An Alternate Chain of Events

Chapter 16 - Moving Forwards

Chapter Sixteen - Moving Forward

Deep in the middle of the North Sea, on a cold, stony island, in an unfriendly, uncomfortable cell, a large dog was curled up whimpering. The presence of the cloaked figures was painfully impossible to ignore, whether your eyes were open or shut, they penetrated their way into you, like an icicle into the heart. But what they worked into your heart was nothing compared to what they did to your mind.

Sirius had spent two months reliving his worst experiences over and over again. He couldn't remember what a good feeling was like, or even a happy thought. He was drowning in misery, he could barely breathe under the weight of it, he was slowly suffocating but the release of death refused to come for him.

The worst feeling of all was entering Azkaban for the first time. Nothing could ever prepare a person for it, the only comparable feeling was that of being plunged into icy water and having your head held down, so that you're entire body screamed in protest. After a while those screams just became quiet whimpers.

There were many occupants in Azkaban who did nothing but scream and beg and cry. Bellatrix Lestrange was not one of these people. Sirius saw her as the Dementors led him to his cell. Her heavily lidded eyes locked on to his and despite the desolate place, she smiled at him, it was not an encouraging or comforting look, it was full of malice. Sirius had always thought Bellatrix looked deranged when she smiled, it was when her evil was the most visible. Despite her beauty being long gone, that wicked look on her face remained exactly the same. It filled Sirius with rage. This rage was the only thing that had kept Sirius sane during his incarceration.

Bellatrix's face had sparked a torrent of horrible memories that Sirius had buried in his mind many years ago. The most vivid of which was from when he was eleven years old.

It was dinner time at Grimmauld Place and the Black family were sitting in the grand dining room. It was the Easter holidays and Andromeda and Narcissa were at home from Hogwarts. This dinner was a special occasion, Bellatrix had just confirmed her engagement to Rudolphus Lestrange and the pair of them were being celebrated round the table. Sirius's mother, father, aunt and uncle were raising toasts. "To Bellatrix and Rudolphus!", "To pure blood!", "To the Dark Lord!". The merriment was not present the entire way round the table. Narcissa and Regulus smiled awkwardly when called to, but Andromeda and Sirius barely raised a glass, it didn't go unnoticed.

Andromeda's father gave her a rather pinched smile and turned to talk to Rudolphus. "Of course, this is just the first celebration, soon enough we'll have another son-in-law."

Andromeda glared at him. "And who will he be marrying, father?"

Her mother gave her a scandalised look. "Andromeda, don't be insolent."

"I'm not being insolent." She replied defiantly. "I'm just trying to gage which one of his daughters father is referring to."

"Narcissa is too young to be married, you silly girl." Her father spat at her. Sirius glanced at Bellatrix who watched with sly enjoyment. "You will be married to Richard Avery, as you well know."

"And as I have told you father, on more than one occasion, I do not want to marry him."

Bellatrix's smile grew larger. She placed her hand over Rudolphus's on the table. "Father, you know Andromeda intends to marry the Mudblood she sees at school."

Rudolphus raised his eyebrows and eyed Andromeda like she was dog mess on his shoes.

All the adults drew a sharp breath, the atmosphere became unbearably tense. Sirius's uncle flushed an unpleasant shade of beetroot, he was embarrassed of Andromeda and worried that she would put Bellatrix's marriage in jeopardy.

"Nonsense Bella," he said finally. "You see Rudolphus, Andromeda is going through a phase, she's testing the boundaries and our patience."

Rudolphus smiled back at him, but it was a wary smile with no warmth.

Andromeda was going red in fury, her hand was gripping her wand in her pocket. "I can assure you Father, it's not a phase."

Her father's chair made a horrible noise as it was scraped against the wooden floor. "I will not have this insolence!" He spat at Andromeda.

She flinched, but otherwise kept her face poker straight.

"Out!"

Andromeda paused before doing anything, slowly and graciously, she rose to her feet and left the room. Her father followed after her, drawing his wand.

