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Chapter 7 : Sweet Escape
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The Potters were carrying out an annual tradition of decorating the Christmas tree, whilst singing carols and drinking eggnog. But this year, James’ mind was adrift. Sirius hadn’t answered his mirror and James had called on him literally every minute. He was worried that something happened and hoped that his best mate was alright. James had promised himself to wait at least two more days. If Sirius didn’t answer by then, James was paying the Black family a visit.
Madeleine had promised that she would personally accompany him but she doubted they would physically harm their own son. They were vile yes, but not abusive. If anything, they would be too worried about their tarnished reputation; should anything suspicious occur in their household. A place of ‘purity’ and ‘honour’.
James sighed for the umpteenth time and Harry gazed at his son with concern. He knew Madeleine’s words did nothing to appease James’ worry and he hoped Sirius would contact him soon. Just as this thought crossed his mind, the doorbell rang, echoing throughout the entire manor, a feat only manageable with the aid of magic.
Harry and Madeleine exchanged glances. As aurors they were trained to be alert, especially with the looming darkness both metaphorically and figuratively. Harry fingered his wand without drawing any suspicion from his son. He saw Madeleine do the same.
Callie the house elf popped in at that moment and looked at James with unbridled fear and concern. “Master Potter, you must come quickly.”
Harry and Madeleine looked at Callie and then James. The latter appeared perplexed, however, his hesitation didn’t last long. His face smoothed over and only one word escaped him. “Sirius!” He dropped the ornaments and dashed out into the corridor, past the grand staircase and towards the front lobby.
Harry and Madeleine were not far behind him.
Sirius Black was standing in the front foyer, looking weary and broken. His eyes were shining with unshed tears and his body was shaking with both anger and frustration.
James blanched. “What’s wrong, what happened?!” Sirius lagged forward, but James steadied him quickly, supporting his weight. Harry took his other side and Madeleine’s eyes shone with fear.
“Take him to the living room. Callie, some hot cocoa please... two.” She glanced at her son.
They dragged him to the living room and seated him on the sofa. “Did they hurt you? What did they do?!”
Sirius glanced at James. “I left, I had to leave. They told me I couldn’t go back to Hogwarts. They told me I was a disappointment, an embarrassment...a mole on their family tree and I needed to be fixed.” His voice broke and he couldn’t keep it in any longer. He sobbed. Madeleine pushed past and held him, whispering soothing words in his ear. James was furious. He’d never been so angry in his life. He couldn’t believe someone could do something like this to their own child. He clenched and unclenched his fists.
Callie appeared with a crack and handed him the mugs of hot cocoa. James thanked her quietly and she left.
A few minutes later when Sirius had calmed down, he sat up. “Sorry about that.” He smiled slightly at Madeleine. She grinned and dried his tears. “You have nothing to be sorry about darling.” She said softly. James handed him the hot cocoa and Sirius grinned. “You tell anyone about this and I’ll beat your insides out.”
James smirked. “You mean I can’t call you a blubbering baby from now on?”
Sirius mock glared and laughed, Madeleine and Harry joined along. James shook his head amusedly and Sirius sat up straight, looking slightly unsure. “Mad, Harry, is it alright if I stay here for a while? Just for a few days. I’ll get out of your hair as soon as I can.” He looked down solemnly.
Harry and James whipped their head at Madeleine in shock and Sirius nodded slowly. “I understand.” He said quietly. James was about to protest when Madeleine interrupted.
“I meant you will stay here for as long as this house stands!”
Harry smiled and Sirius looked at her in surprise.
“You aren’t going anywhere else. You don’t need to look for another place to stay. You have been- and always will be- a part of this family Sirius and as such, you will always have a place in this home.”
James nodded and Sirius’ face broke out into a grin. “Thank you; you don’t know how much this means to me.”
Madeleine kissed his cheek and waved her wand. His trunks flew in through the doorway and with another wave, they disappeared.
“Your room is- as always- ready for you, and now it’s yours permanently.” She smiled fondly.
James patted Sirius on the back happily. “Welcome to the family, Padfoot.”
Melody sighed as she lay on her bed, gazing up at the ceiling. She could hear her mother’s ringing laughter and her father’s booming voice from downstairs but she couldn’t bring herself to join them in their happiness.
Why did things have to change, why couldn’t they stay the way they were before...everything. A knock at her door banished her miserable thoughts. “Come in.” She said tiredly.
