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Harry Potter; The Hidden Secret. by MissScarlette1

Format: Novella
Chapters: 11
Word Count: 41,634
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: 06/10/2020

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 1: Chapter 1. The Plan
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Chapter 1. The Plan

 

It was a chilly night in July, quite unusual except for the fact that the weather was hardly predictable in England. The wind howled and whipped around the abnormally shaped cottage that was The Burrow. For anyone looking at it from the outside, would worry that it would soon topple from the sheer force of the gales. To the trained eye however, its bizarre shape and jaunty angles, were obviously being held together by magic and it would take a lot more than a fierce wind to knock it down.

 

There was a gentle, warm and welcoming light coming from the kitchen window on the lowest level of the house where a group of people sat huddled together on the long, wooden kitchen bench. The atmosphere, however, was tense and riddled with anxiety.

 

“We have got to think of a better way to get Harry out of that wretched house, once and for all” said Sirius, pausing to take a sip of Butterbeer and scowling slightly. “We’ve had no contact with him, just assurances that he’s alright. He must be going out of his mind!”

 

“Well what do you propose Sirius? Clearly, you don’t agree with my suggestion!” hissed Mrs Weasley.

 

“Now now, Molly, Sirius” said Remus, holding a hand up to Sirius, before he could retort. “Let us not get irritated with one another. It is of no use to anyone. Mad-Eye, what do you think? Kingsley, what’s the latest from the Ministry?”

 

“Well, we know that the Floo networks are being monitored, as are Portkeys and the skies. It would be unwise to use any of those options. I believe that Mad-Eye has come up with the best suggestion, Mad-Eye, care to explain?” came Kingsley’s low and rumbling voice.

 

The Order turned to look at Mad Eye, waiting expectantly for an explanation. Mad Eye, who was leaning back slightly in his chair and cleaning his magical eye on a cloth, did not respond immediately.

 

“Well?” barked Sirius, “We don’t have all day Mad Eye and - must you do that right now?” Sirius motioned his head towards the magical eye that made an ever so slight squeak on the cloth.

 

Mad Eye looked up at Sirius and without breaking eye contact, popped the eye back into the socket with a distinct pop!

 

“If your eye had been worn by someone other than you Sirius, I can assure you, that you would want to clean it too.

 

“But moving on to more pressing matters. My plan is that I go and collect Potter myself using side-along apparition and a disillusion charm”

 

“Why you?” asked Sirius, “Why can’t I go? I am his godfather after all!”

 

Remus sighed but did not bother to respond. The closer it came to getting Harry away from the Dursleys, the more irritable and quite frankly, annoying, Sirius became. Mad Eye could have this one.

 

“Because Sirius, I am an ex-Auror who has ample experience in situations like this and you don’t” growled Mad Eye, “and let’s not forget that you, though you can walk as a free man, are still a target for You-Know-Who!”

 

“I don’t care!” shouted Sirius, standing up abruptly waving his arms in frustration, “I’m his godfather!”

 

“Exactly!” said Mad Eye, who stood up awkwardly and limped over to Sirius, backing him into the edge of the kitchen counter. Though not too different in height, Mad Eye seemed to tower over Sirius. “Exactly” he repeated in a threatening whisper. The room was silent, all eyes were on the pair.

 

“You are Harry’s Godfather. That is precisely why you of all people should not go. If You-Know-Who captures you, if he uses you against the boy, what do you think will happen. It was not too long ago when he did just that and look at how that turned out!

 

“But by all means. If you don't care, well go on then. Go and get yourself captured and see what it does to Potter. Let’s just hope You-Know-Who doesn’t possess him again!” Mad Eye turned away from Sirius and limped back to the kitchen table. Sirius stood silently, pale in the face and a light sweat had appeared on his forehead. Mad Eye was right, but recently, he found it harder to remain level-headed. Feeling more and more nettled by the situation, he looked at the room of eyes staring at him waiting for his response. It irritated him further.

 

“Fine.” He muttered, “But don’t you ever use that against me again, or your remaining eye will live to regret it” and with that he stormed out of the house and into the gardens of the Burrow, suddenly needing some air. The house shook with the force of the door slamming shut. Partly due to Sirius but also because at that same moment, the wind whipped up and caught the door assisting with his somewhat dramatic departure.

 

The remaining members of the order were silent, stunned at Sirius’ overreaction.

 

“I don’t know what’s gotten into him lately” mumbled Tonks, desperate to break the deafening silence. “I’m sure he didn’t mean that Mad Eye”. Tonks, who was particularly fond of Mad Eye as he had trained her as an Auror, was embarrassed by Sirius’ remarks.

 

“I know” said Mad Eye, taking a sip of Firewiskey from his hipflask, “it’s not the first time I’ve been threatened, won’t be the last, I’m sure”

 

“I don’t know that it was a real threat, Alastor” said Mr Weasley, taking of his glasses and wiping them clean on his worn out sweater, “I think he’s just feeling frustrated at not having Harry around, despite being able to offer him a different home. He never did quite understand Dumbledore’s instructions”

 

“Does anyone?” asked Kingsley, much to everyone’s amusement “I for one, generally take his word without ever trying to understand what it means, I just trust it is for a reason and it will work out in the end”

 

“Well said,” laughed Remus, clapping Kingsley on the shoulder, “So are we agreed then? Alastor will retrieve Harry, two days before his birthday and bring him here?”

 

The order all nodded and murmured their agreement.

 

“Perfect,” said Remus, standing up, “If that’s all then, I’m going to try and speak to Sirius. Can’t guarantee you’ll get an apology Mad Eye, but I’ll do my best”

 

“Don’t bother Remus,” said Mad Eye, “It’ll take a great deal more than that to offend me. Just get him on board so he doesn’t try anything stupid.”



Chapter 2: Chapter 2. The Letter
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Chapter 2. The Letter.

 

Get to the phone Harry.
Mad Eye.


Puzzled, Harry sat at his desk trying to figure out exactly what Moody meant. Phone? What on earth was that about? Moody never used phones, he did not believe in them. The only time Harry ever had a phone call was from Ron and Hermione. Frustrated, he stared down at the letter. The first letter he had since he was here, and this is what he got?

“ Fucks sake!” he said screwing the letter into a ball and chucking it into the bin. He slammed his hands down on the desk and then brought them up to rest his head in his hands. He sat there fuming when he heard the phone downstairs ringing. He raised his head slightly, listening out for Uncle Vernon’s Voice.

“ Hello?” He heard his uncle shout. “ WHO?”

There was silence and Harry didn’t dare breathe. Was this what Mad Eye was on about? Was he calling Harry? He waited, still and silent.

“ BOY!” He heard Vernon shout “ GET YOURSELF DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW!”

As if the wooden chair burnt him, Harry jumped up from his desk and ran to the door and down the stairs to come face to face with a purple-faced man. Happiness swelled inside Harry at the very thought of being contacted by his side, his world, by the people he called his real family. Harry snatched the phone from Uncle Vernon.

“ Hello?”

“ Harry? Is that you?”

“Mad Eye?”

“ Yes, of course, who else would it be you idiot”

“ Sorry” Harry said grinning, “ Why are you calling?”

“ Well we all decided that it would be a safer way of contacting you all the floo networks are being watched, and so is the post, in fact that clever friend of yours Hermione came up with the idea. Pure brilliance if you ask me.”

Harry smiled, Hermione was after all the smartest witch he’d ever met, and was happy that she had come up with a plan to get in contact with him, even if it was Mad Eye that he was talking to.

“ Anyway Harry, as you know it’s your birthday this coming Wednesday…”

“Yeah…”

“ Well after that, you’re not safe at your aunt and uncle’s. The protection that is currently keeping you safe, breaks as soon as you turn 17 and become an adult by our law.”

“Right… so what’s the plan?”

“ I’m getting to that. I’ll be coming to get you on Monday evening. Two nights before your birthday.”


“Really?!” Harry could not contain his excitement. That was only two days from now.

“Yes… Why would I lie about that?”

“ No reason... Go on...”

“ Anyway, just wanted to tell you, be ready by 6 o’clock, you hear? Do not be late. It is imperative that we leave on time.”

“ Got it. Thanks Mad Eye. ”

“ No problem Kid. Talk to you later”

“ Yeah.. see you Monday.”

Harry placed the receiver on the hook and bounded up the stairs ignoring his Aunt and Uncles complaints. Only stopping halfway up the stairs to call down to them.

“ I’m leaving for good. Just put up with me till Monday”

***

R.J.Lupin
The Kitchen Table
The Burrow

Dear Mr. Lupin

I would like to organise a meeting with you, as I currently hold something that belongs to you. It was held in Albus Dumbledore’s will, and as I am currently very aware that the meeting in which Albus Dumbledore’s will is going to be discussed has yet to come, I was informed that I was to give you this letter before the 31st of July. Reasons are unknown to me, but I will be arriving shortly with Arthur Weasley.

This meeting will not take very long. Thank you for your co-operation

Rufus Scrimgeour
Minister for Magic


Remus passed the letter around to everyone at the kitchen table in the Burrow, and for a moment there was a hushed silence. What on earth could it be about? No one talked as everyone’s eyes fixated on the magic clock.

The arrow with Mr Weasley’s head on it was currently hovering over ‘travelling’ until it swung to ‘home’. Everyone jumped with its movement and looked at the door. They could hear faint voices, and footsteps that were growing louder and louder before they stopped altogether.

There was a knock at the kitchen door and both Remus and Mrs Weasley stood up with a jolt. Mrs Weasley ran to the door and after asking for the password, let both her husband and new Minister for Magic in.

“Thank you Molly.” said Scrimgeour, eyeing the room he had just walked into, “Apologies for interrupting your lunch, but Remus I wonder if we could have a quick word?” His eyes landed on Remus, who had made no further movement.

“Er, y-yes, Minister – this way” he stuttered, before regaining his composure and pointing the Minister towards the living room. He was keen to get away from the prying eyes of Molly, Arthur, Sirius, Ron, Hermione, Fred and George, who had all, apart from Ron, stopped eating and instead were watching intently at the scene before them.

Once in the living room, they both stood and stared at each other momentarily before the Minister opened his mouth.

“As I said in my letter, I have something from Albus Dumbledore that we have been asked to give you prior to 31st July. I assume this has something to do with Potter?”

“I would have to read it first Minister” replied Remus, honestly. “I take it then, that you have not read it?”

“No, I have not” said Scrimgeour, “Albus saw to it that only you could be the one to open it”

“I see”.

Then there was silence. Remus stared at the Minister, waiting for his next move. When there wasn’t one, he shuffled uncomfortably.

“May I have the letter then?” Remus asked.

Scrimgeour, reluctantly reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a letter. Before handing it over, he held it up. “I suppose you will not share the contents of this letter with me?” he enquired.

 

Remus thought about it for a moment, but then realised that if this letter were to be read by anybody, they would not be having this conversation. “No Minister,” he said solemly, “I am afraid that I won’t be able to do that”
 

As I expected - fine” he huffed, “Take it”. The Minister slapped the letter into Remus’ outstretched hand.

Remus turned the letter over in his hand, unsure of what to expect. At his touch, the letter gave off a faint glow, as if it knew he was the intended recipient.


***

Dear Remus,

I am terribly sorry for asking this of you, but as you have this letter, it obviously means that I am no longer around. I therefore must ask you to do something for me.

Throughout the last couple of months before my death, I was out with Harry as you so know, however I spent a great deal of time attending to other matters.

I realise this is a sensitive topic, but there is only so much I can say in a letter so I shall get straight to the point. It is about Lily and James’ first child, Charlotte. Remus, my friend, I must confess to something that I am not proud of but something I hope in time, you will understand.

Charlotte is alive.


Remus’ heart stopped.  His blood ran cold and the hairs on his arms and the back of his neck stood upright. This cannot be possible. He could hear his heart beating in his ears, almost unbearable. His eyes felt like they were vibrating, the words in front of him dancing on the page. He blinked several times to bring the letter back into view and inhaled deeply, as until now he realised, he had been holding his breath. With shaking hands, he continued reading.

Forgive me for hiding it from you for all these years, but believe me when I say, I thought it was in everyone’s best interest – particularly Harry’s. The time, however, has come for them to reunite.

It took me a while to gain her trust, as I am sure that you can imagine, she was quite angry with me. I believe that she now understands why I did what I did, though I fear I will never have her forgiveness. Nor yours, or Harry’s.

I sense great power in Charlotte, a power I know will be of the upmost importance when the time comes.  You will of course know this; you were, after all, her Godfather. Sometimes, we believed that you knew her better than her parents.

She is waiting for you and she will share everything I have told her, with you and Harry in much greater detail than this letter could ever provide. If I know her as well as I will allow myself to believe, then she will have been camping nearby the Burrow for the past week. She promised me, when I gave her the address, that she would not approach until you were ready. You will find her at the end of the road, in the nearby field - the one with the horses.

Forgive me.

 

Yours,

Albus Dumbledore


***

Rufus Scrimgeour had left the house as soon as he had handed over the letter to Remus. He said he had to get back to the Ministry.

Everyone had crowded close to Remus to see what was going on, and who the letter was from. The house was completely silent. Confusion and anxiousness washed over them all as they watched Remus’ eyes flick back and forth across the page.

Shaking, Remus held the letter in his hand.

“No” he breathed, staring at the letter, “that’s not possible”

It was unbelievable. It could not be, there was no way she was alive, he had checked the night that it had happened, and she was not anywhere to be seen. He should know, he spent hours checking for her, calling for her, and in the end after weeks of searching, he had to give up. He had never recovered from the loss.

“Remus, my friend, what is it?” asked Sirius worriedly, reaching out and placing a hand on his friend’s shoulder.

The sensation of Sirius’ hand on his shoulder brought Remus back into the room. He looked at his friend before falling into the nearest armchair.

“Remus!”

Sirius knelt next to the armchair that his friend had just collapsed into. His eyes were open and he was clearly conscious, but Sirius questioned whether Remus was truly there; his mind seemed to have wandered.

“Remus” he said, more firmly this time. “Talk to me, what does the letter say? What’s happened Moony?”

At the sound of his nickname, Remus’ eyes darted to Sirius. He tried to speak, but it felt as though his mouth, throat and entire existence had dried up. He managed to make a sound somewhere between a grunt and a whimper and handed the letter to Sirius to read.

 

Confused and somewhat bewildered, Sirius hesitantly took the letter from Remus. He glanced up at the group that were all nervously waiting for some sign that everything was okay. He shrugged his shoulders and looked down at the letter and began to read.

By the time he had finished, it was clear to everyone in the room that something significant had happened, because as soon as Sirius had finished reading, he fell back on to his heels with his hand over his mouth.

“Remus” he breathed, taking his hand away from his mouth and staring at his friend with wide eyes “Remus, how is this possible?”

Remus, who looked as though he was about to be sick, shook his head. He was pale and clammy and looked terrified. “I don’t know” he said, hoarsely.

“Sorry, but what the bloody hell is going on!” demanded Ron, breaking the silence and making everyone jump.

 

“Ronald Weasley!” scolded Mrs Weasley, frowning at her youngest son, “Watch your language!”

“Remus, dear” she continued softly, “Whatever is the matter?” She approached Remus carefully, followed by her husband.

Ron, Hermione, Fred and George all exchanged quizzical looks as they watched the ‘grown ups’ in a huddle by the armchair under the window.

Remus looked up at Molly and Arthur, the only other people in the room who would understand what he was about to say. “Charlotte – she’s alive” he whispered to them both. Molly gasped and clapped her hand to her mouth, whereas Mr Weasley looked simply at Remus and then at Sirius.

“You cannot be serious” he said to them quietly, his face unreadable. “You mean to tell me, after all this time?”

Remus nodded. It was all he could do.

“But where?” asked Molly, barely audible.

