Chapter 1 : Summer Surprises
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Elsa Yaxley - Rachel Leigh Cook
Evander Yaxley - Sean Bean
Sirius Black - Jared Padalecki
(chapter image by Jeanie @ TDA)
The sky was an unusual shade of red as the sun set behind the rolling hills of Elsa's summer home in Wales. The countryside was beautiful, majestic, with fields of wildflowers as far as the eye could see. Tall grass grew around the small lake behind the house. Apple trees grew tall next to her small vegetable garden. There was nothing quite like living out in the middle of nowhere.
The house was equally as beautiful. Elsa remembered the first time she had seen it from the road. It stood tall and grand in the grey afternoon light. The sky had been filled with dark storm clouds as Dumbledore led her up the lane-way. The curtains in all the windows had been drawn open, allowing for some light to fill the rooms inside. The garden out front had been well tended; roses and lilies grew full. A stone pathway lead from the driveway to the door, where a large wrap around porch stretched around the house. It wasn't' home, but it would do.
Dumbledore had handed her a key and nodded towards the door. Elsa's hands trembled as she slipped the key in the slot. With a twist she heard the lock click, and the door opened. She wasn't sure what she was expecting to find when she stepped inside the house. But she was surprised to see someone else was living there.
Family photos decorated the walls. Some of when she was a child, playing with Sirius; others from only a few summers back. There was no way her mother would be living there. Marisol Yaxley hadn't spoken a word to Elsa since the death of Evander. Whether her mother believed the Dark Lord or not, Marisol had made a conscious decision she was not having anything to do with her wayward daughter.
A pair of boots sat on a mat next to the door. Impossible! Elsa thought to herself and dropped her school bag at the door. She ran to the first room she found, a sitting room with walls lined with books. Seated on a black leather couch, with a book in hand, sat Evander Yaxley.
“Dad?” Elsa said disbelieving her own eyes.
“Elsa,” Evander smiled towards her.
“You're dead. I saw your body.” Fresh tears began to fall from her eyes. Losing her father had nearly consumed her. Losing Damon had crushed her. “How? How can you be alive?”
“I am sorry I deceived you. It was the only way to protect you.” Evander stood and walked towards her, his hands outstretched. “I knew eventually You-Know-Who would come looking for you. No matter where I hid you. No matter how far we ran, he would find you.”
“So you were going to betray him?”
“For you, yes.”
“Why? I hadn't done anything wrong?”
“You are my daughter, I would do anything to keep you safe.”
“Then why let me take the task on in the first place?” Elsa's lower lip quivered as she fought not to cry. “I spent hours trying to find a way to bring you back.”
“It was the only way.” Evander pulled his daughter into his arms. “I am so sorry I couldn't be there for you when you needed me.”
It had been two weeks since she had found out her father was alive and still Elsa didn't believe it. Most days it felt like she was going through the motions: wake up, spend time with her father, spend the afternoon tending to the garden until the sun set, and then return to her bed. The world had been cruel to her, taking what she loved most and destroying it. Now she had been given a second chance with her father and she had a hard time understanding her own feelings.
Sitting alone in her room, Elsa watched as the sun set behind the hills and the stars twinkled to life. Crawling out her bedroom window, Elsa sat on the roof to watch the stars. It was the only place she felt comfortable, the only place where she felt at peace. There, sitting on the roof, watching the dark blanket above her, she felt closer to Damon than she had in the months leading up to his death.
Damon's death weighed heavy on her heart. Uncertain of how she was going to deal with her grief, Elsa pushed it away so she wouldn't struggle through her day and waste valuable time with her father. But alone, in the dark, she could not hide from the pain.
Elsa sat sobbing as a gentle breeze caressed her cheek. She liked to believe the breeze was Damon, sitting next to her, watching over her. That he would reach out and try to dry away her tears. She knew it was a silly notion to believe that Damon was there with her, but it kept her from going insane with grief.
Off in the distance Elsa could hear the howl of wild wolves as they began their nightly hunt. She had often tried to catch a glimpse of the creatures. Beyond the howl, she could make out the distinct sounds of voices as they approached the house. Panicked, Elsa crept along the room until she could see the front yard.
In the dark, she could see nothing. None of her friends were supposed to arrive until tomorrow, which meant that either someone had found them or some of the children from the village over the hill had come to sit by their property. How would they get close enough that she would hear their voices? Elsa wondered as she slid down the roof and slipped back into her room.
