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Harry Potter; The Hidden Secret. by MissScarlette1

Format: Novella
Chapters: 11
Word Count: 42,041
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Mild violence, Scenes of a sexual nature, Substance abuse, Sensitive topic/issue/theme, Spoilers

Genres: Drama, Horror/Dark, Romance, Action/Adventure, Angst
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Lupin, Moody, Arthur, Bill, Charlie, Shacklebolt, Tonks, Sirius, Fred, George, Ginny, Luna, Neville, Scrimgeour, OC
Pairings: Arthur/Molly, Bill/Fleur, Harry/Ginny, Remus/Tonks, Ron/Hermione, Neville/Luna, Remus/OC, Sirius/OC, Other Pairing

First Published: 11/20/2007
Last Chapter: 06/10/2020
Last Updated: 07/03/2020

Summary:

Harry's last year at Hogwarts, is of course not going to turn out the way it should.

The road ahead is long and Harry will have to face challenges that couldn't have been thought of in his wildest nightmares. But when he's blindsided by a hidden secret, will he fight through the darkness of betrayal to see the light? 

Everything I thought I knew... everything... it was a lie! Harry thought, struggling to make any sense of what he had just been told. Now it's tainted, spoiled by those I trust... no, trusted the most. Harry felt the weight of the truth crash down around him, crushing his lungs. He tried to catch his breath but the sheer force of betrayal was putting up a fight and making it harder and harder for him to breathe. 

 

A/N:

Before we start, there are three things I'd like to say: 

1. I have only been inspired by J.K Rowling,  all original plot lines belong to her. I am merely imagining a slightly different turn of events.  I do not own any of the original HP content. 

2. I live in utter denial and Sirius still lives on. 

3. I started this story back in 2007 and dropped it for a number of reasons. But I have now been inspired to pick up the pen/keyboard again.  Any feedback is most welcome! 



Chapter 10: Chapter 10. The Explanation, Part 3

Chapter 10. The Explanation, Part 3.

The memory faded out leaving behind a deafening silence in its wake. Harry stared at the space where the memory had been, in utter shock. Watching them all in succession had been an emotional rollercoaster. It was the first time he had seen anything that remotely gave substance to the memory he heard when dementors were close. He had now just seen, from his sister’s eyes, the murder of his parents. He felt cold and sick.

The other memories had provided him with an unexpected and painful clarity. He felt a pang of guilt for the way he had treated Lottie earlier. If anything was clear, it was that she had tried to reunite with him but had been thwarted at every turn. The level of emotion coursing through him was unbearable.

The mood in the kitchen was heavy. Sadness and guilt hung in the air.

Mr Weasley was comforting Mrs Weasley, who had her head buried into his neck. Ron had an arm around Hermione, who had both her hands over her mouth, tears falling thickly down her cheeks. The Weasley children were all staring down at their hands or fiddling with something that meant they could avoid eye contact with everyone else. They were all thinking the same thing. They were glad that they had grown up in the family that they had and were now, as a result, feeling guilty for it.

Remus was clutching the table; his knuckles were white. With every change in the reflective memory, he had fallen deeper and deeper into despair. He felt as though he was going to crumble at any moment. The table was the only thing that was keeping him grounded.

Tonks, noticing Remus, felt her heart grow heavy for him. She desperately wanted to comfort him, to provide him with some respite, but she knew that right now, there was nothing she could do for him. Tears started to slowly fall, and she brushed them away quickly.

Sirius’s face was white. He was staring at Harry, watching his every expression. His worry for Harry grew and grew as the seconds went by. He watched as his godson battled internally with everything that had just been thrown his way. He did not like the dark internal cloud that was slowly starting to surround him. He could see it in Harry’s eyes.  

