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Chapter 5 : Haunted
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The young man peered around through wide, terrified eyes. His breathing slowed with forced control as he took one step into the opening. A soft wind blew through the air in small whispers. His dark hair covered his alerted eyes as he quickly ran his hand through it to make his vision completely clear. It was too deserted; too quiet.
He ran from the hedges and across the square, past a small church and graveyard which looked dead and dismal in the dark of the night. His glare turned from the church and set upon another small path that took him away from the square. He stopped dead in his tracks. The wind seemed to have died along with his steps. His heart was the only thing that he could feel; hear. Slowly, he put his hand inside his black leather jacket and pulled out his wand.
“Lumos” he whispered and immediately the tip was ignited with a soft golden light lightening his path. One foot was put in front of the other as his eyes fixed upon a certain house. The closer he came to it, the more uneven his breaths became. He was losing control. His heart was pounding faster than ever and breaking in shards. His wand shook in front of him- not from the cold; but from fear and dread as his feet became level with the dark green homely gate that lay ajar. He stared at the darkened house. His eyes became tearful and he restrained a sob that was travelling up through his throat. With a trembling hand he pushed the gate slightly; hearing it creak in the eerie silence. Now his feet were on a cobblestone path stretching in front all the way up to a brown door that was off its hinges and blocked the entrance into the house. The front living room windows were smashed and a strong smell of smoke made Sirius’ nose sting.
He knew it. They can’t have survived. But hope made him take a few more steps until he was able to climb over the door and enter the very silent house. All was dark. He could see nothing. He stepped into the hall and found the light switch on the wall; but it didn’t work. Slowly and more cautiously he walked further when he tripped over something solid. Shaking, he directed the wand light towards the object and to his horror-
It was James Potter- grey faced, eyes wide and glassy, lying motionless on his back, staring straight up to the ceiling.
“No!” breathed Sirius as he bent down on his knees beside James, “No James!” he cried. He stared horrified and grief-stricken into his best friend’s hazel eyes as the memories of their friendship flashed in and out of his mind. He gripped James shoulders and shook him, hoping he was playing a sick joke. But as James’ glassy stare did not change, Sirius gradually stopped shaking him and collapsed onto James chest and cried. This was his best friend, his brother, his companion and his family that lay cold and dead; never to breathe or laugh or help him play mischievous pranks ever again. It’s all my fault! Sirius lifted his head and looked down at James, gently moving some of his hair out of his eyes but-
Suddenly! The glassy dead hazel eyes moved in a jerk and glared at Sirius. Sirius jumped back terrified, dropping his wand. The ghost of James Potter rose slowly- still looking at Sirius in silence.
“Your fault” the ghost hissed in a different grave voice. Sirius whimpered in shock and backed up against the wall.
“No!” he cried aloud, “No”
But the ghost did not take heed to Sirius’ words and hurdled straight at him with the high pitched, screeching scream that would have had the power to kill anyone who heard it. Everything went black...
Sirius yelled and jumped up out of his sleep. He thrashed about in his covers before he realised he was in his bed, in Grimmauld Place and not in Godric’s Hollow. Sweat dripped from his forehead and chest, he was breathing hard and with shaking hands he roughly wiped the sweat off his brow.
He looked around the room; all was peaceful and normal. Sirius lay slowly back down on his pillow, staring up at the ceiling just as James had done in his dream; his nightmare. The picture of James’ dead body roamed in front of Sirius’ vision- paining him. Also like the dream, he clutched his chest, feeling the mighty speed his heart was beating and thinking it was not too healthy for a heart to be pounding that fast. Glimpsing at the clock beside his bed, it read 3.00am exactly. Sirius sighed, closing his eyes, knowing for a fact he would not be able to get to sleep now for the rest of the night.
Pulling his covers back he pulled himself up. The shock of the dream still lingered all over his body. He looked down blithely at his hands and saw that they were shaking uncontrollably. Yet he drove to ignore it and got dressed. He walked out of the room and down the stairs to the first floor and dragged himself exhaustedly into the cold kitchen that now sat gleaming. After years of sitting in his own filth Sirius was sure as hell not going to sit in it here; even though it was a place he profoundly despised, and yet, was somewhat glad to have a house elf at his command.
Opening a glasses cupboard, Sirius searched for what he felt would, in a way make him feel better- alcohol. He eventually found the twenty year old firewhiskey that was as dusty as the house had been when he returned. Blowing and wiping the dust away Sirius grabbed a shot glass and sat solemnly at the kitchen table. It was deadly quiet and that painfully reminded him of the night he found James dead. How the eerie silence was so similar to the eerie silence at Godric’s Hollow twelve years ago.