A knock at her door startled her, as she tumbled into her room. Sitting on the floor, her back to the window, Elsa glared at her door in the dark. There was only one other person in the house, which meant her father was standing on the other side waiting patiently to be let in.
“Come in,” Elsa grumbled as she picked herself up off the floor.
“Out on the roof again were you?” Evander said with a knowing look on his face.
Evander hated when she was on the roof. Elsa knew it worried him. 'What if you fell? You could break your neck up there.' Evander would argue. He didn't understand that that was where she felt most comfortable. Where the pain didn't make it impossible to breathe. He didn't understand that, on the roof, where she could fall to her death, made her feel more alive than any other time of day. Did she have a death wish? No. But she wanted to feel alive more often.
When Elsa didn't answer, Evander continued. “You're friends have arrived.” At her shocked face, he smiled. “I wrote to Dumbledore and asked if he would mind picking them up a bit early. I thought it would help.”
“I...” Elsa faltered. She had been looking forward to seeing her friends, but now, faced with the fact that they were downstairs, she wasn't so sure. “I don't think I'm up for company right now.” She swiped quickly at her tears.
“I could send one of them up. You don't have to see all of them right now. I'm sure they will understand.”
“You already know who I will pick,” Elsa said and turned her back on her father.
“For tonight, I think we can skip that argument.” Evander said with a heavy sigh.
Everything with Elsa had been an argument. Evander was old-school pureblood. He believed in their ways to the point that it made Elsa sick. She had hoped that given that the Dark Lord had tried to kill him, that that would change his mind. But she had been wrong. Evander did not agree with her choice of friends in the slightest. He had put up her friendship with Sirius because he was a pureblood. Her new friendship with Lily and Remus, neither of whom were pure, was unacceptable. Yet, he still allowed them to join them for the remainder of summer.
“Dad?” Elsa said, her voice soft and filled with grief. “Will it every go away?”
“Will what go away?”
“Are we talking about the pain from losing Damon or the pain of knowing you tortured a man?”
“Both. Will I ever feel happy again?”
“Of course you will.” Evander crossed the room and pulled her into a hug. “What you need to remember is why you chose to do what you did. The reason matters, Elsa. You didn't attack that man because you wanted to, you didn't torture him because you enjoyed it. You did so out of love for your friends.”
“But it didn't work. Damon still died. I tortured him and Damon still died. It was all for nothing.”
“He did not die for nothing, Elsa. He died for you. He wanted nothing more than to make sure you were safe. Like You-Know-Who, the Egyptian man would not have stopped for any reason. He would have searched for you and Damon until you were both dead.”
“Maybe that would have been better. Then I wouldn't feel like this.” Elsa said, burying her face in her father's chest. “It feels like someone is choking the life out of me sometimes. That they wish to see me dead.”
“You have to remember the good in your life, Elsa. Do not focus on the bad. Damon would not want you to be unhappy.” Evander kissed the top of her head. “Is that why you don't want to see your friends, because they make the pain bearable?”
“I'll go tell them you aren't up for company right now.” Evander gave Elsa another kiss on the top of her head and left the room.
It seemed to take all of two minutes before Elsa could hear the footsteps of someone walking back up the stairs and down the hallway. She imagined they were walking rather slowly, almost calculating just how much trouble they might get into for barging in on her. And that was precisely what Sirius did as he swung open the door and burst into the room.
Elsa should have been able to guess that it would have been Sirius who broke down her bedroom door. He hadn't changed much in the two weeks since she had last seen him. His hair was slightly longer, falling into his face. But he was still as devilishly handsome as she last remembered.
Seeing him standing there made her realize just how much she hated him. Though it wasn't exactly hate at all. Elsa loved him and that was the problem. She had also loved Damon, and now that she had lost Damon, she felt like she was betraying his memory by loving Sirius still.
She launched herself into Sirius's arms and began to cry. Sirius would understand. He always did. He had been there the night that Damon had died. He had been the one that he pulled her away from Damon's lifeless body and led her back to Hogwarts. Sirius had been the one who had sat with her for endless hours in the Room of Requirements as she cried over Damon's death. He had never said anything against Damon, never tried to tell her she shouldn't cry.
Sirius said nothing as he held her in his arms. Elsa was grateful for that. For two weeks she ahd been fretting about what would happen when she saw Sirius again. Would she hate him? Would she still love him? Would he make things worse or would things get better? Elsa knew that Sirius had promised he would take care of her. That somehow he would make things easier, better, for her. So far, he hadn't been able to do much at all.
