pushed and pulled Remus to my bedroom, where I had him lie down. I then commanded Sirius to get water while I went to get potions. As we both returned, I cleaned off his face with my wand and then administered various healing potions, and finally a sleeping one. Sirius claimed that he didn’t know what spell hit him, just that it hit him hard. I repaired a few bones, a bit haphazardly but well enough, and then Sirius and I left him to rest. I prayed Remus would get a peaceful sleep, and that the bones I had set would heal properly.
“You’re okay? Tell me you’re okay.” My voice was shaking. Sirius nodded, and I continued, “Okay, let’s get you some dry clothes. And some soup, would Remus like soup? Oh, he’s asleep, but for you? No, no, I’ll make something else. What do you want? Maybe if I just, you’re okay, right?” I was pacing furiously, opening cabinets then closing them. “No, yes, I’ll make something. Coffee, may-”
“SEPH!” He walked up to me, putting his hands on my shoulders firmly. “It’s okay. We’re fine, I’m fine.” He was looking down at me with stormy eyes and I couldn’t determine his expression.
“I just... I don’t know what to do.” I brought trembling hands to his face, his jaw, then his shoulders. I wanted to know he was okay.
“You’ve done everything perfectly. Remus owes you big. Now, those dry clothes?” He gave a half-hearted attempt to smile, which I returned equally feabley.
I rushed off then to find him something. He changed while I made tea. At last, both dry and slightly calmer, we sat at my table. “Now Sirius. Tell me what happened to you.”
He sighed. Not out of frustration, merely to prepare for the retelling of his harrowing adventures. I did not interrupt him once. “So yesterday ago, when I left, I was assigned with Remus and a couple other blokes to track down this Death Eater, Avery. Apparently he’s new to the ranks or something, but he had done some pretty serious shit to some muggleborns who lived to tell the tale. Anyway, Remus and I actually tracked him to this bar in the scummy part of London. Unfortunately, they knew we were coming. It turned into a massive duel, Remus and I were so busy trying to make sure the muggles were okay and what not we just... we let them get away. Remus got hit. And I brought him here.” He looked disappointed with himself.
“You did your best, and at least everyone’s okay.”
He shook his head, clearly frustrated. “No, the Order will be so let down...”
I reached out to take his hand. “I’m just... I’m just so happy you’re all right.” It was always so tempting, when Sirius got back from his missions, to add on and please don’t ever do that to me again. I was so worried. But I knew it wouldn’t do anything. So instead I smiled and kissed his cheek. Then I got out some of the extra blankets so that we could sleep on the pull-out couch. It took some maneuvering in the cramped room, but we made it work.
Before sleeping, we laid facing each other. His hand found my cheek, which he cupped softly. “I love you, Seph.”
I smiled. “I love you, too.” I kissed him lightly before moving in to cuddle, his arms wrapping protectively around me. Again I felt the safety of his embrace.
I did love him. I loved his laugh and his spontaneity. I loved the way he ate like a pig, and the way he cared about his friends. I loved that he was so willing to fight for his beliefs, even though this same trait annoyed me so. I loved the way he breathed in his sleep, the soft and peaceful sounds that contrasted with his boisterous attitude while awake. I loved him.
I woke up long before the two exhausted men. First I checked on Remus, who was still breathing peacefully. He had scars on his face, but who could know if they were there before or if they were the work of the Death Eaters? I then moved back into the kitchen to start quietly making something for breakfast. I was grateful it was Sunday, so the shop was closed. I wouldn’t have to deal with the broken potions or silly customers until later.
I made a meal of bacon, eggs, and toast. I wasn’t really sure whether it would be kinder to wake Sirius up for the food while it was hot or to let him get some extra hours of rest.
“Something smells good.” said Sirius. I looked over to the opened couch to see him sitting up, rubbing his eyes.
“Good morning! Come on over and grab some of this food, you must be starved.” I made two heaping plates of food and set them on the table.
As he walked past me to sit down, he kissed my forehead. “You’re an angel, you know that?” he said, before he began shoveling the food into his mouth.
I smiled. “Remus seems to be doing fine. That potion should wear off soon and then he’ll wake up.”
Sirius nodded. “I’ll probably have to go to headquarters with him. They’re probably worried sick, but I didn’t want to crash there last night.”
Probably drawn out by the smell of bacon, Demeter came into the room. I got out some food for her and then sat back down. “You could send them an owl and just relax here all day instead,” I suggested hopefully. I knew, however, there was no chance of that happening.
“I can’t do that Seph, sorry. We’ll wait until Remus wakes up though and has some food.”
I nodded, and tried to return his smile.
“Oh, by the way! Are you getting ready for the wedding? Lily really wants to make sure you’re there.” Sirius grinned, as he always did when he mentioned the wedding of his best friend.
“Of course I’ll be there. You’re the best man, after all, and I can’t leave you without a date.” I welcomed the change of subject. Speaking about a happy occasion like a wedding seemed so much nicer than talking about the Order.
“Oh, well, I mean, with my charm I’m sure I could find someone else last minute.” He wiggled his eyebrows.
I laughed, “Oh yes, all that charm you have. Now I definitely have to go, I can’t have another woman with my man.”
“Your man? And they say men treat women like objects. You’d think you just dated me for my looks.” He pouted a little, and it was adorable.