McGonagall was staring at the table; her eyes were unfocused, and she was shaking her head sadly. The Potter’s children had been through so much and they were not even close to being free from the burden that was placed upon them from such a young age. She had mixed feelings about the man she so greatly respected, and it bothered her. She could not understand why Dumbledore had done this. She had eventually managed to get her head around him choosing to leave Harry with his Aunt and Uncle; it was for his protection. But Lottie?

Kingsley and Mad Eye shared a look. Even they could agree that this had been a step too far. Neither one spoke, but the look had said it all.

“Someone should go and get Lottie.” Bill said, quietly, startling everyone in the room from their thoughts. Fleur sat beside him, clutching his hands in hers. She too felt guilty. She had not meant to speak up in the way that she had. She realised now that it was not her place and deeply regretted ever getting involved. She should have left it to Remus and Sirius to handle.

No one moved.

It was Charlie who spoke next. “I will.” He said, standing up and looking at Harry. He, like the rest of his brothers, had always considered him part of the family. He gave him a small smile, hoping that it conveyed his feelings. “I’ll go.”

Harry looked at Charlie and was grateful. He wanted to be the one to go, but his body was not responding to the commands from his brain telling him to stand up. He simply nodded.

When no one else contested, Charlie moved towards the kitchen door, looking around the room as he went. He caught Sirius’ eye and nodded.

“Thank you, Charlie.” Sirius croaked.

“No sweat.”

***

Lottie was sat outside of her tent, under the fairy lights that hung around all the way around it. She was curled up in one of the wooden garden chairs that she had conjured. Oscar had crept out as soon as she had arrived back at the tent and now was curled up on her lap, purring loudly. It was soothing.

Her mind was racing, and her heart was pounding. The lack of sleep was making it incredibly hard to concentrate. She so desperately wanted to lie down but she fought through it.

Lottie glanced up at the house, wondering if they were watching the memories or if they were still debating over them. She thought of Harry and felt a glimmer of hope that he might just finally understand and that maybe, just maybe, he would want her in his life after all.

What puzzled her though, was the moment that she and Harry had come into physical contact and the literal spark that flared between them. Or the fact that her head had hurt while he was outside and in the same place as the blood on his. She pondered over the thoughts, lost completely in the mystery. Perhaps there was a book that she could read.

“If in doubt…” she muttered to herself, before finishing off the glass of wine and placing it on the arm of the chair. She sighed deeply. After having time to calm down with Oscar, she felt in a much better place. The wine had helped too. Her stomach flipped nervously as the minutes passed her by, knowing that at some point she would have to go back in there and provide some narrative to the memories.

Right on cue, the door to the kitchen opened and a stream of light shot down the grass. Lottie glanced up and noticed that it was Charlie, the Weasley’s second oldest son. She frowned and felt immediately sad. They had sent a messenger. They did not want to talk to her. Charlie started to approach her, and she felt herself shiver involuntarily. She did not need to hear it, she knew.

As he reached the front of the tent, Lottie held up her hand. “Don’t.” she whispered, pleadingly. “Don’t say it. I get it.” She unfurled her legs gently and scooped Oscar up, who meowed wearily, and stood up.

Charlie looked confused. “What do you mean?” he asked her, tilting his head slightly to one side.

“It’s alright.” She told him, picking up the glass and handing it to him. “You don’t need to tell me. I’ll gather my stuff and go.”

Charlie took the glass off her and frowned. “But, go where?” he asked, “Lottie –”

Lottie turned her back to him. “Home.” She said simply, waving a hand and watching the chair disappear. She turned back to him “New York.” She added, hearing his thoughts.

“That explains the accent,” Charlie said, “but Lottie, that’s not what I was going to say. I came to get you…”

Lottie blinked. “To get me?” she asked, confused, “But…” she stopped herself from saying it, realising there was no real way to say ‘why did they send you’ without it sounding rude.

“Listen, I won’t lie to you,” Charlie began, rubbing his face, “That was not an easy watch. At all… In fact, it was pretty harrowing.”