Immediately his mind went back to that night- he downed a shot- he stepped away from James, shaking and sobbing- he down another shot- remembering Lily and Harry, he looked up the stairs; it was dark and smoke lingered in the air- another shot- he hurried up the stairs two at a time dreading what he was about to see. Harry’s bedroom door lay ajar and the smoke seemed thicker. Covering his mouth with his jacket Sirius pushed the door open and squinted through the haze. He sobbed harder into his jacket as the body of Lily Evans lay on the floor just a lifeless as her husband. Sirius ran to the window and smashed it open with his elbow to let air into the room so he could see Lily better. Her slim figure lay in an awkward position and Sirius moved her into a position that he felt wouldn’t cause her any pain if she was alive. Her fiery red hair was the only thing about her that seemed to live; its colour shone even in the dark- even in death. Suddenly Sirius heard a soft cry- Sirius downed another shot- his eyes widened and his gaze shot straight to the cot that stood against the wall. He stood up and hurried over to find baby Harry- another shot- “Harry!” Sirius cried and picked the baby and held him in his arms. The baby cried harder and Sirius soothed him- another shot- he left the room with one last look at Lily, ran down the stairs, one last look at James, picked up his wand and left the house- another shot.
The bottle was half empty and Sirius was feeling less than happy. The images of James and Lily swam painfully in front of him. Tears welled up as guilt exploded inside him. Guilt then brought despair as his thoughts turned to Lucia, the despair he felt turned to rage and jealousy as he thought of Remus, rage and jealousy turned to sadness as his memories with Remus, James- even Peter roamed freely to taunt him. Everything exploded at once and a heart wrenching cry sounded throughout the kitchen coming from Sirius. But even as he felt hopeless and weak; he still had the strength to lift the bottle and pour himself another shot as memories of James and Lily, Lucia and Remus, his abusive father and negligent mother, his life in Azkaban all haunted him till the sun peaked through the window and brought a little warmth into the kitchen.
Annabelle Swann handed her daughter a nice warm cup of comforting tea, setting it down in front of Lucia watching her closely. Mrs Swann was, like Lucia, beautiful but her perfect face showed significant signs of aging. Her long elegantly whitening hair lay softly in waves just brushing her shoulders. Her eyes were a dark shade of blue like her daughters; it was safe to say that Lucia Swann was the spitting image of her mother. Her father, however, was the complete opposite. His thick greying hair was once a dark brown in his younger days; his eyes were the colour of mahogany and full of wisdom. He was a tall man, masculine and broad. In his late teens and twenties he played Quidditch professionally, eventually retiring in his late thirties to become a very respected member high up in the Department of Magical Games and Sports for the Ministry. As Lucia slowly looked up from the table and set her tired eyes upon her father; he was sitting brooding in his chair, staring fixedly at his cup of tea which seemed to have cooled down quickly. He hadn’t looked up once at his daughter.
“Maurice, your tea dear” spoke Mrs Swann quietly as she seated herself on an empty seat, looking at her husband through wary eyes. The silence could have been cut with a knife. Maurice Swann lifted his cup of tea slowly, almost robotically, still staring at the spot his cup had sat. He took a small sip and set it down.
“Father, please say something” Lucia said through a small cracked voice. His daughter’s voice must have triggered something and brought him back. He blinked twice, finally acknowledging the silent company of his wife and daughter. His eyes which had tiny winkles in the corners darted towards Lucia; his expression unmistakably blank.
“What does Remus think about this?” he finally said as though every word that came out of his mouth, he was trying to control so that his lividness would not unleash itself on his innocent wife and daughter.
“Of course he’s- he’s furious about it. He’s with Dumbledore as we speak” Lucia said, glancing at her mother.
“And I suppose they are planning to catch him are they? Planning on trying to find a wizard who has been missing now for two weeks without a trace?” Lucia knew her father would snap any second. He absolutely hated Sirius Black with a passion. As long as Lucia can remember, her father never took kindly to him- she never knew why.
“Well- yes” Lucia said uncertainly
“And why, my daughter am I only hearing now that, that man,” he pronounced through gritted teeth, “visited you the night he escaped?” Maurice said with controlled calmness. Lucia’s eyes caught her mothers.
“I- I didn’t want to worry you father” she said truthfully
Maurice looked back down from his daughters tearful eyes. He sighed deeply, quickly glancing at his watch, “Your brothers will be here soon” he said and took a larger gulp of his tea like it was a shot of firewhiskey and as Lucia watched her father’s face; looking unpleasantly into his cup of tea, she knew he wished it was. Lucia felt her mother’s hand resting upon hers. It was warm and motherly and comforting and a small smile formed in her lips as her mother smiled back at her. Like her father said, soon they all heard loud pop! sounds outside the kitchen and in seconds in walked two tall men, broad and muscular and the spitting image of their father. The taller one of the two though, had dark brown hair, while the shorter, only by an inch or two had the exact shade of blonde like his mother and sisters.
