Chapter 1 - Dark Dawn
Author's Note: This is the first ever fan-fiction I'm writing—we're writing rather, since I write this with a friend of mine. And we're quite nervous about how our writing is going to be received. So please do drop in a line about how you find our writing. Hope you like it. Happy reading :-)
Disclaimer: I neither own the Harry Potter universe nor the characters. It all belongs to J K Rowling.
Chapter 1: Dark Dawn
Athena McKinnon-Black smiled fondly at the scene before her. Her husband – who had somehow managed to convince Mad-Eye Moody to give him the day off work – was tickling the tiny spitting female version of him, who lay giggling on the bed.
"Daddy!" Acquila squealed in delight, her little mouth opened as she laughed, her tiny white front teeth peeking out adorably.
"Sirius," said Athena finally. "Stop tickling her, darling! She'll throw up the food she ate. It took me an entire hour to feed her!"
"She won't, love," Sirius replied, rolling his eyes. "She's my girl! She can definitely handle a bit of tickling!"
He turned to Acquila again, blowing a raspberry on her tummy, and the girl began giggling again.
Sirius chuckled heartily, scooping up Acquila in his arms, and pressing a kiss onto her chubby cheek, as the toddler babbled something unintelligible.
Athena watched the two of them fondly, observing Acquila tug at a strand of Sirius' shoulder-length hair, her grey eyes staring inquisitively at her father.
"Luv Daddy!" exclaimed Acquila in her sweet, childish voice.
"I love you too, darling! You're Daddy's little princess, aren't you?" Sirius cooed as he sat down on the couch, Acquila on his lap, and began to tell her a tale from the book of Muggle fairytales which was Lily's birthday gift to her.
Athena smiled as Sirius relayed the story to Acquila, watching her daughter stare at the pictures in the story-book curiously. As she watched the father-daughter duo, she remembered what Sirius had said just a few days before Acquila was born.
"Athena," he had said in his husky baritone, which sent a delightful shiver down Athena's spine. "I want our daughter to look just like you – auburn hair, blue eyes…just as beautiful as you are."
But Athena had responded with just the opposite, saying: "No. I want her to look like you, love. Grey eyes, black hair and a mischievous smile!"
And, somehow, Athena's wish had come true.
Her daughter was a younger, albeit a delicate feminine version of Sirius. The same grey eyes – which belonged to not only Sirius, but also his deceased brother, Regulus – graced Acquila's chubby face. She had the jet black hair which all her paternal ancestors possessed. And though her chubby cheeks rather masked the actual shape of her jaw, Athena was sure that Acquila would grow up to possess the classic Black jaw which graced the faces of Sirius' female cousins.
Acquila had inherited almost none of Athena's looks, much to Sirius' chagrin; although he hoped Acquila had inherited Athena's intelligence and her calm demeanor.
Sirius always said that Athena was a perfect foil to his recklessness and care-free attitude – which was one of the reasons why he fell for her in their fourth year. She brought to his life a sense of completeness which he always lacked. And she had given Sirius the one thing he had yearned for since he was a child who had been ill-treated by his parents: unconditional love.
Athena walked to their bedroom, her thoughts meandering towards their days at Hogwarts, when suddenly, she heard Acquila crying.
She rushed out to see what the matter was.
"Acquila! Stop crying, love! What's wrong?" Sirius was trying to console the child, not knowing how to stop her wails.
"What happened, sweetheart?" asked Athena as she picked up the crying child.
"Hawwy! Mama, want Hawwy!" cried Acquila
"We can't meet him now, darling. We'll go meet Harry next week. And Daddy's going to take you to Dora's house! For trick and treat! Don't you want to go?" Athena tried to distract her daughter.
"No Dola! Want Hawwy! Hawwyyy!" Acquila's cries grew even louder as fat droplets of tears trickled down her cheeks.
"Sirius," said Athena, her voice gaining a panicked edge. "I think something's really wrong. The last time she cried for Harry, he'd fallen off his broom-stick and hurt his arm, remember?"
At any other time, Sirius would have brushed off Athena's words, saying she was merely over-reacting. But with the War and the Prophecy, Sirius couldn't quite ignore what Athena said.
"Do you think something's wrong?" he asked her, his voice trembling slightly.
"I think we'd better go to Godric's Hollow, love," said Athena, unsuccessfully trying to calm Acquila down.
"HAWWY! HAWWY!" shrieked Acquila; her little palms clutching at her forehead, as if she was in pain from an invisible wound.
"You think he got hold of Peter?" said Sirius, his eyes wide with fear. And the 'he' was undoubtedly Voldemort, whose name they couldn't utter thanks to the Taboo.
"I'm going to Jamie's house," said Sirius, already moving towards the table and grabbing his wand. "I'll visit Peter first—you stay here with Acquila. Re-check the wards again—and I don't want you to leave the house, no matter what happens," he added firmly, as he put on his cloak.