Lottie nodded and grimaced. “But it’s the truth…”

“I know, but that’s why I came to get you… the rest are still trying to… digest.” Charlie explained, diplomatically.

Lottie gave him a small smile. She immediately warmed to him. “Digest…” she repeated, “Fair enough.”

They stood in silence for a while. “So, what now?” she asked him, feeling a bit lost.

Charlie smiled and shrugged. “I guess, we head back in and try and find a way forward.” He said kindly, nodding his head towards the house. “Come on.”

Lottie nodded again and began to follow him, still clutching Oscar. “Is it alright if he tags along? He helps keep me grounded and…”

“Calm?” Charlie asked, smirking at her.

“Yeah, something like that.” She mumbled with a small smile.

“Sure.” Charlie said, “What’s one more animal in that house anyway…”

They walked together in silence until a thought popped into Lottie’s head.

“Hey, Charlie?” She said stopping mid step.

Charlie stopped too. “Mm?”

“How come you didn’t need to… digest?”

Charlie looked her big, sad eyes and immediately felt sorry for her. “I did, but after watching everything you’ve been through, I thought of you sitting out here all alone and I figured you might need a friend…” he shrugged. “And I’m a pretty good friend… even if I do say so myself.”

Lottie could feel how sincere he was and felt herself smile properly; something she had not done in a while. For the first time in her life, she had a friend around her age. Just like that, a real, honest friend. “I can believe that.” She told him.

Charlie grinned back and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Alright, come on. I’ve got your back.”

Lottie nodded gratefully and followed him into the Burrow.

***

As soon as she walked in, Lottie felt as though she had walked into an invisible wall. The wave of emotions washed over her, and it made her sway on the spot. Closing her mind off, she tried to steady herself. Charlie grabbed her arm and looked at her with concern.

“It’s alright.” She muttered. He nodded, letting go. They stood together, shoulder to shoulder looking around the room.

They were all still, as Charlie put it, digesting. The silence was uncomfortable.

Lottie looked up at Charlie, who was ever so slightly taller than her and raised her eyebrows. “I see what you mean…” she mumbled.

Suddenly, Mrs Weasley jumped up and scurried over to the pair. “Oh Lottie!” she cried, enveloping her and Oscar into a bone crushing hug, “You brave, brave girl.” Startled, Lottie let herself be crushed, her eyes wide. She tentatively hugged Mrs Weasley back. It had caught her off guard.

“Mum!” said Charlie, tapping his mother on the arm, “You’re crushing her…and the cat!”

“Oh! I’m so sorry dear.” Mrs Weasley said, letting go and patting Lottie gently on the face. She glanced at her son and saw he was holding Lottie’s wine glass. “Let me get you a top up.” She took the glass away and bustled over to the drinks table.

Lottie smiled and looked down at Oscar to make sure he was alright. Other than slightly disgruntled, he was still and did not put up a fight. Raising her head, she watched Mrs Weasley. She was a typical mother, the kind you read about in stories. Always needing to be busy and always wanting to ensure people were fed and watered. Lottie was not sure about having a third glass of wine on an empty stomach but thought better of telling Mrs Weasley that. Fussing over her, seemed to make her feel better.

At the commotion, Harry looked up at his sister and they locked eyes. Lottie felt a jolt of panic. She was not sure of how Harry was going to react to her being back in the room. She maintained eye contact with him, even when Mrs Weasley came back and handed her the glass of wine. “Thank you.” She said, not breaking her connection with Harry.

Harry stood up and moved silently towards her. Lottie could not help herself; she took half a step backwards. She had closed off her mind so she could not tell what he was thinking or feeling, but his emotionless face, frightened her slightly. Harry stopped in front of her, still staring deeply. Lottie swallowed.

