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Chapter 35 : The Traitor
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A clang rang out, the sound of pots hitting one another, and Melora jumped out of bed and into the hallway. Emily's door was still shut, but she could see a light was on in the kitchen downstairs.
Clutching her wand tightly, Melora made her way down carefully. She could see a shadow, there was a person, tall and broad, bent over the sink…
"Sirius!" she exclaimed. The man in question looked up, his eyes wide.
"Melora," he rasped. His hand was bleeding over the sink. It looked as though a chunk was missing from his palm.
"Sirius, what happened?" Melora rushed over to him and opened a nearby cabinet filled with several potions. She pulled out one labeled 'dittany' and poured it over his hand.
Sirius let out a hiss of pain. "Splinched myself," he explained.
"Where's your bike?"
"Gave it to Hagrid."
Melora looked up confused. "Hagrid, why?"
"No time to explain," Sirius shook his head, pulling his hand from Melora's grasp, "I've got to go."
"Sirius, no, wait," Melora grabbed onto his cloak, "What is going on? I haven't seen you in months, and suddenly you show up here bleeding and crazed…" she trailed off.
Sirius sighed and took a step closer to her, putting his hand over hers. "Something happened tonight," he said softly, "Something bad. They're going to tell you it was me. That I'm a traitor. But you have to believe me Mel, I'm not. It's Peter. Peter's the one they want."
"What? Sirius you're not making any sense."
Sirius squeezed his eyes shut. "I have to go," he rasped, "There's not much time." He leaned in and gave her a light kiss. "I love you and Emma, okay? Remember that."
Melora shook her head. "Please stay," she begged him, "Stay and we'll figure everything out in the morning."
"I can't," Sirius smiled weakly, "Just remember I love you, ok? I love both of you." He kissed her again and ran his finger over the band on her ring finger.
Melora reluctantly released her grasp. "Be safe," she said softly, "I'll see you soon."
Sirius looked ready to disagree, but Melora put a finger to his lips. "Please," she whispered, "I'll see you soon."
He nodded and then, with a loud crack, he was gone.
Melora tried to go back to sleep, but it was a worthless effort. She spent the rest of the night pacing the house, twisting her engagement ring around her finger.
What could Sirius have possibly been talking about? It had to be something with the Order. That mission he had gone off on six months ago. Merlin had it been that long since they'd seen each other?
She knew it had to do with James and Lily, the two of them having gone off the map around the same time. Melora didn't think it would last this long. After their brief conversation, she had almost begun to hope he would show up for Emma's party and would take her up on that dinner offer.
But there was nothing.
Melora wrapped her robe around her tighter and squeezed her eyes shut. What had he said? Something about being a traitor and Peter. None of this made any sense.
Around 7, Emma finally woke up and toddled into the kitchen, hair askew and hands rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
"We should get you a big girl bed," Melora said, scooping her daughter up, "You break out of that crib every morning anyway."
She tickled her stomach and Emma squealed. "Mummy no!" she squirmed and Melora relented with a smile, dropping the little girl in her booster seat.
"What shall we have for breakfast love?"
"Pannycakes!" Emma said gleefully.
Melora obeyed, the task of making breakfast clearing her troubled mind. By the time she had finished cleaning the syrup off Emily and set her down in the living room to play, Sirius's unexpected visit was almost gone from her thoughts.
But Emma's cry of 'floo' brought Melora right back to Sirius. She ran out of the kitchen to the fireplace which had turned an emerald green.
"Go to your room Emily," she instructed.
The toddler looked at her mother confused, but did as she was told.
"She's grown quite a lot since I've last seen her," Albus Dumbledore commented from in the fire.
Melora shrugged. "Children do that."
"Yes," Dumbledore agreed, "May I come in Ms. Jones?"
Melora nodded and stepped back from the fire. The Headmaster's face disappeared for a moment, but was quickly replaced by his body as he stepped out of the fireplace.
"Please have a seat Headmaster," Melora gestured to the couch, "Would you like some tea?"
"I daresay you're old enough to call me Albus," Dumbledore said with a small smile, sitting down.
"And no tea, I'm afraid I come baring very ill news Ms. Jones. You might want to sit down as well."
Melora took a deep breath and tried to prepare for the worst as she sat down next to her former professor.
"As you know, for some time now Lily and James Potter have been in hiding with their son Harry."
Melora had suspected as much so she nodded.
"Well, in order to have the utmost security, I suggested they use the Fidelius Charm, you are familiar with the charm?"
"Yes," Melora said quickly.
"I offered to be the Secret-Keeper, but James insisted Sirius would be best for the position."
Melora could feel her heart sink as she remembered Sirius's words from this morning. That I'm a traitor.
"Unfortunately, it seems James and Lily put their trust in the wrong person," Dumbledore laid a hand on Melora's knee, "They were found dead last night, killed by Voldemort himself."
Tears filled Melora's eyes. "And Harry?" she asked.
"Somehow, he survived the killing curse. It rebounded and hit Volde—"
"Please," Melora choked, "Stop saying his name."
"I'm sorry," Dumbledore said, "It rebounded and hit You-Know-Who, killing him instantly and leaving only a scar on Harry's forehead."
Melora ran a hand through her hair bewildered. None of this was making any sense. Lily and James were dead, but their son had somehow survived and killed one of the most powerful wizards alive in the process. And Sirius, Sirius was to blame?
"And you think that Sirius, you think Sirius told You-Know-Who where James and Lily were?" Melora said slowly, "That he betrayed them?"
Dumbledore nodded, "I'm afraid so."
