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Chapter 9 : Meet Clarissa
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In the attack on the Hogwarts Express, Dumbledore had arrived before anyone had been killed, and Antonin Dolohov was in Azkaban. Sirius had been patched up from his duel with Bellatrix after arriving in Hogsmeade and sent home. Only Lily had been worse off than Sirius—Dolohov held her under the Cruciatus Curse for a few seconds before James introduced the man to hell, which allowed him to be arrested while his fellow Death Eaters fled.
The Wizarding World panicked when word of the attack got out. The Hogwarts Express had never been attacked before. Dumbledore and the Ministry were flooded with angry owls and howlers, and quite a few students had been pulled out of Hogwarts. Sirius, however, was among the parents who believed Dumbledore offered the greatest safety for his child, and after Harry told him everything Bellatrix had said, Sirius forgot about his self-pity long enough to assure Harry he'd never pull him out of school.
That was three weeks ago, and since then, Harry had sent an owl at least twice a week that Sirius never hesitated in responding to. He learned that his son had been sorted into Gryffindor (where else?), was now best friends with the Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger he had met on the train, and had managed to screw up his first potions assignment because he couldn't read the board as well as his classmates and needed glasses. Also, Sirius' cousin Draco Malfoy had approached Harry before the Sorting eremony offering friendship, but he called Ron 'riffraff' and Hermione 'Mudblood' so Harry told him, in a rather colorful way if he was understanding his son's hints, to bugger off. Not the best way to start his school career, in Sirius' opinion, but at least it meant he wouldn't have to "reconnect" with the Malfoys.
"Hey, mate. What'd you need to ask us?" James asked, entering Sirius' study with Remus and Peter in tow.
Sirius finished tying a letter to Hedwig's leg and sent her out the window. "I heard Harry say something on the train." He had been brooding over this for weeks and hoped his friends would have a better insight into it than he did.
"Has he ever asked you guys anything about his mother?"
"Nothing he hasn't asked you," James said, sitting.
"Only if I knew her," Remus answered.
Peter nodded. "I didn't know about her, so Harry didn't ask about anything else."
"What'd he say?" James asked.
"He sounded like… like he didn't believe I don't know who she is. How he said it… his tone… everything! He said that I would say I didn't know, and he was so bitter. I doubt that boy he was talking to—Ron—would have noticed, but I've been listening to Harry's voice for eleven years."
"I think you're reading too far into this," James said. "I was there when you asked Dumbledore, no one in our world knows who she is. We've both told him that."
"I guess…" Sirius said, but he knew that hadn't been pure disappointment Harry was speaking out of on the train.
"Maybe he thinks you don't care about knowing," Remus said, slowly.
"You've never tried to find her. Have you ever offered to?"
"Why don't you try? Go to the pubs you might have met her at and see if anyone remembers."
"That's not a bad idea," Sirius said, running a hand through his hair. "Do you really think that could be it though? If he wanted me to look for her, why didn't he just ask? Merlin knows he'll ask for anything else."
"This isn't a broomstick, Sirius, it's his mother."
"Yeah, yeah, you're probably right. I'll do that."
"Sirius?" James asked. "Is there something else?"
Sirius sighed. "I never tried to find her. I didn't care if I never found out who she was, so I guessed Harry wouldn't either. She gave him away. What if she still doesn't want him?" Sirius let his hair fall over his face to hide his wet eyes.
"That was eleven years ago," James said, slowly. "She's not a kid faced with the prospect of raising a child on her own anymore—"
"I was! And when I found out about Harry, I took him. I raised him. I loved him! I've never loved anyone more. She's his mother, how could she not feel that too?"
"You know better than any of us that being a parent... That not all parents love their children the same."
Sirius nodded. "Her giving Harry up was the best thing that could have happened for me, but how could she? He was her baby and he needed her."
James squeezed Sirius' shoulder. "You wanted him from the beginning. I'd say that means he needs you more."
Sirius offered a grateful smile. Harry did need him. And if there was a chance that Harry needed him to find his mother, he would have to start looking. "I'm going to find her."
