Chapter 47 : The Cottage, November 1, 1981
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“No, Mummy,” Althea said, her small fingers clung to the folds of her mother’s robes.
“Everything will be all right,” she murmured and kissed Althea’s cheek. “Go.”
Althea felt her mother pulling her hands from her and she struggled to hold on. “No, no, I won’t!” she sobbed, burying her face in her mother’s robes.
“My love, let go,” she whispered, lifting Althea’s tear-stained face. “I love you…”
Althea took a large gasp of air as she opened her eyes and frantically attempted focus her eyes in the dark room. Sitting up, she immediately felt her stomach and started to cry. A kick from Prudence told her that her daughter was fine. Why would I dream about that, she thought, soothingly massaging her stomach. Why would I dream about my mother’s death? Althea painfully swallowed. It was the second night that week that Althea dreamt of her mother’s death. I’m just so scared, she thought, secretly cursing that Sirius could sleep so peacefully beside her. What were we thinking? Why would we think we would be different? This child…I don’t want to leave her like my mother.
“Sirius! Sirius! Sirius, wake up!” she forced herself to say through her tightened throat.
She turned her head to find her bed empty—his side unmade. Slipping the nightgown over her head, she groaned softly as she stood. She tied her dressing gown as she awkwardly hurried to the bathroom, but he was not there. Maybe he is in another part of the cottage—maybe the kitchen. God, what an awful dream, she thought as she left her bedroom.
“Sirius!” she yelled as she entered the sitting room.
However, he was not there, nor was he in the darkened kitchen. He hadn’t gone, had he? Trembling, from cold and fright, she walked toward the garage adjacent to the cottage. Maybe he was fixing her car, making sure it was safe for the long journey in the morning. She noticed the light was not on in the garage—her spirits began to dwindle. Taking an enormously deep breath, she slowly opened the door, expecting to see the chrome of his motorbike glistening in the moonlight.
“Damn,” she muttered as she saw the empty space and oil puddle.
She knew it would happen—he would leave her. James must have told Sirius something while he was at their hiding place, or maybe he had received a message while she was sleeping—having to leave immediately. Resting her head against the cool doorframe, she began to remember how different he was that night. There was something more agitated about him—he was never that quiet. She had attributed it to the impending flight, but now she believed he was attempting to focus his mind away from what he had to do, which was to leave her. A crossword puzzle—he’s never been able to do a crossword puzzle his entire life, she thought, massaging her stomach. Suddenly, she remembered he had not shown her the crossword puzzle paper—she took his word that he was working on a crossword puzzle. He was not working on a crossword puzzle, he was writing her goodbye.
Wiping the new tears from her eyes, she spoke, “God, how could I have been so stupid?”
What do I do now, she asked herself, looking at her cottage in the moonlight. Do I stay here in England? Do I leave for Bermuda? Damn it! Why couldn’t he have told me? Oh, Gran, you will be so pleased, she thought as she walked toward the garden.
“Didn’t even tell me goodbye,” she whispered, massaging her stomach as she closed the garden gate and walked cobblestone path to the cottage.
The rustling of leaves and the snap of a twig broke her from her morose thoughts. Lifting her head, she looked around—unable to see anything in the dark. Probably just a stray, she thought, even so, she quickened her pace toward the door. Why am I so scared, she thought, laughing to herself, as she took hold of the doorknob. It’s just a bloody stray cat or dog—a gnome even.
“It’s locked,” she muttered, frowning as she jiggled the doorknob. “I don’t remember locking this door…bloody hell,” she continued and slammed her hand against the door.
“You didn’t lock it,” said a cold voice from behind her. “We did.”
Althea quickly caught her breath and continued to jerk at the doorknob.
“Stupid girl,” the man laughed, and from the reflection in the window, Althea saw him raise his wand.
Quickly she ducked, and thrust her shoulder at him, knocking him backward. She started to run through her garden, obviously hindered by her pregnancy. Her legs, cut and bleeding from thorns and branches, carried her to the end of the garden, and as she was about to lift her leg over the low fence, she was hit in the back with a Leg Locker Curse. Horrified, she fell backward into one of her rosebushes and heard a woman cackling.