“I -I…” Harry stammered. His eyes were filled with tears. It broke her heart to see. Lottie reacted instantly, practically throwing her wine and Oscar over to Charlie, who caught them both quickly and she pulled Harry into a hug that could rival Mrs Weasley’s. Harry gripped his arms around her, and she held him to her as he broke into tears. As they hugged, the kitchen door flung open and a warm wind whipped through, swirling around them all.

Mad Eye and Kingsley, once again, shared a look. But this time, it was a hopeful one. No one had realised it, but they had just witnessed a powerful reconnection of two joining forces. Dumbledore was right, Harry was going to need Lottie to defeat Voldemort, once and for all. But where they had failed, was to realise the strength and power that Harry himself, held. Lottie was the key to unlocking it.

His hands full, Charlie kicked the door shut with his foot and the wind died down immediately.

Not noticing the wind, Lottie stroked Harry’s hair as he cried. “Shh,” she whispered, trying to soothe him. It was a bit difficult to comfort someone who was taller than her. Harry had to stoop slightly, but had his chin resting on her shoulder. Lottie stood on her tiptoes to try and make it easier. She could see over his shoulder at the others in the room. Some were silently crying, while others looked as though they might. Their hearts broke for the two long lost siblings.

“I’m so sorry!” came Harry’s muffled voice. Lottie closed her eyes and sighed. She took him by the shoulders and held him in front of her. His tear-streaked face was pink and blotchy.

“You listen to me.” She said, “None of this, is your fault.” She wiped a tear from his cheek and then straightened the hair that fell over his forehead.

“But I was awful to you.” He stammered.

“Perhaps, but you were angry and quite rightly.” She corrected him. “I’ve had a little more time to process this than you have.”  

Harry blinked at her causing a few tears to fall rapidly.

“At the end of the day, everyone was doing the best they could, with what they had. Mistakes were made.” She shrugged, “What’s important, is that I’m here now and I’m not going anywhere, alright?”

Harry nodded and more tears threatened to fall. Lottie pulled him back into a hug before letting him go. She held him in front of her again and rubbed the sides of his arms. “Come on, let’s sit. I’m sure you have more questions.”

Harry nodded and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. He turned to walk back to his seat. Lottie looked at Charlie and took the wine and Oscar from him. “Nice save.” She mumbled. Charlie smiled and then walked over to the other end of the table where he had been sat before.

Lottie’s eyes fell on the chair she had conjured up earlier and then darted to Remus and Sirius. They were watching her, eyes wide and faces pale. She walked over, passing her chair and instead sat down in between them and plonked Oscar on her lap.

She placed a hand gently on Remus’ and held out her other to Sirius, who took it. She squeezed them both. There was no room in her heart for anger now so thought she should throw them a bone.

“I do not blame either of you.” She told them firmly, tuning in to their minds. “I am mad that you did not tell Harry about me. But I do not blame you for what happened to me.”

Remus looked down at the table. She squeezed his hand again. “I know you tried, Remus. I know you did.” She continued, “And Sirius, well… you were somewhat preoccupied. I truly mean it… I don’t blame you.”

Tears fell from Sirius’ eyes.  “You are just like your mother, you know that?” he told her thickly.

Lottie once again found herself giving another genuine smile. She looked back at Remus who was still staring at the table. She squeezed his hand, feeling his grief. “Remus, look at me.”

Slowly, Remus turned his head and locked eyes with hers. “Stop torturing yourself.” She told him, “It is not your fault. There was nothing you could have done. Nothing.”

“But Lottie…” he breathed, blinking furiously.

Lottie shook her head and held out her arms. Remus hesitated before pulling her into a hug. She buried her face in the crook of his neck and put her arms around him, letting him get as much comfort from the embrace as he needed. She felt him pull her closer and they stayed like that for a while, lost in grief. Lottie felt tears slowly trickle from her eyes and she closed them. A few moments passed until she felt Remus’ grip loosen and could pull herself away from him slowly. She wiped her eyes and gave him a small smile. She straightened herself, letting her eyes find Harry’s. She was pleased to see that his head was resting gently on the top of Ginny’s, who was leaning on his shoulder and had her arms curled around one of his.