The door opened and Amelia and Alec Milonas walked in, looking at their only child with concern. Her mother walked swiftly to her bedside and felt her forehead apprehensively. “How are you feeling sweetheart?”
Melody sighed and rose. “I’m fine, it’s not that.”
Her father clenched his fist and as hard as he tried, he could never completely hide the shadow of fear on his face. Melody smiled at him reassuringly and he returned it as best he could.
“Come decorate the tree with us darling, it will raise your spirits.” Her mother stroked her hair fondly.
“At least call the girls, do something.” Her father pleaded.
Melody took a look at his saddened face and slid off her bed. “I’ll come and decorate with you.” She smiled again, this time a real one; her parents beamed.
“Excellent.” Her father boomed. He wrapped his arm around both his wife and daughter and led them out of the large and tastefully decorated room towards the sitting room.
“Now would you like to do the honours, sweets?” Melody’s mother asked, handing her the star to place atop the sparkling tree once they’d entered the large and elegant room.
Melody smiled sadly and felt a painful tug on her chest. She knew her parents were feeling it as well, thankfully they hid it well.
“I’d love to.” She took the handsome crystal from her mother’s hands and with a wave of her wand, levitated it to the top of the tree.
Her mother clapped her hands. “Magnificent.” She looked back at Melody and her eyes were shining with tears. “Mother, please don’t.” Melody pleaded.
She pulled herself together quickly and breathed. “You’re right. Hattie!”
A tiny elf popped in front of them.
“Hattie, please send in some biscuits and tea.”
Hattie nodded and bowed, quickly disappearing on the spot. “So, Melody have you decided what to wear for the New Years Ball?” Amelia asked, taking a seat on the armchair. Melody shrugged. “I haven’t really given it much thought yet. The girls and I thought maybe we could go to the city later this week and pick something out.”
“Muggle London, you mean?” Alec raised his brow. Melody nodded.
“You don’t even know how muggle currency works.”
Melody grinned. “Ha ha, thank you very much daddy. I know enough. After all, I did take a muggle studies class last year, remember?”
Her father smiled sheepishly. “Ah, right.”
Her mother frowned. “Well perhaps Hattie could accompany you.”
Melody sighed exasperatedly. “We’ll be fine mother, and I don’t think the muggles would react very well to Hattie.”
Amelia bit her lip. “Still, it is a large city.”
Melody rolled her eyes. “I’ve been loads of places by myself.”
“Yes, but not muggle. You can’t just walk up to someone and ask where the nearest floo is.”
“We’ll take a portkey, that way even if we get lost, we’ll still end up back here.”
Her mother sighed. “Very well.”
Melody giggled and blew her mother a kiss.
Just then Hattie appeared and placed the tray on the oak table. Melody stepped forward and grabbed a biscuit, excited for the trip to muggle London.
James was awoken abruptly by the sound of someone apparating into his bedroom. He stirred and sat up groggily to find Callie looking at him expectantly. He frowned; she very easily could have done that silently. “Lady Potter insists you wake and come downstairs for breakfast.”
James groaned. “Tell Lady Potter to leave me alone and bother me at a godlier hour.”
Callie smirked. “Of course Mister Potter.”
James sighed and his head barely touched the pillow when Sirius barged through the door. “Oi, Potter, wake the bloody hell up!”
James moaned. “Padfoot, does respect for sleeping mates mean nothing to you?”
Sirius smirked and leaned against the doorway. “Technically, you were already awake. Anyways, your mother sent me. She said if you don’t wake up, I get to eat all the pancakes.”
James sat up with a glare. “You wouldn’t.” He narrowed his eyes.
Sirius straightened and grinned. “Wouldn’t I?”
They stared each other down for about thirty seconds before both of them suddenly lunged out the door and towards the staircase.
Madeleine smiled as the boys sprinted into the dining room, pushing and shoving, looking absolutely dishevelled. James smacked Sirius upside the head and plopped on the nearest chair.
Harry smiled over his copy of the daily prophet. “Well good morning to you too.” He chuckled as Sirius and Madeleine high fived one another.
James glared at his mother. “You couldn’t let me sleep another hour?”
Madeleine primly forked bacon in her mouth, dabbing the side of her mouth with a napkin before responding. “No dear.” She smiled. James huffed and reached for the plate of pancakes while Sirius snickered and leaned back in his chair.