Sirius and Narcissa's face mirrored the others horror.

Regulus, the youngest at the table, whispered in Sirius's ear. "Where have they gone?"

Walburga heard her youngest son clear as day. Putting one hand on Sirius's shoulder, she leaned across him to address Regulus. "Your uncle Arcturus has gone to show Andromeda why you shouldn't disrespect your family." She smiled comfortably at her sons and young niece.

Regulus looked to his mother with a bemused expression but Sirius was filled with a dread he didn't understand. He looked across the table to Narcissa, her hands were shaking as she drew the silver goblet to her lips.

The unmistakable sound of Andromeda screaming reberverated around the entire house. It took all of Sirius's willpower not to cover his ears. His mother and father looked unconcerned, as did his aunt. Bellatrix dove back into her dinner, smiling as wide as her face would allow.

Rudolphus's face flickered in amusement. "I see you take blood pride seriously. I must say I'm impressed." He had a posh drawling voice, not unlike that of Lucius Malfoy, but much softer.

Bellatrix chuckled and squeezed his hand.

"Impressed?" Sirius said before he could stop himself.

"Sirius." His father pointed a warning finger at him. "What have we just demonstrated happens when children are insolent to their elders?" Sirius didn't apologise, but neither did he say anything else. "Hogwarts will teach our boy the order of the world." Orion directed this at Rudolphus and they went into a conversation about the good old days of Slytherin House.

Sirius looked at Rudolphus, there was no denying he was elder, he must have been ten years nineteen-year old Bellatrix's senior. His face was oddly arranged, he had tiny blue eyes that looked very peculiar with his large nose and lips, his straw thatched hair looked like a particularly bad wig and clashed awfully with his complexion. Bellatrix was clearly not marrying him for his looks, but for his connections and huge pots of money. The way Rudolphus looked at Bellatrix was like she was a prize. Sirius's only consolation in the whole business was that it'd mean Bellatrix would leave the house for good.

Arcturus reappeared without Andromeda. He sat down calmly at the table as if nothing had occurred. Sirius looked around at his aunt and uncle and mother and father, eating normally, utterly unperturbed by the night's disruption. They were all monsters and Bellatrix was the biggest monster of them all.

When they were finally dismissed for dinner, Narcissa pulled Sirius back by the neck of his robes.

"You need to be careful." She hissed in his ear.

"He's vile, Cissy!" Sirius hissed back. "She's vile too, they all are."

Narcissa didn't comment. "You'll be away in Hogwarts in September. Keep your head down until then."

"September's ages away!" Sirius fumed. "You don't know what it's like here when it's just Bellatrix around."

"She'll be gone soon." Narcissa gripped his shoulders bracingly. "Just keep your head down until then, and look after Regulus."

Sirius crossed his arms obtusely.

Narcissa sighed mournfully. "Please, Sirius. I don't want you to go through what Andromeda-" Narcissa couldn't finish her sentence. "I'm going to check on her. Please just go to your bedroom."

Sirius still refused to move. Narcissa tried to drag him but he wouldn't be instructed.

"Fine!" She fumed, "don't say I haven't tried." She flounced out the room and up the stairs.

Sirius stayed put. He wandered round the room, scuffing his shoes on the skirting board. When he had circled the table three times, much as he didn't want to do as he was told, he realised he may as well go to his bedroom. He backed out of the room, closing the door quietly, and bumped straight into Bellatrix in the corridor.

"Hello cousin." She said quietly.

Sirius didn't acknowledge her, he tried to go past her up the stairs but she caught his arm. Her grip was like a vice.

"That was very rude Sirius." Her voice was dangerously low.

Sirius looked directly into her dark eyes. "Let go of my arm."

"Make me." Bellatrix's eyes glittered malevolently. "Oh yes, you can't because you're a little boy who doesn't have a wand."

Sirius's face flushed and a wave of rage swept over him like an electric current, shocking Bellatrix so that she withdrew her hand.