Lottie cleared her throat and looked around. “You all must have questions,” she stated, “I’ll try and answer them as best I can…”

No one spoke. They were all waiting for someone else to be the first person to ask.

After a long, awkward pause, McGonagall opened her mouth to speak. “You can perform wandless magic, without a wand and often silently.” She stated, peering at Lottie.

Lottie did not know if it was a question or a statement, so she just nodded.

“You don’t have a wand?” asked Tonks incredulously.

“No,” said Lottie, “I had to learn very quickly from an early age, how to perform magic without one.”

Seeing Tonk’s confused face, Lottie continued. “The thing about Linden House, was that the children there were very poorly treated. No one had their own wand. You were only given one when you started your first year at Ilvermorny, but it was not yours to keep. They locked them away every summer.”

“Ilvermorny?” queried Harry.

“American Hogwarts.” Said Lottie, looking away from Tonks to her brother.

“What’s it like?” He asked her.

“I imagine, pretty similar to Hogwarts, just not as old.”

Harry’s mind went into overdrive with the number of questions he had. “Does it have houses? Which one were you? Why didn’t you finish school?” he fired at her in quick succession.

Lottie smiled. “It does, four of them. The Horned Serpent, Wampus, Thunderbird and Pukwudgie. I was sorted into Pukwudgie but only because I chose it out of the four.”

“I chose my house too!” said Harry excitedly. He was looking to find similarities between them. Lottie smiled again.

“You got to choose out of the four?” asked Hermione, who had read about all about the other wizarding schools. “Isn’t that really rare?”

Lottie looked at her curiously. Hermione blushed.

“It is… how do you know that?” asked Lottie.

“She’s the smartest witch in our school.” chorused Harry, Ron, Fred, George and Ginny.

Lottie laughed and Hermione turned crimson.

“I see…” said Lottie, with a smile. “Well I am sure that the same would have been true for you Hermione. But yes, it is quite strange. See, when you are sorted at Ilvermorny, you must stand on what’s called the Gordian Knot, a knot carved into the stone. There are the four statues of the houses and when you stand on the knot, a house statue steps forward to claim you.  Sometime two will step forward. In my case, all four did. So, I chose Pukwudgie.”

Feeling embarrassed because everyone was looking at her in awe, Lottie shrugged.

“To answer your third question Harry, I didn’t finish school because I wasn’t learning anything new by my fourth year. Even the teachers admitted that. So, I left and continued my studies with Oma in her bookshop.”

“Who’s Oma?” asked Sirius, leaning towards her to stroke Oscar.

“Well, actually her name was Hilda, but I called her Oma.” Said Lottie fondly, scratching Oscar behind the ears. “She was wonderful to me. My first and only friend and in the end, my family.”

“She owned a bookshop in New York, predominately for witches and wizards, but she loved the no-maj’s, so every Sunday she closed the bookshop to witches and wizards and transformed it into a place for the no-majs to come. It was quite interesting really. It became very popular and it is a tradition that I still hold today.”

“No-Majs?” asked Harry, curiously.

“Muggles.” Hermione said quickly. She leant forward into the table. “You own the bookshop now, don’t you?”

Lottie nodded, lifting her arm away so that Oscar could crawl into Sirius’ lap. “Oma left it to me after she died. She had no family… said I was her family. So, it’s mine now and it’s exactly how she left it.”

Hermione looked at her in admiration.

“You can come and visit any time you like, Hermione.” Lottie added, hearing her thoughts.

“How did you – Oh…” said Hermione, realising how Lottie was able to understand what she was thinking. It made Hermione like her even more.

“You hold great skill, Lottie.” Kingsley said with admiration, “It’s very rare. I have not seen it before.”