“Get away from me!” she shouted, flailing her arms as they surrounded her. “HELP!” she screamed as loud as she could as the man magically bound her wrists. “HELP!”
“No one can hear you scream, Muckblood,” he replied, dragging her through various shrubs of her garden.
“LET ME GO!” she shouted as the garden fence tore her dressing gown away from her. “MY BABY!”
“We don’t care,” the woman said coolly as she helped the man attach the bindings to back of his broom. “Stop wiggling—you’re only going to die slower!”
“HELP!” she screamed, suspended between the two brooms as they traveled just low enough to scrape her along the ground. “Help me, please!”
Althea’s bound hands frantically grasped at any low-lying twig or branch in her path. She held as tight as she could until the Death Eaters would speed up, jerking her away. No, she thought as her grip loosened from the waxy evergreen leaves—she screamed.
“We’re almost there, Muckblood, if you’re still alive,” the woman replied and Althea felt the brooms slow.
“Please, let me go,” Althea croaked as they undid the magic bindings attached to the broom. “My baby! Please, my baby!”
“Would you stop talking about your pathetic child!” the man scolded and growled as Althea struggled. “Stupid Muckblood!”
Suddenly, she felt herself lifted off the ground and placed atop of a large, cold stone. Immediately, they magically bound her legs and her wrists to the stone and she struggled to break free—the curse starting to wear off her legs. Wands raised, they advanced on her. Althea inhaled sharply.
“What do you want?”
“In due time,” the man replied with faked sweetness. “Now, cru—”
“ALTHEA!” Sirius shouted in the distance—his voice upset and frightened.
Althea immediately sat to attention. “Sirius!” she whispered excitedly.
A wave of relief enveloped her body. He would find her and she would be safe—their baby would be safe.
“NO!” the woman roared, pointing her wand at Althea. “SILENCIO!”
Althea felt her voice escaping. “No! NO! SIRIUS!” she attempted to scream with her entire body, lurching forward—the bindings cutting into her wrists. “SIRIUS!” she screamed again, her voice remaining silent. “SIRIUS!” she screamed again, regaining the use of her legs and flailing them along with her arms. “SIRIUS!”
Althea heard Sirius—his voice breaking—shout for her. Stinging tears streamed down her scraped cheeks as she continued to shout. She prayed Sirius would just venture farther into the woods; however, he did not and his shouting stopped. Althea let out a ferocious, silent scream—the bindings digging into her wrists…her wrist. Since the pregnancy, Althea had not attempted the Animagus transformation and she did not know the consequences of such an attempt, but she had to try. Althea felt a small shudder—a glimpse of hope—and nothing. She struggled against the bindings that prevented her from the transformation—how did they know?
The couple began to laugh. “He can’t hear you,” the woman said in a singsong voice.
Althea looked at the woman and spat on her mask.
“You little!” she screamed and slapped Althea across the face.
“Never mind!” the man shouted and muttered the counter spell. “We’re here to have a bit of fun, remember?”
“My baby!” Althea pleaded, her body trembling.
“We don’t care,” the woman snorted, pointing her wand at Althea.
“Please,” she breathed, wide-eyed, the tears rolling down her cheeks. “Please!”
“I don’t care,” the woman sneered. “Crucio!
Althea screamed and writhed upon the stone as the intolerable pain coursed through her body. Hot metal knives ripped the flesh from her bones—her bones seeming to break as she felt herself lifted from the stone.
“Having fun?” the woman teased.
Breathing heavily, Althea murmured, “I have to…escape…my baby.” She struggled against her bindings, but they would not loosen.
“You are absolutely boring!” the man said laughingly as he moved closer to Althea. “Where’s your sense of fun?”
“Again,” the woman said with laughter in her voice. “Crucio!”
Althea attempted to turn her stomach away from the full blast of the curse. The searing pain once more coursed through her body, and this time, caused her to vomit on herself. The couple laughed and Althea’s anger grew. If I could just break free, I’d kill them, she thought, looking as the woman rested her head on the man’s shoulder. I’m not going to let them kill us.
“Should we wait around after we’re done with her to see the look on that blood traitor’s face?” the woman asked, stroking the masked man’s cheek. “She’s the worst sort of Muckblood, isn’t she?”