Sirius spent the next week searching every Muggle pub he had ever been to that he could remember. Unfortunately, since he hadn't visited any in over a decade, many of the staff had changed. So far, only one elderly man remembered seeing Sirius, but he remembered seeing Sirius blond and a head shorter. When Sirius tried telling the man he had never been blond, the man threw his mug at Sirius' head and started screaming about the Devil. This pub, just outside London, was the last Sirius would be checking out tonight. Inside was a bit more run-down than he remembered, but the welcoming fire and relaxed, happy-looking people who filled the place were the same.
After he found a seat at the bar, Sirius ordered some popular Muggle drink. He sipped slowly and scanned every face, looking for someone he might remember. And there she was. She looked younger than thirty, with black hair cut into a short bob. Sirius had no memory of seeing her before, but she seemed so familiar. Her eyes were light green, the same shade as Harry's, and Sirius saw his son's cheekbones and chin on her face. She sat alone at a booth, reading a menu while sipping a glass of red wine.
Abandoning his drink, Sirius approached her, staring at the features he had seen almost every day for the past eleven years.
"Er, excuse me? Have, uh, have we met?" Sirius wondered if he had ever sounded so lame talking to a woman before, especially one he had no desire to take to bed.
She looked at him sharply, but her eyes widened. "I don't believe it!" She slid out of the booth and straightened her skirt. "I thought I'd never see you again! And I had no way of getting in touch with you!" She hugged Sirius tightly. "You were my first time, you know." She giggled.
Sirius grabbed her shoulders and gently pushed her back. "About that... I know it was a long time ago-"
"I know, and I feel so bad. I wish I could have found you afterwards, to tell you. Oh, and did you say your name was 'Serious'? You were a little drunk, and I thought it sounded odd—"
"'Sirius,' yes. Listen... I don't remember you or anything about that night."
The woman sank back into the booth. "Oh. I see."
Sirius sat across from her. "I know that it happened. What you just said means it had to have been you. I know about our baby; I've been raising him since he was a week old. Please tell me your name."
She looked at him, surprised, but then smiled. "Clarissa. Clarissa Stevenson. Now please, tell me my son's name."
"You want to know about him?" Sirius had hardly dared to hope that he would find this woman, and now she was interested in Harry.
"Of course! He's my baby. I was fifteen when I got pregnant, almost sixteen when I had him. I never wanted to give him up, but my mother threatened to put us both on the street if I didn't. I tried to find you, but I just couldn't. And you got him even though I never told you! Can I see him, please? I've spent so long dreaming of meeting him? Please?"
Sirius had not been expecting that. She actually wanted Harry. Her mother had been the one who didn't. And did she say she had been fifteen? Sirius had only been twenty at the time, but he fully intended to apologize to Lily for every time he got mad at her for calling him a perverted pig. Fifteen?
"Sirius?" Her green eyes, so like Harry's, looked at him hopefully.
Sirius smiled. "His name is 'Harry,' and he'd love to meet you, Clarissa."
Clarissa jumped up, laughing, and threw her arms around Sirius. "Thank you, thank you so much! Oh, my son, Harry. When can I see him?"
"Well, he's at a boarding school right now," Sirius said, patting her back. "I'll write to the Headmaster in the morning and see if Harry'll be able to come home next weekend."
"Would you? Oh, Sirius, you're wonderful!" She kissed him.
Sirius moved to push her away again, but didn't. He hadn't been kissed by a woman in so long. And Clarissa wasn't fifteen anymore; she was a grown woman who wanted to know her son. His son.
"Sirius, I have a great idea. Let's rent that same room again, tonight."
He should have pushed her away. "Clarissa," he said, standing up. "I can't. I'm sorry, but I can't."
She covered her mouth. "Oh my god, you're with someone else. I shouldn't have kissed you without asking."
"No, it's not that." He took her hand in both of his. "Having Harry changed me. I'm not the same man I was twelve years ago. I don't actually know anything about you, except your name. If you're going to be the first woman I've been with since having Harry, I need to get to know you before jumping in bed with you, even if you are Harry's mother. And if I'm going to have that sort of relationship with someone, I need Harry to be okay with it first."
"That might be the sweetest thing I've ever heard a man say." She kissed him again, and this time Sirius pulled her closer.
A/N: If anyone's wondering: Yes, I remember the plot of my own story.
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