Remus turned his head to look out of the window, that looked out on to the garden path that led all the way to the dusty road. If you turned left at the end of the garden path it would take you into the nearby village. If you took a right at the end of the garden path it would lead you down to a dead end, leading into some fields. His eyes followed the road to the right and stopped on a large expanse of green. He could see the horses.

“There” he replied. 



Chapter 3: Chapter 3. The Revelation
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Chapter 3: The Revelation

It had been a full two hours since Remus had first read the letter, left for him by Dumbledore. Sirius looked at his friend, who was sitting next to him at the kitchen table in complete silence, nursing his third glass of Firewiskey.

It had taken Sirius an hour and two generous glasses of the amber liquid to get Remus into a semi-functioning state where he would be able to talk to the group of people about to descend on the Burrow. Molly had called an emergency meeting of the Order and they were waiting on Mad Eye and Tonks to arrive before they could start. Bill and Fleur had arrived first, along with Charlie who was home for their wedding, and were sat at the table. Kingsley was the only other member who was present, as everyone else had other pressing business matters to attend to.

Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Fred and George were also in attendance, but only because they had been privy to the events earlier that day as they were reminded by Molly for the third time.

“Remember,” she said sternly wagging her finger at the five faces who were standing in the doorway to the kitchen from the living room, “This does not mean that you’re a part of the Order and can attend further meetings”

“We know mum!” said Ron, exasperated. Hermione simply nodded in agreement, as it did not sit well with her, that Mrs Weasley thought she of all people would disobey an order. Ginny however, did not want to push her luck as she rarely got a chance to be a part of any sort of discussion relating to order business and she was not about to risk losing her place so instead stayed silent.

“But we’re of age!” said Fred and George in unison, “Why can’t we join?”

“Because I am still your mother and I said so!” snapped Mrs Weasley, putting an end to any further discussion. Turning on her heel, she walked back to the kitchen table and sat down next to her husband.

“What’s the matter Hermione?” asked Ginny, peering past George at her friend “Why do you look so nervous? Mum just said we could be here.”

“I know,” whispered Hermione, “I just think Harry should be here too. It feels wrong without him.”

Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Fred and George all exchanged an uncomfortable look. Just as Ron opened his mouth to say something, there was a knock on the kitchen door. Mrs Weasley went over to complete the task of asking for passwords and it was clear that the atmosphere in the room had changed. The meeting was about to start. Ron closed his mouth and looked at Hermione “It’ll be alright” he said unconvincingly, because he agreed with his best friend.

 

Watching Mad Eye and Tonks take their seats at the table, he thought to himself, Harry should definitely be here.

***

 

Stunned silence filled the kitchen at the Burrow. No one could quite believe what they had just heard. The members of the Order sat completely still, occasionally sharing a glance with each other; though something seemed unusual about some of the shared looks.

 

“So, you mean to say that Harry has a sister, who is alive, and most likely just down the road from our house?” asked Ron incredulously, breaking the silence. He was still standing in the doorway with Hermione, Ginny, Fred and George. They had not wished to make their presence too known, through fear of being asked to leave.

“That’s right” said Sirius looking over at Ron who had taken a couple of steps forward, thankful the conversation was starting again. He was never fond of an uncomfortable silence.

“Blimey” muttered Ron, looking back at Hermione. They both shared a knowing look. This was going to blindside Harry and they were both worried at what that would look like.

“But wait,” said Hermione, finally finding her voice and looking at the Order members around the table. She took a couple of steps forward to join Ron where he was standing. Everyone at the table looked at her, apart from Remus.

“Why hasn’t anyone said anything about Harry’s sister until now? Why has he never mentioned it to us?” she asked, motioning at herself and Ron.

Remus, now on his fourth glass of Firewiskey and looking a little worse for wear, raised his head and looked at Hermione. “Because,” he croaked, “Because, Harry doesn’t know he has a sister.”

Hermione’s eyes widened with horror, looking frantically at the members of the Order around the table. “What! You mean no one in this room, or Harry, knew he had a sister? How is that possible?”

To her surprise, some of the order members looked away awkwardly, the rest looked puzzled. Remus buried his face in his hands. “Only some of us knew”

Sirius put his hand on Remus’ shoulder. He took a moment to compose himself. He was trying to be strong for his friend but in reality, this was just as hard for him as it was for Remus.

Sirius, taking a deep breath, looked over to Hermione to explain, “Only the original members of the Order knew. We were sworn to secrecy by Dumbledore.”

Hermione opened her mouth to speak, but Ginny got there first. “But Mum, Dad, you weren’t in the original order and it was clear earlier today that you knew what Remus was talking about when he got the letter from Dumbledore.”

Mr and Mrs Weasley looked at their daughter. It was a while before Molly spoke. She had the attention of the whole room and she looked uncomfortable.


“My brother told me, Gideon. He was in the original order and we were always so close. I only told your father when Ron became friends with Harry six years ago” she said, sadly, looking to her husband and then at rest of the order. “I approached Dumbledore in Harry’s first year at Hogwarts and told him that Arthur and I knew. He made us swear not to say anything.”

“This is unbelievable.” said Bill, leaning back in his chair. He ran his hands through his hair and looked at Fleur, his soon to be wife. “Unbelievable.”

“Oui” she said in agreement. Unsure of what else she could say, she took Bill’s hand in hers and gave it a gentle squeeze.

“I can’t believe you knew.” Ron said to his parents.

“And didn’t say anything.” added Ginny, standing next to her brother. “How could you?”

“We didn’t have a choice” said Arthur, looking at his children. He could not quite tell, but the way they were looking at him and Molly was not a look he had ever seen before. Was it disgust?

“A choice?” asked Fred, joining Ron, Hermione and Ginny from the doorway, “Harry has a sister! He has a right to know! Imagine if you gave me or George away when we were born, but didn’t tell us the other existed? I’d be furious! Living my life feeling incomplete? Like something was missing. How do you know Harry doesn’t feel that?” George, stepping forward, nodded in agreement. 

“It wasn’t that simple, Fred!” said Sirius, his voice beginning to rise, “It was different back then! We lived in constant fear! Dumbledore was leading the Order and when he gave us an instruction, it was for the safety of our lives. We trusted his word and never asked questions!”

“But! How –”

“Enough!” came the booming voice of Kingsley. “That’s enough.”

The room fell silent. Kingsley looked around the room, until his eyes fell on those of Mad Eye.

“There will be time enough to debate the rights and wrongs of Albus Dumbledore and the existing members of the Order. But!” he said, holding his hand up, silencing the sounds of protest. “Now is not the time.

“While I do think that – even for Dumbledore, this seems quite extreme. I have always, and will always, trust his word. As should all of you. We will get answers but for now, we need to think about Harry. Remus, Sirius, what are the next steps?”

Tonks, who up until now had been in a silent state of shock, looked at Remus who still had his face buried in his hands and gently squeezed his arm. She had so many questions and though frustrated by the total lack of answers, decided to wait until there was a better time to ask. For now, she would try and be as supportive as she could. “Remus?” she whispered, shaking his arm lightly.

Sirius looked at Kingsley and then at Remus and Tonks and took another deep breath. “I don’t know.”

“Well it’s obvious isn’t it?” asked Hermione, “We have to get Harry from the Dursley’s and tell him everything!”. Hermione had started to wring her hands, a nervous habit of hers when she sensed trouble or, more accurately, was involved in something troublesome.

“No.” came Remus’ muffled voice through his hands. “No, I need to see her. We need to be sure.” Remus rubbed his face and then placed both hands on the table either side his glass. He made a movement like he was about to get up but stopped himself.

“No offence mate, but don’t you think waiting until the morning, when you’re not two thirds of the way through a bottle of Firewiskey, would be better?” asked Bill, leaning into the table slightly. He looked up at his brother, who for the entire time this had played out, had been leant against the kitchen sink a few feet from where Remus sat. Charlie made a slight movement, ready to jump in, should Remus need a little assistance in standing up.

“No.” said Remus, more clearly than he had sounded all evening. He looked at Sirius. “No, I need to see her now. Right now.” He took out his wand and waved it, muttering something under his breath. Just like that, the Firewiskey was gone and he looked steady; not at all as though he had been heavily drinking moments before.

“Moony, are you sure?” Sirius asked, eyeing up his friend. A sudden overwhelming feeling had taken a hold of him. Was it nervousness? “Surely, tomorrow will be better? It’s been almost sixteen years. One more night won’t make a difference.” 

Remus stood up quickly, making everyone jump. “That’s just it, Padfoot. It’s been sixteen years. I am not wasting one more second.” He said, forcefully.

“But Remus - ” protested Tonks, “why don’t we talk about this first. We could all go together.”

“No!” shouted Remus. Turning away from Tonks, he looked at his best friend. “Please, Padfoot.” The tone in his voice had changed. It wasn’t anger, it was grief.

Sirius looked straight up at Remus and saw the pain in his eyes. A pain he recognised all too well because he had felt it. He was feeling it. Nodding, he stood up and placed a hand on his shoulder.

“Let’s go.”

 

The two friends started making their way to the back door, when Mad Eye spoke, “Wait.” He barked.

The whole room turned and stared at Moody. For a moment, they had forgotten that he was there as this entire time he had sipped silently from his flask, saying nothing. Moody stood up from where he was sat at the head of the table closest to the back door in the kitchen.

He walked over to Sirius and Remus.

“I know what this means to you, to both of you” he began, almost sounding sympathetic. “But, remain vigilant. This could be a trap. I trusted Dumbledore, but even so, I think one of us should come with you.”

“No Mad Eye,” said Sirius, “This is something we have to do alone.”

Remus nodded. “We’ll still be in sight. We’ll send up red sparks if for some unknown reason, this is a sick and twisted joke and we get into trouble.”

Remus thought about what he had just said and felt nauseous. What if this was a trap?

“It’s not a trap, Moony.” muttered Sirius, knowing full well what his best friend was doing. Trying to downplay the enormity of this situation so that he would not start to hope. Sirius could understand that, he hardly dared believe it himself. “We’ll be okay.” He added, mainly to Mad Eye, but glanced around the room at the others, before looking back at Remus.

“Come on. It’s now or never mate.”

With that, the two friends walked out of the back door and down the garden path.

The others, left in the Burrow, all walked to the kitchen window to watch. Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Fred and George could not see past the large group. Ginny motioned to them all to follow her into the living room which had a window looking out to the dusty road and fields. A slightly better view than the kitchen.

They all peered out of the window, watching Sirius and Remus walk down the path. They both turned left onto the dusty road. The Burrow was surrounded by greenery and crop fields, except one, which was home to a few wild horses. The pair continued to walk towards the field with the horses. No one dared breathe.

Finally, Remus and Sirius reached the large field gate and had stopped in front of it. They stayed there for what felt like a lifetime. Suddenly, the gate vanished, and they took a couple of steps forward, disappearing behind some of the bushes and hedges that lined the edge of field entrance.

The occupants of the Burrow, both in the kitchen and the living room waited with bated breath.

There were no red sparks.

Ron and Hermione looked at each other silently. Both pale and with the same wide eyed, slightly panicked look on their faces. They thought the same thing. How on earth was Harry going to react. 



Chapter 4: Chapter 4. The Reunion
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Chapter 4. The reunion. 

 

Nervous, anxious and nauseous. That is how Lottie felt, as she paced back and forth in her tent. Truthfully, she felt a multitude of things, but those were the immediate culprits she could identify.

She looked at her watch, it was getting late and she could feel the tiredness beginning to wash over her. She had been awake for three days now.

“No.” she said to herself, rubbing her face. “Charlotte Lily Potter, you stay awake!”

She walked from the living space, through the kitchen and into the bathroom, turned on the taps and splashed her face with cold water. Turning the taps off, she took a towel and dabbed gently to dry up the excess water. She stared at herself in the mirror. Her wide, almond shaped hazel eyes stared back at her. It was the one thing she liked about herself. They were almost amber in colour, particularly noticeable in the sun. She had pale, soft skin and long blonde hair that fell to her waist in gentle waves.

Her father had always said she was beautiful, like her mother, but Lottie did not agree. No one was as beautiful as her mother. She felt a pang of sadness and felt her eyes prickle. What she would give to have them here with her. She blinked a few times, sighed deeply and placed the towel back on the rack.

She walked back out into the main area of the tent stifling a yawn and looked her cat, who was watching her intently from the sofa. “What?” she asked him, walking over to scratch behind his ears. “Don’t look at me like that, Oscar. How will I know that they’ve come, if I’m asleep?”

Oscar simply squeaked and leant into the ear scratch.

Lottie smiled and sat down. She leant back into the comfy sofa and stroked Oscars gorgeous, long, ginger fur. Seizing the opportunity, Oscar stood up, stretched his front paws out and gently climbed onto her lap and curled up. Cutie. Oscar had been her constant companion since she was five, the one consistent presence in her life. He had been a birthday present for her fifth birthday. The best and last birthday she had ever had. She remembered the day fondly; how she had been brought downstairs into the family living room and was sat on the sofa. Her mother and father had told her to keep her eyes shut and then before she knew it, a small furball had been plonked into her arms. He was a young kitten when they got him. How life had changed them both.

She did often wonder if he was part Kneazle, as he was now fifteen years old and was showing no signs of ageing but tried not to dwell on that thought too much. She could not bear the idea of losing him too.

Her mind began to wander, as she absentmindedly stroked her fluffy companion, who was now sound asleep. She started to think about why she was here, literally and figuratively. Shaking her head, she tried to distract herself.

She looked around her tent, the place that she had called home for six years. She had been in foster care for nine years but ran away as soon as she had turned fourteen. She had been on her own ever since. In the time she had been on her own, she had turned this tent into somewhere she was comfortable and more importantly, safe. It was separated into three parts; a living room, bedroom, and a kitchen/bathroom area. The layout had never changed, it was a tent owned by her parents, but the décor certainly had. What was once a beige canvas, was now a pale cream. She remembered with a smile, the day she had learnt how to finally change the colour with magic. It had immediately changed the entire feel of the place from drab and dreary to something that felt much lighter and brighter. There were enchanted fairy lights everywhere, that she turned on every evening with a light tap. They hung around the top edges of the tent, some what haphazardly, but she thought it looked nice. The best part was where the tent raised in the middle, somewhere between a tipi and a turret, the she had enchanted them to hang down, and join up to the edges in a circular fashion so that she had her own special chandelier of light. Between the fairy lights and small lamps dotted around the place, they were her only source of light at night. She did not mind though, it made the place feel cosy.

On the floor in the main living area, there was her giant pale pink, shaggy rug. Around the room, were piles of books and a few small tables with various trinkets and objects on them. The sofa she sat on was a pale grey, with pale pink and pale blue cushions. It was a theme throughout the tent. She looked to right, where her bedroom was. She had hung net curtains, that crossed the entire width of the tent, sectioning it off from the rest of the space. She would tie them back usually, but she liked the option of having privacy. Behind the curtains stood a white, double bed, with a wrought iron frame. Her bed was probably her favourite thing. She had spent a considerable amount of time finding the right bedding, cushions, pillows and throws to make it into a space she adored. Again, everything here was white and pale pink. The usual things were there too, a floor length mirror, dressing table and wardrobe. Simple.

To the right of where she was sitting was the very basic, yet functioning kitchen. She was not much of a cook, or an eater, so very little happened here. There was a small kitchen table and two chairs, that she occasionally sat at with a cup of coffee, but for the most part, they were left untouched. Just off from the kitchen was the bathroom. A small, but bright place. She had the usual toilet and sink, above which was a mirror. The only thing she had really worked on was the bath. A beautiful, deep, claw footed bath sat in the room, with candles on the floor around it and a shower head that she used for washing her hair.

Lottie brought herself back into the main living area. Directly in front of her was the entrance to the tent. She stared at it for a while and then, unable to hold the thoughts off any longer, remembered why she was here in the first place and just like that, she felt nervous, anxious and nauseous again.

***

Remus and Sirius stood in silence, shoulder to shoulder, staring at the field gate in front of them.

