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Chapter 23 : Twelve Years Past
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“WANTED: SIRIUS BLACK”
Another day, another Daily Prophet, another headline about the escaped convict Sirius Black. The wizarding community was obsessed with him because he was the first person to escape from Azkaban. Shay was obsessed with the headlines because she was worried. It had been 12 years since she had last seen Sirius and she had never thought the day would come where she may see him again. Now she saw forced to look at his mug shot everyday. It was not the man she remembered. The man in front of her looked clinically insane. His hair was mangled, teeth rotting, skin gaunt and waxy and his eyes made him look like he had nothing to lose, which was exactly the case. He was not the 21-year-old man she remembered. She had moved on with her life, but she could tell Sirius had not.
Shay had plenty of work to do so she tucked the Daily Prophet away. Sirius Black had escaped about four months prior and Shay’s workload increased with every week. She had become an auror and had worked side by side with Alastor Moody until he retired. However because of her history with Sirius, Rufus Scrimgeour put her on desk duty. This annoyed and embarrassed her. She was one of the best and could easily track Sirius but couldn’t do her job because her boss thought she was going to fall back in love with him or something. She didn’t get along too well with Scrimgeour but found solace in Kingsley Shacklebolt and the new up incomer Tonks. It was nice having another female around, even if Tonks technically was a Black.
Shay had the pleasure of looking over maps and placing the tips the department had received on Sirius’s supposed whereabouts. Shay scoffed at most of the work she did. She hated to admit it but she knew, or had known, Sirius like the back of her hand. If he was anywhere, he was in England or Scotland. But Scrimgeour didn’t want to listen to her on this case. Shay tried to be fine with it but would slip Kingsley some clues every once in a while. Having somewhat of a vacation gave Shay time to catch up on things like reading and learning how to cook. She had pushed a lot of things off for years.
Shay was plotting a tip about Sirius living in a hut in Timbuktu when she heard an owl at the window. She recognized Remus’s owl immediately and let the animal in her kitchen. The owl gave his wings a shake and small ice pellets went everywhere. Shay gave him a treat for his troubles and untied the parchment from around the owl’s leg.
I’m sure you know by now that Sirius tried to break into the Gryffindor tower. He must have been disguised as Padfoot. Did you tell Kingsley about Padfoot yet? Are you ever going to? A lot of people are on edge in the castle, rightfully so I suppose. I just went through the first full moon since I’ve been here. It went better than normal since Severus started making me the Wolfsbane potion. I think he’s still perturbed by the fact that I’m the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. He taught my classes during my transformation and he taught my third years about werewolves. That man has a wicked sense of humor. Speaking of third years, I’m learning that Harry is just as brilliant as his mother. He looks so much like James it’s uncanny. He acts like him sometimes as well which can be good and bad. I believe he’s already lost about twenty points for his house, although I do believe Severus has something to do with that. Shay, I hope you can meet Harry soon. He’s such an interesting and endearing boy. I have so much more I would love to tell you about so I hope we can meet up for a butter beer soon. I just wanted to let you know that everyone is safe here.
My best to everyone,
Shay smiled down at the letter and set it on top of her maps. She loved hearing from Remus. When she found out that he was going to be the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Shay was very much excited for him. He was the perfect fit and was ten times better than she would have ever been. The best part of it though was she was able to learn so much about Harry Potter. She was pleased that Harry had taken such a liking to Remus, just as James and Lily would have wanted it. Shay grabbed a new piece of parchment and began writing back to Remus.
Of course I heard about the incident on Halloween. The whole Ministry did. Only Sirius would be audacious enough to go into a castle full of highly trained witches and wizards ready to take him down, and leave there unscathed. Just like old times, the man is really starting to get on my last nerve. If Scrimgeour would let me do more than draw on maps all day long, we would have him by now. And you know that I’m not going to tell them about Padfoot unless I absolutely have to, Remus. If I tell them then I’m sure you will get in trouble for being an accomplice and I won’t have that. As far as Severus goes, we both know how he gets on his power trips. I’ll have to give him a hard time the next chance I get. I always knew Harry was going to be a brilliant wizard. Just look at his lineage! How is he doing with the Dementors? Do you think it’s time to teach him the Patronus charm? From the sounds of it, I think he’s ready. The boy needs to be as trained as possible. He’s capable of many things and if Sirius gets him alone, Harry needs to be able to protect himself. I know Albus won’t let anything harm him but stranger things have happened. A butter beer soon is a must and I’m glad everyone is all right at Hogwarts. I’ll let you know if we get any actual leads on Sirius.
Shay tied her letter on the owl’s leg and opened the window for the messenger but the animal would not exit the window and began hooting wildly. Shay stuck her head out the window and froze with shock when she was met with a pair of gray eyes. The other eyes looked just as surprised as she was. Shay could identify those eyes from anywhere, even if they did belong to a big black dog. Shay snapped out of it and threw a spell at the dog before it could run away. And there he stood about ten feet away from her. Shay didn’t even bother with the door. She went after him right out the window.
