Chapter 16 : Secrets
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Later that night, Francesca was still awake. Her father’s words kept going round in her head.
“I came back for my family, sweetheart!”
She had also called him ‘Dad’ for the first time. Having Harry with them, with everyone listening to, and arguing about, all that music had made them feel like a family. She knew that her mother had done her best, always to keep her safe and happy but, despite the presence of her Uncle Remus, she had missed having a father around. And now he was here; only she didn’t know how to deal with it.
She got up and crept downstairs to get herself a drink. She was surprised to see Sirius asleep on the sofa. She didn’t know that Terese had insisted that Sirius sleep there whilst Francesca was at home so that her daughter didn’t feel so uncomfortable with the fact that they were back together. She tried to slip passed without disturbing him, but as she crept by him, he stirred.
“Wha??” Sirius suddenly sat bolt upright, looking around and trying to orientate himself.
“Sorry.” Francesca whispered. “I was just going to get a drink. I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“It’s alright sweetheart. I don’t sleep very heavily anymore.”
“Would you like a glass of milk?” Francesca offered politely, suddenly feeling awkward.
“Please.” He replied. She came back in with the glasses of milk and hovered by the door, unsure whether to stay or go back to bed.
“What’s it like?” She asked. “Azkaban?” Sirius’ expression darkened fleetingly.
“Do you remember what it was like to be near the dementors?” She nodded. “Like that but trapped in a small space with hundreds of them.”
“How did you cope?” He reached into his pocket, took out the photo of his wife and daughter that he had kept with him for years and handed it to her. She sat down next to him. “I’ve never seen this one!” she exclaimed.
“I think your Uncle Remus took it and sent it to me. And your mum sent me this” he said, handing her the father’s day card she had made him years ago. She began to cry softly.
“I remember this. I made it at Play School and begged Mum to make sure Daddy had it for Fathers’ Day!”
“It can’t have been easy for her” he said, almost to himself.
“She was different today.” Francesca told him.
“Was she? She used to be like that, before…” He took a deep breath. He wasn’t sure how much his daughter knew.
“I’ve never seen her that… relaxed.” Sirius smiled nostalgically.
“Francesca, your mum, when we were younger… She was… amazing”
“Why do you call her Tess?”
“I don’t remember how that started. She would never let anyone else say it. And she’d never let anyone other than James call her Raesey.”
“Yeah, he couldn’t say her name properly when they were little and it stuck. She called him Jimmy.”
“She’s never talked about it. Not even since you came back.”
“What do you know?”
“That her parents and sister were killed in front of her at 16, she stayed with Harry’s dad, married you then…” Sirius nodded.
“When James and Lily died, and I was imprisoned, you and Remus were all she had left. Before that, we had these plans…” his voice started to break with emotion, and he cleared his throat. “These plans to raise you and Harry like your Mum and his Dad had been.”
“They were close?”
“They were like brother and sister. And best friends. He saved her life.”
“It was James and his Dad, Steven, who ran in and got her out of the house in Italy when her family were killed.”
“And Harry’s mum, Lily?” Sirius smiled fondly.
“They were like you and Ginny. And there was Athena as well. She died too.”
“So when Uncle Remus said she lost everything more than once, he wasn’t exaggerating!” Francesca said, shocked by her mother’s story.
“She didn’t lose you though” Sirius said to her. “You know she loves you more than anything.”
“More than you and Harry?” she asked softly, looking at the floor.
“You’re her daughter, Francesca…”
“What’s going on?” Terese was standing in the doorway.
“I couldn’t sleep and I came down for a drink.” Francesca explained. “You never told me about Harry’s parents.” Terese paled visibly, and raised an eyebrow at Sirius, who recognised the look.
“I asked him, Mum!” Francesca defended her father.
“Sweetheart, there was a reason why I didn’t want you to know all that. It’s too much…”
“She’s fourteen, Tess…” Sirius began.
“Yeah, she’s a…”
“I’m not a child, Mum.” Francesca said, softly.
“Darling, I know but some things… some things are just…” her voice broke and she began to cry. She sat down in an armchair and tried to compose herself. “I’m sorry, sweetheart. I wanted to protect you from it all!”
“Does Harry know about it?”
“I don’t think so.” Terese replied. “Not all of it.”
“I would’ve understood mum…”
“Francesca, ever since I… we discovered we were having you, all I’ve ever wanted was to keep you safe and happy. I thought that was the best way to do it.”
“Did Uncle Remus think you should tell me?”
“Yes he did.”
“Francesca, please” Terese interrupted wearily. “I can’t answer any more. Please.” Francesca looked at her mother’s distraught expression, and then looked over at her father, who put his arm around Terese. Francesca nodded, and went up to bed without another word. Terese sighed.
“I wish you’d asked me before dredging everything up, Sirius.”
“I didn’t plan on telling her anything, babe. She started asking questions. She said how different you were today. I thought it would be easier for you, I didn’t think you’d want to talk about it.”
“You could have asked me first.”
“She’s my daughter too, Tess.”
“Then you should have fought harder to be with her!” Terese hissed. Sirius’ expression darkened.
“That’s not fair, Terese.” She crumpled again, the emotional rollercoaster exhausting her.
“I tried so hard. Maybe I was wrong not telling her about her family being murdered when she was a child. But I didn’t. Perhaps that makes me a terrible mother, but I was making these decisions by myself, and I did what I thought was best.”
“I know, Tess.” He said, putting his arm around her. “I know.”
Ok, so it’s been about 2 years since I updated this fic (I’ve been unbelievably busy!) I hope it’s been worth the wait??
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