An Alternate Chain of Events

Chapter 11 - Misunderstandings

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Chapter Eleven – Misunderstandings

It had been two weeks since Harry's departure and Lily and James were still fighting. Some days they were civil and others they didn't speak at all. Both had tried to reconcile at different points, but the other one hadn't been interested.

Lily had sent an apology owl to Emilia.

Em,

I'm sorry I can't come round in person. James has gone mad that I've seen you and we're having a massive row. He'll come round eventually but I don't want to make things worse right now.

I can't talk to Sirius for you, I'm sorry. James is being overly protective of him. You remember what he's like, he's completely blind to the other side of the story when people he loves are involved. Whatever happened between you, I know Sirius is no saint, as much as I care for him.

I'll let you know when James has calmed down.

Hopefully see you soon.

Lily.

James, however, was showing no signs of calming down at all. He hadn't told Sirius what he and Lily were fighting about, he was trying not to show any signs that they were fighting but he was unsuccessful. He had been sleeping in Harry's bed, it was both smaller and less comfortable than the one James shared with Lily, but since they were not speaking, he was not permitted in the bed.

"You're in a lovely mood again." Sirius noted.

James just grunted a response.

"Well don't talk my ear off," Sirius continued. "I've just been downstairs and reception has a letter for you." Sirius handed him some parchment written in a familiar hand.

"It's from Harry." James was bemused. "Why would he send the letter here?"

"Scrimmy's not around. Why don't you find out what it says?"

Dad,

I've had the most horrible few weeks. Mum might be angry when she hears so I thought I could explain it to you first.

When we got back to school Hagrid had bought a dragon egg. It hatched into a real biting, fire breathing, Norwegian Ridgeback dragon. We saw it hatch in Hagrid's cabin, but Malfoy followed us and he saw too. Hagrid was in love with this dragon (who he called Norbert), but we had to help him get rid of it before Dumbledore found out. So Ron wrote to his brother Charlie (he works with dragons in Romania) Charlie said that some friends of his could pick it up and take it to him if we could get it to the tallest tower at midnight on Saturday.

Except, Ron got bitten by Norbert and had to go to the hospital wing because it turned out Norbert is poisonous and he got really ill. Malfoy went in to laugh at him telling Madam Pomfrey that he wanted to borrow a book but the book Ron had to give to him had Charlie's letter in! So when Hermione and I went to take Norbert (under the invisibility cloak) we bumped into Malfoy being led away by McGonagall in loads of trouble. This was all going great. We gave Norbert to Charlie's friends and tried to go back to Gryffindor tower but we left the cloak on the astronomy tower and ran into Filch. To make matters even worse we then bumped into poor old Neville who had come to warn us about what Malfoy was doing.

McGonagall was furious. She told us how much shame we'd brought on the house of Godric Gryffindor and she deducted 150 house points between us. Obviously we couldn't tell her that there really was a dragon so she thought we'd just leaked the story to get Malfoy in trouble. We couldn't tell Neville the truth either and now he's mad at us too. The rest of the school (apart from the Slytherins) hate me for allowing Slytherin to take the lead in the House Cup. It's so awful here. I really wish I could come home.

You can ask Hagrid, he'll tell you I'm telling the truth about Norbert. But we can't explain this to anyone else. I have detention with him in the forest soon.

Have you and mum made up yet?

Please don't be mad and please tell mum I'm sorry.

Love,

Harry.

James read Harry's letter twice before passing it to Sirius. James didn't need to write to Hagrid, if Harry said he'd hatched a dragon, James was more than willing to believe that.

Sirius let out a low whistle. "Well he's not having a good time, is he?"

James shook his head. "Bloody Hagrid. Sometimes he's just unbelievable."

Sirius nodded in agreement. "Write back to Harry and tell him about all the House Points we lost at school. The other students will get over it."

"We never lost 150 in one go."

"Didn't we?" Sirius asked in surprise. "We must have gotten away with more than I remember."