“So what’s on the agenda today boys?” Harry asked, folding the daily prophet and setting it aside.
James motioned wildly with his hands, his mouth filled with food.
“We’re going to touch up on some Quidditch plays and then maybe go around town.” Sirius translated. Madeleine smiled. “Well Harry and I will be home late tonight so you have the house to yourselves. Just don’t burn it down please.”
James smirked, his mouth still full. He gulped it down with a glass of milk and spoke, “Who are you going to beat up tonight?”
Madeleine huffed. “We don’t ‘beat people up’ James, we patrol and carry out tasks.” She rolled her eyes. Harry on the other hand chuckled. “I’d like to beat a few people up though, one of them being Hopkins. He’s a right pain in my-
He backtracked at his wife’s expression.
Sirius chortled but his face darkened quickly. “Well do me a favour, if you see any of my family give them a good thrashing or two; three if it’s Bella.”
Madeleine’s eyes hardened. “That’s not a light accusation to make Sirius.”
Sirius laughed dryly. “Believe me, Bella was probably the first one to hop on the Death Eater bandwagon.”
Harry’s forehead wrinkled. “Are you sure of this? This is extremely critical information.”
Sirius and James nodded.
Madeleine drew a breath. “I can’t believe it. She’s still a child for heavens sake! It feels like just yesterday the three of you were running around the manor.”
Sirius flinched at the unfortunately fond memory. “I wouldn’t be surprised if her boyfriend and his little brother were as well. I know for a fact Malfoy is and I have a pretty good feeling about Rosier, Mulciber and Nott.”
Madeleine looked disheartened. “Charles? I would never have thought...Rosalie Nott and I always put bets on where we figured James and Charles would end up in the future.” She sighed sadly and Harry leaned over to wrap an arm around her frame.
“I just can’t believe she would just sit around, while knowing that there is a chance her son is putting himself in so much danger. Chuck was always such a fine fellow.” She smiled. “I remember he had a crush on Anna, he was always so excited when he saw her.”
Sirius snorted and Madeleine laughed softly.
James rested his arm on the table.
“Things are changing Mad, they’re being corrupted and they believe this is what they deserve. As purebloods, they feel entitled.” Harry said gravely. This was a side of him James and Sirius rarely- if ever- saw.
“These are our friends Harry! People we have grown up with!”
“I know, but fear makes people do things they wouldn’t normally do.”
Sirius frowned. “No, my family has been waiting for this moment their entire lives.”
Harry inclined his head; however, begged to disagree. “The Blacks are a very old family and have always been a powerful family; always on the edge of their seats, never forgetting the muggles who forced them into hiding. Their resentment runs through your family- even now- because your ancestors were there when the wizarding world deemed it illegal to use magic in the company of muggles. There are some families, like yours, who are still resentful and believe that- as the royalty of the wizarding world- it is an embarrassment to have to restrain themselves in such a way. There are also many Blacks who were burned to the stake at the hands of muggles for witchcraft and black magic.”
Sirius furrowed his brows. “But the Potter’s have been around just as long as- if not longer than- the Blacks, and you guys aren’t deranged like my parents.”
Madeleine smiled and Harry laughed. “The Potter’s are descended from a very honourable bloodline. My ancestors lived away from the English, wizard hating, muggles of the time and were never exposed to the hatred that- for example- the Slytherin family or the Black family were. Wizards didn’t always have it this easy lad; there was a time when muggles hated us, just as much as some wizards hate muggleborns and muggles today.”
James and Sirius pondered this newfound information.
“Don’t they teach you anything at school these days?” Madeleine asked exasperatedly.
James shrugged sheepishly. “Binns isn’t exactly the most riveting professor.”
“Or the liveliest, if you know what I mean.” Sirius smirked.
“Albus Dumbledore is a great man, but why he would keep Cuthbert Binns at Hogwarts as a professor is beyond me!” Madeleine scoffed. James and Sirius agreed wholeheartedly.
Harry glanced at his watch and stood. “We should get going dear.” He nodded to his wife.
Madeleine stood as well and brushed her robes off. “Alright boys, behave and remember, if you need anything, please call Callie.”
James rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah, mum I’ve been by myself plenty of times. We’ll be fine!”
Harry smiled and agreed, pulling Madeleine behind him. With one last wink at the boys, Harry left the room- Madeleine in tow.