“Aeron! Harvey!” Lucia breathed as her two older brothers rushed over to embrace her. Aeron who was the eldest resembled the most of Maurice. He got to Lucia first and held her tight in his arms. His dark eyes stared attentively down at Lucia; his thick hair was combed to the side neatly and smartly, dressed in a grey suit making him look like an important muggle businessman. He was very handsome; both her brother’s were. Aeron’s jawline was strong and square, his nose long and straight giving him a slight resemblance to a perfectly carved statue. He was prim and proper as was his close shave and perfectly cut hair to his newly polished shoes.
“How are you little sister?” he asked kindly, his voice rough and deep like his fathers. To anyone who didn’t know him, would have been greatly shocked at how uncharacteristic his voice sounded in comparison with his looks.
“I’m fine” she smiled. She was so happy to see her bothers; she hadn’t seen them in months.
Aeron let go of her to give his younger brother a turn. Harvey, who up close, resembled both features from his father and mother. His hair was a little longer and messier than Aeron’s. His eyes weren’t as hard as his fathers and bothers yet soft and caring like his mothers. Compared to Aeron, Harvey was simply the- rougher one. He hadn’t shaved in a while, his hands were rough and calloused from hard work, his skin was a little tanner. He smiled down wide at his sister and took her, like Aeron did in his embrace. For Mrs Swann who watched on from the table beamed with joy at the sight of her children. All three of them together again.
However Maurice wasn’t so affectionate about the sibling scene in front of him, “Boys” he said firmly and immediately Aeron and Harvey’s attention shot to their father.
“Sir” they said simultaneously.
“Dining room” Maurice said standing up, making his way around the table. His son’s followed him obediently out through the kitchen, out of sight but before Maurice left, he walked over to his daughter, placing his hand behind her head and pulled her in. He kissed her gently on the forehead and without saying a word; he pulled away and left the two women.
“But father, Lucia won’t want that to happen!” said Harvey but his father and older brother seemed not to have heard him, “Father!”
“Yes son?” Maurice asked indifferently as though Harvey was his five year old self againc ountlessly asking his father the same questions over and over.
“Whatever Sirius has done in the past...I know Lucia... Sirius coming back into her life will spark something-”
“That will not happen!” said Maurice firmly, “As long as I’m still living, that bastard will not get anywhere near my daughter, your sister!”
“Maybe so, but- but what if he is innocent as he says? You will hardly have the power to keep Sirius away”
Both Maurice and Aeron looked at Harvey in shock with half amused expressions, “Are you-Do you actually believe-?”
“Of course I don’t” Harvey said looking down at his feet.
“We have to find Sirius-”
“And what will happen when we do?” asked Aeron, leaning against the large dining room table, his right leg crossed over his left and his arms folded.
“If” said Harvey, still looking down at the ground
“You boys leave that to me” Maurice said quietly. Harvey’s head shot up as Aeron’s expression grew curious. Both sons staring silently towards their father who seemed to be deep in thought.
“You’re- you’re not going to- to do anything stupid?” Harvey asked hesitantly trying to read his father. Maurice looked up, considering his youngest son’s words but said nothing.
“Why have you hated Sirius anyway? Obviously in these circumstances I understand but- even before- I mean, when Lucia and him were teenagers you hated the ground he walked on”
“You ask too many questions Harvey” Aeron teased and nudged his little brother in the ribs.
“He’s a Black! That name is bad news” Maurice said heatedly, “I knew his father, Orion Black, back when I was at Hogwarts. He was a couple years older than I; same age as my brother, your uncle Euan. Always had this- this sadistic urge to hurt people; nasty piece of work and had a history with your uncle”
Maurice looked at both his son’s and smiled affectionately. They looked like eager, meddlesome, expectant little schoolboys again; just as he remembered them. He sighed, wondering whether he should bother to tell them or not. He never talked about his brother’s death to no one- not even Annabelle. But as he stared at his boys; they were men now and so he opened his mouth and tbegan to tell them.
“Since the first day they set eyes on each other on the train ride to Hogwarts; they hated each other ever since; Orion Black- he was the sole reason your uncle was killed!”
“What?” both Aeron and Harvey said in complete shock, “But- how?” said Aeron darting his gaze to his brother then back to his father.
“Dark wizards. Every last one of those blasted rats was as dark as the Killing Curse. Orion Black, along with his beloved wife, Wulburga, was death eaters. Their youngest son became one when he was fifteen; died two years later. From what I heard he was an eager little bugger and so became a follower a year before he should have. I don’t care what anybody says- Sirius Black is no more innocent than his rotten family. A couple years after your uncle left Hogwarts, he bumped into Orion on his travels- both shared some heated words but went their separate directions. One week later I got the news Euan was killed; murdered in fact by none other than Orion Black and his cronies!”
“How the hell did he get away with it?” asked Aeron getting just as heated as his father.
“Oh he was in Azkaban; only 6 months. Funny how money can help with everything-”
“So that’s why you’ve always hated Sirius- because of his father” Harvey spoke quietly, looking at his father then to Aeron.
“He’s a Black son; I hate every bloody one of them!” Maurice growled.
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