“Tell me why I shouldn’t blast you into oblivion right now,” Shay growled and pointed her wand firmly at him.
“I come in peace. I obviously don’t have a wand,” Sirius said calmly and held his hand up to show no harm.
“In peace? You’re a murderer.
“No. I was framed Shay. You have to believe me,” Sirius said and took a step forward.
Shay held her wand even firmer.
“When it comes to you, I don’t have to believe anything. You gave up the Potters and then killed Peter and 12 other people. You almost ruined my life and I don’t know what you’re up to now but knowing your track record, it can’t be any good.”
“I didn’t betray Lily and James. You have known me for 33 years and you love me. We were going to get married. You should be the first one to realize that I didn’t do what I was accused of,” Sirius conveyed.
“Loved. That was a very long time ago. You broke my heart and I got over it. But I’ll never get over what you did to our friends, what you did to Harry,” Shay said and shook her head in disbelief of what was happening.
“I’ll admit, I tried to kill Peter. But he isn’t dead Shay. I wasn’t the Secret Keeper, Peter was.”
“No, you told me yourself that you were the Secret Keeper.”
“It was meant for deception. Everyone knew I was the obvious choice so we thought Peter would be the perfect choice.”
“You are a liar. I’m not going to listen to this anymore,” Shay spouted and was starting to be visibly upset.
“Please put your wand down. I’m not going to hurt you Shay,” Sirius pleaded.
“Do you think I’m stupid? My wand isn’t going anywhere.”
“I remember that you can do wandless magic. I know more than anyone that you don’t need a wand to incapacitate me,” Sirius said and took another step forward.
Shay slowly brought her wand to her side.
“Can I show you something?” Sirius asked and slowly pulled something out of his pocket.
Shay saw that it was a newspaper clipping.
“Just look at this. Do you recognize somebody?” Sirius asked and held out the piece of paper.
Shay motioned her hand and the clip flew into her possession. She saw that it was a picture of the Weasley family. She knew Arthur from the Ministry and she had known Molly for years. However, she didn’t see the point of the picture.
Sirius responded to her quizzical look.
“Look at the rat. Does that animal look familiar?”
Shay examined the picture closely. There was a rat on a tall redheaded boy’s shoulder. The rat looked like a normal garden-variety rodent.
“Is this a joke?” Shay asked in frustration.
“That rat, known to his owner Ron Weasley as Scabbers, has been in the Weasley family for 12 years. Twelve years Shay. That’s a long life for a garden rat,” Sirius said with a bitter smile.
Shay continued to examine the photo. She couldn’t help try to remember what Peer Pettigrew’s animagus form looked like.
“This doesn’t mean anything, Sirius. You’re insane. Twelve years in Azkaban will do that to you.”
“The rat is missing a finger on its front paw. What did you guys find of Peter after I supposedly killed him?”
“A finger. They gave his poor mother a finger to bury.”
“I was at Hogwarts trying to get to the rat. I’m not there to harm anyone but him,” Sirius admitted and Shay felt his eyes seeping into her soul.
“This is all ludicrous,” Shay said and sent the picture back over to Sirius.
“I’m not there to harm Harry. I’m trying to protect him. He is my godson.”
“No, I’m an auror. I can’t just let you walk away,” Shay said suddenly.
“Please, just give me a few months. If by May I haven’t proved to everyone that I’m innocent, I swear you can send me back to Azkaban yourself.”
Shay thought Sirius was about to drop to his knees and beg.
“Why should I do you any favors?”
“Because you did love me once. We shared a home, memories. We had a child together.”
“Don’t push your luck,” Shay commanded dangerously.
“Please, Shay. You won’t regret this.”
“You won’t harm Harry Potter? You won't harm a single student or professor at Hogwarts?” Shay questioned stiffly.
“Never. I would even make an Unbreakable Vow. I can't give Snivelly a good knock though?” Sirius said and for some reason Shay believed him.
Shay couldn't help but raise an eyebrow at him and flare her nostrils in annoyance.
“We don’t have a third person or else I would make you. You should go before I change my mind,” Shay said and looked disappointed in herself.
This was not how she thought the interaction would go.
“Why haven’t you told the Ministry about Padfoot? You could lose your job if they find out you with held that information.”
“I’m afraid that Remus will get in trouble. He’s doing so good now, I can’t do that to him.”
“I heard him transform the other night. It sounds like the Wolfsbane Potion is helping a bit. Are you going to tell him about this?” Sirius asked and placed a hand on the back of his neck nervously.
“No. So make your presence less known. Remus would not be happy to hear about this. Do you still hate him?”
“Twelve years in solitary confinement leaves you with a lot of time to think. I wish things could have been different between him and I. Hopefully I’ll be able to apologize to my old friend soon enough,” Sirius said with a small grin.
Shay turned around to go back inside without a farewell to Sirius.
“I still love you,” Sirius called out to her.
“Sirius, even if this is all true it doesn’t mean that I want anything to do with you,” Shay said coolly and briskly entered her door.
And for some reason, the wind blowing against Sirius’s skin got a lot colder.
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