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Chapter 32 : The Sleepover and the Party
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Mrs. Potter had grown ill and Sirius found most of the time he wasn’t out on business for the Order, he was around the Potter’s home, trying to be there for the family that had given him so much.
Unfortunately, this left little room for visiting Melora and Emma and by May, Sirius realized he had only seen his daughter a handful of times over the past 3 months.
He flooed Melora to discuss a visit immediately, but she too, had a full schedule.
“Four of my coworkers came down with Dragon Pox this week,” she said shoving her blonde hair into a ponytail, “So I’ll be working overtime for at least a month.”
“What about this weekend?” Sirius suggested, “I leave Monday for Kent on business,” business was Sirius’s code for the Order, “And I’d really like to spend some time with Emma before I leave.”
Melora hesitated. “I’m supposed to visit Beatrice this weekend.”
Sirius cursed inwardly. He had known this. Melora had mentioned it months ago.
“But maybe you could stop by for an hour or two before I leave?” she offered.
A thought popped into Sirius’s head. “Emma’s not coming with you, is she?”
“No, my mum and dad are watching her.”
“Or I could.”
Melora blinked. “What?”
“I could watch Emma for the weekend,” he said, getting excited, “Give your parents some time off and finally get to see my daughter.”
The last part was a bit harsh and Sirius knew that, but now that the idea was in his head, he couldn’t let it go.
Melora looked away, clearly torn between guilt and her desire to keep Emma out of harm’s way. “Will it be safe?” she asked.
Sirius nodded eagerly. “Dumbledore himself helped me with my protection charms.”
Melora let out a deep sigh and Sirius knew he had won.
But, it wasn’t a total victory. Melora came by Friday to do her own sweep of the flat. Sirius had stocked it with baby supplies ages ago, but Melora still managed to find a shortage (apparently two bottles weren’t even close to enough).
She also made him double check every softening charm on the corners of his furniture and all the locking spells on his cabinets and drawers.
“I’m not just going to let her run wild,” Sirius said exasperatedly while Melora went around the flat triple checking he hadn’t left anything too sharp too close to the ground.
“I know,” the blonde replied stiffly, “I just want to make sure.”
Sirius sighed, but let her do as she pleased and a half-hour later, Melora ran out of things to baby-proof.
“Okay,” she said, “I’ll be over at eight sharp."
James heard the call at three in the morning.
He and Lily had been sleeping soundly when Sirius’s muffled voice yelling his name woke him up. For a moment James looked around, confused, still half in dream world. But as Sirius’s voice persisted he woke up enough to stumble out of bed and over to his dresser where he had left his enchanted mirror.
“Padfoot it’s the middle of the night,” he said squinting blearily into the mirror, “What could possibly be so urgent?”
“I need your help! I can’t get Emma to stop crying!” Sirius exclaimed.
James perked up. “We’ll be right over.”
“No!” Sirius shook his head, “Not Lily, don’t tell Lily. She’ll tell Melora and Melora will never trust me to be alone with Emma again.”
James looked over at his sleeping fiancé. She would probably tell Melora…
“Get Moony and Wormtail,” Sirius instructed. A loud wail erupted on his end. “Oh bugger,” Sirius looked at James with wide eyes, “And hurry!”
That cry sent James into a silent flurry, getting dressed as quick as he could without waking Lily. He then stumbled into the living room to call Remus and Peter. The former promised to get over as fast as he could, but Peter didn’t answer. James frowned at that, he knew Wormtail didn’t have any Order business. He had had dinner with James and Lily only hours ago, but he had mentioned going out to the pub after. James’s smirked; perhaps Peter had found more at the pub than a pint. Chuckling to himself, he readied to apparate before realizing he had left his shoes in the bedroom.
Hurrying up the stairs and tiptoeing into the room, he searched for his shoes, struggling to remember where he had left them. He and Lily had gotten into some wine after Peter had left and had been pretty tipsy by the time they’d stumbled upstairs. James cursed his drunk self, he always hid his clothes when drinking for some reason.
Just as he was about to give up and go barefoot, inspiration struck and James dove under the bed. Sure enough his shoes sat innocently at the very center. Unfortunately, in the process of the dive, James had knocked into his bedside table and sent the half-drunk glass of wine he had brought up with him earlier tumbling to the floor, landing on the carpet with a loud crash.
James winced and held his breath. Surely the jig was up now.
But when he popped his head over the edge of the bed, Lily just turned over in her sleep and mumbled something into her pillow.
James let out a sigh of relief and ran out of the bedroom, shoes in hand, before apparating with a small pop.
Sirius’s apartment was a mess and Sirius matched it fairly well.
His hair was sticking up in almost as many directions as James’s and he was covered in what James hoped was milk and some kind of red sauce, as were his walls.