Lottie gazed over at Kinsley before looking down at the table, embarrassed. “I had a lot of time to read… it is how I learnt” she told him, taking a sip of wine.

Remus could not help but feel a little proud. Despite not playing a single part in it, he was proud of who his goddaughter had become. Dumbledore and Kingsley were right, she held great power. “That’s not strictly true,” he said, “You were reading people from the moment you could talk.”

“That’s right!” said Sirius.

“I just had no idea that it would have developed into you becoming a fully-fledged legilimens.”

Lottie looked them both and smiled. They remembered.

“What’s it like?” asked Charlie, curiously “Being able to read people as well as you can.”

Lottie let out a small laugh. “Exhausting, mostly.” She told him, “but very useful.”

“I try to keep it locked away because your thoughts and memories are personal. But, when I need to, it has proven to be very handy. It is how I was able to stay sane in that awful home. It’s how I knew I wasn’t going crazy.”

“How so?” asked Remus with a frown.

“Well, every time I told Mrs Linden that I wanted my parents or tried to explain that I was a Potter too, she would shout or hit me and call me a liar. But her thoughts and memories were clear in my mind. It was how I was able to figure out where my belongings were. Once I had those, it was like a light had sparked in me. I had been telling the truth the entire time and that was when I was able to leave. It was as though I had found a new strength.”

“Then, that’s when the determination set in and I went about making myself stronger in every sense of the word. Every time I tried to get to Harry and failed, I would go back, build myself up even more and try again.”

“But it never worked?”  asked McGonagall.

“Not at first. But then, I came closer to Harry than I had ever been, last summer.”

Harry’s eyes were wide. “What happened?” he asked, remembering the summer after Voldemort had returned.

“Well, you were in every paper obviously. After what had happened in the Ministry of Magic, it made tracking you down much easier. Dumbledore had put so many barriers up around you, but I found a way in… at least I thought I had.” Lottie said, pausing to remember the night. “I managed to trace you to our Aunt and Uncle’s house. A location I had only learnt because of the papers and showed up one evening. Only to be once again stopped by Dumbledore.”

“You spoke with him then?” McGonagall asked. Lottie felt sorry for her. She was clearly struggling with this negative portrayal of someone she respected greatly.

“Not quite. I couldn’t get within 50 metres of Harry. Trust me, I had tried. But I thought I could wait for him, so I was about to pitch my tent, when none other than Dumbledore himself showed up at our Aunt and Uncle’s house. I watched as he and Harry disapparated into the night. I stayed there for a few days but when they didn’t come back a week later, I left and went back home. Shortly after that, was when Dumbledore showed up at the bookshop. I think he had seen me that night and realised I wasn't going to stop tracking Harry.”

“I see.” said McGonagall, quietly, her mind reeling.

“We went on a mission and then I stayed here for the rest of the summer.” Harry added quietly. The slow realisation dawning on him. He had missed her by moments.

Lottie nodded.

No one spoke for a while.

“So that’s Oscar?” asked Ginny, breaking the silence. Lottie glanced down at the cat who was now curled up in Sirius’ lap and smiled.

“That’s Oscar.”

“He’s lovely.” She said kindly.

Lottie smiled at her. “Thank you… I think so too.”

“Lottie?” asked Harry, tentatively.

“Mmm?”

“What was in the bag?”

It took Lottie a moment to realise what he was talking about. “Oh my rucksack? From the Linden House memory?”

Harry nodded.

“Oh, well…” She sighed deeply, recalling the contents. “The tent, books, a couple of photo albums, clothes, a sneakoscope, secrecy sensor… and a few other trinkets. But…” she sighed again and suddenly looked sad.

“What is it?” Remus asked her, stroking her hair gently.

“There was one other item, but when I went through the rucksack…” she trailed off looking up at Remus, “it was gone. I’ve either lost it… or it was stolen.”

“What was it?” asked Harry.

“Dad’s invisibility cloak.” She replied.