Suddenly the full weight of the situation, crashed down on Sirius. “Remus?” he half asked, half whispered, running his hands through his hair with a slightly wild look on his face. “What are we doing? How are we going to do this? What if it is a trap? Merlin how are we going to tell Harry. Remus, I-”

“Shh!” hissed Remus, looking into the field and then back at his friend. “Sirius, I don’t know!”


They both examined the field again, squinting through the dark.

“Is that…?” Sirius asked, leaning forward into his squint.

“A tent.” Remus replied simply. His body seemed to reverberate with the range of emotions he was feeling. Fear, anger, nervousness, sadness… hope. He looked at Sirius, he was feeling the same.

“I suppose there is only one thing to do.” Said Remus, quietly. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Sirius nodding.

Sirius raised his wand and the gate vanished. Remus mimicked him and held his wand out. As the same time, they whispered ‘Lumos’ and started to walk forward in the direction of the tent. The closer they got, the more they could make out the shape. It was not your average tent, it was much larger, almost like a rectangular box, except for the top. Where the canvas walls of the tent stopped, the top of the tent sloped up and inwards. Somewhere between the shape of a turret and a tipi. When they were both close enough to see the tent and the faint, warm glow emanating from it, they stopped dead in their tracks. They recognised this tent.

“Sirius!” whispered Remus, a tremor in his voice. “Sirius, that’s-”

“James’ tent!” They whispered in unison, turning to look at each other. Neither one spoke for a moment, hardly daring to believe it. They had not seen this tent in over twenty years. They both turned back to look at the familiar sight.

“Do we… Do we, knock?” asked Remus.

Sirius shook his head and held his left arm in front of Remus and brought a finger up to his lips, signalling him to stay quiet. Sirius took a step forward and took a deep breath. They were halfway between the fence and the tent, somewhat exposed. Especially as the wild horses had walked away from them as soon as they had entered the field.

“Who’s there?” he shouted, as loudly as his nerves would allow, “This is private property! You cannot camp here!”

Sirius’ voice seemed to echo throughout the field. He braced himself for an attack, even though in the back of his mind, he knew it was not coming. He was joined by Remus, who like Sirius, had his wand pointing at the entrance of the tent.

***

Lottie was deep in thought when she heard it.

“Who’s there? This is private property! You cannot camp here!”

She jumped up, her skin feeling like an electric current was coursing through her. Her heart was beating loudly. Oscar was thrown, unceremoniously from her lap, but instead of hissing at her like he normally would have done, his fur puffed out and tail stood upright like a bottle brush and fixed his eyes on the entrance to the tent.

She stood still, trying to regain her senses and control her breathing.

“Shit” she whispered. She took a deep breath. There was no way it was a muggle; she had charmed the tent with a muggle repelling charm. It had to be someone else. She took a step forward, there had been attacks recently, more and more in fact. What if it was a death eater?

She glanced over one of the small tables where her sneakoscope and secrecy sensor were – neither of which indicated that something was wrong.

Then it hit her. Could it be them? Could it be the reason she was here in the first place? She did not recognise the voice but then, it had been almost sixteen years. Or maybe they had sent someone else.

Well it was now or never otherwise the last six years would have been for nothing.

Lottie started to approach the entrance to the tent. Oscar, sensing that his owner had relaxed, cautiously followed behind her. She stopped, just short of the canvas door and took a deep breath. You can do this.

Her hand, trembling slightly, raised and grasped the edge of the tent door. She pulled it back slowly and when nothing immediately happened, she fixed it to the side of the tent. She could feel the blood pulsing in her ears as she took a step outside of the tent. She peered into the darkness, letting her eyes adjust to the lack of light. Over in the distance, somewhere between her and the field gate, she could see two outlines.

“Who’s there?” she asked, her voice betraying her and showing her fear.

She waved her hand and a string of fairy lights on the outside of her tent lit up. She waved it again and the light grew brighter, casting light out into the field and just enough so that she could make out the outlines. It was two people. Two very familiar people.

Lottie sucked in her breath, her eyes were wide and raised her hand over her mouth. She knew this was coming, that she would eventually see them, but even so. Seeing them now, right there, barely twenty metres away stunned her.

“Oh my god…” she whispered, barely audible. Her eyes began to sting.

***

Remus and Sirius stood in silence, wands still aloft. There had been a long wait between Sirius shouting and finally seeing movement. The entrance to the tent moved ever so slightly and the light from within flickered as someone inside walked in front of the gap. The canvas door peeled back slowly and then stayed open.

Gradually, a figure emerged, who was hard to make out at first. Both men squinted.

“Who’s there?” came the figure’s trembling voice.

Soft lights appeared along the edge of the tent and then suddenly grew brighter. They watched as the girl before them raised her hand to her mouth as they both gasped.

Remus and Sirius stood there for a moment, mouths slightly open in shock and then at the same time they said, “Lottie”.

“Lottie?” Remus called.

The girl’s hand dropped to her side and she just nodded.

“Oh my god,” murmured Sirius.

Simultaneously, Remus and Sirius broke into a half walk, half run. Lottie did the same and somewhere in the middle, they crashed into each other with a thud. Remus put his arms around her, pulling her close while Sirius put one arm around Remus and the other around Lottie.

“Oh Charlotte,” Remus said thickly, tears threatening to fall “My little Lottie.”

Lottie let out a sob, allowing herself to be held properly for the first time in years. She clutched at her Godfather’s robes with one hand and grabbed hold of Sirius with the other; never, ever wanting to let go.

Sirius felt Lottie’s small hand wrap around the arm he had around Remus. He could feel his eyes prickling, so instead of saying anything, he just squeezed them both tighter into the hug.

***

 

Back at the burrow, everyone had congregated in the living room as they soon realised the view to the field was much better there. The only problem was that there was nothing to see. Remus and Sirius had only been gone for fifteen minutes, yet people were starting to worry.

“Should we go over?” asked Molly, looking nervously out of the window and then at her husband. She was perched on the arm of his chair.

“No, Molly dear” replied Arthur, taking her hand and squeezing it. “There haven’t been any red sparks.”

“Yes but what if they didn’t have time to react” she asked, looking out of the window once more.

“Molly, I am sure that they are alright – this can’t be easy for them, give them some more time.” said Kingsley reassuringly.

“Yes, but what if they are being watched, or there are death eaters around? Our protective spells only cover the Burrow!” she said, her voice rising. “Then everyone would be at risk!” Molly waved her arm around the room, indicating to those around her.

“Molly makes a good point, Shacklebolt” came Mad Eye’s voice from the kitchen. He had stayed there as it was closest to the door just in case Remus and Sirius needed help. Besides which, with a magical eye, he did not need a ‘good view’. He limped into the living room, and everyone turned to look at him.

“I see no reason why they have to reunite in a field when there’s a perfectly good garden for them to do the same” he said, leaning against the door frame and looking at Kingsley “They can still have their privacy, but under the protection of the order.”

Molly looked at Arthur nervously and then at Mad Eye. She was not exactly suggesting that Harry’s long-lost sister move into the garden, but she stayed silent.

Kingsley looked thoughtful and after a while said, “Yes, I suppose you’re right.” He took out his wand and walked from the living room, into the kitchen and out of the back door. Mad Eye watched him wave his wand and speak to the ball of light that had appeared. With another flick, the ball rose and shot off in the direction of the field.

Everyone in the living room watched the glowing ball of light shoot down towards the end of dusty road and disappear behind the hedges.

Kingsley walked back into the living room. “If all is well, they should be back soon” he announced to the room.

“The sooner the better,” muttered Mad Eye, “I’m collecting Potter tomorrow.”

Everyone in the room exchanged uncomfortable looks.

Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Fred and George, who were huddled together looked at each other nervously. Neither one wanting to meet Harry’s sister before he did.

 



Chapter 5: Chapter 5. The Reason
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Chapter 5. The Reason

 

It was a while before they broke their embrace. It was Sirius who moved first, stepping backwards slightly before raising his hand affectionately to Lottie’s head.

At his touch, Lottie lifted her tear-streaked face to look at him. She tilted her head to the left slightly and placed a hand over his, sniffing. Oh how she looks like Lily, thought Sirius, but with James’ eyes. And he was right. Lottie had the same heart shaped face, high cheekbones and other features just like her mother. If her eyes were green and her hair a deep auburn, they would be the spitting image of each other. However, Lottie had blonde hair and her eyes were a deep hazel, like her fathers.

“Oh Lottie,” he said, wiping away a falling tear from her cheek, a little more confident in his own voice now. “How?” he breathed, then clearing his throat, “How is this possible?”

Remus looked at Lottie, who was staring up at Sirius and placed both his hands gently on the tops of her shoulders. “We thought you were… we thought you’d…” he mumbled, not really wanting to say the word. She met his eyes.

“Died?” she asked quietly, “I know.” Lottie looked down at the grass and then looked back up at them. The sound of her voice was so familiar and yet so different.

What’s that accent? Remus thought. Is that American?

The trio stayed silent, the only sound was the gentle rustling of the nearby crops and hedges. Suddenly, a bright orb appeared next to them making them jump. Remus and Sirius raised their wands again and stepped in front of Lottie, shielding her from the orb. They looked around the field waiting, but then a sound they recognised came from the light and they both relaxed.

Come back to the Burrow. You are not safe in that field. All three of you.

It was Kingsley’s voice. Remus and Sirius exchanged looks.

“He has a point Padfoot,” Remus said, looking around and then back at Lottie, “We’re exposed here.”

“We could relocate to the garden,” He agreed, looking at Lottie and then to the tent. “I’m sure Molly wouldn’t mind.”

Remus nodded, though not completely convinced.

Lottie watched them. She could hear what they were thinking, and she was not overly comfortable with the idea. But, then again, it was one step closer to the only thing that had kept her going. Harry. So, when Sirius and Remus looked at her anxiously, she just shrugged.

“I guess I’ll gather my things.”  She murmured, turning away from them.

Sirius and Remus watched as Lottie raised her right hand to the same level of her shoulder and then grasped the air in front of her, bringing her hand into a fist. What they saw, confused them. The entire tent began to fold in on itself, slowly dismantling. As it did, a rucksack came shooting out of the tent into her left hand, followed by a disgruntled Oscar, who landed at her feet. The tent, now fully folded, rose and levitated towards them. Lottie plucked it out of the air and shoved it into the small, black, suede rucksack. She pulled the drawstrings together tightly and lifted the flap over which connected with the bag with a satisfying click.

Lottie sighed deeply and bent over, scooping up Oscar from the grass. Standing upright, she looked at Sirius and Remus. “Okay, I’m – What?” she asked them, looking at their puzzled frowns and knowing what was coming.

“Where’s your wand?” Remus asked, looking at her hands.  

“I don’t have a wand.” she replied simply.

“But how did you do that?” asked Sirius, motioning to the now empty space where the tent once sat.

The hint of a smile tugged at the corner of her lip. “Magic.” She said with a shrug and swinging her bag over her shoulder, began walking towards the gate.

Remus and Sirius did not follow immediately, but instead hung back and looked at each other.

“Dumbledore wasn’t lying, was he?” muttered Sirius, raising his eyebrows.

“Apparently not, Padfoot.” Remus said slowly, watching his goddaughter walking away.

Lottie stopped and turned around, “Are you coming?” she asked tentatively.

“Yes, of course.” said Remus, walking forwards.

Sirius followed before he stopped again, suddenly realising something. “Wait a second… is that Oscar?” he asked in an astonished voice.

***

“There.” said Bill, raising his hand and pointing out of the window. “They’re coming back”

Kingsley sighed in relief as Mad Eye puffed out a bit of air. They caught each other’s eye and grimaced. Neither of them would ever admit it, but they had, for a small moment, doubted Dumbledore,

Everyone else just simply turned to look out of the window. Fred, George and Ginny stepped forward to join the group at the window. When Ron made a move, Hermione grabbed his arm.

“What?” he asked, looking at her hand on his forearm and then back up at his best friend.

“Ron, this is wrong.” She whispered.

“I know,” he whispered back, “but aren’t you curious, you of all people?”

“Of course I am!” she hissed, “but that doesn’t make it okay. Harry is going to be so hurt and confused.”

“I know he is, but isn’t it better that we find out as much as we can now, so that we can help him when he finds out?” Ron asked, quietly. “Come on.” Ron walked over to the window to join the others.

He had a point, she couldn’t deny that. “If he even let’s us…” she muttered to herself, following Ron to the window.

***

 

Sirius, Remus and Lottie had walked the short distance between the field and the Burrow in an awkward silence. No one knew what to say. After explaining that it was indeed Oscar, the conversation had stopped short.

Lottie felt slightly disappointed, which was odd, because she had not really known what to expect. How can you be disappointed by something unknown? Maybe it was sadness. She was never one for feeling her ‘feelings’ or to that point, being able to properly identify them. She could in others, it came to her so easily. She could tell what anyone was thinking or feeling at the drop of a hat. Maybe that was why it was so hard for her to do the same for herself.

Sirius stopped unexpectedly, causing her to nearly walk into him, and held his arm out. He placed it on something and then suddenly, a gate came into view, followed by everything that was behind it. Lottie’s eyes grew wide.

She had known magical dwellings, she was no stranger to her world, but this was unlike anything else she had ever seen. It was… beautiful.

It was hard to make out all the details because of how dark it was, but she could make out the Burrow. It was clear that this was a home. A well-loved, well lived in, home. I can’t wait to see what this looks like in the light, she thought to herself. She felt a pang of something. Was it jealousy?

“This is the Burrow,” said Remus softly, holding open the gate for her, breaking her thoughts.

Lottie looked at him and then back at the Burrow. She took a few steps forward and then stopped. She was joined by Remus and Sirius, who stood either side of her.

“Is Harry in there?” she asked, staring intently at the house.  

At the sound of Harry’s name, Sirius felt a jolt in his chest.  For the past day, he had not thought about this too closely until that very moment and now, it was all he could think of. He thought of how Harry was going to feel. How Lottie was currently feeling. How as a foursome, they were going to have to fight to navigate through this utter chaos that had been dropped into their lives by someone who was now dead.

“No, he’s not” said Remus, bringing everyone back into the present. “He’ll be here tomorrow.”

Lottie’s heart did something between a palpitation and a flip. Tomorrow. Finally, after all these years of pain and anguish, she just had to wait a few more hours.  

“Tomorrow.” She repeated, quietly, not taking her eyes off the Burrow. “What time?”

Remus looked at Sirius and frowned. “Six o’clock.” he said. Something had changed.

“Okay.” said Lottie, in the same quiet tone. She could hear their thoughts and did not like them. She felt another emotion brewing. “Can I set up my tent here?”

She looked at them both and motioned to the ground around them.

“Well, why don’t you come in for a bit?” asked Sirius, “Meet everyone.”

“No, thank you.” replied Lottie, in a clipped yet polite tone. “I’ll just set up here, if you’re sure that’s alright with the owners?” she motioned her head towards the Burrow.

“Yes it’s fine but Lottie, what’s the matter?” enquired Remus.

“The matter?” she asked, in a quiet, dangerous tone. Sirius stifled a shudder. She sounded exactly like Lily when she was about to shout at James for doing something wrong. “Nothing. I just want to wait for Harry. He is the reason I am here.”

There was no denying that the last comment had stung Remus and Sirius. Lottie could feel it.

“But,” said Remus cautiously, “Lottie, this is a lot for everyone to take in. We haven’t seen you in sixteen years. I want to…”

“You want to what, Remus?” she asked quietly, fiddling with Oscar’s collar. “Talk?”

Lottie looked up at him and then at Sirius. Sirius flinched slightly when her eyes locked with his. Here it comes, he thought.

“We can talk, Remus.” she said, leaning down and placing Oscar on the grass, “We can talk about Harry. About how he’s going to feel this time tomorrow. Shall we talk about that?”

Remus and Sirius stood stock still. Lottie continued.