“Definitely. You’re my trophy guy, why else would I keep you around? Certainly not for your table manners.” I sent a pointed glance to his hand, which was putting an unreasonably large bite of eggs into his mouth.
“I’m no worse than Demeter!” He then sent his own glance to Demeter, who had her face practically buried in her food.
“You’re right, I am utterly surrounded by slobs.”
He winked at me, then cleared the table. “There, that was helpful. Now you have two reasons for keeping me around.”
I laughed again, and followed him to the sink. “I think I can live with that.” I reached up and kissed him. Together we waited for Remus to wake, so we could make sure he was all right.
Though I had never been to a wedding before, I recognized that the Potter wedding was truly beautiful. They had it outside, in a beautiful garden that sat outside the traditional Potter Manor. Under a blue sky and surrounded by trees swaying in the wind, the scene could have been from a wedding in those movies I watched in muggle studies.
Sirius and I walked in to the garden together, his hand on the small of my back. He looked quite dashing, as always, in his tuxedo. I said quietly to him, “Are you nervous for your toast?”
He chuckled, “Nah, I think I can handle this.”
I smiled at his confidence. He went to take his place with James as the best man, while I found a seat alone. I had worn floaty pale green dress, signifying my joy that spring had come at last. The sun shone brightly over the array of flowers and reflected off the ladies’ hats.
I knew no one but the people I had met at dinner and Sirius, but I could tell that most at the wedding were wealthy. Clearly the Potters were one of those old magical families. The little old ladies in their finery reminded me almost exactly of my grandmother. I enjoyed my time in the warm spring breeze watching the men and women walked by me. The smiles and laughter made me forget about the war for an afternoon, and it was a welcome relief.
As the ceremony began, I caught Sirius’ eye and smiled. However, once Lily came into view, it was actually impossible to not look at her. In classic Lily style (from how I’d seen her in the last few months) she wore a simple but elegant gown. Her fiery red hair was in a sophisticated knot at the nape of her neck, and it seemed to radiate in the sun. I managed to take a peek at James though. He was grinning ear to ear, amazed at the beauty of his very soon to be wife.
Lily had watery eyes almost immediately, while James just looked slightly dazed. Maybe I’m just emotional, but as I watched them give their vows, I couldn’t help but cry a little. And perhaps I imagined it, but I could have sworn I saw Sirius wipe something from his eye.
Following the ceremony, we were all ushered into a section of the garden with tables, chairs, a buffet, and a dance floor. Sirius found me and we took our seats, and watched, silently in awe, as the couple danced. Both were blissful and carefree, and to watch such happiness is mesmerizing.
When the floor opened to general use, Sirius offered me his hand, “Milady, a dance?”
I smiled, and accepted wordlessly. His hand on my waist and mine on his shoulder, we swayed and moved without purpose or plan. Occasionally I would look up to meet his now happily light grey eyes, but mostly we just moved, cheerful to be at peace and with each other. Now and then Sirius would hum along in my ear or spin me. At one point, he attempted to dip me, but I lacked the grace to pull it off.
At last it was time for the toast. Sirius clinked his glass and rose, “In third year, Lily and James had the odd misfortune of being paired for potions. Neither had shared more than two words with each other before this. James always took the approach of just throwing things into cauldrons willy-nilly. Naturally, Lily, as a potions whiz, wasn’t too happy with this. Throughout the hour Remus here and I watched with increasing amusement as Lily became more and more red and frustrated with James’ fooling around and haphazard attempts. Finally, at the end of class, the cauldron exploded. Literally exploded. Slughorn gave them a zero, a first for Lily. With surprising strength she punched James in the jaw and then proceeded to walk off in an angry huff. As we walked to our next class, with a bruise growing on his chin, James turns to me and says, ‘Pads, I’m gonna marry that girl someday.’” Sirius paused as the audience chuckled. Lily was bright red, and James was laughing at his best friend. “I didn’t believe it then. But now, having seen them bring each other so much happiness and love, I can’t imagine it any other way. James is a brother to me, and I’m so proud of him for getting the girl of his dreams. Thank Merlin Lily was okay with lowering her standards.” More laughter. “To wrap up an annoyingly long toast, I’m so happy for you two. You are the perfect couple, and have a brilliantly bright future ahead of you. To that future!” The audience echoed and everyone clapped and drank.
“That was a very nice toast Sirius, as expected.” I said to him as he sat down.
“Why thank you Sephie, thank you. I meant every word.” He put his napkin in his lap then took my hand in his.
“I know you did, babe.” I kissed his cheek before digging in to some delicious food.
If only we knew then the tragedies and struggles to come, we would realize that his toast, though at the time kind and hopeful, in hindsight is filled with sorrow.
A/N: So you all know by now that I don't always do these notes here, but I thought it only fair to inform you, my faithful reader, that there will be two more chapters following this one. Then, depending on REVIEWS I may decide to do a sequel. It'll all make sense later.
Regardless, thanks for reading, thanks for sticking by Sephie and Sirius. I appreciate it. Now, if you want to make me even happier than I already am, you may write a word or two in the box below. Yes, yes, authors begging for reviews is super annoying. But the last chapter didn't get any and it made me sad.
So again, to end this annoying long author's note, thanks a bunch for reading!
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