“We had some troubles with dinner,” Sirius explained wearily when James and Remus arrived. Remus took Emma and James led his friend to the bathroom to clean up.
“I don’t even know what happened,” he groaned, “Everything was fine until I started to feed her and she thought it would be more fun to throw the food than eat it. I tried giving her a bath, but that ended just as badly,” James thought back to the soaking kitchen he had seen on his way in and had to agree, “And then I decided I’d just try to get her to go to sleep and everything was fine until a few hours ago when she woke up and started crying and hasn’t stopped since. I’ve changed her and tried to feed her and burp her. I’ve sang to her, read her stories, played with her, but nothing’s working!”
Sirius leaned against the sink, exhausted. “Who am I kidding Prongs? I’m not a father; I haven’t spent more than five minutes with Emma for months. I’m awful with kids. Remember when I babysat my Cousin Andy’s daughter? She covered the walls in crayon within the first five minutes I was there.”
James shook his head. “Don’t be ridiculous Padfoot, you’re a great dad. Melora’s always saying so and it’s obvious every time I see Emma in your arms. Sure you’re not always there but it’s only because you’re busy fighting so she can grow up in a world safe from Voldemort and Death Eaters. And Nymphadora was three, Andromeda and Ted couldn’t even control her.”
“I can’t even get her to stop crying,” Sirius said weakly.
“She’s just being colicky Pads,” James shook his head, “I’m sure it wouldn’t have mattered who was caring for her tonight, the kitchen would have ended up a disaster area any way.”
Sirius chuckled and ran a hand through his hair, smoothing it down with the mess of food on his hand. “Oh bollocks,” he sighed, realizing what he had done.
James laughed. “Take a shower, Pads. Moony and I can keep the crying baby busy for twenty minutes.”
Sirius’s shower was much shorter than that, but it did the job all the same and when he emerged, he felt ready to take on his daughter despite the fact it was nearly four in the morning.
Emma was between James and Remus on the couch, her face was still twisted and red, but her sobs had decreased to sniffles. When she spotted Sirius, her chubby arms reached up and he hurried over to sweep her up in his arms. Emma buried her snotty nose into his clean shirt immediately and James and Remus tensed, waiting for Sirius to resume his freak out.
But their friend only laughed and hugged his daughter closer as her sniffles slowed down to nothing. “Come on Emma, one lullaby and then I think it’s time for bed.”
James shook his head as they watched Sirius take the infant into the bedroom, singing softly as they went. “And he says he’s not a good dad.”
“I think he’s worried he’ll be like his parents,” Remus said quietly.
James looked alarmed at the idea. “You don’t think—?”
“Of course not,” Remus scoffed, “In fact it’s because of them that I think he’s such a good father.”
And after the sight of Sirius hugging Emma tight and singing her to sleep, James had to agree.
Melora was pleased to see since spending his weekend with Emma, Sirius had been around far more often. She also noted the attacks on muggles had died down substantially and although, rationally she knew the war was far from over, as the sunny June day of her daughter’s first birthday arrived, Melora couldn’t help but feeling positive that its end was in sight.
So positive, in fact, she had made a fairly spontaneous purchase that morning that she was itching to tell anyone who would listen about. But, she instead kept it to herself, hidden behind a wide smile as she welcomed her friends and family in the backyard of her parents’ home.
There was one person she had to tell first before anyone else and they had yet to arrive.
“I hope that smile’s for me,” said a voice behind her. Melora spun and engulfed Beatrice in a wide hug.
“I know it’s only been a month, but it feels so much longer!” the blonde exclaimed when they broke apart.
Bea nodded in agreement, “So tell me where’s that goddaughter of mine?”
“Mum’s got her in the corner of the yard,” Melora indicated to where her mum was fawning over the toddler with her friends, “Good luck trying to get within a meter of her. Oh by the way, I have some big news I want to tell you later.”
Bea raised a brow, “And why not just tell me now?”
Melora flushed a little. “I’ve got to tell someone else first.”
“And just where is your baby daddy today anyway?” Bea asked with a wicked grin. Melora’s blush darkened and she whacked her friend on the shoulder.
“He’ll be here soon. Go say hello to Emma before Mum smothers her to death.”
Sirius meanwhile was pacing in his own flat. He was fairly late to Emma’s birthday party, and getting later every minute, but no matter how much he tried he couldn’t get up the courage to leave. Because he knew when he did he would be one step closer to asking Melora Jones, mother of his child, to marry him yet again.
And he was terrified.
With every passing day, Voldemort seemed to be growing stronger, and despite the Order’s best efforts, things were looking bleak. The dark wizard had been lying low recently, but according to Dumbledore and Mad-Eye’s info, he was planning something big. And Sirius had a bad feeling his family, particularly his younger brother, whom he had heard through the grapevine had dropped out of Hogwarts earlier this year to join the Death Eaters (much to his parents’ pleasure), was right in the thick of it. Plus there had been rumors circulating that there was a mole in the Order.