“No? Don’t want to talk about that?” she asked, with a dangerous calm “Alright, I’ll tell you then. He is going to feel awful. This is going to tear him apart. Has no one thought about that? About how agonising the feeling of betrayal will be for him?”

Silence.

Lottie scoffed as she opened her bag and pulled out the tent. “Of course not. No one does. Not when it’s for the greater good.” She said, anger now lacing her words.

“Well I do. Hell, I’ve lived it, for sixteen years” she spat at them. “So forgive me, if I don’t want to play any further part in it than I already have. I will not go into that house and sit down with everyone in it and tell you everything until Harry is sat at that table too. Because more than anyone, he deserves to know first.”

She flung the tent to the ground, waved her arm and turned her back on the two men who stood, dumbfounded, behind her.

“Lottie!” protested Remus, finding his voice, “We weren’t going to ask you to do that!”

Lottie turned her head and looked straight at her godfather. “Don’t you think you’ve told enough lies? That is exactly what was going to happen” she said, “Don’t lie to me.”

The tent was nearly upright. “I’ve had enough lies for a lifetime.” She added, quietly.

Remus stood there, unable to speak. Waves of different emotions were crashing down over him. His heart was breaking. He had helped do this to her. To make her feel this way.

Sirius opened his mouth to say something, anything, that might help but closed it again. She was right. There was nothing he could add that would make any of it less true.

Lottie bent down to pick up Oscar, who for the entire time, had sat next to her feet and stepped towards her tent. “Six o’clock?” she asked, confirming the hour for tomorrow.

Remus and Sirius just nodded.

“I will see you at five to,” she said, pulling back the tent door. “Let me know if I need to move this” she added, nodding her head at the tent before disappearing. The tent door sealed behind her.

Sirius and Remus stood there for a moment staring at the door before they looked at each other with matching looks of concern. Sirius worried for his friend and for Harry, this was not going to be an easy couple of days.

“Come on mate,” said Sirius, placing a hand on Remus’ shoulder and pulling it slightly, “let’s go back to the others.”

“But Sirius –” mumbled Remus, looking back to the tent.

“Not tonight Moony,” he muttered, “Come on. You need a drink. We both do.”

Remus allowed himself to be steered back to the kitchen. He needed more than one.

***

From the kitchen in the Burrow, everyone was watching intently at the conversation happening outside. It was like a silent film.

They watched the interactions, which did not always come across as friendly. They watched the tent go up.

“Woah” said Fred and George in unison.

“That’s some tent.” added Bill.

Molly made a noise, somewhere between disdain and dread. Bill and Fleur’s wedding was in a week and that tent could not be there on the day.

“I’m sure it can come down for the day, Molly” Arthur whispered in her ear, recognising the sound. Molly nodded.

“She iz very pretty” commented Fleur, looking out of the window. “She does not look like ‘er bruzzah, non? Eh bien, I suppose she iz very thin, like ‘arry.”

No one commented, especially not Bill, who knew better. But everyone silently agreed.

Ginny, Ron and Hermione peered through a gap to get a better look.

“They’re coming back, but where’s Charlotte going?” asked Hermione.

The group watched as Sirius and Remus walked back to the Burrow. Sirius had his hand on Remus’ shoulder.

Tonk’s bit her lip. That did not look like a good sign.

Molly suddenly came to her senses and whipped around and hissed at everyone, “Move! Act natural, we don’t want them thinking that we were prying!” she flapped a tea towel around in everyone’s general direction. Everyone began to scatter, looking for something to occupy themselves with.

Ginny rolled her eyes. But we were prying, Mum, she thought. Nevertheless, she joined Kingsley, Ron and Hermione in the living room, pretending to be interested in a book Hermione was holding. Has she been carrying that the entire time, Ginny asked herself. Probably.

The back door to the kitchen opened and in came Sirius and Remus, looking miserable. Molly was the first to speak. "Well, how did it go?” she asked, nervously.

“Remus, are you alright?” asked Tonks, walking from the edge of the kitchen where she had been pretending to read a cookery book.

Remus said nothing and sat down at the kitchen table, where Mad Eye, Bill, Fleur and Charlie were already sat. Kingsley, Ron, Hermione and Ginny all appeared from the living room. All eyes went to Sirius.

“It went…” began Sirius.

“Horribly.” croaked Remus, his eyes fixed on a part of the kitchen table.

“She’s angry. Very angry and very hurt and she’s not making an appearance until Harry gets here.” Summarised Sirius, snatching the bottle of Firewiskey from the kitchen side. He sat down next to Remus and summoned two glasses and poured them out two big measures.

“Well do you blame her?” asked Hermione, quietly.

Everyone shot her a look, but no one reprimanded her. Hermione blushed but did not apologise. She did however, feel slightly sorry for Charlotte because in all this time she had been thinking about Harry, she had not once thought of how she would be taking it. It could not be easy.

“Well,” said Mad Eye, leaning forward in his chair, “I suppose we wait until tomorrow then.”

“I suppose we do.” said Kingsley, solemnly. The atmosphere in the kitchen was tense. No one was looking forward to it.

“Pass the firewiskey, Sirius” said Charlie, summoning more glasses. “I think we could all use a drink.”

***

Harry looked at the clock on his desk; it was almost midnight. He smiled. Twelve more hours and he would be out of his place for good. Reunited with his friends and his family. He tried to ignore the fact that he had not heard from anyone that summer and just tried to focus the idea of finally leaving the Dursley’s. It worked. His heart fluttered and he truly felt happy.

“Not long now, Hedwig” he said, walking over to his owl. He unlatched the cage and held out his arm. Hedwig talons gripped his arm and Harry carried her over to the window. It was still somewhat warm out so he could leave his window open for her to return.

“Don’t be too long, we leave in twelve hours.” Harry told her, stroking her head. He knew she would be back long before it was light out, but he just wanted to say it again. Hedwig nipped at him affectionately before she took flight.

Harry watched her fondly before turning his back to the window and looking around at his room. He was packed and ready to go and had been since Mad Eye had called. He took off his glasses and got into bed. He tossed and turned a little before he found a comfortable position. Twelve hours, he thought to himself, and if I’m really lucky, I’ll get to sleep for seven of them, meaning I’ll only have to suffer it here for a further five. I can do that.

On that thought, with a slight smile still playing on his lips, he fell into a restful sleep, completely unaware of what lay ahead.



Chapter 6: Chapter 6. The First Step
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  Chapter 6. The First Step.

Lottie was lying on the sofa with Oscar curled up on her chest. She watched as he slowly moved up and down with each inhale and exhale. She was reflecting on the encounter from yesterday evening; it had not gone well.

It was now daylight, somewhere around the mid-afternoon mark. She had been awake since leaving Sirius and Remus the night before which now made it four days of no sleep. She could feel the effects starting to take place. Everything felt slightly displaced and oddly cold, almost like an out of body experience.

She was confused by her own feelings and reactions. She had thought that it would have been a much more sentimental reunion but instead it was anti-climactic and quite frankly awkward. Not only that, the second she had heard their thoughts, something in her snapped. The same way it had done when she got that visit from Dumbledore a year ago. Only that time it had been much worse. She shook the memory from her mind.

She was angry. But Oscar kept her grounded. She could hardly flounce or get upset and throw things while he lay there on her chest. She did not dare disturb his slumber. Instead she took comfort from the rhythmic motion of her breathing and his gentle movements as a result, watching and counting them one by one.

Not long, she thought to herself, not long until the truth is out.

She looked at the nearby clock, it was four o’clock. She felt a pang of emotion. Nervousness mixed with misery with just a hint of hope. She could not deny how tough life was about to become but then again, she was no stranger to it. She felt nervous because she was about to see her brother for the first time in sixteen years, miserable because of the circumstances and hopeful because it meant that maybe, there was a way forward. But only time would tell.

I should get ready, she thought to herself and then scoffed.

What difference did it make if she was made up and well presented? This was still going to be insanely difficult to explain and navigate. Would they even notice, or care?

Either way, Lottie thought to herself, it is best that I make as good of an impression as possible.

She shifted slightly, scratching Oscar behind the ears to gently wake him. “Come on, darling” she mumbled, “I have to start getting ready.”

Oscar slowly made movements before getting up and stretching out. A small ‘omph!” came out of Lottie as he stretched, putting all his weight on her diaphragm. Oscar eventually leapt off her chest and sauntered over to his water bowl. Lottie stayed there for a moment outstretched and watched Oscar walk. To be that carefree, she thought to herself before slowly pulling herself upright. She reluctantly got up from the sofa and made her way to the bathroom to draw a bath and as she did, waved her hand so that Oscar’s food bowl filled up.

Maybe I’ll have a moments peace this time, she thought to herself, knowing full well that the second she entered the bathroom, Oscar would be on her heels.

 

***

Hardly anyone had spoken all day. Breakfast and lunch were silent affairs, with only the sound of plates and cutlery cutting through the obvious air of tension. Remus and Sirius had both stayed the night and had slept in the living room, not wanting to be far from Lottie even if she did not want to be around them.

Everyone was now downstairs playing the waiting game, trying to distract themselves with menial activities whilst every now and again stealing a glance at the time. Three o’clock came, then four o’clock and now it was nearly five in the afternoon. The rest of the order would be joining them sometime between five and Harry’s arrival at just after six o’clock. No one wanted to miss the reasoning behind the mystery, but no one was looking forward to it either.

Fred and George were huddled one corner of the living room, pretending to look over business papers, but there was no need; Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes was doing very well at the moment, considering the circumstances.

A lot of Diagon Alley was closed for business, through fear of being approached by You-Know-Who and his band of Death Eaters. Ever since Dumbledore’s death, atrocious crimes and activities were on the rise. People thought it was just like last time and so, not wanting to fight another war, started fleeing and going into hiding.

Ron, Ginny and Hermione were huddled in another corner, the two siblings engaged half-heartedly in a game of chess on the floor whilst Hermione read a book in the armchair. Crookshanks was curled up on her lap and her eyes were fixed on her book but they showed no signs of movement to say she was actually reading the pages. She and Ron had had a brief and hushed discussion last night about the whole saga unfolding in front of them but came to the same conclusion that they would have to wait until Harry arrived to actually feel like they were able to help.

Remus, Sirius, Charlie and Fleur were all sat at the kitchen table, holding cups of tea, wishing it were something stronger to calm their nerves. Mrs Weasley was bustling around the kitchen anxiously. She had started to prepare dinner, ignoring the fact that she was certain people were not going to be hungry when it was time to eat. It soothed her however, so she carried on. She charmed the kitchen knife so that it started chopping the vegetables whilst she started preparing drinks for everyone’s arrival.

She got out the butterbeers, whiskey, mead and some elf made wine and placed them on the little drinks table in the kitchen that she reserved only for when she had guests for a party. Though this absolutely bore no resemblance whatsoever to a party. She drew her wand and a jug, ice and bottle came soaring towards her. She filled the jug with ice, charmed it so it would not melt, and then poured in the pumpkin juice.

Hearing the clink of bottles, the occupants of the kitchen table looked up and made movements to help themselves.

“No.” said Mrs Weasley sternly, without even looking behind her. “You wait until everyone gets here or you’ll all be pickled.”

Remus, Sirius, Charlie and Fleur all sat back down. She has a point, thought Charlie, glancing over at Remus and Sirius who both looked pale and in need of a stiff drink.

Suddenly, making them all jump, the great grandfather clock whirred with activity and they watched as the hands for Mr Weasley and Bill moved to ‘travelling’ before landing on ‘home’. Mrs Weasley looked out of the kitchen window to see her husband and eldest son walking up the path towards the house. They passed the tent on their way and Molly felt a pang of sadness in her chest. Those poor children, she thought, placing her hand just below her neck and thinking of Harry’s imminent arrival, they’ve been through so much.

“Charlie, dear” said Mrs Weasley, still looking at the tent in the garden, “go and greet your brother and father, would you?” she asked.

“Sure, Mum.” replied Charlie, getting up from the table and taking out his wand. It felt so strange to point his wand at his father and brother in defence, but these were dark times.

Fleur watched him go to the back door and then looked at Remus and Sirius, “Well?” she asked them quietly, “ ‘ave you thought about how you are going to tell ‘arry?”

Both men looked over to her and shook their heads. “Well you ‘ad better come up wiz something soon. ‘e will be ‘ere in less zan forty minutes.” She said, briskly getting up to greet Bill. “Bonjour, mon amour!” she said enthusiastically, kissing him on both cheeks, “ ‘ow was your day?”

Remus and Sirius watched her bustle around Bill, scowling slightly; they were perfectly aware of how much time they had until Harry arrived that evening. But they were not the only ones that had been in a hushed discussion last night. They had stayed up long after everyone else had gone to bed and had talked at great length about all the ways that they could approach the situation. Somewhere around three o’clock in the morning, they had decided to just wing it and hope for the best.

Mrs Weasley was fixing her husband a drink, which signalled to the rest of the group that it was okay to approach the drinks table. Hearing that Bill and Mr Weasley had arrived, the rest of the Weasley children and Hermione joined them in the kitchen.

“Hey Dad, Bill” said Ron, nodding his head towards his brother.

“Hi kids,” said Mr Weasley, looking at the troop that had just walked in, before looking back at his wife who was handing him a butterbeer, “Thank you Molly, dear. Any idea of when we can expect the rest” he asked, looking around the room, clearly talking about the order.

“Soon, I expect” replied Mrs Weasley with a weak smile.

The air felt like it had thickened.

Sirius nudged Remus with his elbow. “Start on a butterbeer and see how we go?” he muttered, eyeing up the drinks table.

Remus simply nodded. As it got closer and closer to six o’clock, he felt the ability to have, let alone hold a conversation, grow less and less. He had not slept well last night so did not feel on top form but could at least be thankful that it had been well over a week since the full moon, so he did not have that to contend with.

His mind however was racing. He was playing the last two days over and over in his mind. The memories from sixteen years ago had come flooding back to him. It made him feel sick. The clonk of a bottle in front of him broke him from his thoughts. He gave his best friend a feeble smile and picked up the bottle and took a sip. “Still want to wing it?” he heard his friend mutter under his breath. Remus nodded. It was the best plan they had.

***

Lottie looked at herself in the mirror. She felt much better after having a bath and washing her hair. She was now dressed and had dried her hair properly, so it was no longer a wild, untamed mess. She decided to wear it down tonight, as she had had it scraped up into a knot last night and thought she could probably do with making a bit of an effort for meeting her brother for the first time in nearly sixteen years.

Her blonde hair fell in layered waves around her. She inspected the make up on her face. Not too much, but just enough so that the dark shadows under her eyes were not visible. She had put on shades of brown and gold eyeshadow, which was just enough to really bring out the hazel colour of her eyes. She had inherited her mother’s eyelashes, which were long and thick and now had a coat of mascara on.

She took stock of her appearance. She looked quite pretty, except for the way her clothes hung around her. She was already slim, it ran in the family, but she had her demons that she battled with. The battle with anorexia first started when she was fourteen but after a four-year fight with it and with the help of her only friend, she managed to win the fight. However, about a year ago, something switched in her. It was around the time she had that visit from Albus Dumbledore. It was then that she was plagued with the familiar compulsive thoughts and obsessive behaviours and found herself falling back into habit.  

This time around, Lottie had convinced herself that this was not the same situation as before, that this was only happening because of all the chaos. She was certain that once she finally got to sit with Harry and explain everything, that it would all go back to normal. She was sure of it. I’m not relapsing, she thought to herself. I’ve got it under control.  

Even still, she waved her hand and watched in the mirror as her body filled out ever so slightly. Her collarbones were no longer protruding out of her skin and you could not see her bones through the long dress she had decided to put on. Her arms were slightly more athletic looking and her face, was looking fuller. She performed this spell daily as it made others more comfortable around her. She hated the stares she got any time she went shopping or out in public. The only time she let her guard down was when she was in the bathroom and could lock the door.

