An Alternate Chain of Events

Chapter 10 - The Past Comes Back Around

Chapter 10 – The Past Comes Back Around

The Easter holidays came around quickly. Harry tried to pass his anxiety off as nerves for his end of year exams. However, this backfired on him. His mother spent hours quizzing him on Potions, Charms and Herbology, whilst his father took Transfiguration, DADA and Astronomy. Despite Lily's claims that History of Magic was important, Harry noted that neither of his parents had opted to help him with that subject.

"Harry? Harry? Are you even listening?"

Harry and James were sat at the kitchen table going over DADA that afternoon. Harry must have drifted back into thoughts of Quirrell and Snape because he hadn't got the slightest idea what James was saying.

"You know the basic principle of disarming don't you?"

"No actually." Harry replied, mentally tearing himself away from Hogwarts.

"You're joking?" James replied incredulously, flicking through the textbook.

"No. Quirrell hasn't really gone through much practical information at all. It's all about defensive theory. It's actually a pretty boring subject."

"Boring? It's the most useful subject at that school, bar transfiguration." James shook his head. "Does Dumbledore know he's that useless?"

Harry shrugged. "I don't know. I guess so, not much happens there that Dumbledore doesn't know about." Harry looked down at his notes, he couldn't even remember taking them the lessons had been so mindless. "I told you, I don't know how he got the job. He has an awful stutter and he's so jumpy! He wears this massive turban that the Weasley twins think is full of garlic to ward off vampires."

"Well he sounds like a joke."

"I prefer him to Snape." Quirrell's adequacy as a teacher was the least of Harry's worries, he was more concerned about his resolve. The safety of the Stone completely depended on him standing his ground with Snape. Ron was right; the Stone would definitely be gone by the time they got back.

"Harry is something wrong?" James looked directly at him. This was the first time his father had asked him this, it was Lily who kept saying he looked down. As much as Harry wanted to tell his parents all about Snape and the Stone, his instincts were screaming not to and he listened to them.

"I'm fine dad." Harry replied, not quite meeting his eye. "Just nervous for these exams, more nervous after all this revision because I don't feel like I know anything."

"That's not true." James reassured him. "You know plenty. I wouldn't worry too much about these exams Harry, they're more of a formality than of any importance. But don't tell your mum I said that."

Harry couldn't have been less concerned about his exams. No matter how assured Hagrid was that Snape couldn't be involved in any dark magic, Harry was convinced that he was getting closer to the Stone, especially after overhearing him in the forest. The only thing standing in Snape's way were Harry, Ron and Hermione, well and Dumbledore.

"Look, shall we give revision a break and do something else?" James suggested kindly. "I won't tell if you don't."

"What do you have in mind?"

"Quick game of Niffler with the Quaffle? I bet you're better on a broomstick than me now."

Harry smiled. "Ok then. Did I tell you that I caught the snitch in five minutes in the last game?"

"You might have mentioned it in several letters and forty times this week."

"Dumbledore even came to that match and he hardly ever comes. He said well done to me in person." Harry was particularly proud of this.

"He's a busy man," James told Harry. "He's always popping into the ministry to see Fudge. He's a great Headmaster but I sometimes wish he'd taken the Minister's job."

"Don't you like Fudge?" Harry asked.

"It's not that I don't like him, I just think Dumbledore would be much better."

"Is this about Remus's werewolf thing getting passed over?"

James smiled. He was always surprised at how clued in Harry was. "Partly. How did you hear about that?"

"It was in the paper."

"You read the Prophet?" James asked in surprise.

"No." Harry shook his head. "Hermione does. She told me. She was also saying something about a ministry blunder in Nottingham around the same time you were working there…"

James properly laughed. "Enough current affairs. Go and get the broomsticks."

Lily nervously knocked on Emilia's door. She already felt overwhelmed with guilt, she considered disapparating but brushed that aside. Lily's conversation with Sirius had been decidedly awkward, but he had said that he didn't care if Lily saw her. It was just his face that told her that he minded. I shouldn't be doing this. Lily realised this too late. The door opened and Emilia looked delighted.

"Lily! How lovely to see you!"

"Hello Emilia, how're you?" Lily followed her into the sitting room.

"I'm well thank you. How about yourself?"

"Wonderful thank you. Harry's home for the holidays." Lily smiled.

Emilia's smile was rather tight. "Caius's children were here for the last few days. They've gone to their mum's now."

Lily looked around the room. There was a family portrait on the mantle piece of a man with greying hair and glasses that she presumed to be Emilia's husband, and two teenagers, who must have been his children, they kept pushing the mousy haired Emilia out of the frame.

"Do you not get along with his children?" Lily asked gently.

Emilia looked very sad. She had always been such a happy person when Lily had known her years ago. "They're lovely teenagers. It's just that Caius is a bit older than me and –" Emilia could tell that Lily didn't believe a word she was saying. "They hate me." She admitted flatly. "And since Caius doesn't want more children, I'm stuck in a family that despises me."

"Can't your husband talk to them?" Lily suggested.

Emilia shook her head. "He won't do anything to upset them, or they'll go running to mummy and he'll never see them." Emilia ran her fingers through her hair. "The truth is, I thought I was happy until I bumped into Sirius at Christmas." Lily sensed that they were heading into dangerous territory.

"Emilia, I'm not sure that I feel comfortable discussing Sirius."

Emilia looked a bit taken back. "Oh, I'm sorry."

"That's alright." Lily said kindly.

"Does he know you're here?"