The man nodded, raising his wand. “A lesson needs to be taught to both of them—”
“NOW!” she heard another man shout.
A jet of light coursed through the early morning darkness and erupted around her, deflecting the Death Eater’s curse. From out of the brush came three members of the Order—including Frank Longbottom and Remus. The female Death Eater growled and a fight ensued between the four. Remus, ducking curses, immediately ran to Althea’s side.
“God, Althea,” he whispered, unbinding her wrists. “I’ll take you to St. Mungo’s—”
“No,” she forced herself to say, “Gran’s.”
“Right,” he breathed, stroking the damp hair from her face. Remus cast a Shield Charm over his shoulder. “Place your arms around my neck.”
Too weak to do so, Remus placed her arms around his neck and awkwardly stood with the slumped Althea. Althea felt the squeeze of Side-Along Apparition and the two were at the doors to Northfield. Remus cast his Patronus and it soared high into the air and disappeared toward Gran’s bedroom. In her haze, Althea smiled at the fright Gran must have had to see a large silver wolf in her bedroom. Shortly, Gran arrived at the door.
“Dear God!” she shouted as she looked at Althea. “Bring her in and we’ll take her upstairs. You—”
“You, Mr. Lupin, call a Healer and her Midwife,” Gran demanded as she looked at Althea.
Gran and the servants floated Althea up to a spare bedroom. Instead of resting her on her back, Gran rested her on her side. Gran immediately started to shout out orders to the servants while she sat next to Althea.
Grabbing Gran’s arm, Althea mouthed, “Gran, my baby.”
“Your baby will be fine, child,” she replied and squeezed Althea’s hand.
“Thank you,” Althea mouthed.
Gran kissed Althea’s forehead.
Without wasting anytime, Remus returned with Madam Doula and a Healer. Madam Doula, still in her nightgown, immediately went to examine Althea and her baby. The Healer, newly trained and very agitated, began to heal her wounds. Althea grabbed his arm, motioned to her neck, and he healed her voice.
“Remus,” she said hoarsely, motioning him to sit on the bed with her. “Remus, please sit with me.”
Remus nodded. “Althea, you’re amazing,” he whispered and kissed her forehead.
“Never mind me,” she replied, her voice less hoarse. “You saved my baby.”
Remus smiled sadly and went to squeeze her hand, but thought better of it. He muttered a Healing Charm to the deep cut upon her hand. Althea winced—the noise and bustle of the room was getting to her. However, she had heard Sirius calling for her. Where was he? Had someone notified him that she was all right? He needed to be here for her and the baby. She needed him—she could not go through this without him.
“Sirius? Where’s Sirius?” she asked, looking into Remus’s eyes. “Is he all right?”
“He’s fine, Althea,” he replied tenderly, stroking the hair out of her face.
“Please, our baby—the baby will be born. He needs to be here with me,” she said anxiously as Madam Doula frowned at her abdomen. “Please.”
“He can’t be here,” he replied, “but everything is okay. Don’t worry.”
Althea gritted her teeth as the Healer mended the largest gash. “How—how’s my baby?”
“Your baby’s fine…for now,” Madam Doula replied, resting her hand upon Althea’s bare abdomen. “But we will have to induce labor…it’s not safe for her to be in your womb anymore.”
“I know,” she said as the Healer mended the last of the marks on her body. Althea felt an awful stabbing pain that started in her back and radiated through her abdomen—she shuddered and yelped.
“Sorry,” the Healer muttered.
Althea caught her breath and nodded. “Do what must be done,” she murmured. Her eyes followed Madam Doula as she took the Inducing Potion from her bag. “Will I be all right?” she asked as Madam Doula poured out the Inducing Potion.
“Drink this,” she replied, handing Althea a small glass of the thick purple potion.
Althea drank the potion and made a face. “Disgusting,” she muttered as Madam Doula cast an Infusion Charm.