She was distracted for only a second and then started smiling again. "Oh liccle cousin, did I make you angwy?"

The baby voice made Sirius clench his fists.

Bellatrix was gaining enormous satisfaction from making him angry. "You think you're so brave, don't you? So much better than the rest of us. Well, little boy, wait until you see what's out there in the real world. You won't be so brave then."

"I will." Sirius glared at her.

"I tell you what," Bellatrix mused. "I'll give you a little taster, shall we see if you're still so brave after that?"

Sirius didn't have a chance to do anything before he was knocked off his feet and was in the most excruciating pain he had ever felt. He was screaming at the top of his lungs. Then as suddenly as it had started it stopped.

Sirius was left in a heap on the floor, Bellatrix paused to laugh at him before descending into the kitchen.

Adult Sirius couldn't stop reliving that moment where he was lying helpless and in pain. His parents heard the whole thing and didn't come to help him.

He knew what happened next, but he couldn't make the memory extend that far. He couldn't relive Narcissa and Regulus helping him upstairs and telling him that everything was going to be ok. He was stuck feeling like a pained, helpless child, that had been utterly abandoned.

Mary rushed anxiously round the flat, she cleared things so it was tidy and then panicked and put them back, she didn't want it to look like she'd made too much of an effort. She knew he'd appreciate it if the whole affair was just no big deal.

She stopped, slowly breathed in and exhaled. "Relax." She told herself firmly.

Waiting around without doing anything was killing her, so she flopped onto the sofa with the Daily Prophet. Amongst the usual vitriol from Rita Skeeter, appeared her article about Lily and James. It was fairly concise and to the point which her editor wasn't thrilled about but as she'd pointed out, no one else would have been able to do it. It was a fluff piece, and one that wasn't particularly fluffy at that. Harry wasn't excited about the article, he was sure that it would embarrass him at school, James's only sage parenting advice had been to wear the Invisibility Cloak whenever he could get away with it.

It had taken Mary and Lily to convince, or even forcibly restrain, James from coming round today.

"You can't bombard him!" Lily insisted, pushing him firmly back on to the sofa.

James kept getting up and she repeatedly pushed him back. "Mary's going to be there."

"I live there, James!"

"We should support him!" James fumed, undeterred.

"We will. Sit down!" Lily withdrew her wand. "I will body bind you if you don't stay still!"

James sighed grumpily and looked up to his two female companions.

"James, listen." Lily sat next to him and squeezed his hand. "You know Sirius, he just needs a minute. Let him readjust before we see him."

"Fine." James muttered.

Mary sat on the arm of the sofa and nudged him. "Don't be like that. Look on the bright side, he's coming home!"

James couldn't help but smile.

Lily looked over to Mary. "Andromeda's not still planning that party, is she?"

"Nooo!" Mary shook her head. "Tonks and Remus thankfully talked her out of it."

"Good." Lily agreed. "That's the last thing we need."

James looked thoughtful. "They're spending a lot of time together, aren't they?"

"Who?" Mary asked.

"Remus and Tonks." James replied. "You don't there's something going on, do you?"

Lily and Mary looked at each other in surprise.

"I don't know," Lily shrugged.

"It'd be nice to see Remus happy again." Mary said warmly.

"Yeah but it's Sirius's cousin," James pointed out, "it's a bit weird."

Lily looked round thoughtfully. "I think they'd actually make a lovely couple, she'd be good for him."

"No." James pointed sternly at his wife. "Stay out of his affairs, Evans, it does no good." The corners of his mouth were twitching.

Lily rolled her eyes and batted away his hand. "You were the one that brought it up."

Mary smiled at them, no matter what else uncertainty clouded their lives, one fact remained, Lily and James were meant for each other. "Where's Harry?"

"He's been at the Weasley's for the last few days," Lily replied. "He's coming home tonight, ready to see Sirius before school."