Harry’s eyes grew wide and he jumped up, making Lottie jump. She watched as Harry sprinted up the stairs two at a time. She looked at Remus expectantly and he just smiled and stroked her hair again. Confused, she turned to Sirius, who was also smiling.

“What?” she asked them.

“You’ll see.” Sirius said, still completely engrossed in fussing over Oscar.

Lottie frowned as Harry came thundering back down the stairs.

“You mean this cloak?” he asked her excitedly, swinging it around him.

“Oh my god!” Lottie exclaimed, “You’ve had it all this time?”

“Yes!” said a bodiless Harry, grinning at her.

“How?” she asked, as Harry walked around the table towards her. She reached out as he got closer, to touch the invisible material.

“Dumbledore gave it to me… In my first year at Hogwarts.”

Lottie frowned again. “So, he took it?”

Harry took the cloak off and shrugged, handing it to her to get a proper feel. “I don’t know, the note just said ‘your father leant this to me. It is time it was returned’ or something like that.” He told her.

Lottie scoffed. “Not quite true, but I am so glad you had it.”

Harry smiled at her. “You have no idea how handy it has been having this…” He glanced at Ron and Hermione who both smiled and looked away. His anger towards them had evaporated almost entirely.

Lottie followed his gaze and could not help but smile too. “Enabled a few adventures, has it?” she muttered under her breath.

“You could say that.” Harry smirked.

“Wow… I never thought I would see this again.” She told him, handing the cloak back.

Sensing that the conversation was now light-hearted enough, Mrs Weasley stood up. “Is anyone hungry? It’s a bit late,” she said, glancing at the clock on the kitchen windowsill that said it was almost nine o’clock at night, “but there’s food.” She motioned towards the kitchen stove and the counters either side that held an assortment of food, along with plates and cutlery.  

Harry nodded, along with Ron and few others. He was feeling hungry now. There was a rumble as people began getting up and helping themselves to some food. Sirius handed Oscar back to Lottie and stood up to join the fray. Remus and Lottie were the only ones who had not gone to get a plate of food. Once everyone was settled back in their seats, Lottie downed the rest of her wine and then stood up, feeling a sense of panic set in. Remus and Sirius, who had now returned, both looked at her with a frown. “If no one minds, I might just head off to bed.” She said, clutching Oscar who was trying to wriggle free to steal some food from Sirius’ plate.

“But dear, aren’t you hungry?” Mrs Weasley asked, worriedly, placing a napkin on her lap.  

“No.” Lottie replied politely, “I am actually very tired.”

“You must be hungry Lottie.” Remus said concerned.

“No, really… I haven’t slept in a while; it is all I am thinking about. Unless there are any more questions?” She added.

“For a while?” asked Remus suspiciously, “How long is a while?”

“… Four days.” She said, fiddling with Oscars collar and not making eye contact.

“Four days?” Harry asked, choking on his food from the shock.

“Lottie!” exclaimed Remus.

“I know…” she mumbled.

“But why?” asked Sirius frowning and putting his fork down.

“I was nervous about this.” she told them honestly, waving her hand around. “I was afraid of sleeping, in case you couldn’t…  find me.” she trailed off.

“Right, come on.” said Remus, standing up, trying desperately to ignore the ache in his heart. “There’ll be time for more questions tomorrow.”

Lottie blinked at him.

“Come on.” He repeated, gesturing to the door.

“Remus, I can find my way to my tent. I am perfectly capable…”

“I am sure you are… but forgive me for not having much confidence in your ability to stick to a normal sleeping pattern. Now come on. Bed.” He shot back.

Recognising the tone, she conceded. Looking at Harry, she smiled. “You know where I am, if you need me… for any reason… at all.”

Harry smiled back and nodded. “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.”

“But…” protested Mrs Weasley, falling silent when Remus glared at her. “Goodnight, Lottie dear.” She finished, defeatedly.

