Chapter 14 : To Hide or Not to Hide?
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I begin hyperventilating while Sirius just stands there and stares uselessly at the baby.
“What is it?” I shriek, pointing at it. That question did not come out the way I had intended; what I meant to say was: “Who’s is it?”
“I think he or she is yours,” Sirius answers, gingerly picking the baby up and staring at her some more. The black inky life stuff had wrapped around her in a secure, black blanket. “Merlin, she’s tiny.” That’s true. The bairn is such a wee thing, and she just fits into his hands.
“May I…?” Calmer now, I carefully take the baby and hold her close. Her eyes are still closed, but she gurgles, almost like a small sigh, and waves her tiny fists around. “So sweet,” I croon, kissing her lightly on the forehead. There’s just something about her that makes you love her to bits – I think it’s a talent that babies possess. It also might be a survival mechanism; the talent makes people love them, which makes people take care of them.
The baby has little tufts of reddish hair sticking out all over her head. She’s just the littlest thing there could possibly be; she can even fit into my hands, and that’s saying something! I breathe her in deeply, and I can smell the new milky smell of wee babies. There’s that, and there’s the smell of blood. That means she has human blood in her. Human blood…
“Urgle,” my baby (yes, my baby) gurgles, spitting out a bit of blood. At the sight of it, I panic and shove my baby towards Sirius’ already outstretched hands.
“Let’s get her to Madame Pomfrey and see what’s wrong,” he says soothingly while roller-skating calmly in the direction of Madame Pomfrey’s infirmary – also in the direction of stairs going downwards. Once again, I panic and race after him, robes flying, snatching my baby from his hands right before Sirius slips and tumbles down the stairs, a whirl of limbs and wheels. I gingerly step down the stairs, take a glance to make sure Sirius is alright (he is), and sprint the rest of the way to Madame Pomfrey’s hospital area.
“Madame Pomfrey! Please be there!” I beg as I fling open the door. Thankfully, Madame Pomfrey happens to live inside the place, and she opens her office door as I step into the soothing room of blue walls and blue-ish beds. “She’s – spitting –” Again, I quickly hand my baby to Madame Pomfrey, who takes one glance at the bairn and smiles.
“She’s going to be fine,” Madame Pomfrey diagnoses, chuckling. It’s amazing how she just ignores the fact that I walked in with a baby that just happened to appear out of nowhere. “You had me so scared there, Arya. This blood is only the leftover blood that didn’t go into her systems. It was already in her mouth. Don’t worry. She’s fine.” I smile sheepishly at that just as Sirius, looking all scratched but perfectly in one piece, bangs open the door.
“How is she?” he demands.
"Perfectly fine,” Madame Pomfrey answers, gently giving my baby back to me. “Now, if I may ask…” Ah. Here it is. “…where did you get this baby?”
“Ah…” I say hesitantly, looking at Sirius.
“We found her,” he ad-libs, smiling. “The baby was just lying outside of Hogwarts. No name. No parents. So we brought her in here.”
“Yes, I’m sure that’s what absolutely happened.” Madame Pomfrey stands with her hands on her hips. “I don’t even want to know. Now. Arya. What are you planning to do with this found baby? Are you going to keep her? Are you going to send her to an orphanage?”
“Absolutely not,” I say to the second question. “Definitely not an orphanage.” I shudder as I remember my awful experiences at the orphanage. Apolline definitely did brighten that up, but still…the orphanage was terrible and quite terrifying.
“So, you’re going to keep her, then?” Madame Pomfrey prompts. “Would you like to keep her here?”
I frown as I consider it. Would my daughter be safe here? Of course, nobody in Hogwarts will ever abduct an unknown bairn since they don’t even know that the bairn’s mine. Still, after babyhood, the baby will grow and bear some semblance to me, so people will recognize her. That will put her in danger.
On a more selfish note, I want to keep my baby for myself, and I don’t want Madame Pomfrey, a practical stranger (no offense meant to her, of course), to take care of my baby for me. If I take my baby with me, though, then people will recognize her anyway. It will make no sense for me to be carrying around a stranger’s bairn when it would’ve been much easier to leave the baby with Madame Pomfrey.