"I'll come with you, Sirius," said Athena, her voice trembling too, now, as Acquila continued to cry, still clawing at her forehead. "We'll leave Acquila at Andy's place—what if—what if Lily and James are—I—I'm coming with—"
"No, love—stay here with Acquila, please—I'll go check on Jamie…and remember what I said. Don't leave the house." Sirius' tone made it clear that he merited no protest.
"But—" Athena began, but her words ceased as Sirius moved towards her quickly, capturing her lips in a searing kiss, his hand around her waist, pulling her and the wailing toddler in her arms impossibly flush against his chest.
"Take care, Sirius," said Athena as she let go of him, reluctantly agreeing to remain behind. "And let me know whether they are fine—and I love you".
"I love you too, sweetheart," he whispered, but Athena could see that his mind was already elsewhere.
"Take care of her," he said as he kissed the top of Acquila's head, while wiping the trail of tears off her face, before he smiled slightly at Athena and departed.
Minutes later, as Sirius exited Peter's hideout, his terror knew no bounds.
Peter was nowhere at his hiding place. And there were neither any signs of a scuffle, nor traces of Dark Magic.
But Peter had been give clear instructions to never leave his hideout; which meant only one thing – Peter was the spy! Peter sold Lily and James to Voldemort!
"Damn you, Wormtail!" he spat, his entire frame shaking from fear and rage.
Minutes later, he got off his motorbike, gaping at the sight that met his eyes – James' house…partly destroyed and burnt black.
Sirius knew what to expect within the house, but he kept hoping against all hope that the Potters were unhurt.
He trudged through the rubble in the room, his skin tingling at all the Dark Magic that seemed to dwell in the very air within the destroyed house, when he spotted something that made him certain that a part of his heart had broken irreparably.
"PRONGS!" he let out a gut-wrenching cry, falling onto his knees beside James' body which lay awkwardly at the bottom of the staircase, his glasses askew, his hazel eyes staring into nothingness.
"Wake up, Prongsie! You can't die! Please, Jamie! Wake up!" cried Sirius, shaking James' lifeless body, as his glasses rattled and finally slid down his nose.
"JAMES!" Sirius screamed again, cradling the corpse to his chest. "What'll I do without you, Prongs? You can't die—you can't…" he sobbed, mourning the loss of a man who he loved like a brother.
The thought of Lily and Harry suddenly roused him out of the deep pit of despair that was threatening to consume him wholly.
He let go of James' lifeless form, placing the glasses properly onto his lifeless face. And after one last look at his best friend, Sirius rushed up the crumbling staircase to Harry's room.
His keen ears caught the sound of someone sniffling, and he sighed in relief.
Someone was alive!
He rushed into the room, only to find Lily's pale form lying on the carpet in front of Harry's crib; and the pain overtook the momentary relief he had felt.
"Lily! Lily!" he cried, rushing to the side of the girl who was a sister to him. But he knew that she had perished, too. And he remembered her words.
"I'd rather die protecting James and Harry than live without them, Sirius."
And Lily Evans-Potter had kept her word, as she always had. Sirius pressed a kiss onto her pale, cold cheek, oblivious to his tears that fell onto the torn carpet, before rushing to Harry's crib.
"Pa'foot!" Harry smiled as his sniffling ceased, and he held out his hands, wanting his godfather to lift him up.
Sirius took Harry into his arms, holding him as if he'd never let him go.
"Don't worry, kiddo…Padfoot won't let anything happen to you," he whispered, inwardly wondering how Harry had survived when neither Lily nor James had.
He gasped suddenly on seeing the trickle of dried blood on Harry's forehead. He brushed aside Harry's messy hair, letting out another gasp on seeing the lightening-shaped scar on the boy's forehead.
He touched it gingerly, only for Harry to let out a wail of pain.
"I'm sorry, Prongslet. I'll take you home to Athena—she'll get you all healed up," he said, while he performed a charm to heal the scar as best as he could, before walking towards the door with the child.
"MAMA!" shrieked Harry suddenly, as he spotted Lily's body lying on the carpet. He struggled against Sirius' firm hold on him, attempting to go his mother who would never again respond to his cries.
"Pa'foot! Want Mama!" Harry cried, his shouts sending a fresh thrust of pain through Sirius' heart.
"Mama is—Mama loves you a lot, Harry…but—but you can't talk to her now…we've got to go," he whispered, not knowing how to tell the fifteen-month old toddler that he would never see his mother again.
"No! Want Mama! Daddy!" Harry's loud cries permeated through the eerie silence, as they passed by James' body lying at the foot of the staircase.
Sirius stepped out of the destroyed house, anger and grief coursing through his veins as he consoled the crying boy.
He was going to kill that traitorous rodent! Who would have thought that poor little Peter Pettigrew would had the courage to not only betray his friends, but also become a follower of the Dark wizard whom even people like Malfoy feared?
He was going to hunt down the rat and kill him, even if he had to go to the very ends of the world to find that bastard!