"So can we-"

"No James." Mary said firmly. "Just give him some space."

So Mary was alone at the flat, waiting for Sirius's arrival. She'd never been more nervous to see him, she had no idea what to expect.

When Sirius left the island he felt like he was being reborn. The feeling was better than anything he had ever experienced, it was like coming back to life.

The shore where he and the guard departed from the small boat was freezing despite it being summer, but to Sirius it felt pleasantly warm. The guard had deep circles under his eyes, and his face was pinched and drawn, a hazard of a wizard that shipped back and forth from Azkaban. He reached into the pocket of his navy blue cloak and handed Sirius something familiar.

He twirled the wand around in his hands, sparks flew out the end, it seemed his wand was as happy to see him as he was to see it. "Thank you." Sirius said graciously.

The guard nodded. "I must inform you that if you commit any more serious offences it will be the duty of the Ministry to sentence you back here for a minimum of one year." He looked directly at Sirius who nodded. "Goodbye Mr Black, I don't want to see you again."

Sirius gave the ghost of a smile, it felt like the most he could do. "Goodbye." Sirius replied, and with one last breath of North Sea air he apparated home.

A loud crack echoed through the room and Mary shrieked and jumped up. "Sirius!" She exclaimed, as she discovered the identity of the intruder.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you." He replied. He tried to smile but his muscles felt worn and out of practice.

Mary noted the dead quality of his voice, the Sirius she knew would have laughed at her. He was pale and thinner, his hair longer and unruly and he really needed a shave. She approached him and wrapped her arms around him, squeezing tight and kissing his rough cheek. "I'm so glad you're home."

Sirius hugged her back, her warm body made him realise how cold he suddenly felt.

"Do you want anything? Food, a drink or something?" She withdrew and held him by his arms, scrutinising his face. "Sirius you're freezing, how about a hot butterbeer?"

"Maybe later," he said quietly, detaching himself from her. "I think I'm going to have a bath and warm up."

"Good," Mary reached and squeezed his hand. "And then we'll eat."

"Alright," Sirius smiled weakly.

An hour later, Sirius felt much better. He was clean, shaven and he'd brushed his teeth. He wasn't completely warm, but it was nevertheless an improvement. When he emerged back into the living room, he noticed that Mary had lit the fire and all the lamps, a steaming hot plate of food was waiting for him on the table.

He sat down, thanked her and began to eat, only realising how absolutely ravenous he was when he was half way through the meal.

"How have things been?" Sirius asked, as he put down his knife and fork.

"Alright." Mary said nonchalantly. "We've missed you."

Sirius sighed. "I'm a bit surprised James isn't here."

"Lily and I thought you might like some time to adjust before the cavalry arrived." Mary explained, suddenly worried they'd done the wrong thing. "You're not disappointed, are you?"

"No." Sirius assured her. "The peace and quiet's nice."

Mary breathed a sigh of relief. "Good. I don't think I'll be able to keep him away tomorrow though."

Sirius's full belly and the warmth almost spreading to his fingertips made him feel more himself. His cheek muscles relaxed and he smiled. "Don't worry, you're only human, and when James gets an idea in his head, it's difficult to stop him."

"Rather like you then," Mary smiled back, encouraged.

Sirius's smile drooped. "And look where it's got me."

"Oh no, Sirius, I didn't mean it like-"

"Shh," he waved her down. "I know what you meant, you can relax McDonald, I'm not a time bomb, or a shell of my former self, I'm just very tired."

Mary's eyes filled with concern and she squeezed his hand. "How about a cup of hot chocolate and then bed?"

"That's the best offer I've had in two months." Sirius's eyes flickered in some amusement.

Mary felt relieved he could joke and almost smile, Sirius was in there somewhere.

She wandered back to the kitchen while he made his was to the fire. "Has anyone heard from Remus yet?" He asked as she reappeared with two steaming mugs.

"Yes, he's back, and he's alright. He feels very guilty about everything though. Don't be too hard on him."