Dumbledore had made them all promise that in the first two weeks of summer they would all remain at their own homes. After those two weeks they would be collected and brought to Elsa's location. It was meant to keep the Dark Lord in the dark about where Elsa was. It was supposed to keep the Death Eaters away from her friends. Whether that had happened or not, Elsa had no idea. The very last thing she wanted was for her friends to get caught up in the middle of her issues.
“You changed your hair,” Sirius said, running his fingers through her dark brown hair.
“I thought it would help confuse the Death Eaters if they were to find me. They'll be looking for a girl with long blonde hair. So I cut it and used a spell to turn it brown. Do you like it?”
“It's...different. But, I think it suits you.”
“Did you know?” Elsa said suddenly. “About Dad?”
“I'm as surprised as you that he's alive,” Sirius admitted. “I was worried you were up here all by yourself with no one to talk to, or help you.”
Elsa forced a smile to her lips as she looked up at him. “You need a hair cut,” she said suddenly, which made the two of them laugh. “I'm sorry I worried you.”
“You always worry me, Elsa. You have two mad men after you. It's a lot to worry about. James had to keep me from running off in search of you. I knew I'd never find you until Dumbledore allowed it. But that was besides the point. Sitting at home doing nothing, it was killing me.”
“I'm sure you did more than nothing in the last two weeks, Sirius,” Elsa teased.
Seeing Sirius made some of the pain go away. With him, she could be herself. She could be the same old, lost and confused, emotionally broken Elsa without having to worry about what he thought of her. Sirius would never say anything to hurt her, never make her feel less for grieving. He loved her and that was all she needed at the moment.
“Maybe, but only because I needed something to occupy my mind besides you.”
“If I didn't know any better, Sirius, I'd say you were flirting.” Elsa pulled out of his arms and sat down on the bed.
“I'd never presume to flirt with you with you are still grieving, Elsa,” Sirius said, offended that she would even think of such things.
“Yes you would. You would because you'd hope it would make me feel better.” Elsa said and patted the bed next to her. “I've missed you, Sirius.”
Sirius took a seat next to her, and took her hand in his. For the first time in her life, Elsa was finally able to see Sirius awkward around her. It was strange to see. He was trying to be himself around her, to make her feel better, and she had to go and burst his bubble. Now as Elsa watched him, she could see how much he was struggling with himself.
He sat stiffly next to her. His hand picking at his jeans as if he didn't know what to do with himself. This boy sitting next to her, was not the Sirius Black she knew and loved. Maybe Damon's death had had an effect on him too, and she was not able to see past her own grief to see it. Sirius's hand was sweaty in hers, and she noticed the tiniest bit of stubble growing on his chin. But it was his eyes that spoke volumes. The soft, storm grey of his eyes, which she had always found beautiful, were sad. Dark bags hung beneath his eyes, like he hadn't been getting much sleep. He was thinner too.
“You haven't been eating or sleeping,” Elsa said out loud. “Why?'
“We weren't friends, Elsa. Pretty far from it. But we grew up together and I saw him die. We all saw him die. I never thought I'd feel bad if he died. He was after all just another arrogant pureblood.”
“But he wasn't.”
“No, he wasn't. When he asked me for help, I wanted to tell him no. I wanted to tell him to go to hell. But I knew how much you cared about him. When I found out he was going to die, I wanted to help. I failed him and I failed you.”
“You didn't fail me, Sirius.”
“But I did. Damon's dead because I couldn't find a way to save him.”
“Damon is dead because the Egyptian killed him, not you. We all went in there hoping to save him. We all expect that we could. They were expecting us, Sirius. They knew we would try and stop them.”
“And it almost got you killed to.” Sirius looked over at her with tears in his eyes. “I couldn't bare the thought of what I would do if I lost you, Elsa.”
“I saw the look in your eyes when...” Elsa's free hand went to the tiny scar at her neck from where the knife had bit into her neck. “If you could have, you would have done something.”
“I won't fail you again. Do you understand?”
“Sirius,” Elsa sighed, and looked down at her trembling hands. “You can't make a promise like that. What if you can't keep it?”
“Then I will die trying.”
Elsa shook her head as new tears slipped from her eyes. “I can't lose you too, Sirius. It would kill me.”
“When was the last time you slept?” Sirius asked, changing the subject. Even he knew when to drop the current subject for a new one.
“A full night's sleep? April.” Elsa admitted and felt ashamed for it. “Madam Pomfrey gave me dreamless sleep potions and a sleeping draught, but I don't want to take them. I don't want to forget what happened. Not for a minute. I just want to be able to accept that he's gone and stop hurting. And I can't. Not yet.”