And while the one side of Sirius was screaming at him to get as far away from Melora and Emma as possible to protect them, the other side, the selfish part of him, just wanted to keep them close and savor the last good thing in his life.
“I can do this,” he told himself, taking a deep breathe; “I became an illegal animagus at age fifteen. I’ve fought Death Eaters and faced Voldemort himself. I’ve survived detention with Minerva McGonagall. I can do this.”
With one final deep breathe he apparated out of his flat and into an alley a few blocks away from the Jones’ home.
He could hear from a distance the party had already begun, and the sounds of laughter calmed his nerves slightly, but he was still jittery when he rang the doorbell.
Mr. Jones answered the door, greeting Sirius with a handshake and put his hand on his shoulder to guide him to the backyard. Sirius could see Melora just outside laughing with James and Lily, and had Mr. Jones not had a firm grasp on his shoulder, Sirius was fairly sure he might have made a bolt for it right there.
“Look who finally showed up!” James teased when they made it outside. Melora smiled brightly at him and Mr. Jones gave him a final clap on the back before heading off to greet some other guests.
“Yeah sorry,” Sirius said, rubbing his neck, “Had to run a quick errand before I came over, took longer than I expected.”
“No problem,” Melora said.
She and Lily exchanged a quick glance before the redhead tugged on her fiancé’s hand. “Oh James, there’s Remus! Let’s go say hello!”
“But we’ve already spoken to him,” James frowned.
Lily rolled her eyes and tugged him away, winking to Melora as they went.
Melora shook her head at the other girl’s antics and turned to Sirius. “Do you mind going back inside real quick? I have something to ask you in private.”
Sirius’s brow furrowed in curiosity, “Sure, I actually have something to ask you too.”
“Great!” Melora led him back inside and sat him down on the couch. “Do you want anything to drink?”
“No I’m good,” Sirius shifted on the couch, wincing slightly when he felt the box with the engagement ring in it in his pocket poke his leg.
Melora made herself a cup of tea slowly
“So I was in Richmond the other day,” she started, staring firmly down at her cup, “And I saw something.”
“A house,” she bit her lip and joined Sirius on the sofa, still focused on her tea, “Small, but in a cozy sort of way, with three bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms.”
“Yeah, and the seller was this older woman, real desperate to sell, so I uh, made her an offer.”
Sirius’s eyes widened. “Yeah?”
“Yeah and I found out yesterday that she accepted it,” Melora finally looked up, setting her cup on the table, “So I was thinking of moving out of my parents’ house in a few weeks and wanted to know if maybe you’d consider moving in with me?”
If Sirius had accepted Melora’s offer of a drink, he was fairly sure it would be on the floor right now. To say that was the last thing he was expecting would be an understatement, but thankfully he was a fast thinker and recovered quickly.
“I don’t know Melora, seems a little scandalous. The two of us living together, unmarried and all.”
“Oh,” Melora’s heart began to sink, as Sirius’s hand inched towards his pocket, “Well I mean it has three bedrooms. And I never thought something like that would bother you…”
Sirius shrugged. “Well it doesn’t bother me. But what will the neighbors say? What will your parents think?”
Melora struggled to answer. She certainly hadn’t been expecting this reaction. “I don’t know. I just thought…”
Sirius grasped the box in his pocket and slowly slid off the couch onto one knee. “Wouldn’t it just be easier for everyone if we were married?” He pulled out the ring box and opened it, revealing the silver band encrusted with a diamond surrounded by two sapphires inside.
Melora’s hand flew up to her mouth. She definitely hadn’t expected that reaction.
“Well?” Sirius grinned nervously, “What do you say? Marry me Melora Jones?”
“I-I- does this mean you want to move into the house with me?”
Sirius threw his head back and let out a bark of laughter. “Of course you silly woman.”
Melora grinned widely. “Then of course you idiot man.” She threw her arms around him, sending them both tumbling on the floor, and knocking over the table and Melora’s tea in the process. But neither seemed to mind as Sirius grabbed her hand and slipped the ring onto her finger.
“I love you,” he whispered. The sound of feet running down the hallway hinting their crash had not gone unnoticed by the other partygoers and they were soon to be interrupted.
Melora just leaned in and pressed her lips against his. “I love you too.”
A/N- A nice long chapter to make up for my absence. The longest chapter yet actually!
Fun fact- Nothing Sirius will be 3 years old next week! A big thank you to everyone that have stuck with me since the beginning and those who just started reading and eveyone in between. I never would have been able to do this without you! My ultimate goal is to finish NS this year and I'm pretty close.There are currently 3 more chapters and 1 epilogue planned!
Thanks again :)
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