"Poor old Neville." James shook his head. "Its just the type of thing Frank would have warned us about."

They rarely mentioned Frank. Sirius didn't have a response, Frank's fate was worse than anything he could put into words. It was all thanks to Sirius's dear cousin Bellatrix, it made Sirius sick to remember that they were related. James used the silence to reply to Harry.

"What are you and Lily fighting about, anyway?"

James looked surprised before he remembered it was in Harry's letter. "Oh nothing." If he told Sirius why they were fighting, he'd have to explain that Emilia wanted to see him, James was certain that Sirius and Emilia meeting up could do no good for either of them.

Sirius didn't challenge James, it explained why he'd been so miserable recently but if he didn't want to discuss it, Sirius would not make him. "Remus wants to go for a drink tonight. You up for it?"

"Definitely."

Remus had been quiet recently. He had not yet found another job and his severance package was beginning to run dry. The only thing stopping him from sinking into a deep depression was Veronica. She had become such an essential part of his life he wondered how he had ever managed without her. This should have been the happiest he had ever been if it wasn't for his lack of job prospects. He didn't know what avenue to try next, but whichever way he went he knew Ronnie would be right behind him, and to Remus that meant everything.

"Moony!" Sirius and James shouted when he met them at the bar. By the looks of them they had started without him.

"Evening boys." He smiled.

"It looks like you haven't dropped off the face of the earth then."

"No Prongs, I've just been busy not finding a job."

"Things going that good then?" Sirius sighed. "Look mate, if you need some gold to get you by . . ."

"No." Remus said firmly. "But thank you."

The men spent hours getting progressively drunker, and laughing like they hadn't done in a while.

"I wasn't ever going to mention this." Sirius slurred. "But I bumped into Emilia over Christmas. She lives in Godric's Hollow now."

"Blimey!" Remus spluttered. "Did you speak?"

Sirius shook his head. "It was when I was watching Harry so I didn't have time to say anything other than hello. I'm not really sure what else I could have said though." Sirius looked to James. "Did Lily go to see her?"

"You knew?" James was incredulous.

"She asked me after she bumped into her at the shop." Sirius furrowed his brow. "Don't tell me this is what you're fighting about?"

"I may owe her an apology." James said slowly. "I shouted at her for interfering, Merlin I'm an idiot, I should have known she wouldn't have done it behind your back." Sirius was openly laughing now. "I've been sleeping in Harry's bed for two weeks because I was defending your honour!"

"You're bloody ridiculous." Sirius laughed. "What did Emilia say?"

"That she wanted to see you." As soon as James had said it, he wished he hadn't. Even if Lily hadn't done anything wrong, Sirius and Emilia talking was still a bad idea. James looked at Remus who frowned back at him.

"Why does she want to see me?" Sirius was talking to himself.

"I don't know but forget it, it's not like you'll talk to her." James tried, but Sirius wasn't listening at all. Remus was shaking his head at James; Sirius was already a lost cause.

James arrived home at one o'clock in the morning. He tripped over his robes as he tried to undo the door with a sickle that he'd found in his pocket. Once he realised that his key would be more effective he ran straight upstairs.

Lily was already asleep, and she was woken abruptly by the bedroom door slamming against the wall. James blundered in, and before Lily could say anything, he'd conjured up the most beautiful bouquet of flowers.

"'M s'rry, Lil." He looked earnest, but he was swaying.

"Are you drunk?"

"Completely flobberwormed." James slurred. "I am sorry though."

"I'm sorry too." Lily said smiling.

"Can I come back to bed?" James asked, holding himself up on the dresser. Lily nodded. James collapsed on the bed and started snoring immediately. The noise ended up being so annoying that Lily left to sleep in Harry's empty bed. She was shocked by how uncomfortable it was, he really needed a new mattress.