She fumbled with the dress she was wearing. It fell all the way to the floor, covering her feet, but it was just a simple, black and sleeveless number. Satisfied with her appearance, she walked out of the bathroom, through the kitchen and living space, into her bedroom. She walked to the dressing table and picked up a long, fine gold chain that had a gold rectangle pendant on it, housing a large, pale yellow crystal. It sparkled in the low lighting and she put it on, making sure the clasp sat at the nape of her neck. Her earrings were already in as she rarely took them out.  A variety of different sparkly studs sat in one her many piercings, most of which were small, apart from the gold ring that sat at the top of her left ear.

Lottie peered at her wardrobe; she wanted a jacket of some sort. It was still warm out, but she always felt the cold a lot sooner than everyone else and she did not know what the house would be like. She found what she was looking for and pulled out the long, double breasted blazer. It was black, a relatively thin material and soft. She put it on and rolled the sleeves up so that they were now three-quarter length and the black satin underneath was visible. Satisfied, she looked around for her sandals. Spotting the sparkly, gold sliders, she slipped her feet into them.

She turned to Oscar, who had been watching her from the comfort of the bed. “How do I look?” she asked him. Oscar merely meowed back but she took it as approval.

“Right,” she said, looking around, feeling as though was missing something. Realising what it was, as her eyes fell on her rucksack, she smiled “Won’t need that.”

Lottie looked at her watch and felt her stomach flip. It was ten to six. “Okay, Oscar. Time to go.” She told him, walking towards the tent door. Oscar, not wanting to be left behind, stood up on the bed, stretched and then leapt from the bed to follow.

Hearing the thud of his paws on the ground, Lottie turned back and saw him approaching with a couple of squeaks, “Uh uh, no” she said, pointing a finger at him. “You stay here until you’re called, understood?”

Oscar stopped and sat down. “Good boy.” She said with a smile, “Okay, wish me luck!” and with that, Lottie turned to the tent door and took a deep breath before pulling it back and stepping out into the warmth of the summer evening. It felt much warmer tonight than it had a few nights ago, but she had learnt that there was no rhyme or reason to British weather.

As she walked to the house in front of her, she felt her body tingle with invisible electricity. She had not felt this nervous in a very long time. It felt as though it was getting harder and harder to put one foot in front of the other. She was starting to feel light-headed as she made it to the back door. Though she suspected that it might also have something to do with the lack of food and sleep.

“Deep breaths, Lottie.” She muttered to herself as she fought to steady her nerves. She took a couple of deep breaths in through her nose and exhaled through her mouth. Certain she was not going to be sick, or worse, faint she raised her hand to the door and hesitated. She could hear faint noises coming from inside, it sounded like there were quite a few people in there. She looked at the watch on the wrist of her raised hand. It was exactly five to six.

She sighed deeply and before she could back out and run, like everything in her body was telling her to, she knocked twice and waited.

The voices inside the Burrow stopped and she could almost feel the frantic energy coming from within.

Someone approached the door and then there was silence.

“Er… Um…Who’s there?” asked the female voice.

Lottie looked at the door and frowned in confusion. Was this a joke?

“Lottie?” she almost questioned.

“Lottie who?” came the voice. Lottie could hear harsh whispers from the other side but could not make them out. She raised an eyebrow at the door, before realising that this must be some sort of security thing.

Going along with it, she responded, “Charlotte Lily Potter, sister to Harry James Potter, and goddaughter to Remus John Lupin and Sirius Black.”

No response. There was further muttering before Lottie heard, “Oh for crying out loud Kingsley, it’s her! Oh fine!” Remus, she thought. She heard more footsteps approaching the door.

“Lottie?” Remus asked softly, “Lottie, what did you used to call me when you were little?”

Lottie felt a deep pressure somewhere in her diaphragm. An overwhelming sense of sadness washed over her. She had not been expecting that; only three people alive today knew the answer to that question and two were on the other side of the door. Her eyes burned with the warning of tears. Taking a moment to compose herself, she cleared her throat and sniffed, thinking back to when it was a much simpler, happier time.

Lottie paused before opening her mouth to reply, “… Memus.” she said, her voice soft.

There was a series of clicks, before the door swung open. Remus stood there with his hand holding the edge of the door, looking down at Lottie. His expression was unreadable, but his thoughts were not. Lottie grimaced and immediately softened towards him compared to last night. He was not off the hook by any stretch of the imagination, no one was in her mind, but she did feel sorry for him and the pain he felt.

“Come in.” said Remus cautiously, dropping his arm and stepping back.

Lottie nodded and, as she took the first step over the threshold, her eyes grew wide as she took in the sheer volume of people in the small kitchen.

“An audience,” she mused, under her breath. “Wonderful.”

“Hmm?” asked Remus, closing the door behind them.

“Nothing.” said Lottie, shaking her head slightly.

She had not been expecting anything less if she was totally honest with herself. This was going to be quite the revelation. She glanced around the room and learnt two things immediately. There was a serious mix of age groups and a significant number of people in the room had red hair. She took the opportunity of stunned silence to listen.

Woah, she’s hot.

Merlin! She is far too thin!

Did she say Memus?

She does not look like Harry at all.

I wonder if she’s single.

Did she have an American accent?

Harry is not going to react well.

How is Harry going to take this?


Upon hearing the last two, she blocked them off. She did not want to hear any more for now because she was thinking the same thing and it only made her more nervous and she did not want to give away her secret. Not just yet.

“Would you like to sit down?” asked a slightly plump, kind looking, red-haired lady, gesturing to the long, wooden kitchen table.

“I think maybe introductions might be in order first, Molly dear.” Said the red-haired man beside her.

“I’m not sure we have time.” Came a deep voice from the other end of the kitchen. The man who spoke was looking out of the window.

Along with everyone else in the room, Lottie followed the man’s gaze and her breath caught in her throat. There he was, walking up the garden path, past her tent, with a very strange looking man.

“Harry.” She whispered, her eyes wide. “Oh my god.”

Lottie swayed gently on the spot, the shock of seeing her brother for the first time in sixteen years, taking over. Remus, noticing this, put his arms around her to steady her. She grasped the front of his robes, looking up at him and then over to Sirius who had stood up to look out of the window at his approaching godson. Sirius walked over and joined them, squeezing Lottie’s arm reassuringly. Lottie looked back through the window; they were almost at the door. She had started to tremble.

“Come on,” muttered Remus, pulling Lottie away from the door and over to the far side of the kitchen where there was a perfectly good wall to lean against for stability. Sirius followed and stood with them. Lottie allowed herself to be steered away, trusting that they at least had some form of a plan.

There was a knock at the door and everyone flinched.



Chapter 7: Chapter 7. The Betrayal.
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Chapter 7. The Betrayal.

 

Harry landed with a thud, his knees buckling only ever so slightly this time. Getting better, he noted to himself, looking down at his knees. After all the times he apparated and disapparated with Dumbledore earlier this year, he was finally starting to get used to the sensation.

The wind rustled through his hair, it was warm and heavily perfumed with the scent of the jasmine and honeysuckle hedges in the garden. He took in the sight before him. The Burrow. It was one of his favourite places, filled with happy memories and not at all like the place he had just left. His stomach flipped at the thought of never having to go back there again. He smiled to himself.

“Come on,” said Mad Eye, breaking him from his thoughts, “Let’s get inside.”

Harry nodded. He was keen to get inside and reunite with Ron and Hermione. They had so many things to discuss that they had not been able to do over the holidays. For starters, he was quite interested to find out why he had not heard from them this summer; or anyone for that matter. He frowned to himself as he and Mad Eye started walking towards the Burrow.

As they walked, Harry noticed the tent. “Hey Mad Eye,” he said curiously, “What’s with the tent?”

Mad Eye said nothing.

“Mad Eye?” asked Harry, glancing sideways at him.

“You’ll find out soon enough.” He said gruffly.

Harry’s frown deepened with his confusion. Something was off.

They approached the door to the kitchen of the Burrow and Mad Eye knocked, glancing down at Harry as he did. “Just keep an open mind, Potter.” he said.

Harry looked perplexed. “About what?”

Mad Eye just looked at him and then back at the door. “You’ll see.” he muttered.

Harry just stared at him, utterly lost, as Mad Eye gave an answer to the door in front of him. “I’ll see wha-” began Harry, pausing mid-sentence as Mad Eye ushered him inside somewhat awkwardly, causing Harry to momentarily lose his balance and clutch at the door handle to stop himself from fully falling.

“Mad Eye, I’ll see what?” asked Harry, finding his feet. Now standing upright and in full view of the room, he took in all the faces around him. “Oh.”

***

 

Lottie, Remus and Sirius all watched as Mad Eye and Harry clumsily crossed the threshold. Once convinced Lottie was not going to fall over, Remus and Sirius had let go of her and just stood either side, not wanting it to look suspicious to Harry. While they may have agreed to wing it, they wanted to find the right moment to do so.  

Upon Harry’s somewhat inelegant entrance, Sirius burst into life at the sight of his godson, making Lottie and everyone else in the room jump, and approached him with open arms. “Harry!”

“What do you mean we’re winging it,” hissed Lottie, under her breath to Remus, watching Sirius give Harry a bone crushing hug.

While the rest of the room broke into a low chatter, getting louder and louder as people started saying their hellos, Remus just stared at his goddaughter. “What?” he whispered, the shock in his voice apparent.  

“We’re winging it? I thought you had a plan!”

“B-but how?” Remus asked, his brow furrowing. “How did you know that?”

Lottie shook her head to silence him. She watched as Harry broke away from the kind looking lady who she learnt was called Mrs Weasley or Molly and approached two people his own age. One tall boy with red hair and a shorter, pretty girl with bushy brown hair.

“Alright mate!” said the tall boy, clapping Harry on the shoulder “Good to see you!”

“Yeah you too” said Harry with a grin on his face. The girl with the bushy curly hair, flung her arms around Harry. “Oh Harry, it’s so good to see you!” she said, eventually releasing him.

“Yeah you too Hermione” said Harry, with the same big grin. Harry’s eyes darted to where Lottie and Remus were standing.

“Hey Remus!” said Harry, enthusiastically stepping towards him.

Remus smiled and met him halfway, pulling him into a hug. “Hello Harry, it’s good to have you back.”

Harry looked slightly taken aback at the gesture but returned the hug all the same. “It’s good to be back.” He said, looking at Remus. Harry’s eyes met with Lottie’s. “Hello.” He said kindly.

“Ron, Hermione, why don’t you help Harry settle in upstairs in Ron’s room and then come back down and join us?” Mrs Weasley interjected quickly, recognising the look of sheer panic on Lottie’s face. Harry looked back at Molly and then to his friends and smiled. “Sure.” He said, turning away from Lottie and Remus.

Lottie watched as Harry walked away towards the stairs with his two friends.

Once she was sure that they were out of earshot, Molly turned to Lottie. “We don’t have much time. So, let’s get you a drink and do some introductions.” She said in a hushed voice, gesturing to the drinks on the table nearby, “What will you have?”

Lottie remained silent. It had taken roughly one minute of seeing Harry interact with the people in the room before she realised, she had made a mistake. She was robbing Harry of at least one lovely evening of catching up and general fun with those he regarded as his friends and family. She wanted to leave immediately.

“I shouldn’t be here,” she told Molly, moving away from Remus and towards her and the kitchen door, “I can’t do this to him tonight. He’s so happy to be here and I’m going to spoil it for him”

“Lottie!” Remus said, startled.

“Nonsense,” said Molly, holding out an arm to stop her. Lottie looked down at the floor. “You’ve come all this way; it is time he learnt the truth.”

“It is also time you got your brother back.” Molly added, placing her hand gently on Lottie’s chin and lifting her head up so that Lottie’s sad eyes met hers. “Now, what will you have to drink.”

***

“What’s with the crowd tonight? Order meeting?” Harry asked, as he and his two best friends stomped up the stairs to Ron’s room.

Ron and Hermione, who were trailing behind Harry, exchanged a brief, nervous glance and before Ron said, “Yeah, of sorts.”

“What do you mean?” asked Harry, stopping outside of Ron’s room and looking back at them.

“Well at least we think it is,” added Hermione, wringing her hands. She hated lying to him like this. “It hasn’t started yet.”

“Blimey!” said Harry, surprisedly “and we get to join them?”

“It would seem so” replied Ron.

“Are you kidding?” Harry asked, shocked that his friends did not seem more excited about it. “Well what are we waiting for, let’s go!”

Harry dropped his bag to the floor and made to leave the room when he noticed the shared glance between Ron and Hermione. “What?” he asked.

“Nothing” said Ron quickly.

“Don’t you want to stay up here for a bit?” asked Hermione, biting her lip nervously.

“Are you both joking? The entire order is down there! Even McGonagall and a few people other people I didn’t even recognise. Don’t you realise that this is obviously a really important meeting?” Harry exclaimed, “Come on! I want to find out what’s going on.”

Harry walked out of the room.

“Yeah, a really important meeting about you… and your sister.” muttered Ron under his breath, glancing at Hermione.

“Ron! Shh!” whispered Hermione, glancing at the door. Ron looked at her meekly and shrugged. Hermione could hear Harry making his way down the stairs. She sighed heavily, “Come on, let’s get this over with.”

Ron nodded and they walked out together, following Harry down the stairs.

 

***

“And that’s my eldest son, Bill and his fiancé, Fleur.” said Mrs Weasley, motioning to the last two people in the room that she had yet been introduced to.

Lottie gave them a small smile as she held on to her glass of elf-made wine with both hands. She had given in and though she knew better than to drink on an empty stomach, she was grateful for the warm, fuzzy feeling it was giving her.

Lottie had now been introduced to everyone in the room. It was uncomfortable because they had all given her the same, awkward look, not really knowing what to do with the information. She was blocking out everyone’s thoughts, but she had found it strange when she was introduced to the man that had arrived with Harry, named Alastor “everyone calls me Mad-Eye” Moody. He had stared at her a little longer than she had liked. It was as though he knew something or could see through her. It made her feel uneasy. Perhaps it was the eye, that had been whizzing around in its socket until he made eye contact and it fixed on her. Or maybe it was the fact that everyone called him ‘Mad-Eye’.

Overhead, she could hear footsteps. Harry was coming back down. Her stomach flipped.

The room fell silent and all eyes were on the staircase that led from the kitchen to the upper floors of the house. Lottie had positioned herself near the kitchen door, on the opposite side of the kitchen to the stairs. When Mrs Weasley had asked if she wanted to sit down, she shook her head and said she had always preferred to stand. Besides, she felt as though if she sat down, the others might think her intruding or think that she thought she was entitled to a seat at the table. She was, after all, a complete stranger to them.

Mrs Weasley had even extended the table as far as it would allow so that all the occupants in the room could sit down. But Lottie still declined. She admitted to herself that it did look a little peculiar that she was the only one standing, but it was the lesser of two evils, so she stayed where she was.

Remus and Sirius had sat at the end of the table closest to her. There was a small gap in the middle of the table on the opposite side, between Ginny and Fred and George, which had been left for the trio making their way down the stairs.

Harry appeared first, looking around at the room and his eyes falling on the gap. He immediately sat down next to Ginny and smiled at her. Lottie resisted the urge to smile herself. She recognised that look; it was not one of friendship, of that she was sure.

Lottie looked over as Ron and Hermione appeared at the foot of the stairs and joined Harry at the table. There was a bit of a shuffle as they all tried to make themselves comfortable. No one spoke. Harry’s eyes darted around the room, before landing on Lottie’s.

“Aren’t you going to sit?” he asked her, looking slightly puzzled.

Lottie just stared at him holding her wine tightly. She shook her head. “No, I’ve been sitting all day.” she said softly.

Her heart was pounding in her chest. It was the first conversation they had had in sixteen years. It was not something to write home about, but it was pleasant, and it was real. Not like the ones she had had in her head.

“I really think you should sit.” Muttered Remus, out of the corner of his mouth, partially looking over his shoulder.

