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Chapter 34 : Epilogue
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James shut the door against the freezing January wind and walked back inside. His cloak was covered in fresh white powder. He itched to get out of the house. He felt like his lovely home, the one he’d so carefully purchased with Lily, had been turned into a prison. He was trapped.
“You didn’t leave the yard, did you?” Asked the sweet voice of his wife.
James groaned. If his home was a prison, his wife was the warden. Or perhaps a dementor, depending on how he felt at any given moment. “No, I didn’t leave the yard,” he snapped.
“It’s for your own safety,” she reminded him.
James rolled his eyes. Everyone was so concerned about his safety. Sometimes he wanted to pack up and leave, let Lily and the baby stay in this hellhole while he went out and fought Voldemort. Hiding wasn’t going to solve any problems and it’d been months now. He needed out.
As if on cue, the baby began wailing. A pair of soft lips pressed against his cheek. “Could you get Harry while I finish up supper?” Lily asked.
James sighed. Trapped, he thought again. “Of course, dear,” he said with a smile.
Lily washed her hands for the tenth time that evening. She always felt they had some kind of dirt on them, something that she couldn’t remove no matter how hard she tried. The baby upstairs kept crying and she closed her eyes, wishing that her husband could manage this on his own for once.
He thought she hadn’t noticed how unhappy he was, but Lily noticed everything. It was James who didn’t realize she was unhappy too. She had wanted to be a Healer. The marriage, the baby, You-Know-Who had all put that on hold. At the time it’d been okay, but it was her dream. She’d wanted that for as long as she knew what Healers were.
The sound of the baby’s crying grew closer and she sighed. She needed to get out of the house as much as her husband did. She loved James and Harry both, but this wasn’t what she signed on to when she agreed to marry him right out of Hogwarts.
“Lil? You’ve got the magic touch with him,” James said, cradling the baby all wrong. No wonder he was crying.
Lily reached out, smiling at tiny child with the small tuft of black hair. “Mama’s got you,” she said in her soothing voice, rocking on her feet. “Shh, Mama’s got you.”
The robes were heavy and the mask made his face itch. Outside it was cold, there was a large fire in the heart. The sweat dripped down Peter’s face, beneath the Death Eater’s mask the Dark Lord required he wear. He’d been waiting for an hour, but he knew better than to move. The Dark Lord would come when he was good and ready, not a moment before.
Peter sometimes wished in these moments while he waited that his life had gone a different way. He wanted to be more like Sirius or James. Even Remus. They were all real Gryffindors. He didn’t know why the Sorting Hat had chosen that House for him and he thought that maybe, just maybe, his life would be different.
He could have been in Slytherin. He would have made a better Slytherin than Gryffindor. He felt like a phony. People like him weren’t made to spy.
His life was near constant fear now. He’d been the Potters’ secret keeper for nearly a month, ever since the New Year, and had yet to tell the Dark Lord. He hoped that maybe he would grow disinterested in the Potters. Their little boy turned one in July, perhaps then he’d come to his senses and realize that the child was only that- a child.
Then Peter would no longer have to lie in a weak attempt to protect his former friend. He hadn’t wanted to be Secret Keeper in the first place, but when Sirius made up his mind there was no use arguing.
The flat was too big for Sirius’s liking. When he’d first bought it right after Hogwarts, he’d liked its size. All the better for throwing parties, he’d thought at the time. That was when he’d had people to throw parties with, before Dumbledore had forced his best mate under house arrest.
Visits with James had to be planned weeks in advance, Sirius hardly even got to see his godson. He couldn’t just pop over whenever he pleased. Which wouldn’t have been the worst except Remus had pulled away from all of them.
There was a spy in the Order, that much they knew, and Remus had been acting suspicious for months. Sirius was almost certain it was him which was why he’d given the Secret Keeper position to Peter. Remus would never suspect they’d made the switch.
Sirius took a swig of his firewhiskey, feeling the gratifying burn as it slid down his throat. He didn’t do anything anymore, except drink firewhiskey and write letters to all the people he should be spending his time with. At first he’d wasted his exorbitant free time in muggle pubs with girls and silly muggle sports, but even that failed to keep his interest.
He preferred drinking alone to the company of strangers.
Remus rubbed his hand tiredly down his face as he got back to his parents’ house. It had been a long day. He’d been to three different job interviews, but had limited hopes for them. As soon as they checked his name they always turned up the registry and he was done.
Oftentimes they didn’t bother to let him know, which was why he grew excited when a letter was waiting for him in his room. Excitedly he ripped it opened and scanned the first line.
At least that one had the courtesy of letting him know. It hadn’t even been for a good job. It was a shopkeeper’s position at a crummy shop on Diagon Alley that sold love potions. With his NEWTs he should have been able to get any job he wanted, but with the damned registry no one would hire him, not even for menial labor.
A knock came at his door. “Remus honey? Are you coming down for dinner?” His mum asked.
Remus sighed. He was twenty years old and still living at home. James was married, with a kid for Merlin’s sake. Sirius had his own flat. Only Peter was still living at home too.
“Yeah, Mum. Sure. I’ll down in a few.” He tossed the crumpled letter into the bin by his desk where it landed on the others. Soon he’d have to empty it. Again.
Night came early now. Ana made sure she was inside as soon sun went down, but sometimes she considered leaving her small house and just running. She didn’t have anywhere to go, though, so she stayed put.
Canadian winters were as cold as the ones she was used to at Durmstrang, perhaps even colder. She rarely put the fire out and preferred to curl up beside it with her photobook, the one Lily had given her on the day she left. She flipped through it nearly every night and the pictures soothed her.
She’d been happier then. Ana traced the smile on her face, wondering when the last time she’d laughed and joked with anyone was. She wondered where her friends were now, what they were doing. She hoped they were happy, especially Remus.
None of them had owled her in months. The last time was when James and Lily’s baby was born, Harry. The time before that had been a wedding invitation, but Ana hadn’t gone.
Sirius and Lily had both tried to keep in touch for a few months, but it hadn’t lasted. Those things never did.
She reached the end of the pictures of Hogwarts and turned the page. Baby Harry smiled up at her, black hair just like James’s and green eyes like Lily’s. He was perfect. Then she closed the book.
The only picture she’d added in last two years was Harry’s. The rest of the book was still blank.
A/N: After 30,000+ reads and 200+ reviews, this story is finally complete. Thank all of you amazing, wonderful people for reading/reviewing/favoriting. This is the first novel length story I've ever completed on this site and I know it was due to all of you.
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