"Yes." Lily replied honestly. "Emilia, don't go after him again. You're married, it's not going to work. He was heartbroken the first time and it's really not fair." Lily knew she had stepped over the line, but her loyalty to Sirius had compelled her.

"He was heartbroken?" Emilia said incredulously. Lily had not expected that. "He called it off!"

"Excuse me?" Lily said in surprise. "I thought you did?"

"No." Emilia shook her head. "One day we were absolutely fine and the next he stormed in shouting that I'd betrayed him and we weren't getting married." She looked genuinely pained. "He wouldn't listen when I said I hadn't done anything. I didn't see him again until Christmas last year." Seeing Sirius had really left Emilia thinking, he was still so handsome and he looked happy, not much different to the way that she remembered him. She couldn't stop thinking about the way he had looked at her, it wasn't disgust or hatred, thankfully, but he looked at her like she was an unpleasant stranger. He always used to light up whenever he saw her. Caius never lit up around her, it had been this that made her realise how much she missed Sirius, and how much she still loved him.

"Is he seeing anyone?"

"He's always seeing someone. I don't know what her name is this week."

Emilia nodded. She was surprised how much the knowledge had hurt her. He was successful, handsome and charming, of course he was seeing other people.

"Can I ask you a personal question?" Lily asked tentatively.

"Ok."

"How did you end up married to someone twice your age?"

Emilia sighed. "I was a junior at Gringotts and he was my boss. One thing led to another."

"Do you love him?"

Emilia looked uncomfortable. "I thought I did. But then I saw Sirius and all my old memories came flooding back. He made me so happy. My relationship with Caius is so different, I feel more like his subordinate than his wife most of the time."

Lily looked thoughtful, this hadn't turned out the way she had expected at all. "Could you talk to him? Tell him your side of the story,"

"Sirius? I don't think he'd want to see me. He made a quick exit the last time I saw him." Emilia wanted to see him more than anything else in the world. "I thought you wanted me to stay away?"

"I don't want him to get hurt." Lily admitted. "But I know he's never gotten over you and if this was all down to a misunderstanding, surely you need to find out what happened." Lily felt a rush of empathy

"So will you help me to see him?"

Lily bit her lip, a moment of indecision. "I'll talk to him."

"Lily! You can't interfere with their lives!" James was more annoyed than Lily had estimated.

"What if they're meant to be together?" Lily insisted.

"That's not up to you! Stop meddling." James sounded serious, and he rarely sounded serious about anything. "I mean it, don't talk to Sirius."

"Are you going to say anything?"

"No, I am not." James shook his head. "I still can't believe you even went to see her."

"She was my friend." Lily argued. "And she looked so sad."

"Good."

"James!" She raised her voice from the whispered argument they'd been having. "You didn't mind when I fixed Remus up with Veronica."

"They were completely different circumstances!" James exploded. "If you meddle with this you will cause such a mess. Sirius won't thank you for it and neither will I!"

Harry heard raised and muttered voices from the kitchen. His parents rarely ever argued. It was the last night of the Easter holidays and he had something very important to ask his father before he left.

James left the kitchen in a storming temper and went straight out the front door without spotting Harry.

Harry ventured into the kitchen where Lily was sat at the table. Her face was red and her jaw was tight, she looked furious. Worse than when Harry had accidentally let garden gnomes loose in the house when he was eight.

Harry couldn't imagine what they were fighting about that would make them both this angry.

"Mum?" He asked tentatively. Lily looked up in surprise. "Is everything ok?"

Her jaw relaxed as Harry sat opposite her. "Fine, sweetheart." Lily smiled weakly. "We're just having a bit of a disagreement. It's not important. Are you all packed?"

"Yeah." Harry didn't believe her at all. He'd never seen his dad so mad that he'd left the house.

His parents had not made up the next day. Harry noted from the state of the cushions and the blankets that James had slept on the couch.

Lily was called into work unexpectedly so she couldn't accompany Harry to the train.

"I'm so sorry," She looked upset. "It's an emergency or they wouldn't have called me."

"Don't worry mum, I'll see you in a few weeks." Harry gave her a big hug and Lily left without acknowledging James.

James wasn't as skilled at pretending nothing was wrong in front of Harry. He was in an awful mood that morning and although it was not an ideal time to ask him, Harry had left it too late already.

"Dad, why did you hate Snape?"

"What?"

"I mean was it because he was git, or because he was actually evil, like in to dark magic?"

It took James a few moments to think of an answer. He couldn't tell Harry that Snape had been a death eater. But it made James very uncomfortable that Harry had hit the nail directly on the head.

"Why are you asking?"

"I just wondered why you detest him."

"I don't detest him."

"You do. It's the same way that I hate Malfoy, and I hate him for being obsessed by the dark arts."

"Harry you're over thinking this." James lied. "We just didn't get on at school. A lot of it revolved around your mum. He's not evil."

Harry looked dubious. "Ok then." If anything confirmed his suspicions it was James's answer. Snape was definitely a dark wizard.

At the train James hugged him tightly. "Good luck with exams, and in the final Quidditch match. Keep your head down and get on with the last term, don't go looking for more trouble."

"Ok dad," Harry smiled. "See you soon." He walked down the train to find Ron and Hermione.

"Did you ask him?" Ron asked immediately while Harry nodded gravely.

"Dad was lying. Snape was definitely into dark magic."

"Why would he lie?" Hermione asked reasonably. She had more trouble accepting a Hogwarts teacher of being capable of this than Ron or Harry.

"To stop me going after him alone." Harry replied. "But he doesn't know about the Stone. If Snape does something, we have to go after him."

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