Harry frowned. Do they know each other? He thought to himself. He had noticed, when stood in the kitchen earlier, that they had been standing quite closely together.

Lottie, noticing Harry’s suspicious frown and avoiding the temptation to listen in to his thoughts, decided that perhaps it might be better now that several people had asked. So, she walked over to where Remus and Sirius were sat in front of her and scooted in between the two of them, placing her wine on the table gently. The whole table bustled to make room, but they did not have to go too far as luckily, she took up very little space. She looked over to Harry and smiled weakly, hoping he was satisfied that she was now sat down with them all.

Again, silence fell on the room.

Harry looked around at the table before locking eyes with Sirius.

“So, what’s going on? Why is the entire order here? Has something happened?” he asked seriously.

Sirius looked at Remus and then back at Harry.

“Sort of.” He replied quietly, looking at his godson. Sirius was struggling. This was harder than he had even contemplated. He dearly wished that he and Remus had come up with a better plan.

“Sort of?” repeated Harry, “What does that mean? Ron said the same earlier… what’s going on?”

No one spoke again. Everyone’s eyes kept darting from Harry, to Remus, to Sirius and back to Harry again.

“Why do you all look as though you’ve had bad news?” Harry asked, looking around at the solemn faces. “No really, what’s happened?”

Lottie took a sip of wine. This was a disaster, there were no two ways about that. If the course of this conversation did not change, she was going to have to step in.

“Nothing, Harry” said Remus, “Well not, nothing, but nothing bad. Well not really, but it’s good.” Remus glanced at Sirius who was shaking his head slightly and giving him a look that said, ‘what the hell are you saying?’. Remus leant forward, resting his elbows on the table, bringing one hand to his chin and resting his other hand over his mouth and stared down at the table.

Harry looked at Remus with a confused frown. “So, nothing, but not nothing, but not bad but bad, but also good?” he asked with a wry smile. “I see. That makes sense.”

Lottie was staring at Remus incredulously. She took a sharp intake of breath and looked at her brother, “Harry, I think I might be able to help with this.” She said, “Well at least, I might be able to do a better job of explaining.” She shot Remus and Sirius a look. So much for winging it, she thought to herself.

Harry turned his head to Lottie. “Sorry, but I don’t think we’ve met.” He told her apologetically.

“We have.” Lottie replied simply.

Lottie sensed the change in emotion in the room, it was charged with an electric tension. All eyes were on her and then Harry.  

“We have?” he asked her, slightly embarrassed, “I’m so sorry, I - I can’t place you.”

“That’s alright,” said Lottie, with a small, sad smile. “It was a long time ago.”

“Oh.” Harry said, and then added, “I’m struggling to remember your name.”

“Understandable,” Lottie said, gently nodding, “Like I said, it was a long time ago. A very long time ago.”

Lottie paused to take another sip of wine. “It’s Lottie. Well, Charlotte, but everyone calls me Lottie.”

“Lottie.” repeated Harry, feigning recognition “Right!”

Lottie smiled. He was trying to spare her feelings, but she knew he had no idea who she was. Weirdly, she appreciated it. She took a moment to enjoy the conversation, it was as good as it was going to get for a while.

There was another emotional change in the room. Lottie did not need to look around to know that like her, everyone was feeling the same thing. An impending sense of dread.

She tried to ignore it. “Well, you and I, we actually go way ba-” Lottie began.

“She’s your sister!” Sirius blurted out loudly.

The words rang out through the kitchen, reverberating off every surface and ringing in every ear.

Remus and Lottie both looked at Sirius in utter disbelief. Their eyes wide and mouths open in shock. Lottie put her elbows on the table and leant into her hands to rub her temples. Remus went back to leaning his chin on one hand and covering his mouth with the other, shaking his head ever so slightly. He could not believe what Sirius had just done.  

Had it had not been quite a serious situation; it would have been quite amusing. Each person around the table had a similar reaction. Foreheads fell into hands, eyes were wide, mouths were covered, and heads were shaking all over the place.

Harry sat in stunned silence. It took him a moment before he found his voice.

“My sister?” he choked, looking at Sirius and then to Remus and back again. “What are you playing at? I don’t have a sister, you know that…”

“You do, Harry” came Remus’ muffled voice. He was speaking through his hand, “Lottie is your sister.” He glanced at his goddaughter.

“B-but how?” he breathed, unable to take this all in.

“It’s a really long story, Harry.” said Lottie, who still had her head in her hands, looking down at the table between her elbows. She looked up and she too, clasped her hand into a fist and covered it and her mouth with the other hand.

Harry frowned slightly, looking at both Lottie and Remus. Their body language mirrored each other. It further cemented in his mind that they clearly knew each other well.

“Oui, and eet iz one we ‘ave all been waiting to ‘ear.” came Fleur’s voice from the far end of the table.

Another blow. Lottie could not believe it. There was a disaster and then there was this. Remus, Sirius and Lottie all shot Fleur a look that said, ‘stop talking’. Lottie was slightly pleased to see that a few other people had done the same.

Hermione closed her eyes and sighed. They had been doing so well not to give away the fact that this was not entirely a surprise to everyone, and Fleur had just dropped them in it.    

“What do you mean, ‘have been waiting’?” he shot at her.

Everyone around the table shifted uncomfortably. Harry noticed.

“Wait a second.” he said slowly, looking around the room. “am I missing something here?”

No one said anything. Lottie braced herself. She could feel it. It was about to go from disaster to a category five storm.

Harry raised his eyebrows. “Well am I?” he demanded. A few people flinched.

“Harry” began Sirius, “It’s not as simple as that.”

“Yes it is!” Hermione said, shrilly, looking around the room, “Well if no one is going to say it, I will-”

“Say what, Hermione?” Harry pressed.  

“Hermione, don’t” warned Ron.

“No, Ron” Hermione said firmly, looking at him “he’s our friend and he deserves to know.”

“Know what?” asked Harry, getting irritated.

“Harry, everyone in this room knew you had a sister in one way or another. Some of us found out a few days ago and others, well…” she said hurriedly as though saying it quickly made it less painful. “Well some of the others have known for a very long time.”

Lottie heard a few exasperated groans. The kind of groan that comes from being chucked under the bus but instead of it happening behind a person’s back, the person had instead been forced into a room and had been made to listen.  

Hermione ignored the groans and watched Harry’s face carefully. A myriad of emotions flicked across his face. He did not speak but instead stood up slowly and backed away from the table.

“Harry?” she asked timidly. Still nothing.

Lottie watched Harry; she could feel everything he was feeling. Her chest felt as though it was being crushed.

“Harry” said Sirius, moving to get up to comfort him.

“No.” said Harry, finally. He locked eyes with his godfather, causing Sirius to freeze in a half standing, half sitting position. His voice was low and dangerous. “No.” Sirius sat back down.

“Harry, mate?” asked Ron, hesitantly.

Harry looked at Ron and then Hermione. “You both knew?” he asked in a barely audible whisper.

“Well, kind of but-” said Ron, half shrugging awkwardly, his ears turning red.

“Harry, we didn’t want to know, it just sort of happened! We wanted to tell you, really we did, please don’t be mad.” pleaded Hermione, her eyes sparkling with tears.

“You wanted to tell me?” Harry repeated slowly and quietly.

“Yes!” implored Hermione, “But-”

“But what?” He asked.

“We didn’t know how and well…” she said meekly, wringing her hands and biting her lip nervously “We didn’t think it was our place to…”

“I see…”

“Harry, please…”

 “So, is that why I’ve had not any contact over the summer?” he asked, trying to keep his voice level looking straight at his friend before looking at the people around the table “You’ve all been here discussing some hidden secret, without bothering to let me in on it?”

“Harry, it’s not like that.” said Ginny quietly.

Harry looked at Ginny, almost in shock. He had forgotten that she was there. Her words, along with Ron and Hermione’s, somehow made the feeling of betrayal even worse.

“I’m so sick of this.” he said, to no one in particular. “I’m so sick of my life being controlled by everyone else.”  

Lottie could feel Sirius and Remus either side of her, between Sirius’ shallow breathing and their shared feeling of despair and guilt, it was emanating off them in waves. She stared at the table, unsure of what her next move was going to be. The level of emotion in the room was making it hard to concentrate, but Lottie blocked it off and honed in on Harry’s.   

“Your life isn’t controlled Harry” said Remus, quietly “We couldn’t control this. We only found out that Lottie was alive two days ago.” Lottie stiffened; it was the wrong approach.

Harry could not believe what he was hearing. “And you think that makes it okay, Remus?” he asked incredulously. “Can you hear yourself?”

Remus opened and then closed his mouth. Harry was right.

“You may have only found out that she was alive two days ago… but how long have you known that she actually existed?” Harry continued, waving his arm in Lottie’s general direction, “I have spent my entire life believing that I was an only child, only to find out that seventeen years later, it’s not true!”

“Harry, I know this is a massive shock but-” Remus said, trying to reason with him.

“A shock?” he asked, his eyes wide in disbelief, “No Remus, a shock was when I found out I’d be fighting a dragon in fourth year. This, this is nothing short of a mind fuck.”

Mrs Weasley winced at the bad language but now was certainly not the time to say anything.

“This is unbelievable.” He muttered, running his hands through his hair and pacing on the spot.

“Harry, if you could just let us explain.” Sirius pleaded with him.

“Explain?” he shot Sirius an angry look. “I can’t believe ANYTHING any one of you say!” He spat.

Lottie took a deep breath.

“Harry?” she asked, cautiously, “Harry, I can’t excuse what’s been done here but-”

“And YOU!” Harry rounded on her. “What the hell do you think you’re playing at?”

Lottie’s eyes grew wide. She was not expecting that. She could feel how overwhelmed he was getting. That energy had to go somewhere, and she had the feeling that she was about to take a hit.

“You show up here after god knows how long!” he shouted, “Claiming to be my sister and what, you expect me to believe that you had no way of getting in touch?”

Remus and Sirius shared a glance. This was not going at all well. They had at least expected Harry to show some form of kindness towards Lottie.

“I can exp-” Lottie said feebly. This was not a person she had any hope of reasoning with.

“No.” Harry interrupted. “I’ve heard enough. I need some air.” He started walking towards the kitchen door.

“Harry…Please, just stay and hear us out.” Sirius begged.

Harry stopped, his hand on the door handle. He turned and looked at the anguished faces of the people staring back at him. “Go to hell… all of you.” He said, before pulling the door open and stepping out into the night.



Chapter 8: Chapter 8. The Explanation, Part 1.
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Chapter 8. The Explanation, Part 1

Harry stumbled out into the night air.

Everything I thought I knew... everything... it was a lie! He thought to himself, struggling to make any sense of what he had just been told. Now it is tainted, spoiled by those I trust... no, trusted the most.

He 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.

Harry tripped towards the apple tree in the garden and fell shoulder first into the trunk, sliding down it and landing in a heap on the damp grass; his legs giving up on him entirely. He stayed there breathing heavily, his body leaning into the trunk and his legs out to the side. It was a while before he mustered what strength he could find to turn his body so that his back was against the tree. He pulled his knees towards him and leant his elbows against them, placing his head in his hands.

His mind was struggling to comprehend the enormity of the truth that had just been dropped on him like a bomb, mere moments ago. A sister. A sister that he had apparently had for his entire life and he was just finding out about it now. Two days before his seventeenth birthday. Just like that, the feelings came in thick and fast and settled unbearably somewhere in the middle, just below his rib cage. He tried to take a couple of deep breaths, but it was agony. Not a physical pain as such, but a gut wrenching, mind numbing pain that was showing no signs of subsiding.

He had been betrayed by his friends and those he claimed as his own family. Everyone had lied to him. Everyone had known about it, but for how long, was still unclear. He had been denied a sibling; robbed of a life that was once his. He could have grown up feeling loved and wanted, rather than being left to survive the harsh world of the Dursley’s.

Harry clenched his fists in his hair. He wanted to scream and yell and punch things over and over until he felt more physical pain to take away from whatever he was feeling now. The body was strange like that, as though it had a priority system. If one pain is greater than the other, then that is the one you feel. He would have to cause himself significant injuries in order to physically overcome this.

“Nothing makes sense.” He muttered to his knees, before slamming his head backwards into the trunk.

“All these years…” Another slam caused white dots to appear in front of his eyes. He blinked them away. Questions spun around his mind into an intricate web. He could feel it building into a crescendo

“ARGHH!”

Simultaneously, Harry slammed his fists into the ground and his head back one last time into the tree. That had done it.

The pain shot through him like a bolt, his head feeling as though it had split down the back. He heard his knuckles crack as they met the ground. The hurt, anger and betrayal had been momentarily silenced as his body felt the physical pain coursing through him.

Harry raised a hand to the back of his head, which was now warm and damp. He brought his hand in front of his face and it was bloody.

“Fuck.” he murmured.

Harry wanted to leave, to flee the scene, never to look back but he knew that was not going to happen. At least not yet. The reality was, that he had questions that he needed answers to. He glanced to his right and he could see the Burrow in his peripheral where he could hear raised voices. Harry scoffed. Whatever they were arguing about, he was sure it was about him. Probably trying to find a way to spin this so that they come out on top, he thought to himself. His head was pounding, a slow and steady throbbing sensation was coming from the back of his head. He could feel a trickle of blood going down his scalp.

Suddenly, something else caught Harry’s eye. It came from the direction of the large tent, which he assumed, belonged to his sister. It started out as a glint in the night, something catching the light from the Burrow windows, until he saw a pair of very distinctive, cat eyes. Harry’s first thought was that it must have been Crookshanks but then the cat stepped forward slowly and as he came into the patch of light streaming out on to the grass, he realised it was not a cat he knew.

The big ginger creature slowly approached and then stopped a metre away from him, fixing its big green eyes on him curiously.

“What?” asked Harry, feeling slightly silly at having a conversation with a cat.

The cat meowed at him.  

“What do you want?” he asked, slightly exasperated, holding out his hand to the cat.

Another meow but the cat remained still.   

“Ugh okay. Fine. Well if you’ll excuse me…” Harry said, groaning as used his arm to push himself up from the floor into a standing position. “I have-”

Harry stopped mid-sentence to steady himself. His head was not responding well to sudden movement. He leant back against the tree trunk and scrunched his eyes shut, holding onto his head, waiting for the pounding to subside. He took a couple of deep breaths as he was starting to feel nauseous. Finally, the pounding reduced back to a dull throbbing. Harry looked at the cat.

“I have to get some answers.” he finished. He glanced over to the Burrow, ignoring the pain in eyes that felt somewhat connected to the back of his head. He had been gone long enough to get some air but not too long that he could not come back from this. Though what did it really matter. He was the one who had been devastated, so he had the right to change his mind as he so pleased. Harry pushed himself off the tree, slapping a hand against the coarse trunk to stop himself falling backwards. He took a couple of tentative steps forward, berating himself for not choosing another body part to attack, before finally feeling confident enough to make the short walk back to the kitchen.

I have to know the truth, he thought to himself.

***

 

Go to hell… all of you.

Harry’s parting words hung in the air. No one spoke for a while, letting the cutting words sink in.

Lottie sat still, staring down at her hands on her lap. She could feel the emotion pulsating in the air around her. Shock met with unequivocal sadness and guilt. Meanwhile, in the back of her mind, she could feel her demons stirring, wanting to take over. She was fighting the urge to cry. It had not gone even remotely to plan. It would appear as though the last eight years had been for nothing. Harry wanted nothing to do with her.

She looked up from her hands and glanced around the room. Harry’s friends looked heartbroken, worried that their friend would never forgive them. Ron had his arm around Hermione, who was silently crying. Ginny was staring straight ahead, at nothing in particular, but there was no light behind her eyes. Fred and George were both leant forward, staring down at their crossed arms on the table. Everyone else fell somewhere in between.