Gran had shooed all from the room except for the four. Now we wait, she thought, looking herself over. The gashes and abrasions along her arms and legs had healed with silvery pink scars that would fade with time and ointments. Where is he, she wondered as Gran wiped the dirt from Althea’s face with a damp cloth. What could be more important? Indeed, what could be more important for Sirius to miss the birth of his child after Althea had been tortured? Althea looked toward Remus who sat upon the edge of the bed. His usual pleasant smile was replaced with a pensive, nervous expression. He doesn’t want to tell me, she thought, rolling the corner of the blanket between her thumb and forefinger. It was a trap and he’s dead.
“I think I should leave,” Remus said, resting his hand upon hers. “You need your rest, and I don’t think I’m particularly welcome here.”
“No,” she said, grabbing his hand. “I need you here with me, Remus.”
“Althea, it’s not appropriate. I’m—”
“It’s not a bloody full moon.”
Remus laughed quietly. “I’m not the father,” he whispered.
“Well, he’s not here,” she said, not letting go of Remus’s hand. “You don’t have to stay for the birth, but until then…don’t leave, please.”
“Right,” he replied and kissed her damp forehead.
Sore, dazed, and still hazy from poppy juice, Althea woke. “Where’s my baby?” she asked, slowly opening her eyes. Althea blinked the grit from her blurry eyes as they adjusted to the early afternoon sun. “Where is she?” she asked, sitting up.
Remus carefully eased himself upon the bed. “She’s with Gran,” he said, and laughed quietly.
“I helped—well, Gran forced me to help—with Prudence’s first bath.”
Althea smiled tiredly at Remus’s proud expression. “If only she knew,” she teased and winked.
“Shh, don’t tell her,” he replied with mock concern, looking around the room. “She might hex me out of the house.”
“Oh, she only saves that for one special person,” she replied, stretching her legs, but stopping as it hurt. “Did she start with the, ‘I like you better than the other one,’ routine?”
“Actually, she did,” he answered, raising an eyebrow. “Does she use it often?”
“Of course,” she said and sighed, bringing her heavy hand to the side of her face. “Is Sirius here yet?” she asked, absently rubbing her cheek.
Remus shook his head. “No, now rest,” he said, patting her hand.
“You stayed here the entire time,” she said, squeezing his hand. “Thank you.”
Remus, his expression strained, forced a smile.
“What is wrong? Remus—”
“Get out!” Gran yelled. “Get out!”
Althea laughed. “I reckon the father’s here,” she said, smiling and sitting forward.
Remus, pale, leapt from the bed with wand at his side.
Althea frowned at him. “Remus, it’s—”
“Ministry!” a man yelled and entered the bedroom.
“Let me handle this,” Remus said quietly and stood. “This woman’s just had a child. Can’t it wait until tomorrow?”
“Nope,” the man said brusquely, walking past Remus and sitting in a chair next to bed. Taking out a quill and paper, he spoke, “Mr. Ness, ma’am, with Magical Law Enforcement. I need a statement from you.”
“A statement? A statement about the attack?” she asked and took a deep breath. “I’m not sure I’m ready to give it, sir. I’m not—”
“No, no,” he replied, waving his hand. “A statement on one Sirius Black.”
The blood drained from Althea’s face and torso. “Sirius, is he all right?” she asked, looking at the man who did not seem to show her concern. “Is my Sirius okay? Is that why—Remus, what—”
“He’s fine but those twelve Muggles aren’t,” the man quipped, resting his quill against the parchment.
“What—what are you talking about?” she asked—narrowing her eyes—looking from Remus to the man. “What twelve Muggles?”
The man rolled his eyes, obviously annoyed by Althea’s ignorance. “Yesterday, Sirius Black killed twelve Muggles with a single curse,” he answered flatly. “Now we need—”
“WHAT?” she shrieked, sitting up higher in bed. “No! You’re mistaken,” she said, vigorously shaking her head. “My Sirius wouldn’t—you’re wrong!”
Remus rushed to her side and placed his hands upon her shoulders. “Come on, Althea, rest.”
“No!” she said, swatting Remus’s hands away. “Sirius Black would not harm Muggles—”
“Mr. Ness, can’t you see this is upsetting her?”
“Absolute madness!” she breathed, her eyes wide.
“He saved those Muggle children!” she said, slamming her hand upon the bed.
“—and you’ll have your deposition later,” Remus finished.