Sirius took a sip. "It's fine Mary, he hasn't done anything wrong. It's me that owes you all an apology. I'm so, so sorry."

"Sirius it's-"

Sirius shook his head. "Don't say it's alright, it's not."

Mary didn't try to say anything else. She took a long sip of her drink. "You were right about Narcissa."

Sirius's posture straightened from relaxed to alert. "What is it?"

"The Imperius curse, we think."

"I KNEW IT!" He exclaimed, jumping to his feet and spilling the hot liquid everywhere.

"Don't get too excited," Mary said dejectedly. "We can't prove it."

Sirius flopped back down. "Sneaky bastard." He fumed.

"Sirius, why didn't you tell us about Narcissa?"

He smiled at Mary sadly. "I didn't want you to all think I was going soft."

"That's ridiculous."

"I don't think it is," he wore that sad smile in his eyes. "You know what happened with my family when I was a teenager, when I went to live with James. I never really talked much about them before that, either. You all just assumed Narcissa was just like them and she never was. She was scared of them. I think Lucius has done all this because she's not scared of him anymore. Cissy was the one person in the house I loved after Dromeda left. I broke her heart when I ran away." Sirius took a breath before continuing. "After that, I tried to forget about my whole family, except Dromeda, I tried to bring Cissy up with James once and he misinterpreted and thought I was going back to them. Then Cissy married Malfoy and everyone assumed that was where her allegiance was, even I did for a long time. Then she told me about the Chamber of Secrets and I could see how unhappy she was but she wouldn't leave for fear of losing her son, and I didn't want to mention it while she was still there. I've been trying to persuade her to leave ever since."

Mary was trying to act nonchalant, she feared if she asked too many questions or seemed too interested he would clam up and stop talking. She took a long drink of hot chocolate before replying. "Is that what you were doing there . . . that night?"

Sirius smiled, but there was no humour in it. "Not exactly. You see, before Emilia … before she … well, before, she told me everything. Everything about Peter, Regulus and -" Sirius took another sip, "- and Narcissa. It turns out that Narcissa knew what Emilia was but instead of telling me, she's been pulling the strings from behind the scenes. She broke us up years ago and she kidnapped her about a year and half ago, all to stop Emilia getting to me. I went there that night to ask Narcissa about everything but Malfoy interrupted us." Sirius sighed. "It wasn't my wisest decision."

Mary couldn't have been more surprised. "Merlin." She shook her head, trying to digest this information. "So Malfoy cursed her so that he could get you arrested because she was his only witness."

"Bingo." Sirius said sadly. "We need to help her, Mary. After all the years trying to help me, I need to save her."

"We'll save her, Sirius. I promise we will." Mary squeezed his arm.

Sirius was comforted, he had never talked to anyone but Andromeda about Narcissa before. Mary was a much better confidant than James.

"Thank you," Sirius had never sounded so earnest or looked so vulnerable. "I think it's time for bed."

Mary looked up to the clock over the mantle piece. "I didn't realise the time," she rose and began to point her wand towards the fire.

"Can we leave it?" Sirius asked quietly.

Mary just smiled understandably, his demeanour was just breaking her heart. She had to keep reminding herself that he'd soon feel like himself again, but a small voice at the back of her head kept wondering if he would be permanently altered. She knew he'd never tell her what it had been like at Azkaban, and she would never ask. The unimaginable horrors he would have lived with must leave some damage on a person. Only time would tell how extensive and permanent the damage may be.

At 4 am Mary woke up with a start. She'd heard some clattering coming from the kitchen, it took her a moment of panic to remember that Sirius was back home and the noise was most likely him and not an intruder. She heard another clatter and jumped out of bed, grabbing a dressing gown and headed to the kitchen. The moment she opened the bedroom door the heat from the living room hit her like opening an oven. She dropped her dressing gown on the floor immediately.

"Sirius?" Mary called.