He decided to first drop off Harry with Athena so that he would be safe, and then track down Peter and kill him…for betraying them all, for killing James and Lily…for orphaning Harry…
He glanced at the toddler in his arms. Harry was still crying, though his wails were now rather subdued. He yawned softly, and Sirius was sure that the child would fall asleep in a few minutes. He held on to Harry tightly, and he was just about to board his motorbike, when he saw Hagrid walking up to the house, his massive frame shaking as he gaped at the destroyed house.
"NOOO!" Hagrid yelled. "They can't be dead! Lily…James—"
Hagrid's loud cries startled Harry, who stopped sniffling momentarily to look at the giant source of the sound.
"How—how did 'Arry survive?" exclaimed Hagrid, as he wiped his eyes with his enormous handkerchief.
"I don't know. But I'm taking him home now—"
"No, yeh can't! Gimme 'Arry! Dumbledore's orders—"
"I'm his godfather, Hagrid," said Sirius. "I'll take care of him. I'm taking him home to Athena—"
"Look 'ere, Sirius. Dumbledore's given me a job…an' I'm going to do it…and yeh need to trust Dumbledore—"
"Fine!" said Sirius, realising that the sooner he hunted down the rodent the better.
"I'll see you in a while, Prongslet," Sirius whispered to Harry, while pressing a kiss onto the top of his head.
He turned to Hagrid. "Take him to Dumbledore. And keep him safe till I come to collect him with Athena and Acquila…and heal his forehead. Dumbledore'll know more about the scar…and take the motorbike, Hagrid. I don't need it."
He handed a very reluctant Harry, who refused to let go of his godfather, to Hagrid.
Sirius saw Hagrid take off on the motorbike, and then transformed into his Dog form to hunt down the rat.
At Sirius' house, Athena paced the floor, Acquilla in her arms. The child had finally fallen asleep, refusing to let go of a Muggle photograph, which she held tightly in her little fist.
Athena was worried like never before. Where was Sirius? What was taking him so long? What happened to Harry and the Potters? Question after question kept running through her mind, when she saw a Phoenix suddenly appear in the room.
Fawkes! With a letter in his talons! She grabbed the letter and hastily opened it. It seemed to have been written very hurriedly, in a very familiar cursive handwriting
Sirius has been taken to Azkaban. He betrayed the Potters. James and Lily are dead. Sirius killed Peter and twelve Muggles. Harry is alive. I am taking him to Mrs. Petunia Dursley, Lily's sister.
"No!" Athena shouted, her knees giving way as she sunk to the ground, unable to believe that the two people she so loved were dead.
"Lily…James…" she whispered brokenly, holding Acquila tightly to her chest – the child the only one thing that seemed to currently be keeping her sane.
"Mama?" Acquila muttered sleepily, snuggling into Athena's robes. "Where Daddy?" asked Acquila, looking around.
And that snapped Athena out of her grief. "We've to go, sweetheart. Sirius—they can't take him away—"
"Daddy where?" repeated Acquila curiously, now struggling in her mother's arms, wanting to go look for her father, who was undoubtedly hiding somewhere in the house, waiting for her to find him, so that he could blow raspberries on her tummy and read stories to her again.
"Daddy's been taken away, baby," muttered Athena, her voice chocked with grief. "But Mama will bring Daddy back, love. Mama won't let anything happen to Daddy…"
She stood up shakily to her feet, grabbed her wand and put it in the pocket of her robes, held Acquila more securely in her arms and set forth. She barely stepped out of the Anti-Disapparition wards and onto the street, when she spotted a man walking towards them.
"You traitor!" she spat furiously, her eyes blazing as they fell on the pudgy man who had destroyed all that was dear to her.
"How could you do that to James and Lily? To Sirius?" she screamed angrily at Peter Pettigrew, whose watery eyes stared into her cornflower-blue ones.
She tried to balance Acquila in one arm and take out her wand from her pocket with the other, inwardly cursing herself for being so careless with her wand. But the split second was all it took for Peter to raise his wand at her.
"Mama!" was the last word Athena heard from a suddenly frightened Acquila before the green jet of light hit her and she saw no more.
Her lifeless body crumpled to the ground, and Acquila fell onto the Muggle street.
"I—I didn't want to kill her," mumbled Peter to Acquila, who was now patting her mother's face, wanting her to get up and hold her in her arms.
"I didn't want to—but—but only Athena knew I was the Secret Keeper…" Peter whispered to the toddler, who now looked up at him with those eerily familiar grey eyes.
Peter raised his wand at the child, who suddenly seemed to sense danger and started whimpering and trying to crawl away from him.
But his hand trembled, his eyes remained glued to those scared grey eyes, which reminded him of the friend he'd betrayed completely.
And a moment later, Peter pocketed his wand without casting the curse, and apparated away.
In the early hours of the First of November, a man walking on the street spotted a woman lying dead on the road. Next to her was a crying child, trying to make the dead woman respond to her tired cries.
He called up the police and a few hours later, Acquila was sitting with a lady from the child care services at a Muggle police station, the photograph still clutched tightly in her hand.