As hard as Sirius tried he couldn't stop wondering why Emilia wanted to see him. What could they possibly have to say to one another? He debated asking Lily about their meeting but if he was determined not to see Emilia it would only make him more curious.

He couldn't have been less prepared for her turning up on his doorstep.

"Hello, Sirius." She smiled weakly. "Can I come in?"

He nodded and closed the door behind her. He was never lost for words and yet when she was around he couldn't think of single word in the English language.

"How did you know where I lived?" He asked, finally finding his voice.

"You live in the same place, I took a chance." She sat on the sofa and looked around. The whole place looked so familiar, it could have been seven years ago. Except he was looking at her like that again, his dark eyes were full of suspicion just like he didn't know who she was.

"Why are you here?" He asked bluntly.

"My husband found a note Lily sent a few weeks back." Emilia answered. "He thinks I'm having an affair."

Sirius was more confused than ever. "I still don't understand why you're here. I haven't seen you for more than a minute in seven years."

"Because when he asked me if I was leaving him for you, I realised that I wanted to say yes." Emilia looked at him. He hadn't sat down. He was towering over her with his arms crossed, his eyes like steel. "What happened to us Sirius?"

Sirius felt like he'd had the wind knocked out of him. He sat down opposite her looking incredulous.

"You know what happened!" He snapped.

"No I don't!" Emilia retorted. "Lily told me that you said that I ended it!"

"I might have been the one to say it, but we both know that you finished us."

"What did I do?" Emilia shouted. "I've thought about this nearly every day since you called it off and I still don't know. How did I betray you?" Emilia's voice kept breaking. "Once and for all, can you just tell me what happened?"

"This happened seven years ago! Why are you bringing it back up now? You're married."

"Because ever since Christmas you're all I've bloody thought about. It's made me realise how unhappy I am. The last time I was happy was with you and I don't know what I did to ruin it, so can you please just tell me!" A few tears rolled down her cheek and she wiped them away hastily.

Sirius thought back to that night. He'd just gotten back from work and there was a letter waiting for him on his coffee table. He didn't recognise the handwriting. He remembered how curious he was about it and afterwards how much he wished he had never read it.

Dear Mr Black

I thought it was my duty to inform you that the woman you are to marry, Emilia Greenleaf, is not the person who you think she is.

She was once the lover of your brother Regulus, and has now moved on to Lucius Malfoy, she does love a death eater you see.

If you need proof of this, go to Malfoy Manor. She is there as you read this and that's not where she told you she was this evening, was it?

You'll see,

A concerned watcher.

Against all his better intuition, Sirius had gone to Malfoy Manor, arriving just as Emilia hurried out. She couldn't have looked more guilty, Sirius thought as he watched her from the shadows. She looked up and down the street to check no one had seen her before disapparating.

Sirius was bursting with hurt and anger. Forgetting any courtesy he stormed up the long drive, wand raised, and burst open the door. "MALFOY!" He bellowed, his voice echoing around the stone walls of cavernous foyer.

"What on earth are you doing in my home, Black?" Malfoy approached him, wand raised.

"What were you doing with that girl that was just here?" Sirius was pointing his wand directly at Lucius's heart.

"That's none of your business," Lucius hissed.

"Don't mess with me Malfoy, I'm really not in the mood." Sirius took a step forward. "Believe me, I'd like nothing more than to permanently wipe that smirk off of your pathetic face."

"I thought you were a ministry official, Black. You can't go around harassing law abiding citizens." Malfoy was taunting him.

"Don't make me laugh." Sirius spat. "You escaped Azkaban by the skin of your teeth, you piece of dirt." He raised his wand and a few sparks shot out of the end. "Are you seeing that girl that was just here?"

Malfoy's eyes glinted. "Is that why you're so upset, dear cousin? Has your girl gone astray?"

"Answer the question." Sirius's wand was directly between Malfoy's eyes.

Lucius's smile was all Sirius needed to know, but before he could curse him another voice came into the room.