She found him in the kitchen by the kettle, he was wearing long checked pyjamas and had a blanket draped round his shoulders. He looked surprised to see her. "Sorry, did I wake you up?"

"It's ok," Mary yawned. "What are you doing?"

He indicated the kettle on the stove. "Making a cup of tea."

"Tea?" Mary asked incredulously, "how can you bear hot tea? It's stifling in here."

"Is it?" Sirius furrowed his brow.

Mary felt his hand and was shocked to find it was ice cold. "You need some pepperup potion, it'll warm you up instantly. I'll ask Lily to bring some round in the morning, she'll have one lying around or she'll be able to knock one together quickly." Mary knew she was babbling, but she was suddenly scared for him. What had Azkaban done?

Sirius withdrew his hand and went to drink his tea.

"Were you too cold to sleep?" Mary asked, following him back into the living room furnace.

"No," Sirius replied quietly.

"Then what are you doing awake?" Mary said gently. "You look shattered."

Sirius rubbed his eyes, which had dark circles all around them. He looked like he needed to sleep for a year, not a night. "I had an awful dream."

"A nightmare?"

Sirius smiled sadly. "A memory." He took a long sip of tea while Mary stayed perfectly silent. She didn't know what to say for the best, so she wouldn't risk making it worse. "I keep dreaming about Frank and Alice. I thought the dreams would have stopped, but they haven't." Sirius shuddered. "I want to be the one to kill her." He barely said it above a whisper but he sounded so resolute. "For Marlene, Frank, Alice and everything else, she's mine."

Mary drew her knees to her chest. She was thinking about seeing Frank and Alice for the first time since Bellatrix had finished with them. Even though the room was boiling, Mary no longer felt warm.

"Where do you think Peter is?" Mary asked quietly, avoiding Sirius's eyes and staring directly into the fire.

"I think he's gone to find Voldemort." Sirius wrapped the blanket more securely round his shoulders. "It won't be long now, Mary."

"Could you kill Peter, Sirius?" She looked over to him. "If he was defenceless and cowering at your knees, could you kill him in cold blood?"

"Yes." Sirius didn't hesitate. "And I'd have no remorse."

"I think I could too," Mary sighed. "What does that say about us?"

"That we're survivors of something terrible, and we haven't lost the will to fight."

On September 1st the platform for the Hogwarts express was crowded with parents and students back off to school.

"Everyone's looking," Harry murmured to Lily. "It's that bloody article, if Malfoy says one word I'll -"

"The only thing you'll do is tell him to shut up." James said firmly. "Haven't recent events taught you that attacking a Malfoy is not a good move? Even if he deserves it."

"Keep your head down and you'll be fine." Lily agreed. "Consider the stares as a character building exercise."

"Yes, that makes it sound so much more fun." Harry said dryly.

The whistle blew as a final notice for students to board the train.

Lily wrapped her arms tightly around her son. "Harry," she began urgently. "Everything's different this year, so please be sensible. If you notice anything unusual, and I mean anything, go straight to Dumbledore."

"I will mum, I promise." He patted her back. Lily let go but she looked utterly fraught.

"Be careful mate. No adventures." James said as he hugged him. "Keep us updated."

"I will," Harry hopped onto the train just as it began to move. "I really will. See you at Christmas."

"We love you!" Lily shouted as the train picked up speed. Harry just waved in response and went to find his friends.

Lily and James watched the train until it was out of sight.

"I have a really bad feeling," Lily's hands were shaking.

"Lily," James said firmly, grabbing her hands in both of his. "He will be safe with Albus."

"What do we do now?" She asked, "carry on as normal?"

"We stay on our guard, like Moody says, constant vigilance. Aurors are abroad looking for Peter, guards at Azkaban have doubled, for now we're doing everything we can do."

"We're just waiting."

"We've always been waiting, Lily."

November, thirteen years previous.

"It's over." Sirius handed drinks out to everyone in the room.

"Not yet, Sirius." Lily warned him, accepting a glass of mead.

