Chapter 1 : Prologue
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Prologue: Trouble Sleeping
"A man who trusts nobody is apt to be the type of man that nobody trusts." -Harold MacMillan
It was a scream that woke me.
Sleeping had always been a hard task, turning off my mind, closing my eyes, and trusting that I was somehow safe enough to enter a state of obliviousness were all beyond me.
Even without the scream, I had been awake. The slightest noises usually jerked my eyes open and my body halfway out of bed before I had a chance to rationalize away the apparent sound of quiet footsteps or the whisper of silk robes.
To normal people, people who trusted the innate safety of their beds, the troubles that plagued my sleep were nothing. Trifles. What normal person was so suspicious that they slept with their wand in hand?
I had never been normal. The chance to be ordinary had probably been frightened away from me before I’d been born.
Of course, it all came down to the Black family. It always did, somehow.
Sirius Potter would not be so paranoid. He would not calculate. He could have the things he wanted. He wouldn’t live in the shadows. And, somehow, he could sleep.
Sirius Black had been born into a world of lies. Trust was the feeling of a knife in the back. Life was a chess game. Shadows were the only comfortable place to stand. He could not fathom a good night of sleep. And the things he wanted always seemed to be in danger.
The scream proved that.
Upon hearing it, I was out of bed, wand in hand, before I was truly awake. There was no rationalizing away a scream.
I didn’t know where exactly the sound had originated, but my feet carried me to the most important room before I had managed to think of where I was going, or how anyone could infiltrate the home of two of the Ministry’s best aurors. I wouldn’t let her get hurt again, and James would arrive to back me up within moments.
The door wasn’t locked.
I stepped inside, wand high, ready to fight.
Lindsey Potter was sitting up in her bed, quite alone, staring at me like I was a madman.
Not trusting my initial evaluation, I swept the room again with my eyes and flicked my wand at the closet, causing it to burst open.
We were alone.
Nine seconds had passed since the scream. For the first time, I allowed myself to relax.
She ran a hand through her hair, her stare slowly becoming a glower. I grimaced, knowing that I was in trouble.
“Nightmare?” I asked, jumping and training my wand on James as he burst through the door like I had, wand ready.
His wand froze on me for half a second, then his eyes flooded with recognition and relief. Slowly, he lowered his wand, and I mine.
Neither of us were taking any chances. Not here.
“Good reaction time.” He muttered almost inaudibly, giving me a sharp look before turning to Lindsey.
She was not amused. “What are you two playing at? It’s past three in the morning.”
I grimaced, shoving down my need to explain, to get her to talk about it. It wasn’t my job. And it would never be.
“We heard you scream.” James said, looking her over carefully.
I did the same. Her hair was tousled from sleep, her eyes tired and bloodshot. Her blankets were twisted and she had wrapped her arms around herself.
She looked small and afraid. And beautiful.
I shook myself for that last thought. It was against the rules. Breaking the rules would pull me down a painful path. I looked down at the carpet, clenching my jaw. It wasn’t my job. James would fix this. Not me.
She swallowed and looked down at her quilted comforter. “Sorry. I forgot to put the silencing charms up.”
Silencing charms? I opened my mouth and James forestalled me. “Lin…silencing charms? Is it that bad?”
He couldn’t ask if she was alright. It would make her defensive. She had once thought herself invincible, but last winter had proved her wrong. Now, she felt her fragility, like a piece of cracked glass that knew exactly how close it was to shattering. She just tried not to show it.
Her eyes went far away for a moment and I prayed that she would stay with us. Sometimes, she went quiet for hours. It was far less frequent, now. But occasionally the real world was too much.
Was it my fault?
No, that was against the rules too. She was a target because of the name Potter. Not the name Black. I had made sure that I did not hurt her. I was doing everything I could to shield her.
But it had been Bellatrix Black who had done that damage, hadn’t it?
It still wasn’t my fault. Was it?
I felt rather certain that I knew the answer.
I pushed those thoughts away and focused on Lindsey, who had managed to stay with us.
“James, I’m fine. It’s only to be expected after what happened.” Lindsey said quietly, “I just forgot to take my potion.”
James frowned. “You haven’t been taking it at all. I heard Mum and Dad talking about it.”
She held her head high. “I don’t need a potion to cope, okay? I’m a big girl. It’s been five months.”
Five months and three days.
“Lindsey, it’s normal for you to still-” James began, only to be cut off by his sister with a glare.
“James, I am not the defenseless little girl that needed you to come and squish spiders for me. I went through a little ordeal and-”
I spoke for the second time. “It was not a little ordeal, Lindsey Potter. I’ve-…” I stopped what I was about to say. “I know Bellatrix. And you should never feel weak for having nightmares.”
She shouldn’t. But what about me?
That was another thought for later.
She raised an eyebrow at me and I internally cursed myself. I couldn’t comfort her. I couldn’t even be nice to her.
James saved me. “He’s right.” He paused, giving me a look that made me nod, however unwillingly.
It was time for me to leave.
“Night.” I said, trying to sound careless, ignoring the little voice in my head that was begging for me to stay. That little voice was never happy. It never would be.
“Night,” James said in the same tone, never taking his eyes off of his sister.
I walked away, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep, hoping that I would somehow be able to drown out my thoughts with one of the Potters advanced spell books.
Lindsey Potter was going to be the death of me.