Lottie smiled at her and looked around the room. “Goodnight.” She repeated.

 

***

Lottie let herself be guided out of the house by Remus. They walked along in silence until they reached the tent. She stopped and placed Oscar down, who sauntered into the tent looking for food. Standing back up, she looked at Remus. “Well, thank you for walking me back…”

“No, I don’t think so…” Remus said walking past her and pulling the door to the tent back. “Come on… Bed.”

“Remus…”

“Lottie…” he replied with a raised eyebrow.

Lottie resisted the urge to roll her eyes. She walked past him and into the tent, glad to be somewhere she felt truly comfortable.

Remus followed her in and took a sharp intake of breath. “Wow.”

“Yeah, I imagine it’s changed quite a bit…”

“Just a bit.” Remus nodded, looking around. He had camped in here with James, Sirius and Peter over the many summers while they were at Hogwarts. It looked completely different to how he remembered. Back in the days that they used it; it would not have been fit for a female. Whereas now, it resembled a home.

Lottie walked over to her bed and picked up her pyjamas. Noticing the look on Remus’ face as she walked back, she stopped. “What is it?”

“How long have you lived here?” he asked her.

“Since I was fourteen.” She replied.

Remus grimaced. He was still struggling.

“Remus, don’t.” Lottie told him, “Really, it wasn’t that bad.”

“Don’t do that Lottie. Don’t lie to make me feel better.”

“Well stop punishing yourself then!” she retorted.

“It’s not that simple…” he muttered, looking up at the fairy lights.

“Yes it is…” she said, walking away and into the bathroom.

A few moments passed before she returned, bare faced and in her pyjamas. “I’ve told you before and I will keep telling you until you believe it..” she said, walking up to him. “I don’t blame you and it was not your fault.”

Remus sighed heavily. “Come on… into bed, please.” He said, nodding his head towards her bed.

“Remus, you don’t have to -” Lottie began.

“Yes I do.”

Too tired to fight, Lottie shrugged and wandered over to her bed. She got in and Remus followed her, summoning one of the chairs from the kitchen. He sat next to the bed and waited until she was settled.

“Lottie, I am so sorry…” he murmured, reaching out to stroke her face. “I let you down.”

Lottie closed her eyes. The last time she had been put to bed was when she had run away from Linden House and Oma had done the same as Remus was going now. She might have been an adult, but for a moment, she allowed herself to be vulnerable. She could feel the tiredness taking over. She was moments away from falling asleep.

“But you didn’t Memus…” she mumbled. She tried to open her eyes and keep them open.

“Shh…” Remus soothed, stroking her face again.  

Closing them again, she felt herself falling away. Four days of no sleep had finally won, and she fell into a deep sleep.

As Remus sat there, continuing to stroke her hair and face to make sure she was asleep, Oscar jumped up on to the bed and curled up on the pillow next to Lottie’s head. Remus smiled.

Behind him, he heard a noise and he turned towards the entrance of the tent to see Sirius’ face poking through the gap in the tent. He held up a bottle of Firewiskey in one hand and two glasses in the other. Stealing one last glance at Lottie, Remus stood up to join him.

As he approached the door, Sirius stepped in and let out a low whistle. “Blimey, this place is unrecognisable.”

“I know.” Remus said, “She’s done wonders with it…”

“She asleep?” asked Sirius, nodding his head towards Lottie.

“Finally, yes.”

“Good. Come on,” Sirius said, holding back the tent door. “Molly’s sent everyone else off to bed.”

Remus nodded and joined his friend outside, where there were two garden lounge chairs and a table. He sat down and watched as Sirius poured out two large glasses and handed him one. They both leant forward, holding their glasses out to each other, until they clinked together, for a silent toast.  

“What a night…” Sirius muttered, leaning back into his chair.

“Indeed.” Remus agreed, mirroring him.

They both stared out into the darkness, unsure of what the next day would bring.



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