disclaimer: everything is JKR's. The plot is twisted to fit my own.
Chapter Ten: Take Care
So take care of you and I'll take care of me
We're just lonely hearts looking for melodies
- A Change of Pace "Take Care"
I had sensed the Dementors before anyone else. That and Harry had spotted me and gave me such a terrified look, that I didn’t feel much like sticking around. So, I ran. I ran really fast, too. Right in front of the dementors. I was a little relieved the happiness of the students was too strong for them to sense me. I got passed them and into the forbidden forest without any problems, though I didn’t stop running.
When I slowed down, I was ready to curl up and fall asleep in a safe place. It was the only thing I could do while I waited for the dementors to really be gone. It was then that I heard a thud and a cry. I stopped, suddenly realizing that someone had been following me. Then I realized that the familiar voice, one I would be able to pick out anywhere, was my own son’s. I spun around and hurried back the way I came stopping by a tree when I found my son on the ground.
He had broken his leg. He was holding onto it in pain and looking pale and ready to pass out. I stared at my son in fear, unsure of what to do and how to do it. His eyes were out of focus and he was breathing heavily. His hair was wet from the rain and I knew that Tristan would not be able to say awake much longer. He looked up at me and gasped. I was not sure if he knew I was really there or not. Maybe, if I changed, he would think I was simply a dream and not mention it to anyone. I couldn’t risk it and I didn’t want him to be in more fear then he was already.
“Help me,” he pleaded and I leaped to action just as he passed out, falling back on the wet grounds of the forest. I nudged him and then turned into my human form.
“Tristan?” I whispered, brushing his face. His skin was still soft and young, being too young to shave.
I was in a bit of a shock to be touching my son for the first time in 12 years. And I realized that I was being more gentle then I ever have been; as if Tristan was a fragile piece of glass that would break with even the slightest touch. I felt tears in my eyes as my hatred for Peter flared twice as much. He took my life away from me. He took Tristan and Libby away from me.
I wanted to kill him even more now.
And I wanted to help Tristan.
I realized why Tristan had chased after me. He knew I was following him and wanted to know why. He was curious, just like me. And now, because of me, he was laying on the cold ground, broken and unconscious. I pushed some of his silky, dark hair from his forehead, shocked by how much it was like my own. Then I searched his pockets, finding his wand in his right and waving it so his leg was in not so much pain. Then I dried the ground around him and made him a little more comfortable, as well as warmed him will simple spells I was grateful I still remembered.
Not wanting to be seen if he woke up, I turned back into a dog and laid against Tristan in an attempt to keep him warmer. It seemed to be working because soon, Tristan was stirring and I lifted my head to see that he was waking up. His eyes, as they fluttered open, seemed to wave in and out of focus as he forced himself to wake up and stay awake. And then I smiled in relief as he opened them all the way and seemed to be aware of where he was.
He sat up and I scooted away, just incase. Tristan just stared at me and then looked at his leg. I did not bind it or fix it. Instead, I simply lifted most of the pain away. I was sure that it would be worse later, but by then he would be in a hospital wing where he could get better pain medicine and the help he really needs. It would last until then and I was sure he would not feel extreme pain unless he re-breaks it.
“Who are you?” Tristan spoke. I was surprised to see he was glaring at me. I barked and cocked my head to the side. I couldn’t help my tail from wagging. Tristan noticed.
“What?” Tristan snapped, “You don’t feel sorry that I’m sitting here in the rain with a broken leg with no way back? You don’t care that I’m lost because I was following you?” then he looked away and muttered to himself, “Talking to a stupid dog.”
I lay down with a whine and put my paws over my eyes to show how miserable I was. I swore I heard Tristan chuckle, but when I dared to peak he wasn’t looking at me. Then he sighed and shifted his position, careful not to knock his leg too much. He looked a little confused.
“It doesn’t hurt much, anymore,” he whispered and then looked up at me, “What are you doing here? I thought you were running away. Why aren’t you now? You’ve been following me, I know you have. You’re a dog, too. How do you even know who I am?”
I made a noise in the back of my throat and Tristan shook his head at me. He knew I understood and that made me a little worried. Would Tristan catch on? I knew he had to be pretty smart. I didn’t think I was ready for him to know that the dog he was talking to was really his father. I wasn’t sure if Tristan was ready to know either. And I knew that Libby was definitely not ready to know. Tristan would not keep himself from telling his mother either, I knew.
“Stupid dog,” Tristan repeated under his breath.
I didn’t mean to, but I gave a little growl. Obviously, I was anything but stupid. Tristan looked up at the noise and frowned. I felt bad suddenly and once again put my paws over my eyes, ashamed. There was a silence and suddenly I felt Tristan’s hand running through the thick, matted fur. I wished it was as silky and soft as his, but everything about me changed when I went to Azkaban.