Ness vigorously shook his head. “No, sorry,” he said, leaning back in the chair. “If I don’t get it now, I will have take you both into my custody.”
“You would put a woman who had just given birth into custody?” he asked with an obvious tone of disgust. “In Azkaban?”
“No choice,” Ness replied, taking the quill into his hand. “Now, what was your relationship to Black?”
Althea’s mind swam in confusion. Sirius a murderer? Clearly, this man was mistaken. Not her Sirius. There had to be some other explanation, but how could she explain it? What a horrible accusation to make against him, she thought, sweeping the slightly mattered hair from her face. It couldn’t possibly be true. Somehow, his family found out about our baby. This is how they are punishing him—making up atrocious lies. This is only to scare me—they orchestrated this whole thing. Sirius will be here soon to take care of this.
“Obviously, you should know—it’s in your Ministry records.”
“Althea, this isn’t the time,” Remus whispered.
Althea sighed and frowned. “We were married in a Muggle ceremony,” she said, hoping the man would realize the ridiculousness of the accusation. “Over a year ago.”
The revelation did not discourage the man. “How long have you had a relationship with Black?”
“Off and on?”
The Official nodded.
“Off and on, five almost six years,” she replied as she watched the man take notes.
“What did he do for a living?”
Althea shrugged. “Nothing,” she answered and looked around the room. “This is sort of my house.”
The man clicked his teeth and muttered, “Clever…clever.”
“Right, Miss Morrigan, where were you Halloween and yesterday?”
“I was here, of course.”
“Was Black at your home as well on Halloween?”
“Did he leave at any point?”
“Yes, he went to—”
“Thank you, Miss Morrigan. Could you tell me—”
“No, let me finish,” Althea said angrily, sitting up.
She did not like where the questioning was heading—he had to know the truth. Someone in the Ministry would find it convincing and would drop the accusations—she could not let his family win.
Remus attempted to hold her down. “No, I have to say this,” she growled, pushing Remus away from her.
“Miss Morrigan it’s not necessary—”
“Yes, it is!”
Ness let a condescending sigh escape. “Proceed.”
Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and began, “I had asked him to take a letter to the Potters and after breakfast he left. He didn’t return until seven-thirty that evening, but with good reason.”
She opened her eyes and noticed the Ministry Official was not writing any of it on his parchment.
“Please write this down,” she demanded, pointing to his parchment.
“Miss Morrigan, this isn’t necessary,” he explained, “and I doubt it will make any difference.”
“It will make a difference for his trial,” she replied and observed a smirk emerging across the Official’s face. “He is getting a trial, isn’t he?” she asked, looking at the Ness and then at Remus. “He’s getting a trial?”
Remus shook his head. “No, Althea, he’s already in Azkaban.”
Althea sank against the pillows. “You knew?”
Remus refused to look at her. “You were in no condition—”
“You know it false, Remus,” she said, grabbing his sleeve. “You know it isn’t true!” she said, shaking his sleeve. “Sirius would never—”
“Finish your deposition,” he said quietly, his eyes wet, “please.”
Her eyes welled with tears and she shut them tightly, causing the tears to painfully press against her eyelids. This cannot be happening; he deserves a trial. Even Death Eaters with damning evidence had trials. He can’t go to Azkaban, she thought, her stomach overcome with poppy juice and stress. Althea covered her mouth and winced as she forcefully swallowed the caustic, foul liquid.
“But why—why won’t he have a trial?”
Ness laughed, but quickly stopped as Remus glared at him. “Miss Morrigan, the Ministry found Black—with his wand in his hand—in the middle of an exploded street with dead and dying Muggles all around him. The Muggle testimony alone was enough to convict him in any court.”
If only she had her wand, she would have blasted that Ministry Official across the room! An exploded street? A natural gas line break. It had to have been a natural gas line break. At thirteen, when she was on holiday in America with her father, she remembered the article about the natural gas line break in the local Muggle newspaper. An entire residential street exploded and caught on fire. There was a leak in the line and a spark set off a chain reaction. Those pictures were graphic and terrifying—it had to have been the same thing. Sirius did not cause the explosion—anything could have caused the explosion.