The boys spent the rest of the morning lounging around the house, planning pranks for the new term, throwing the quaffle around and working on new plays for the Gryffindor Quidditch team but as noon rolled around, James and Sirius prepared to head out to the village.
“Oi Sirius! You ready?” James called from the foot of the staircase. Sirius sprinted down breathlessly, shoes and jacket in hand. “Yeah.” He threw on his jacket, donned his shoes and followed James out the front door.
They made the trek down the long and winding driveway and through the quaint village of Babbity Hollow. Hunched over with cold, they stopped at a nearby pub and ducked inside; their hair glistening from the light snowfall.
The barman beamed and waved at them from behind the counter. “Sirius Black! Welcome back lad!”
James smiled and took a seat on one of the stools, Sirius taking the one next to him. “How’ve you been Ramsey, holding down the fort?”
Ramsey let out a booming laugh and nodded in agreement. “As always; so, what’ll it be gents? Anything you want, on the house.”
James shook his head. “Not necessary Ramsey, I’ll have a butterbeer and a burger.”
Sirius nodded. “I’ll have the same.”
“So how does it feel being back?” Ramsey the barman asked as he grabbed a couple of large mugs from behind the counter. The bell over the door rang as a couple walked inside, bringing with them a cold draft.
Sirius sighed. “Tiring, I feel like it’s been forever since we left Hogwarts.” He ran his hand over his face.
Ramsey raised his brow. “Tough time with the family again?” He passed them their drinks and hollered towards the kitchen for two burgers.
Sirius snorted. “That’s the understatement of the bloody century...I left home- for good.” Ramsey looked shocked.
“That bad eh?”
Sirus shrugged. “I couldn’t take it anymore.”
Ramsey reached over the counter and clapped him on the shoulder. “Good on you. It’ll be alrigh’, look on the bright side, you’ve got the Potters yeah?”
Sirius grinned and nodded. The bell rang again as someone entered the pub.
“James? James Potter, is that you?”
James turned in his seat and grinned. “Caroline! How’ve you been?!” He greeted the slight girl enthusiastically. She was of medium height, with brown hair and hazel eyes. She laughed and moved forward to embrace him. “How’s boarding school? Speaking of which, why aren’t you there?”
“We’re off for winter break right now. Where were you last summer? I didn’t see you.”
“We went to Paris. My mother’s sister lives there and we hadn’t seen her for a while.”
James nodded and felt a nudge. He looked over at Sirius. “Oh right, Caroline, meet my best mate Sirius Black.”
Sirius smiled crookedly and extended his arm. “Pleasure to meet you.” He drawled, placing a kiss on her hand. She frowned blushingly. “Sirius Black? Weird name- no offence.”
James snickered and Sirius threw his head back in laughter. “Believe me, I know.” He flashed his signature smirk and she quite nearly fainted. “So how come I’ve never seen you before?” Sirius asked and glanced sideways at James, who smirked and shrugged. “I don’t know, she doesn’t live too far and she’s come around a few times, perhaps never when you’ve been over.”
“Or it could be the fact that you’re gone for most of the year.” Caroline responded wryly.
Sirius shook his head. “Yes, but during the summers I practically live at the Potter’s.”
“Technically, now you actually do.” James said.
Sirius inclined his head in agreement.
Caroline raised her brow. “You live at the Potter’s?”
Sirius nodded briskly, leaving it there.
Caroline dropped the subject. “So how long are you back for?” Caroline asked, pulling her hair behind her ear. Sirius eyed her with interest and James noticed this. “Two weeks.” He answered, keeping a cautious eye on Sirius.
Caroline pouted. “Well that’s no fun.”
Sirius’ lips tugged upwards and James sighed inwardly. “Well maybe we can hang out some time.” He suggested. Sirius looked up with intrigue. “Yes, lets.”
Caroline smiled and bit her lip. Sirius smiled like the Cheshire cat. “I look forward to it then.” He drawled. There was a shadow of a smile on Caroline’s face. “Sounds good, I should get going for now though, promised my mum I’d pick up some things. I’ll see you later?” James smiled and nodded.
Caroline waved at Ramsey as she left and Sirius watched her with a determined expression on his face. When he was positive Caroline was gone, James snapped his head back to Sirius. “No!”
Sirius pouted at James. “Why not?”
“Because she’s a-
He lowered his voice.