“Sorry,” he muttered, “I’m just frustrated.”
I lifted my head to look at him. I made another noise in the back of my throat. Would he get that I was asking him why? That I was trying to show him concern? Tristan continued to pull his fingers through my fur. He pulled a little, where the knots and tangles were too stubborn. But I didn’t really care if he pulled. He was trying to be gentle, I knew. He gave a sigh and shifted a little bit.
“I don’t know how well you can understand me, but I know you understand me to an extent,” Tristan began, “And I know you have been watching me. It’s strange, I’ll admit, but I guess you’re not really dangerous. At least I hope not. All I need is for some super-dog to be following me around, listening to my conversations, just to have everything delivered back to Voldemort.”
I growled at the name and sat up, pulling my head from underneath Tristan’s fingers. He didn’t fear the name, I was proud of him for that. But to think a dog as innocent as me was going to go and tell Voldemort that my son was laying in the dirt of the Forbidden Forest alone? I had to remind myself that it was a little suspicious. And I had to feel a little proud of him for even wondering if I was with Voldemort. Again, I felt pretty proud of him.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend,” Tristan said, his voice quiet. He looked at his watch and frowned, “I need to find my way back. My mum is in Hogsmeade. I have no doubt that she’s looking for me. Really, I have no doubt that she flipping out while looking for me. I’ve been gone a while.”
Tristan looked around as if trying to find a way out. He kept glancing at me and then pointed at a stick that was about his height. It stood near a wide tree.
“Go get me that stick, please,” Tristan ordered and I stared at him for a moment and he bit his lip, “Fetch boy!” I cocked my head and then stood up and shook myself. I wasn’t going to get the stick. I was a large dog and I was big enough for Tristan to either ride me or lean against me. No stick was necessary. Tristan seemed to figure this out, “Ride you?” he asked and I barked. Taking a deep breath, Tristan pulled himself up using my back. It hurt a little, but I stood still and strong until Tristan was on his feet. I was grateful he was still only twelve. If he was older, then there would be a problem.
Slowly, Tristan made it way on my back. He was lighter then I had guessed and that concerned me. He was thin as it was; did he get enough to eat or was depression eating away at him? I waited until Tristan was secure and then started to walked slowly. It would have been better to run; I would have gotten Tristan to Libby much sooner, but I didn’t want to jostle Tristan’s leg much more then it already was.
My leg was killing me. It seemed that whatever pain had disappeared when I was passed out was quickly returning as I rode the dog back to the castle. Yeah, I was riding a dog. A large, black dog that seemed to understand every word I say – except for fetch – and wanted to help me more then any other dog should want to help me. But I was grateful for the ride; much better then limping my way in circles, searching for the way out or following the dog again. The dog walked slowly as if to make it easier on my leg.
“You’re too smart for a dog,” I said as we made our way through and feeling a little foolish, “I mean, how can a dog know to watch me? You’ve probably seen me fly and talk with Lyra and Ginny and Luna. You probably know my grades better then I do and a million other things. I have a feeling I should be a little freaked by you watching me. It’s like having my own personal stalker, only on four legs,” I reached over and patted him on the head, “You can’t be too bad though, if you’re saving me. I watched this show on this Muggle television once about these rescue dogs that could save lives. Supposedly they would get depressed if they found a dead body instead of a live person in need of help. Are you like that?”
The dog made a noise that sounded a little like a laugh. He barked a few times, scaring some birds from a nearby tree and into the rainy sky. I laughed too. No, this dog was definitely not a rescue dog. But something made him want to rescue me. Was it just because I was some helpless pre-teen wanting to understand a dog? Or was it because I was special to him? Maybe I reminded him of his old owner or maybe he just liked kids that didn’t exactly fit in? I mean, my friends were misfits. I was a misfit. And maybe being different was something that attracted strays? I mean, he was obviously different from his kind, too.
I gave a sigh, wincing as my leg bumped against the side of the dog. I wondered if I were heavy for him. If my weight was too much for him, he didn’t let me know. We would be moving slower then this if I had walked, anyways. I listened to the dog’s breathing. It was even and not at all rough so I felt better, knowing that he was at least alright carrying me and moving forward.
“Life is unfair, isn’t it?” I asked the dog suddenly, “I mean, look at you wandering around the Forbidden Forest. And then me, twisted son of Sirius Black. But then you have people like Harry, suffering from fame and expectations. And then there are people that are happy with the way their life is, like Lyra. Sometimes I wonder if she is actually lying to me about Regulus Black being her father. She is so laid back about it. It’s like she said to me that one night when my dad broke into the school ‘you are who you are.’” I was thoughtful for a moment, “How is she so capable of accepting herself and I can’t?”