“Eye witnesses get it wrong, you know,” she continued heatedly. “Where are these eye witnesses?”
“Safe and their minds Obliviated,” he replied, smiling.
His condescending smile sickened her. “How can you do this to him? He’s innocent! You’ve given trials to people who have done worse! How convenient for you to Obliviate their minds! No problem of contradicting testimony!” she shouted, clutching the blankets and pretending the blankets were that man’s neck.
“Althea, please, this isn’t Muggle law,” Remus whispered in her ear. “He’ll throw you in Azkaban, too, if you’re not careful. Remember your daughter.”
Althea paled. “Fine,” she whispered, scowling at the Official. “I’ll finish with my statement. As I was saying, he was visiting his best friend for the last time—the last time before we went to Bermuda to go into hiding ourselves. He spent so much time at their home because Lily was sewing our daughter’s name onto a baby blanket she made for her—don’t you dare think of interrupting me! You can ask James and Lily yourself—they’ll verify it,” she continued and wondered why the Official had given her an odd look. Disregarding it, she continued, “He returned around seven-thirty, and we had a lovely evening together. When I woke, it was almost midnight and I went outside looking for him. He had gone.”
“Yes, gone,” she sighed with aggravation. “He left me, all right? Wizards leave their families everyday to protect them from,” she continued and sighed as she said Voldemort’s name, “You-know-who.”
The Official sighed and rolled his eyes. “Miss Morrigan, after everything that has happened to you, you can’t possibly believe that Black honestly cared for your well-being,” Ness sneered, folding his parchment.
“Are you insinuating that he left me to be tortured by those Death Eaters?” she asked, lurching forward. “Look, he was screaming my name! I heard him! He’d returned to the cottage to find me! I heard him screaming my name when the Death Eaters tortured me!”
“Is there anyone to verify this?” the Official asked, raising an eyebrow.
Althea’s stomach sank. “The Death Eaters that tortured me—”
Althea’s eyes widened. “You will give them a trial?” she said, her voice waspish. “Sirius deserves—”
“I heard him! Isn’t that good enough?” she pleaded and covered her face with her hands. Remus wrapped his arms around her as she continued to cry in his lap.
“Obviously she’s delirious,” the Official snorted, directing his comment to Remus.
“I’M NOT DELIRIOUS!” she sobbed, pulling at Remus’a robes.
“I think it best you leave,” Remus said, stroking Althea’s back.
“I haven’t finished my deposition—”
“I think it’s best if you leave,” he repeated heatedly. “She’s been through enough! She doesn’t need more.”
“That’s fine,” the Official said shortly, standing. “I have one last question, though. Where is the child now?”
“Dead,” Remus said angrily. “The child is dead—now leave this grieving mother alone!”
With a pop, the Ministry Official was gone. Breathing heavily, Althea slowly sat up. How? How could Sirius have done those things? How could he have murdered all those people? There had to have been some explanation. Maybe the eyewitnesses were mistaken. Maybe it was an accident. Natural gas had accumulated and a spark shot out from his wand, igniting the explosion. A cigarette could have caused the explosion, or igniting the pilot light on a stove. Maybe another witch or wizard was in the area and concocted an illegal potion in his or her flat. Some of the obscure, illegal potions were so dangerous, the slightest tremor caused a powerful explosion. Refined poppy juice, a highly addictive Wizarding drug, was one of those potions. Not only was it highly addictive, it was illegal and the process to refine it was highly dangerous. Explosions were common in the refined poppy juice trade, and medicinal poppy juice was strictly regulated. Moreover, she read in the Muggle newspaper that the Muggle government was having its own problems with dissenters. A group upset with the Muggle government could have caused the explosion in attempts to make new bombs. There were so many possibilities. It could not have been her Sirius—her Sirius that was so gentle and loving—the father-to-be Sirius, the godfather to little Harry. He was a man that risked his life for Muggles. It was a mistake—a horrible mistake.
Althea took a deep breath and looked into Remus’s eyes. “I’ll fight for him, Remus. It’s not fair they locked him up so quickly. He needs a trial. Bloody hell, if anyone would vouch for him it ought to be James.”