Alice took her glass gratefully. "I know there's still work to be done, Lil, but for now we should celebrate."

Remus agreed. "Let's count our victories where we can find them."

"I couldn't have said it better." Sirius nudged him. "To the end of the war!" He raised a toast and Alice, Frank, Remus, Mary, James and even Lily copied him.

"It's the eye of the storm." Lily said morosely. "It's not the end."

Alice scrutinised her friend. "You can't live like that Lily," she told her. "It could be four weeks of peace or it could be thirty years, so for however long we have, don't you think we should make the most of it?"

"Absolutely." James spoke before Lily could. "To no more losses."

"I'll drink to that!" Frank agreed.

Everyone was in the party spirit but Lily. Her house was covered in streamers, confetti and her friends' infectious joy that somehow wasn't spreading to her. It was all still too raw and real. She knew she was being dour and spoiling the party but despite her overwhelming relief and happiness that her family were safe, she wanted to sit and sob because she knew it wasn't the end.

"I'm going to check on Harry and Neville," Lily said above the music and dancing.

"No you're not." Sirius said firmly, pouring her yet another drink. "You're going to relax, I'll check on the boys."

"Sirius, please," Lily pleaded, she just wanted to escape but Sirius wasn't relenting.

"No." He insisted. "You'll thank me one day." He left the room before she could reply and her excuse for leaving the room had gone.

Lily couldn't bring herself to join in with the dancing and singing, so she sat on the sofa with the most forced smile on her face.

James sat beside her and held her hand. "You'll be happy soon Lily, I promise."

"I'm trying." She said quietly. "What do we do now? What do we do while we're waiting?"

James squeezed her hand tightly. "We live our lives."

Alice and Frank lived their lives for a full two weeks after that party and then they were gone, the group's grief was suddenly as desperate as it had been during the darkest days of the war. Then there were the trials, the convictions and the ones who got off. Slowly, a year had passed and life had carried on, the painful memories had eased and they could enjoy the small things. Now it was thirteen years later and Lily felt exactly as she had done on that night, on edge and terrified of the days approaching.

Epilogue

On the first day back of classes, Draco Malfoy hung back after his potions lesson.

"Go." He told Crabbe and Goyle sternly. "I'll catch up with you at dinner."

Their piggy eyes lit up at the thought of dinner, they did not argue but continued off without Draco.

Draco spent a long time fiddling with his bag, waiting for the entire class to depart. He watched Potter, Weasley and Granger leave the room in the midst of a quiet discussion. Draco had caught parts of what they were saying throughout the lesson, it had a lot to do with Peter Pettigrew and where he may be. Draco no longer felt excited at the prospect of Pettigrew and the Dark Lord. He had now witnessed Dark magic first hand and he was more scared than he ever had been in his life. What he was about to do frightened him more than the thought of being put under a curse himself.

Taking a deep breath, Draco fastened the catches on his bag and made his way towards the teacher's desk, where Snape sat going over some papers.

"Sir?" Draco began.

Snape looked up at him, his dark eyes staring into Draco's grey ones. "Yes, Draco."

"Sir," Draco started again. "Sir could you help me with something please?"

Snape's brow furrowed very slightly. "Certainly, if I can." He said silkily. "Is something troubling you?"

"Yes, well sort of." Draco stuttered. "You see the thing is, sir, the thing is," Draco gulped, he suddenly found speaking very difficult. Lucius's face kept popping into his thoughts, challenging his resolve and making him feel guilty and afraid. "Sir," Draco tried again, banishing Lucius from his mind. "I think there's something wrong with my mother," Draco looked Snape straight in the eye. "I think it's quite serious and I need your help."

So that's it for now folks. I hope you've enjoyed it!

As you may see I've left it quite open, don't be too cross with me! As many of you have guessed there is very likely to be a sequel, but I'm still mulling over what to do so you'll have to bear with me a bit.

Thank you all for reading, and I shall post another chapter on here announcing when the sequel comes out!

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