The dog made a noise that I was sure was his explanation. Shame I don’t speak dog, because I would have liked to know what it was that he was saying and maybe solve my problems. But that was silly. Animals don’t solve problems. And even if they did, they wouldn’t solve my problems. This was something I had to overcome myself. Would it take months? Years? Weeks? Argh!
“My mum is probably flipping out. I can see her now, running around the school with Lupin and Dumbledore at her heels trying to calm her,” I gave a sigh, “I worry too much about her. She’s so . . . unstable. Sometimes I think she would be better off if the drugs and spells hadn’t worn away the painful memories she tried so hard to block out. Maybe then she wouldn’t be running around England trying to figure things out, you know? She’d be able to be my mum and I could be the kid.”
Again, the dog whined. This time, he sounded as if he was in pain and I worried that it was my weight. But the dog kept moving, not even shuddering under my weight as he walked. Something else had disturbed him, not me. Was it something I said? I leaned forward a few inches, my fingers lacing through the dog’s fur. It was a little greasy and very knotted. The poor thing was probably sleeping out in the Forbidden Forest every night. And merlin did this guy need a bath!
“I shouldn’t say such things,” I said to the dog, “Mum is a great mother, she just can’t always be there. Since dad . . . well, since my dad betrayed her. Remus and Jacob said that they were very much in love and that’s why Mum took it so hard. I wish I had known him,” I gave a sigh and realized I was ranting to the dog, “Stupid me talking to a dog. You don’t understand a think I’m saying, do you?”
The dog barked and hopped a little. I winced at the pain that spread through my leg and groaned a little. The dog whined an apology and I felt even dumber. Telling the dog he doesn’t understand me. The dog has understood me better in this last hour then people I have known my entire life.
“Sorry,” I mutter to the dog and then pause, “You need a name. Just something that I can call you since, really, its stupid for me to call you Dog. Would you like a name?”
The dog barked. I grinned.
“Alrighty . . . how about something ironic? Like . . . Fluffy. I mean, I’m sure you were fluffy back before you started following me and sleeping in dirt and rain every night. Do you like Fluffy?” I asked the dog. He made a noise that almost sounded like a laugh. But that was silly, a dog laughing? I grinned for real for the first time since I returned to school, “Then Fluffy it is! And as soon as I get my leg healed, I’m going to find a brush and some food and I’m going to come and find you. There’s something odd about you. You’re definitely not like my old dog, Ace. Actually, he was my dad’s old dog, but he passed away a few years ago. Anyways, he was really stupid compared to you. And you listen to me. As crazy as it sounds, you listen to me.”
I laughed a little and noticed that the trees weren’t so thick and it wasn’t as dark. Of course, the rain was just a little harder without the leaves and branches overhead guarding it. My hair was in my eyes. It had gotten pretty long since I returned to school. I always wore it long, but now my bangs hung in my eyes, making me have to snap my head to the side in an attempt to get it out of my face. I did that now, but my hair didn’t want to cooperate and the wet pieces fell back into my face.
Minutes later, the dog was emerging from the trees and I looked around. The castle was to my left and Hagrid’s hut to my right. The Quidditch Pitch was in the distance. I hadn’t realized that I had been traveling away from it as well as deep into the Forbidden Forest. A chill went down my spine. How easy it was to get lost in the woods. I was thankful that dog had come back for me and I wasn’t mad that chasing him was the reason for snapping my leg.
“Tristan!” I heard a voice and looked up. It was Remus. The dog shied, as if panicking and I carefully climbed off. I balanced and turned to the animal but he was running through the woods again, gone. Remus nearly toppled me, “What was that?”
“What?” I asked, wincing as my leg screamed in pain.
“The dog . . . it was . . .” Remus stopped and then looked at me, “Nevermind, are you alright? What’s wrong with your leg? Your mother has been flipping out.”
Tristan was sleeping comfortably in a bed in the Hospital Wing. Madame Pomfrey had fixed up his leg, muttering about spells to take the pain away being useless because it just makes them hurt more later. I had not known that Tristan knew how to heal injuries. I assumed, however, that it was in one of those books he always was reading and had put the thought in the back of his mind, just in case. Now, however, I was not concerned with how skilled and advanced Tristan could do magic. I was much more concerned with his health.
Beside his leg, there were no issues with Tristan. He was exhausted and his reasoning for running through the Forbidden Forest seemed off. Honestly, Tristan wasn’t one to run away from dark things and he wouldn’t have left Ginny behind if that was the case. Dumbledore had commented on Tristan following something and Remus had stiffened at the thought. I don’t think Tristan would be that stupid, but then again, he was incredibly curious sometimes. But Tristan had stuck by his story, muttering it over and over again before he finally fell asleep.