Remus’s faced paled. “Althea—”
“James must know immediately,” she said and sniffed. “He’ll right this—”
“Althea,” he said quietly, taking her hand—his eyes bright with tears. “Althea, James and Lily are dead.”
“No, they’re not,” she snorted, pointing to the baby blanket next to her. “Lily is not dead. I don’t know what you’re—”
“Althea, they’re gone,” he replied, looking into her eyes.
Althea saw the pain in his eyes and took a ragged breath.
Her eyes widened as Remus roughly wiped his eye. “They’re—”
“Oh God!” she whispered, covering her mouth. “What…no…not my Lily!”
Remus nodded and she started to shake.
“But—but they were safe…Sirius said they were safe,” she reassured, wrapping her arms around her trembling upper body.
Remus turned his face away, took a deep breath, and released it loudly. “Sirius was their Secret Keeper, Althea. Only Sirius could tell another person where James and Lily were hiding. Althea, Sirius told Voldemort.”
“No!” she growled, slamming her fists against the mattress. “Voldemort? Sirius, tell Voldemort where our best friends were hiding—not to mention his godson? No!”
“Althea,” he said, resting his hands on her trembling shoulders. “Althea, he was the spy. Peter caught him in the street full of Muggles to confront him. Sirius killed Peter and those twelve Muggles—”
“NO!” she shouted, hitting his arms away from her. “I will not have you say that about Sirius! It’s mad—absolutely mad! He loved James! He loved Lily! He spent more time with Harry than he spent with me! He hated Voldemort! How many times has he risked his life for James? Why would he kill him?”
“Listen to me, he was the spy. I see it now—all of us see it now. He was getting information that none of us could get—”
“No,” she growled.
“James trusted Sirius—we all trusted Sirius—but he betrayed them—”
“Maybe he did it because I was being tortured! I heard him calling for me! He sounded so frightened and upset!” She covered her face with her hands.
He loved James more than anything…more than her. The Potters had taken him in and given him a chance at a normal life. He proudly introduced Althea to them and they treated him as a son. He could not have been the spy. He was just as devastated as James when James’s parents died. What could have changed? Althea suddenly gasped and felt the bile seep into the throat once more. No, no, he could not have done that. She shook her head and painfully swallowed. She had killed Lily and James. She had killed her best friend. He had promised he would never let anything happen to her—that he would protect her no matter what. Sirius had chosen her life, the life of their child, over his best friend. Why would he think that okay, she thought, clenching her teeth. Knowing, that for the rest of my life, I will know the only reason I’m alive is due to the death of Lily and James.
“He wasn’t the spy—he traded my life for theirs,” she said, new tears streaming down her face. “I killed Lily and James,” she added and started to sob violently once more.
“No,” he replied, resting his head atop hers—holding her tightly. “You did not kill Lily and James. They were already dead when you were tortured—they had died Halloween night.”
“Harry!” she said frantically, grabbing his shoulders. “What happened to Harry? He’s dead too?”
Remus pulled away from her and smiled sadly. “No, Harry is alive,” he replied softly, smoothing the wet hair away from her face. “Somehow Harry survived Voldemort’s curse, and in the process destroyed Voldemort. Voldemort is no more.”
“No more,” she breathed and Remus nodded. “My Harry? My little Harry defeated Voldemort?” she said in amazement—a small smile emerging across her face. “How is that possible?”
Remus shrugged. “We don’t know.”
It was the second happy feeling she felt in two days. How could he, a baby, have defeated the most powerfully evil wizard of the century? New tears trickled down her face as she thought how proud Lily and James would have been. For years, the most powerful of wizards and witches had tried to defeat him, but it was little Harry that defeated him.
Althea roughly wiped the tears from her cheeks and looked at Remus. “Where is he? I need to see him; he has no one—”
“You’ll have to take that up with Dumbledore,” he replied, squeezing her hand. “Oh, look who Gran has,” he added, softly smiling.
Althea welcomed Gran’s arrival into the room. No more talk of this, she thought as she sat back on the bed and opened her arms to receive her daughter. I have to be strong and keep this out of my mind now for Harry and Prudence’s sakes. I can’t fall apart…my daughter needs me…Harry needs me. We are safe and that is all that matters now. My testimony will help Sirius. It will come right…and we’ll be together.