“-a muggle, for one, and secondly she lives here. I won’t have messing about with girls who know where we live. I’m telling you, I won’t have it Padfoot.” He hissed.
“Oh come on Prongs, I need this. A distraction is the perfect antidote right now.”
James groaned and rubbed his face wearily. “What about Angela?” He asked suddenly. Sirius waved the mention of his current conquest away. “She knows we’re not exclusive, besides, the girl’s about as bright as my mother’s soul.”
James sighed. “Fine! On one condition, you let her know, well in advance, what kind of trollop you are and that you aren’t looking for a relationship. If she refuses, then it’s done. Understood?”
Sirius was offended. “Firstly, I don’t appreciate being called a trollop.”
James raised his brow. “What exactly would you call yourself then?”
Sirius hesitated. “I like to think of it as sharing myself among all of the God given beauties.
James almost fell out of his chair. “You’re an idiot. Now promise!”
“Yes, mum, fine! I’ll be a good boy, I promise.” James shot him a glare and took a large gulp of butterbeer.
Ramsey appeared and placed their burgers in front of them. He eyed Sirius amusedly. “Muggle girl huh?”
Sirius smirked as he took a bite out of his burger. “I like it when they play hard to get, it’s so much more...satisfying.”
James sighed exasperatedly. “Like I said- trollop; sometimes I wonder if you don’t just do it for the sake of doing it.”
Sirius scoffed. “I’m not a sadistic loon. I’m just very attracted to women. There’s nothing wrong with that. And a woman who can keep up with the game is just that much more alluring.”
“What, you mean to tell me that you don’t enjoy when they fall at your feet and beg you to sleep with them?” James snickered.
Sirius flipped him the bird.
Ramsey shook his head and muttered something about today’s teenagers.
The boys spent the rest of the day wandering around the shops, and charming snow balls to hit unsuspecting targets.
It was dark when they arrived back home and the boys were glad for the warmth of the fire. Callie brought them some sandwiches and soup, which they devoured heartily.
“Have you told the others about leaving home yet?” James asked quietly as he moved his rook. They had started a game of chess, which Sirius was currently losing.
Sirius scanned the board and ordered his pawn forward. James’ rook destroyed it immediately. “Not yet. I think I’ll wait until I see them. Don’t really feel like explaining it through a letter.” He said stretching his legs in front of him.
“Are you going to write to Reg?” James asked carefully.
Sirius flinched. “He won’t want to speak to me.”
James shook his head. “Probably not, but he deserves an explanation and you deserve to have your say; he’s probably heard so much crap from your parents, but Regulus needs to hear the truth and the only person he’s going to get it from, is you. He knows that.”
Sirius leaned his head back against the foot of the armchair. “What do I say to him?”
“Exactly what you would tell me. How much you hate them for the way they’ve treated you. How much you despise what they believe in and their treatment of people whom they think they’re better than, and how you couldn’t stand to be pushed around anymore.” He glanced sympathetically at his troubled friend. “Listen, he may not understand now or even five years from now. But one day he will and you’ll be waiting to bail him out of whatever trouble he’ll have gotten himself into.” James smiled and Sirius chuckled.
“What if he joins the death eaters though? What if he starts killing people? I wouldn’t be able to forgive him then; I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself.”
James frowned. “Regulus is your brother and I know you need to have his back, but Sirius, Regulus is old enough to make his own choices now. It’s up to him to decide whether to do the right thing or not. You can’t make his decisions for him.”
Sirius nodded and ran his hand across his face. “I’ll write him tonight. I just hope it doesn’t get intercepted. If one of them-
“- gets it, they’ll burn it at first sight.”
James sighed exasperatedly. “Padfoot, who are we?”
Sirius looked up questioningly and then smiled. “The Marauders.”
James nodded as if speaking to a four year old. “Right! Now you’ll do well not to forget it... Check mate.”
A/N Oh how I adore la bromance :) What do you think of Sirius' newest conquest, who will win? ;)
Btw, feel free to stop on by my MTA page if you have any questions !
Disclaimer: Harry James Potter would like to announce that he belongs to J.K Rowling and would also like to stress that he cannot be bribed, bought or sold. :)
I hoped you like the book, a bit of comic relief. I hope you didn’t think that was your actual gift. Your real gift will be waiting for you when we get back from winter break. Hope you’re having a wonderful holiday. See you soon.
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