There was movement in the hallway, and Elsa looked over her shoulders to see if anyone else would barge in. Instead the footsteps continued down the hall. She could faintly hear her father telling Remus and James that their room was across from Lily and Cordelia's. Elsa knew that Sirius was supposed to share the room with James and Remus, which had two sets of bunk beds arranged in the room. But she also knew Sirius probably wouldn't sleep in there with them. How she was going to explain that to her father, she just wasn't sure.
“Tomorrow you'll show us around?” Sirius asked, lying down on the bed as he tried to stifle a yawn.
“Yes.” Elsa looked at him lying in her bed. “You know my father won't approve of you sleeping in here.”
“He doesn't approve of having Remus and Lily here either. He'll get over it.”
“It's not proper,” Elsa added. The truth was she really didn't care that Sirius was going to spend the night in her bed.
“No, it's not.” Sirius laughed, and pulled her towards him. “But you need a good nights sleep and so do I. If you think for one moment I'm going to sleep down the hall knowing you aren't sleeping, you can think again.”
“I knew you would say something like that.”
“Then what was the point in bringing it up in the first place?”
“So you'd know that when my dad finds out, he'll probably kill you. Which, need I remind you, would be a very bad thing.”
“He won't kill me, Elsa. It's not like we're doing anything.”
“Tell that to him.”
“I will,” Sirius said, and made to move towards the door.
Elsa caught his hand in hers and looked at him with shock in her eyes. She couldn't believe he was tempting fate like that. Evander Yaxley was not a man to be trifled with. If Sirius really meant to get killed, there were easier was of doing so. But to boldly go out and tell her father that he planned on spending the night in her bed, it seemed foolish and reckless.
A knock at the door had them both holding their breath. Elsa was pretty sure she knew who was on the other side, but she didn't want to say anything. If it was her dad, how was she supposed to explain Sirius not wanting to spend the night with the boys?
“Elsa,” Evander said from the other side of the door.
“Jeeze dad, you can come in,” Elsa shook her head and rolled her eyes.
“Sorry.” Evander opened the door and walked inside. “I just wanted to remind you that Sirius is...”
“Spending the night right here, Mr. Yaxley. Elsa needs to get a proper night's sleep, and clearly that isn't happening while we all sleep down the hall,” Sirius said, sitting down on the bed again. “And to be honest, I don't think I'll sleep properly if I'm not sleeping in here. I haven't slept in two weeks because I've been worried about her. I'm not going anywhere.”
“Like hell you are,” Evander seethed. “There is no way you are spending the night in here.”
“Oh for crying out loud, nothing is going to happen!” Elsa snapped. “Do you honestly think we would do something with you down the hall? Or how about the fact that I'm still grieving because my boyfriend died in April? Has that even crossed your mind?”
“Elsa, this is my house and you will obey my rules! Sirius sleeps in his own room.”
“Like that will happen.” Elsa rolled her eyes and turned away from her father. “He'll just wait for you to go to sleep and sneak back in here. He's been doing that for years, you know.” A smirk formed on her lips and for a moment she wished she didn't have her back to her father. She would have given anything to see the look on his face. Even though she could picture it clearly.
The bedroom door slammed shut and the room fell silent. Had her father really given up that easily? Elsa had expected a huge fight over the fact that Sirius was going to spend the night in her room. Why hadn't the fought?
“That...was weird.” Sirius muttered and looked at Elsa.
“You're telling me. Oh well. He's being stupid. It's not like we're going to do anything.”
“Right.” But something in the way Sirius said it, made Elsa not want to believe him. “Go get ready for bed. You need to get some sleep.”
Elsa nodded and disappeared into the bathroom to change into her nightgown. Sleeping with Sirius in the same bed had never been weird before, but as she was standing in the bathroom, looking at herself in the mirror, she couldn't help but wonder why it was now. As Elsa ran different reasons through her mind, none of them really seemed to fit. The only thing she could come up with that made any sense was that, for the first time, she didn't have to make a choice between one boy or another. There was no choice to be made. There was only Sirius, whom she loved.
Forcing herself to leave the bathroom, Elsa crawled into bed with Sirius. As soon as he wrapped his arms around her waist, any worries she had on being in bed with him being awkward disappeared. There wasn't anything remotely sexual about being in bed with him. Sirius was only there to help her get some sleep. Or at least, those were his reasons.