"Sirius!" It said shrilly. "What on earth are you doing in my home?" Narcissa Malfoy had just walked through the front door, holding the hand of a young boy.

Sirius lowered his wand. He could not curse a man in front of his son, even if that man was Malfoy.

"Nothing." Sirius spat. "I was just leaving." Narcissa ran to Lucius to check that he hadn't been harmed. "Send my love to Bella, Cissy, I know how close you two are."

"Your mother sends her most sincere regards, Sirius, you're sorely missed round the dinner table." Narcissa hissed back.

"She's not dead yet? What a shame."

Sirius left to confront Emilia and she didn't deny anything. The only person he had told about the entire encounter at Malfoy Manor was his cousin Andromeda, she'd come round to check on him one day and found him weeping on the floor. He was still mortified about that now. He had never even told James.

Emilia was incredulous. "You thought I was having an affair with Lucius Malfoy? Are you being serious?"

"He confirmed it himself!"

"He wanted you to believe that because he wouldn't have wanted you to know the real reason I was there."

"Which was?"

"I was auditing him for Gringotts. They'd frozen his assets and I was sent to recover what he owed." Emilia looked so earnest. "I didn't tell you I was going there because I knew you'd have gone mad that I went on my own."

Sirius looked shell shocked. Could this really be true? Had he really ended things based on a complete misunderstanding?

"I never denied it because you didn't give me the chance." Emilia rested her head in her hands.

"What about Regulus?"

"Really Sirius?" Emilia sighed, but he showed no signs of yielding. "Fine. You know that I was in his year at Hogwarts and that he was my friend. We were never together in that way!" She pleaded. "I always told you that you judged your brother too harshly. He wasn't bad, he was just never as brave as you."

"He was a stinking death eater."

"Not of his own volition, and you know that deep down." Emilia looked at Sirius. "He admired you." Emilia took a risk and reached out for his hand and Sirius didn't pull it away.

Sirius was struggling to re-evaluate the last seven years of his life. He looked Emilia directly in the eye. "You're telling the truth?"

"Completely." She looked back unflinchingly and he threaded his fingers through hers.

"I'm so sorry." He croaked. "I shouldn't have-"

"No I shouldn't have let you. I should have told you where I was going." Emilia felt an enormous relief, like the weight she'd been carrying around her neck all of these years had vanished. "Who sent that letter?"

"I never found out. With everything else that happened it didn't seem important." Sirius frowned. "But whoever sent it managed to get into my flat and follow you. We must know them."

"Why would anyone we know have wanted to break us up?"

Sirius was flummoxed. He had wasted the last seven years of his life because of the poison of this anonymous writer. He couldn't feel the anger though, that would come later, because right now he was wrapped up in a moment with the love of his life.

His Emilia.

But his Emilia wasn't his Emilia anymore because she was married now. Sirius withdrew his hand and she looked hurt.

"You have a husband."

"I don't love him."

"Then leave him."

"It's complicated." Emilia said in a small voice. "I don't want to hurt him. He's been good to me."

"Then you need to leave." Sirius tried to make his voice devoid of any emotion at all. He couldn't tell how successful he was, but he really didn't want her go. He didn't want her to ever leave him again.

"I can't." Emilia was being torn in two. She had married Caius and now she was tied to him. But this was Sirius, and what if they had a chance? What if they could get their happy ending after all? Could she really leave now and never find out? She stroked his face and leaned in, but before their lips could touch a crash made them both jump apart.

Their heart rates quickly subsided. It was only a stupid owl that'd flown into the window. Sirius would have ignored it but he knew that owl.

Emilia watched Sirius's face as he read and knew something was wrong. "Sirius, what is-"

"I need to go to see James." The owl had flown away and Sirius was already reaching for his jacket.

"Can't it wait until morning?"

"No."

"Is it work?"

"No." Sirius had reached the front door. "It's Harry." He held out his hand for Emilia and they both disapparated.

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