"But he wouldn't!" she exclaimed, "James and Sirius are practically brothers! He's Harry's godfather for Merlin's sake!"
"I know it's difficult to believe," Dumbledore said, "But Peter Pettigrew tracked Sirius down early this morning and upon confronting him, Sirius blew up the street in front of him, killing Peter and twelve muggles."
"Sir—Albus," Melora wrung her hands, desperate to make Dumbledore see this couldn't be true, "This doesn't make any sense! Sirius would never betray the Potters and he certainly would never kill Peter. They were friends, best friends!"
"I'm sorry Melora," Dumbledore sighed, "But the evidence cannot be disputed."
She flashed back to Sirius's appearance hours before. "What if he wasn't the Secret Keeper?" she asked, "What if they switched it?"
"I prepared the charm myself," the Headmaster said.
Lily was the smartest witch in their year. Melora knew she could have altered it at the last minute. But if that was true, then why did Sirius kill Peter? Why didn't he just tell someone?
He did, a voice in her head argued, he tried to tell you.
Melora leaned over, burying her face in her hands, the tears that had been building up now spilling quickly. Even if that was what happened, who on earth would believe her? Especially when she only barely believed herself? Who's to say Sirius didn't come by after giving up the Potters just to manipulate Melora into believing he was innocent?
Dumbledore laid a hand on Melora's shoulder. At the touch, the blonde leaned back and wiped at her face.
"Where is he?" she asked.
"He's currently being held at the ministry, he's been sentenced to life in Azkaban."
Melora shook her head. "Not Sirius, Harry, where is Harry?"
"With his aunt and uncle. They're his closest family."
"No," Melora shook her head again, "No, those people are horrid. Wouldn't even speak to Lily and James, much less raise their child. Please Albus," she looked directly into the Headmaster's eyes. "Let me take care of him."
Dumbledore sighed. "I'm afraid I must refuse you, just as I had to refuse Mr. Lupin. Harry is safest with the Dursleys."
Before Melora could protest, the Headmaster stood and headed towards the fireplace. "I have to go, but if you ever need to talk, I'm only an owl away."
Melora crossed her arms and looked out the window, still trying to process all the information Dumbledore had just given her.
"Albus," she said suddenly, just before Dumbledore threw his floo powder into the fireplace, "If Emily's name is changed on her birth records, would it change on her Hogwarts acceptance letter as well?"
"It would," he replied.
"Okay," Melora said, looking down, "Thank you."
"Melora," Dumbledore said gently, "Although most of the Wizarding World is celebrating today, we all mourn with you as well."
"Thank you Albus," she repeated.
She left Emma with her parents later that afternoon, with little explanation. They seemed to understand. After all, they, along with the entire world knew the story of what had happened. Despite it occurring only hours ago.
The Ministry was dead silent. Most wizards and witches were off partying, Melora guessed. She made her way quickly through the atrium, flashing her press badge at the security wizard and heading towards the lifts.
She hit the button for level five, where the Hall of Records was, trying to keep her eyes off the button for level ten. Where the courtrooms were, where the prisoners were held before being taken to Azkaban, where Sirius was.
'I should ring Remus,' Melora thought as the lift took off, 'Bea too.'
A ding caught Melora's attention and she stepped into the fifth floor. Several wizards were walking around laughing with one another, none taking notice of her.
Melora was glad. She was far from being able to pretend to be joyful, much less participate in any festivities.
The Hall of Records was not unlike a muggle bank, with roped off lines and several windows where a witch or wizard would help you. All the windows were closed except one where two witches were chatting, one sitting in a chair and the other on the desk. From the snippets of conversation Melora heard as she approached, she knew they were talking about the Potters.
"Excuse me?" she said when she reached them.
The woman on the desk hopped off. "We'll talk later Holly?" she asked her friend.
"Come back in fifteen," Holly said, clearly upset Melora had interrupted her gossip, "How can I help you?"
"I need to make a change on my daughter's birth certificate," Melora told her.
"What's her name?"
"Emily Black." Holly flicked her wand and then nearly dropped it when she realized what Melora said.
"Black as in…?"
Melora bit her lip. "Please," she begged, "Don't say it."
Holly still looked shocked, but she picked up her wand and hurried to the back room, emerging several seconds later with a few sheets of parchment.
"Her name as of now is Emily Kendra Black, mother, Melora Penelope Jones, father," Holly paused and looked up at Melora, who remained stoic, "Sirius Orion Black. What changes would you like to make?"
"I'd like to change her last name from Black to Jones and redact her father's name."
"We don't normally allow…" Holly trailed off, "But I suppose I can." She mumbled a spell and flicked her wand at the parchment and the two women watched as the Black name disappeared. Holly took a quill and dipped it in a blood red ink and wrote 'Jones' in the blank spot next to Emily's name, and 'Not Available' on the line marked 'father'.
"You just need to sign here," Holly said, passing the quill and the parchment over to Melora and gesturing to the bottom of the page.
For a moment, Melora hesitated. Every moment with Sirius over the past four years seemed to flash before her eyes in an instant. Then she thought of James and Lily, of little Harry, and Peter, and of her own Emily. Emily who barely knew her father. Who never had to know the monster he'd become.
She signed and handed back the parchment and the quill.
"Thank you," Holly said, "I promise I'll keep this quiet."
Melora just nodded and left.
A/N- Jeez, I wrote this chapter way back when I first started writing this story, so it's really weird to finally be publishing it.
I told you guys I'd make the ending relatively canon. Of course, that also means it's a sad ending. But, fear not! We still have the epilogue, and I have a special treat for you guys at the end of that.
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