Lottie looked at Sirius, who had his head in his hands and had gripped his fists into his hair. He looked defeated. She turned her head and her eyes met Remus’. He looked as she felt. His eyes were red, but his face was pale. Like her, he had been expecting more from the interaction and he too, had lost hope.

Lottie could not bear it a second longer. The overwhelming realisation that after everything she had been through, every fight, every battle had all boiled down to this, was just not worth thinking about.

“I should go, I’ve imposed long enough.” She said quietly, standing up.  

The room came to life. Everyone around the table bustled, staring at her.

“No dear, you should stay.” Came Mrs Weasley’s trembling voice. Her eyes were wet with sadness. Arthur nodded beside her.

“Well I would quite like to ‘ear ze tale of ‘ow you came to be at our door.” said Fleur, piping up, “eef, you are who you say you are, zen eet is quite curious, non?”

 

Some people around the table had nodded. The rest just looked at Fleur, incredulous at her lack of subtlety.

“Well,” began Lottie, choosing her words carefully, “Respectfully, I didn’t come here to discuss this with anyone other than Harry. I do not intend to deviate from that.”

All of a sudden, she felt a sharp pain at the back of her head. She sucked in air and her hand flew up to the area. She rubbed it quickly.

“What’s the matter dear?” asked Mrs Weasley, looking concerned.

“Lottie?” asked Remus, frowning from the table, “Are you alright?”

Lottie frowned, confused. “Yeah… it’s nothing.”

“Harry doesn’t want to know.” Blurted out Tonks, ignoring Lottie’s sudden head pain and letting curiosity get the better of her “But we do.”

“I know,” said Lottie sadly, looking down at her feet, still rubbing her head. She took a deep breath and looked at her empty wine glass on the table. Reaching for it, she picked it up. Her hand shook. The extreme level of tiredness mixed with the roller coaster of emotions was starting to catch up with her. Something that did not go unnoticed. She could feel Remus watching her.

“Mrs Weasley, Mr Weasley” she said, holding her glass with two hands, close to her chest and walking towards the kitchen sink “Thank you for the wine and for letting me stay in your garden.”

Lottie placed the glass in the sink and then looked at them both. “I really appreciate it.” She added, giving them a weak smile.

“But Lottie-” started Mrs Weasley. Lottie shook her head, silencing her.

“It was nice meeting you all.” she said to the room, before looking out of the window. She could not see her brother, but knew he was there. “Take care of him.” she whispered.

“No.” Remus said abruptly, standing up. “No, I’m not having it.”

Lottie looked at him. “Not having what?” she asked him.

“You, making the decisions. I am your godfather. You are not leaving.” He said seriously.

“Remus, you can’t make that decision.” Lottie sighed. “I’m leaving.”

“No, you’re not. You’re staying and we are going to figure this out.” He said turning to his friend, “Together…Right Sirius?”

Sirius sighed and ran his hands through his hair before looking up at Remus and then over to Lottie. He lent his elbows on the table and rested his chin in his hands. He watched her carefully for a moment.

“Absolutely,” agreed Sirius, “Lottie, you’re not leaving.” Sirius was not sure how exactly they were all going to get through this, but he knew one thing and that was that they were not going to be separated again.

Lottie, who was now starting to feel frustrated, frowned. She just wanted to go to her tent, cry and then sleep for a few days. “Well I honestly don’t think either of you get a say in this. I’m leaving and-”

“I LOST YOU ONCE,” Remus bellowed, making everyone in the room visibly jump. Lottie was incredibly glad she had not been holding the wine glass at the time. “I AM NOT LOSING YOU AGAIN!”

Lottie could feel herself starting to tremble, whether it was from fear, adrenaline or shock, she did not know. She did, however, get the distinct feeling that this was the first time that Remus had raised his voice in front of everyone in the room. Remus closed the gap between them, taking her by the arms. His grip was tight but not painful.

“I cannot lose you.” He said to her, shaking her slightly as he said it. Lottie looked at him, her eyes wide. For the third time that evening, she felt sorry for the man in front of her. The anguish he felt was clear in every line on his face. “Do you understand? I will not go through it again.”

Lottie could feel the emotion rising in her throat, so simply nodded. It had been a very long time since she had felt wanted. One of her demons growled in the back of her head.

“You’ll stay?” he asked her quietly. Lottie nodded again, unable to speak. She was trying desperately to hold it together, but the demons in her mind had begun a silent fight amongst themselves, begging for her undivided attention.

Remus nodded, not yet letting Lottie’s arms go. He could feel her stiffen; she was trying to be brave. He wanted desperately to pull her into his arms and hold her until she felt better, like he used to when she was little. His mind wandered and he remembered a time when it was much simpler. Lottie was three at the time and had fallen in the garden. He remembered the unmistakable sound of something hitting the ground followed by complete silence. He had been standing in the Potter’s kitchen at the time, helping to prepare lunch, when he shared a look with James and Lily, they were all bracing themselves for what came next. He remembered almost hearing the deep, rattling, intake of breath, followed by a wail. Lottie had wandered back into the kitchen, distraught, looking around for him and then holding her arms up when she found him. She was not hurt, there was not a single scratch on her little arms or legs, but Remus obliged. He remembered Lily saying something like “You spoil her Remus; she will never learn.” But he could not help it. He scooped her up and held her, stroking her hair until she finally settled down. He had to eat and drink one handed that day because she had refused to move until she had finally fallen asleep for her mid-afternoon nap. Remus looked down at her sadly and loosened his grip before finally letting go. These were not simple times.

Lottie was furiously blinking back her tears. She took a deep breath, refusing to break down in front of so many people. She steadied herself as Remus let her go. She had seen snippets of what was playing on Remus’ mind and it nearly broke her. She had forgotten about that time she had fallen. All these years she had been so wrapped up in her own anger and determination for the truth, that she had forgotten that the man in front of her was someone she once treasured, along with Sirius. Even after finding out the truth a year ago, she had still found it hard to understand that he and Sirius had not just abandoned her like she once so strongly believed.

Just as she was about to open her mouth to say something, the kitchen door clicked and swung open startling everyone in the room. Remus, Sirius and Lottie all whipped their heads around to see Harry standing in doorway and staring directly at Lottie.

“I want to know everything.” He said bluntly, his voice echoing throughout the kitchen.

Lottie blinked and brushed away a few stray tears that had betrayed her and fallen down her cheeks. She sniffed and nodded, ignoring the staring eyes that were burning into her. She briefly looked up at Remus and gave him what she thought was a weak smile but was more of a grimace. She walked slowly past him and Sirius towards Harry, until they were face to face. It was the closest she had been to him since that night, almost sixteen years ago.

She finally got a proper look at him and her breath caught in her throat. He looked so much like their father, but his eyes were absolutely and undeniably their mothers. She tore her eyes away and looked out through the open door at her tent. She held out her arm and just like that, a thin wooden box came flying towards her. She caught it and looked down at it. It was a beautiful, large square box, with intricate carvings of flowers and leaves all over the top. It had two gold hinges and a gold keyhole that glinted in the kitchen light. Harry was staring at the box curiously.

 “You’ll see.” She said softly. Harry’s eyes locked with hers, expectantly. She gave him a half smile before shifting the box into one hand, so she was able to close the kitchen door with the other. She pulled the door halfway but stopped as she noticed a ginger tail whip around the tent door. Oscar had clearly just slipped back into the tent. She tutted and shook her head lightly.

“Is that your cat?” Harry asked her, noticing her gaze and unable to stop himself from asking. He had been trying to stick with his stony expressions.  

Lottie nodded and shut the door. Turning to him, she gave him another half smile. “Mm, Oscar.” she confirmed, “Though technically…”

“Technically what?” Harry asked.

“Well technically, he’s your cat too.”



Chapter 9: Chapter 9. The Explanation, Part 2
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Chapter 9. The Explanation, Part 2.

Harry blinked at Lottie, “He’s my cat too?” he asked.

For some reason, this bothered him. It was another thing that had been taken from him, despite not particularly wanting a cat for himself. He was perfectly content with Hedwig, but he decided it was the principle of the matter.

Lottie, sensing his irritation, nodded slowly but said nothing else. Her eyes glanced towards the table where everyone was watching them intently. She was trying to block them all out and would have preferred that it was just her and Harry in the room, but unfortunately, they were going to have to do this with an audience.

Harry huffed, turning his back to her and walked towards the table. He hesitated, looking between Ginny and Ron and Hermione, not wanting to sit with anyone. Finally, he relented and settled himself back down between Ron and Ginny.

“Harry…” Lottie said frowning, noticing the blood stains on the back of his t-shirt and neck. She stepped towards him, “Your head.” She squinted and could make out the blood in his hair. Her hand went to the back of her head where it had hurt earlier. She had felt the pain exactly where there was a bloody patch on Harry’s head. Her frown deepened and her mind was racing.

“Oh,” said Harry, raising a hand to his head. His hands were bloodstained. “It’s nothing…”

“Harry!” exclaimed Sirius with concern, standing up to get a better look.

“I said it’s nothing!” spat Harry, his temper flaring. He did not want to be fussed over, especially not by Sirius. Harry glared at his godfather.

Sirius flinched at the anger in Harry’s voice. He had never experienced this from Harry before. They had grown so close over the last three years and he feared that he was on the brink of losing that relationship. Slowly, Sirius sat back down, his eyes not leaving Harry’s.

Lottie watched the interaction closely. She could feel the pain between the two people. Perhaps this was the one that hurt Harry the most. Realising the one who was supposed to care about you, protect you had in fact betrayed you, was not an easy swallow. She could relate.

Lottie sighed gently and took a few more steps towards Harry until she was standing behind him. She leant forward between him and Ginny and placed the wooden box on the table in front of him. Standing straight, she hesitated, before waving her hand gently over his head. The blood from his t-shirt, neck and hands disappeared. His hair rustled slightly and there was no longer any sign of blood.

Harry’s hand shot to his head and he stared up at her. His head was no longer throbbing, and the lump and blood on the back of his head had disappeared.

“Thank you.” He said quietly, continuing to stare at her. Harry was curious, he could not deny that; he was certain he had not heard her say a charm. “How did you-”

“You’re welcome.” She said simply. Lottie looked up and noticed that all eyes were on her, sharing the same look as Harry. “What?”

Mrs Weasley cleared her throat and waved her wand so that everyone’s drinks refilled, distracting the curious stares away from Lottie. “Nothing dear.” She said, looking at Lottie curiously. Molly was certain that there was more to Lottie than she was letting on, but she was determined that she should be able to tell it to them in her own time.

Lottie gave her a small smile as another glass of elf made wine came zooming over to her. Lottie plucked it out of the air. “Thank you, Mrs Weasley.” She was grateful for her interjection.

Lottie turned from Harry and walked away to the end of the table and conjured a chair with another wave of the hand before sitting down. She did not want to sit with Remus and Sirius and make it look as though they were in on this together. Instead she was quite content with sitting where she could see everyone either side of her. Harry, along with everyone else in the room, just stared at her. She was starting to feel like a zoo animal.

Lottie said nothing. After all these years of preparing for this moment, it had played out so differently in her mind that she was not sure where to start. Instead she took a sip of wine and placed the glass on the table, watching it as she slowly turned it by the stem.

“Well?” demanded Harry. His tone startled Ginny, who placed a gentle hand on his forearm and looked at him, trying to soothe him. Harry brushed her hand away. Now that the pain in his head had gone, it had been replaced with the feelings of utter betrayal and confusion that he had been feeling before. He was not in the mood to be placated, he wanted answers and he wanted them now.

Lottie watched as Ginny’s face fell and stared back at Harry. “Harry, I understand you’re feel-.”

“Don’t” shot Harry, “Don’t talk to me as though you know me. Just start talking.”

Harry’s remarks caused a few raised eyebrows. His words stung and Lottie felt her cheeks warm. If there was one thing she hated, it was being deliberately embarrassed in front of people, brother or no brother. At the same time, she could not understand why everything he said to her sounded as though it came from a place of hatred. He was trying to assert himself and she was not going to take it any longer. She narrowed her eyes at Harry before taking a breath.

“Okay,” nodded Lottie, standing up. She did not want to be in this room any longer. She did not need to be in this room. She could feel her temper rising, forcing its way through, overshadowing any previous emotion. She took a deep breath to calm herself. “Okay.”

Remus frowned. Lottie’s demeanour had changed. He, along with everyone else in the room, had noticed. In two words, her tone had changed to powerful and confident; it made everyone sit up a little straighter.

She walked over to Harry and took out the ring that sat on the top of her left ear. She glanced down at it before looking at Harry. “Everything you need is in that box.” She said, nodding her head towards it. Lottie rubbed the ring between her thumb and forefinger quickly and everyone watched as it transformed into a small, golden key. She held it out to him.

Harry looked momentarily confused before reaching out and taking it. His hand brushed against Lottie’s and there was a small spark of light. Both he and Lottie gasped, and their hands recoiled from it. Remus and Sirius exchanged a glance.

No one spoke.

Harry and Lottie watched each other carefully for a moment before Lottie gathered herself and walked back to her seat but did not sit down. Instead she picked up her glass of wine and looked at Mrs Weasley. “Is it alright if I take this outside?” she asked her.

Mrs Weasley, who had been watching Lottie and Harry, gave a startled nod. “Yes, of course dear. But aren’t you going to stay?” she asked nervously.

“No.” Lottie replied.

“What do you mean no?” demanded Harry.

“Open the box, Harry.” Lottie said plainly.

Harry frowned, still reeling from the visible electric shock, but did as he was told. He took the key and pushed it into the lock. He turned it slowly and all eyes watched with bated breath. The lock clicked and the lid lifted from the latch. Harry pulled the lid back slowly and was confused at its contents. Inside the box was a small, silver plate and one crystal vial. The plate glinted in the light and all around the edges were different carvings of runes and symbols.  

“Wow.” breathed Hermione, leaning across Ron, to peer into the box. “A pensieve.”
  
Harry looked at her, almost forgetting he was angry with everyone, “Like in Dumbledore’s office?” he asked her.

Hermione nodded.

“Why are you giving me this?” he asked Lottie, looking back at her.

“Because Harry, you’re right.” Lottie said, trying to steady the frustration in her voice, “I don’t know you. At least not past the number of books I’ve read that mention your name, or all of the newspaper articles written about you in the past five or six years.”

She paused for effect and was pleased to see that Harry had the decency to look uncomfortable.

“But, by that same admission.” Lottie continued forcefully, “You don’t know me either. So, in that vial are some of my memories.” She waved her hand at the pensieve and the runes and symbols glowed. A shimmery, silvery substance filled the plate. “Watch them and then we can talk.”

Lottie looked around the room, feeling the sense of eagerness radiating off everyone. It was a total shift change from before. They were all staring at the box, desperate to know the truth and they knew that they were moments away from it. They cared not for hers and Harry’s feelings, but instead for their need to satiate their thirst for answers. It annoyed and offended her.

She scoffed, making everyone turn their gaze from the pensieve back to her. Shaking her head, she looked at Harry. “Be mindful of who you choose to share these with. Be sure that you are content with everyone knowing the truth.” she warned him. “I don’t believe you should watch them alone, but I question whether or not you need an audience.”

Lottie resisted the urge to smile; she felt the mood change from eagerness to concern. They were worried if Harry would follow her advice and choose a select group of people to share these memories with.

Harry blinked at her and glanced around the room. She had a point, but Harry’s own stubbornness got the better of him. “I think I am perfectly capable of making that choice for myself, thanks.” He told her; his words laced with scorn.

Lottie shrugged and turned for the door.

Remus jumped up. “Wait, where are you going?” he asked her worriedly, “Don’t you think you should stay?”

Lottie paused before slowly turning around. She fixed Remus with a stare that made the hairs on his arms stand up. “I have lived them once.” She told him quietly, with that same dangerous undertone from the previous night, “I do not need to relive them for everyone’s satisfaction.”

“But Lottie.” Remus began, sadly. He had so many questions, he did not know where to begin.