Voldemort. He’s going to somehow use my baby for his own diabolical needs.
My brain is so fried right now. I can’t think.
“No – no,” I force out. “She can’t stay with you!” My voice is now bordering on hysteria. “Voldemort will find her! She’s going to die!” Whirling around, I fly out of the Hospital Wing and out of Hogwarts, carrying my baby carefully in my arms. I stop right at the edge of the Forbidden Forest, confused as to where I am going.
First things first. My bairn needs a name. A name. She needs a name that’s not too common…like Marilla, Cyrilla… Cyrilla. That’s perfect. Cyrilla.
“My dear Cyrilla,” I croon, kissing her softly on the forehead. Her eyes are wide open, taking in everything. Staring at her, I observe her looks: even though she is just a baby, her eyes are quite clear and quite eager, darting about everywhere. Weirdly enough, her eyes look strangely like…
Okay. I’m getting off track. Second action: I have to find somebody who will keep Cyrilla safe without telling Voldemort. Who will? If I give Cyrilla to Lily, there will be quite a number of problems. Firstly, Lily will be targeted since she is muggle-born. Secondly, Lily is a muggle-born, which probably means that her parents are more partial to the normal and will not accept a stranger’s bairn into their household. Thirdly, assuming Lily’s parents agree, how is Lily supposed to get to her parents, seeing as she is already at Hogwarts? Lily just won’t work.
I anxiously glance at the rising sun, casting pale rays across the Forbidden Forest. Hopefully, Sirius or Madame Pomfrey or any of the staff members of Hogwarts aren’t looking for me. I need to find a place to hide my dear little Cyrilla (I’m quite attached to her now) before I can go back.
Who else? James? Naw. He’s a “blood traitor,” so he’ll be hunted as well. Sirius? Even worse. Vulpecula? No – wait… Vulpecula would be absolutely perfect for the role! Her mother can easily be convinced that Cyrilla is a Pureblood baby birthed by one of the lesser-known Pureblood girls in Hogwarts. That way, Vulpecula’s mother will take especially good care of Cyrilla, and Vulpecula can take on Cyrilla as soon as Vulpecula graduates from school!
Then a morbid thought strikes me. Vulpecula is a Slytherin and is a devout supporter of Voldemort, and will most likely train Cyrilla to follow Voldemort as well. Who else is there to go to, though? If I give Cyrilla to Vulpecula and beg her to not tell Voldemort that Cyrilla’s mine…and if I beg Vulpecula to spoil Cyrilla while making her a lady at the same time…Cyrilla might not want to have anything to do with Voldemort because of her spoiledness and ladylike manners.
My head is pounding; I’m thinking way too hard about this. Okay. Step one. Go to Vulpecula and hand her Cyrilla. Step two. Beg Vulpecula not to tell Voldemort – tell her that I will give anything for her to do so. Step three. Beg Vulpecula to raise Cyrilla as though she were her own – meaning to love her, take care of her, etc. Step four. Beg Vulpecula to give Cyrilla a ladylike personality. Step five. Beg Vulpecula to somehow spoil Cyrilla at the same time (I shudder to think of my daughter being spoiled, but I can’t think of any other way to keep Cyrilla away from Voldemort.) Step five. Beg Vulpecula to never breathe Voldemort’s name in Cyrilla’s presence.
Okay. That shouldn’t be hard. Now for the extremely difficult part – to find out where Vulpecula lives. I look quickly at Cyrilla to make sure she’s alright, and I’m stunned to find that her eyes are sweeping my face like she’s trying to read it.
“Let’s go to sleep now,” I croon, recalling my extraordinary memory. If Cyrilla can remember my face from when she was newly born like I can remember Mither’s, that will pose as a problem. Humming softly, I bounce her gently in my arms as I stroll around the outskirts of the Forbidden Forest. Suddenly, I catch a whiff of Vulpecula’s blood’s scent slowly fading away between two massive oak trees at the edge of the forest. Quickly, I follow the ever-so-quickly disappearing smell through the forest, still holding Cyrilla, hoping that Vulpecula will have left a hint here of some sort.