Althea’s throat painfully tightened as she feigned a weak smile. “Look at you,” she whispered, mustering every ounce of happiness, as Gran handed her the sleeping bundle. “You’re all bathed and smell so lovely,” she said softly and kissed her daughter’s forehead.
Gazing at her daughter, the oppressive feelings of grief were temporarily overwhelmed by the feelings of love for the newborn. Prudence had just arrived in this world—it was a happy time and not one of sadness. Althea did her best busying herself by inspecting her tiny daughter. I wanted to hold you for so long, she thought, as Prudence opened her tiny pink mouth. I thought I’d lost you.
“Look at all that black curly hair, too,” she said, stroking Prudence’s soft, fine hair. “Oh, doing what you do best—kicking and punching—”
“Inherited from her mother, no doubt,” he whispered as Prudence held onto his finger.
Althea laughed quietly. “Thank you,” she replied and kissed his temple. “Thank you for staying with me.”
“You’re welcome,” he answered, stroking Prudence’s hand with his thumb.
“Why did you tell that man Prudence was dead?”
“Dumbledore has reason to believe that the remaining Death Eaters will be after your daughter,” he explained and kissed Prudence’s small, pink hand. “They want her—just like they want Harry.”
“Oh my God,” she breathed, looking at her daughter. “What would they—”
“Enough of this talk,” Gran said, sitting on the edge of the bed. “This is Prudence’s day”
“Indeed,” she breathed, and kissed her daughter’s cheek.
“So, you have named her Prudence…Prudence what?” she asked, looking at her great-granddaughter.
Althea noticed Gran’s stern expression soften as she gazed at Prudence.
“I hadn’t decided,” she answered as she watched Prudence open and close her mouth.
“Rosemary,” Gran replied resolutely.
“Rosemary?” she repeated, wrinkling her nose. “That’s my middle name. I don’t want to scold her with Rosemary.”
“Rosemary is a fine name. It is our family name,” Gran explained, stroking Prudence’s hair. “It’s tradition.”
“A Rynne tradition?”
Althea faintly smirked. “If it’s tradition,” she said and Gran nodded with approval. “Well, my little Prudence Rosemary, you’re probably very hungry,” she added and Prudence stuck out the tip of her tongue. “I’m sorry it’s not the usual food you’re accustomed to, but in time, you’ll be eating that again.”
“I think it’s best you leave, Mr. Lupin,” Gran said, resting her hand on his shoulder.
Althea smiled. If only she knew she was touching a werewolf, she thought as she slipped the strap of her nightgown off her shoulder.
“No, let him stay, Gran,” she replied softly as Prudence started to nurse.
“Fine then,” she replied, standing. “I’ll never understand you, Althea Rosemary, you have absolutely no modesty.”
“If you only knew, Gran,” she sighed and winked at Remus.
Remus laughed. “So, she does call you Althea Rosemary,” he said, diverting his eyes away from Althea and her nursing baby.
“Yeah,” she replied, watching Prudence nurse. “You know, you don’t have to act all modest—I don’t care if you look. You were here for the most revealing aspect of labor and delivery,” she added, smiling. “I can’t believe you stayed.”
“You wouldn’t let go of my hand.”
Althea laughed quietly. “I know what you’re thinking: ‘So that’s what they’re used for,’” she remarked. “Wait, that’s probably what—never mind.”
“No, I knew the functions of breasts,” he replied with a wry smile.
“Of course, you did,” she said and sighed, resting her head against the headboard. “I’m half expecting James and Lily to walk through that door with little Harry. Now I look at her, in my arms, and I cannot help but feel enormous happiness and enormous sadness…. I lost almost everything today and I’ve gained the one thing I’ve always wanted,” she said, looking at Prudence’s thick black lashes—lashes she knew that would harbor her father’s eyes. “What are we supposed to do now? Where are we supposed to go?”
“Don’t think about that now,” he replied softly, stroking stray hairs out of Althea’s face. “Just concentrate on this little life before you that probably needs a good burping.”
Thank you so much for reading. What is in store for Althea? The newspapers.
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