It was Remus that had found him. I don’t know how Tristan managed to leave the Forbidden Forest with a broken leg, but I didn’t really want to think about it. He was safe now, his leg healing quite nicely, according to the medi-witch. I brushed his hair off his forehead, amazed by how soft it felt and then looked across the bed where Remus was sitting. He had been quiet since he returned, carrying Tristan.
“Something wrong, Remus?” I asked. His head snapped up in surprise.
“No, no. Just thinking,” he muttered and then looked at me curiously, “I thought I saw Tristan with a dog. A big, black dog.”
I frowned for a moment, “Tristan hasn’t mentioned a dog.”
“I know, it might have been my imagination. You know, the big, black dog. Bigger then a normal dog . . . ?” Remus let his voice trail off like he wanted me to finish a sentence for him. I shook my head at him, confused.
“Tristan was not running around with the Grim,” I laughed and Remus sighed.
“Of course not,” he muttered.
I didn’t press Remus for anymore details. But a while after our conversation, he stood up, patted Tristan on the hand and left the room. Now, it was just me and my son. My whole world. It was insane how a child can change your whole world. One moment, you love your husband and your new life with him, and then a baby comes along and that baby becomes everything to you. I wondered, if Sirius hadn’t turned around and left us both, how Sirius would feel about Tristan. Proud, I would hope.
But if Sirius hadn’t been proud of Tristan, that wouldn’t have mattered because I had more then enough pride in me for the both of us. I smiled a little sadly as I stared at my twelve year old: my baby. Sirius would have definitely been proud of him. Surprising myself, I could clearly see Sirius strutting around the Ministry and home, bragging about his gorgeous son and how he takes right after him. Tristan would have been Sirius’s life and world, too. I closed my eyes for a moment and, again surprising myself, remembered the way Sirius had always acted around Tristan. No longer was Sirius was kid, but a father. And I think he was never happier.
So why did he betray us all?
Again, I had the feeling that something was missing. Something big that Remus sensed, Dumbledore sensed, and I knew. I cursed myself. I can sometimes remember so much, but never that one little piece that seemed so important! Why couldn’t I remember it already?
Frustrated, I pressed my forehead to the soft bed, the top of my head resting against Tristan’s arm. And then he was moving. I felt his hand rise and then stroke the back of my head in comfort. Tristan knew I was upset. Tristan knew I was struggling. But he was struggling more then the both of us. I pushed my stress and frustration aside and sat up to smile at my son.
“You haven’t been sleeping for long,” I said.
“I’m not really that tired,” Tristan replied and yawned, completely contradicting himself. He gave me a sheepish grin and ducked his head, “Sorry.”
“It’s alright. You’ve been running around the Forbidden Forest with a broken leg all day,” I reminded him with a smile.
“Yeah, yeah,” Tristan says and yawns again, “Where’s Ginny, Luna, and Lyra?”
“I haven’t seen them for sometime now. They came in when you had first fallen asleep but Madame Pomfrey sent them away again. They’ll be back later. All three seemed incredibly worried,” I smile wider at him.
Tristan nods and hesitated for a moment before looking up at me, “Did Dad have a brother named Regulus?” he asked. I was shocked and nodded.
“Yeah, he left Hogwarts for Death Eater training when I was a sixth year,” I answer, thinking about to that night. Sirius had been upset, though everything was a little blurry, “Your father didn’t like it. We tried to get him to stay, but Regulus was terrified. He didn’t really have a choice. He died not too long before Sirius . . . well, you know that story. Why?”
Again, Tristan hesitated and then shrugged, “Just something Lyra had said. She’s in Slytherin, so she hears a bunch of things.”
I nodded, but Tristan’s carefully composed face told me that he was keeping a secret from me. As his mother, I should try and get it out of him, but I didn’t want to force Tristan. He will tell me when he’s ready to tell me. Right now, I will just let him try and understand it himself. Of course, knowing that Tristan was hanging around a Slytherin made me a little nervous. But then again, she was hanging around two Gryffindors and a Ravenclaw. I don’t think she was dangerous.
Tristan continued to insist that he wasn’t tired, but he was sleeping again within the hour. I laughed at him and decided that I would have to leave him to rest for now. I kissed his forehead, told Madame Pomfrey that I’ll be back soon and left the Hospital Wing. I went to Dumbledore’s office and took a seat in one of the chairs he had conjured up for me. The office was empty and I checked the time to see that it was a quarter to nine. There wouldn’t be any students wandering the hallways anymore, but Dumbledore was a busy man.
Before long, I dozed off.
A/n: Holy moly! A new chapter!
Sorry it took so long to get out. But with the lack of my trusted author's status and my sudden sparks of inspiration, things are coming out slowly but surely. (I even updated Hold Your Tongue for the first time in how many years?). This chapter is one of my favorites so I really hope you liked it.