I’m grasping at straws here, but it’s all I have to keeping Cyrilla safe from Voldemort. The trail leads deeper into the Forbidden Forest, into a section where it looks like no light has ever reached before. The gargantuan trees surrounding the clearing are all blocking the light completely. I stare around me in wonder before I realize that I’ve lost Vulpecula’s trail. In a sudden burst of despair, I wander around the clearing, trying desperately to find just another thread of Vulpecula’s scent.
I don’t even pause to wonder why Vulpecula was in the Forbidden Forest in the first place. Honestly, in my haste to find the trail again, I step into a deep footprint filled with dark, murky liquid, and before I can even shake my head in disgust, both Cyrilla and I are Apparated somehow to the front door of an extremely blue manor.
It takes me a few minutes to recover to be able to read the plaque on the door that says: "The Dare Household." Cyrilla, the sweet little thing, is weeping softly. Her black inky blanket shifts as she fidgets in my arms. Nervously, I go up and knock on Vulpecula's door with a snakehead knocker. Typical.
And leave it to a Pureblood to find a cheat way of getting to their home quickly.
Vulpecula answers the door, half-zombie and extremely groggy. "Parents too tired to get up," she mutters almost incomprehensibly before recognizing who I am and what I am holding. "Arya?" She yawns a wide, gaping yawn. "What're you doing here? With a baby?"
"I need a huge favor," I plead desperately while trying to keep my voice low. "I'll do anything, just help me, please!"
"Come in first. My parents shouldn't wake up until a few hours." Vulpecula yawns another yawn; this time a jaw-cracking one. "Or perhaps another seven hours." She glares darkly at me as she makes room for me in the doorframe. Gratefully, I stagger through and stumble through the dark hallways with Vulpecula guiding me by my elbow. Her manor is really quite huge. The hallway we're going down is extremely long, and the walls are filled with windows to other rooms. No light comes in from anywhere, though. There isn't even a chandelier.
"My parents don't believe in wasting money for useless gadgets," Vulpecula explains. "Therefore, no lights." She shrugs ruefully. Earlier, I never paid attention to her looks since humans all looked the same to me. Now, after studying them for so long, I realize that Vulpecula's cheekbones are slightly less prominent than the average Pureblood's. She's also shorter, and much less grand and eloquent. Interesting.
Vulpecula sits me down on a soft seat and flops down rather un-daintily beside me. "So. The problem," she prompts.
"Yes," I answer quietly. "As you can see, I have a bairn. Her name's Cyrilla." As I say this, I look Vulpecula in the eye to make sure that she knows I'm deadly serious. "There's no place for me to put her. If I leave her at Hogwarts, the students will spread rumors about Cyrilla, and I don't want that to happen. If I give her to my friends, Cyrilla will be hunted along with them. I don't want anything awful to happen in Cyrilla's life like everything has happened in mine - I want her to live a pampered, rich life without any troubles." However, as I am saying this, my stomach twists to imagine Cyrilla as a spoiled "Pureblood". "I would like Cyrilla to be ladylike while getting everything she wants at the same time." I smile fondly at Cyrilla - the bairn I had known for such a little time.
"So..." Vulpecula says slowly, "you want me to take of her?" My heart sinks. Her tone doesn't sound very encouraging.
"Not you specifically," I correct. "Your entire family. You still need to go to school. I'm not going to have you drop everything for Cyrilla. But that's only if your mither agrees." I shift Cyrilla's head to rest on my other elbow.
"Of course Mum will agree!" Vulpecula answers enthusiastically! "Mum's weakness is adorable little children! She's been wanting another one ever since I was born!" At that statement, her expression forms into one of mock sourness, and then she continues: "And I won't breathe a word to the Dark Lord. That's what you want, yes?"
"Oh, thank you," I choke out. "Thank you so, so much."
"Oh, it's nothing. I'm not very fond of the Dark Lord, anyway."
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