“I will be outside my tent.” She told him. “Let me know when you’re done, and I’ll answer your questions then.”  

Remus frowned again, “How are you doing that?” he asked her.

“Just watch.” Lottie said exasperated, turning back to the door and opening it.  She paused for a moment and then walked out of the kitchen, shutting the door behind her.

Remus stood still, looking at the door before turning back to Harry. “Well Harry, what will it be?” he asked him sombrely. “Are we permitted to watch these with you?”

Harry stayed silent, staring at the box in front of him. Moments passed, causing everyone to start feeling restless.

“Harry?” said Sirius cautiously, not wanting to push his godson any further away.

Harry lifted his eyes away from the pensieve and looked at his godfather. He felt a pang of sadness at the way Sirius had spoken to him. Everything was starting to feel insurmountable. He felt so angry and hurt. He could not understand how this was happening and as a direct result from those he cared about the most.

“Fine.” Harry shrugged.

Remus and Sirius both felt relief. Perhaps there was a way back from this.

Harry glanced down at the box and picked up the vial. A small amount of silvery fluid shimmered at the bottom. He unstopped it and paused. He suddenly felt quite nervous. Remus, who had sat back down next to Sirius, was leaning into the table with his hand over his mouth. He unsure of what they were about to see, but the fear of the unknown was making him tense. Everyone in the room braced themselves for the first of what looked like four memories.

Slowly and carefully, Harry poured the memory into the pensieve. What happened next shocked them all.

The pensieve reacted to the memory causing the runes and symbols to glow with a bright blue light. Out of the pensieve rose a swirling mist that spread out to form an oval.

“Merlin,” breathed Kingsley, watching the oval mist form into a more solid shape.

“That’s some powerful magic…” came Mad Eye’s voice.

“What?” asked Hermione, looking around confused. The older members of the order were looking at the mist in awe.

“It’s a reflective memory,” said McGonagall speaking up from the end of the table, opposite Remus. She looked at Hermione, “Not many witches or wizards can perform the spell Ms Granger.”

“What’s a reflective memory?” asked Fred, looking to his parents.

“Shh!” hissed Remus, pointing to the oval. Shapes and objects had started to form. Everyone fell silent and watched as the memory started to play.


A young Lottie was standing in the kitchen, holding a glass bottle of milk. She was carefully preparing some milk and chocolate chip cookies before bed. A ritual she shared with her parents after Harry had gone to bed. Lily and James were in the living room playing with Harry. He would be off to bed soon and then it would be her special time with them.  

Harry’s heart soared at the sight of his parents. It was odd feeling, watching the memory as it played. It was as though the front of the house had vanished and they could see into each of the rooms of the house, seeing exactly what each occupant was doing and even stranger, what they were feeling. Harry suddenly felt very exposed, this was his life before it had been taken from him and everyone had a front row seat.

Lottie hummed to herself as she poured the milk into the three glasses. She had already placed a few cookies on a plate, she just needed a tray to put it all on so she could carry it into the living room carefully. Upon finding the tray, she froze in fear. She could hear something. She turned her head in the direction of the thoughts and dropped the tray.

“Lily, take Harry and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off!” came James’ voice from the living room.

Lottie started to panic. “Daddy?” she called out frantically.

“Lottie, it’s time. You know what to do!” he shouted, “Go, I’ll come and find you in a minute! I love you!”

Lottie’s eyes grew wide and she launched into motion. She ran to the back door in the kitchen that led out into the garden. Plucked her rucksack from the hooks next to the door, opened it and bolted out into the night. She hurried to the largest tree in the garden and climbed up the wooden planks that had been bolted to it, to the safety of the tree house. She plonked herself down next to the window overlooking the house, reached into her rucksack and pulled out her father’s cloak and covered herself with it and waited. She stared out of the window just in time to see the kitchen window flash with a green light.
 
Her heart was racing. Suddenly, with a mighty bang, part of the house exploded in another flash of green light. It shook her to her core. She watched as a dark shadow came soaring out of the wreckage at speed, shooting past the tree house and into the dense woods behind their house. Lottie’s eyes shot back to the house where she stayed still, waiting for her father to appear and tell her it was okay to come back. But he never did.

All there was, was silence. Lottie wanted to move, but she knew she was not allowed. “Not until Daddy says so” she whispered to herself from the window.


The memory dissolved and another one appeared in its place.


Lottie was sat in the tree house, silent and unmoving. A shadow moved across the lawn towards the house which caught her eye. She peered out of the window, hopeful at first that it was her father coming to get her. But this figure was much taller and older. As the figure came into the light, she recognised him. The tall, old man with a long white beard, looked upon the house and then turned quickly to look up at the tree house. His eyes met hers, but how, she did not know. She was supposed to be invisible to everyone and everything. She watched as the man took his wand out and raised it. He muttered something and Lottie felt her entire body freeze. Unable to hold herself up, she fell backwards into the wall of the tree house unable to see out of the window. She could not move a muscle. She could only blink. She felt herself start to cry, but it was a strange sensation, she could not cry properly. What felt like a lifetime passed her by, until the familiar man appeared at the doorway to the tree house. He clambered in and moved towards her. Lottie was finally able to see him clearly. The old man waved his hand and she felt her body relax. She scrambled under the cloak.

“Shh, shhh!” said the old man, “Lottie, it’s okay, you are safe. I am not going to hurt you. I need to get you away from here… to safety.”

Lottie pulled the cloak down past her face so that her head popped out. She stared at the man with a tear-stained face. His bright blue eyes pierced hers and she immediately trusted him.

“But Daddy said I have to wait here for him.” she whispered; her big hazel eyes were wide.   

“I know,” said the man, kindly, “but we have to go, you’ll be safer away from here.” The man held out his hand. “Come, Lottie, we do not have much time.”

Lottie glanced out of the window. She knew this man; he had been to the house a few times.

Reluctantly, she reached out her hand and placed it in his “But what about Mummy and Daddy and Harry and Oscar?” she asked woefully, standing up, clutching the now fallen cloak and rucksack.

“Do not worry about that now, come.” The man pulled her gently towards him. “Hold on tight.”

Lottie gripped the man’s arm and with a crack, they were gone.


The memory faded out again and a new one swirled into action.


Lottie was sat in the circular room, filled with trinkets and the most beautiful bird she had ever seen. She was sat in one of the big armchairs that faced a grand, mahogany desk. She had been told by the man to sit there, under her father’s cloak and to wait for him.

A few hours had passed, and she was growing restless and tired. She wanted her parents and Harry and Oscar. She wanted to go home. Suddenly the door swung open and the old man walked in. He walked around the desk and sat down. He placed his hands on the desk and peered into the armchair where Lottie was sat. “You can come out now, Lottie.” He said gently.

Lottie slowly removed the cloak and peered up at him.

“Lottie, do you know who I am?” he asked her, quietly. Lottie shrugged and shook her head. She did, sort of, but not quite.

“My name is Albus Dumbledore.” He told her, “I am a friend of your parents.”

Lottie blinked. “When can I go home?” she asked him.

“Not for a while yet,” he told her. “I must ask you to be brave. Can you do that for me Lottie?”

Lottie tipped her head to the side slightly. “Yes.” she whispered. “I can be brave.”

“Excellent,” he said with a smile “you’ve been very brave tonight. But there is one more thing we must do. But first…” Dumbledore reached inside of his cloak and pulled out a small, ginger kitten.

“Oscar!” Lottie exclaimed, jumping up and scuttling around the desk to take him from Dumbledore. The little kitten squeaked, and Lottie held him close, under her chin.

“I thought you might want him with you.” Dumbledore said. Lottie nodded.

Dumbledore stood up and held out his hand to her. “Pick up your bag, Lottie, we’re going on another journey.”

Lottie obliged, stopping momentarily to gently place Oscar in the front pouch of her rucksack. She zipped it up so that he was secure and put it on carefully. She walked back to Dumbledore and held onto his hand tightly.

They appeared at the front steps of a large, double fronted house. There was a big front lawn surrounded by tall hedges either side and a tall fence at the front of the property. Lottie frowned, it was daylight here but she had just left where it was dark. Dumbledore gently led her up the step to a big front door. Upon entering, they were greeted by a stern looking woman. Lottie glanced to her left, where a big mirror hung on the wall. She noticed the reflection and looked to her right where she saw the words ‘Linden House; home for children’ above a large notice board. She looked up at the stern looking woman and swallowed nervously.

“I am Mrs Linden, welcome to Linden House.” said Mrs Linden, looking down at Lottie, unsmiling.


The memory twisted and changed pace, flashing different images out to its captive audience.


Lottie stood in her new, unfamiliar room, watching Dumbledore walking away, holding Oscar. Tears fell from her eyes.

Flash

Lottie asking for her rucksack and being shouted at by Mrs Linden to go away.

Flash

Lottie asking for her parents, tears rolling down her cheeks and being screamed at by Mrs Linden who said she had no parents.

Flash

Lottie standing in a grand school, being sorted into a house.

Flash

Lottie alone in a magnificent library, surrounded by books.  

Flash


The memory sizzled away, leaving nothing but a gentle wisp of smoke behind before bursting into life and forming another.


A very skinny looking Lottie, who was now fourteen, was sitting in her room at the home, playing with Oscar on her bed. She heard the front door slam and jumped up to look out of the window to watch Mrs Linden walking down the path to the wrought iron gates. “Now’s my chance, Oscar!” she whispered.

Lottie ran from her room, ignoring the sounds of complete chaos coming from the floors above and below. As soon as Mrs Linden left to go on her daily walk, the other children ran riot. She was thankful of it this time, as it meant she would go unnoticed. She ran down the long corridor and rounded the corner that led to another set of steps. She launched herself up them two at a time to the third floor of the house. She ran down the corridor, stopping midway and looked up at the hatch to the attic.

Over the years, Lottie had learnt that this was where she kept all the other children’s possessions when they were brought to the home. She would search through them on arrival and take away anything that she deemed ‘inappropriate’. Lottie was convinced she would find what she was looking for up there. She glanced around to make sure that no one was watching and then raised her hand to the ceiling. She closed her eyes and muttered something inaudible and the door swung open. She jumped up with all her might and grabbed hold of the end of the ladder that was attached to the door. Her weight was not enough to pull it down in one motion, so she had to wriggle about to get it to finally slide down. Once the end of the ladder hit the floor, she scrambled up it. Her heart was pounding in her chest and ears. She had about fifteen minutes left before Mrs Linden returned.

Once in the attic, she looked around wildly, the place was overflowing with miscellaneous objects. Lottie paused, feeling the weight of hopelessness settle in around her. This was the furthest she had managed to get without being caught and now she did not know where to start. A faint rattling sound roused her from her thoughts, frowning she looked around for the sound. It was coming from the back of the attic. She carefully made her way across the multitude of possessions, all the while the rattling grew louder and louder until she found herself looking at a chest. She hesitated at first, three years at a magical school had taught her that you do not just go opening unknown boxes or chests; especially ones that made sound.

Lottie braced herself and slowly lifted the lid. When nothing came flying out at her, she lifted it back further and smiled. There it was. Her rucksack. She breathed a deep sigh of relief. She was not mad; she had been right all this time. She picked up the bag and hastily made her way back across the attic to the hatch. Clambering down the ladder she took a moment to listen. Chaos was still in full flow in the house. Relieved, she stepped onto the floor and with all her might, threw the ladder back up into the hatch. She waved her hand and the door swung shut. She made her way back to her room at full speed and as she did, her ears pricked up. The melee had disappeared. Her heart plummeted. Mrs Linden was back. She had a mere few minutes left. Picking up her pace, she sprinted down the corridor and skidded to a halt outside of her room. She ran in, startling Oscar, chucked the bag under her bed and then went and closed her door gently. She walked into the middle of the room and started doing star jumps. As she did, the door swung open with a bang, startling Oscar for the second time. He hissed at the harsh Mrs Linden, who was standing, breathing heavily in the doorway.

“What are you doing!” she spat at Lottie.

Lottie stopped jumping. “S-Star J-Jumps” she said, struggling to catch her breath. “It’s good exercise.”

Mrs Linden narrowed her eyes at her but bought the lie. She slowly backed out of the room and slammed the door shut.

Lottie collapsed on her bed, astonished that she had managed to get away with it. She looked at Oscar and scratched behind his ears. “Not long now, Oscar. We’ll be out of here by tonight.”


The memory twisted in on itself before unfolding and a new scene started playing.


Lottie was sitting by a fire, wrapped in a blanket. She was in a very cosy looking room, surrounded by piles and piles of books. A kind, old lady walked in with a tray, holding two cups and a teapot.

“I am so glad you are safe from that horrid place.” She said, placing the tray on a table by the fire. “You stay here as long as you want.”

“Thank you, Oma.” Lottie said, taking a cup of tea from the tray.

“Will you go back to school?” asked Oma, taking a seat in one of the armchairs. She raised her hand and the other cup of tea floated across to her.

“No.” said Lottie sadly. “I hate it there. I want to stay and learn here until I can go and search for Harry.”

“But darling, you were doing so well at school. You’ve won countless awards for your work.”

“Precisely Oma, I’ve won all of the awards. Nothing there challenges me anymore. I’m totally alienated from my peers, no one talks to me because they either think I’m a crazy liar, an insufferable know it all or both!” Lottie said. “It’s exhausting. I could learn so much more here and from you, than I ever could at that school.”

“Very well.” Oma said, taking a sip of tea. “I will do my best.”

“And I can help you in the shop” added Lottie carefully.

“You know that’s not necessary. I do not need any help my love.” Oma said kindly.  

Lottie raised an eyebrow.

“Well, maybe a little help.” Oma smiled.

Lottie smiled back and for the first time in years, finally felt comfortable and safe.


The memory started flashing images out again.

Lottie was sat reading and studying in the cosy room full of books. Then she was practicing spells with Oma. They were smiling and laughing.

Flash

It was pouring with rain and Lottie was standing at a grave under a large black umbrella, tears falling silently down her cheeks. She was alone, all except for a man who walked over to her and handed her an envelope. She opened it and read the deed to the bookstore. She fell to her knees.

Flash

Lottie was working in the bookstore. She was much older and was standing behind a tall desk, selling a book to a couple. On the desk, was an issue of The New York Ghost. A circle was around one of the articles on the front page which read:
Harry Potter: The Boy Who Lived to start at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Flash

Lottie was standing in a busy street. A big red bus went rumbling by causing her hair to rustle in the breeze. She looked down at the piece of paper, where she had scribbled the name of the place she was headed to. ‘The Leaky Cauldron’ she looked up and there it was. She made off in the direction of the pub. Standing in front of the door, she pushed it but it would not open. She pushed and pulled and nothing happened.  

Flash

Lottie stood outside the busy train station and waited. She watched the crowds of people pouring in and out carefully when her heart leapt. There he was. Eleven-year-old Harry walking alongside the largest man she had ever seen. She approached, but as she did, she was blocked by something invisible. She called out to him but he did not turn.

Flash


The memory, once again disappeared into a haze of smoke, before sparking again and forming a new scene.  


Lottie, who was now an adult, stood in the bookstore, feeling frustrated. She was watching her customers when a familiar face walked into the shop. Lottie stared at him. She scoffed and picked up a pile of books and walked away towards the bookshelves. The man followed her and placed a hand over the book she was trying to put away.

“We need to talk, Lottie.” He said.

“You are not welcome here, Albus Dumbledore.” Lottie shot back.

“Please.” He begged. Lottie looked at him, not expecting him to sound so, sorrowful. She looked at the hand that was over the book she had halfway back onto the shelf. Her eyes widened in shock.

“What happened to your hand?” she asked before she could stop herself.

“It is what we need to talk about.” Dumbledore replied quietly.


The memory evaporated and a new one appeared in its place.


“So you mean to tell me, this was all part of your plan?” Lottie asked incredulously, pacing around the back room of the store. There was a lit fire in the fireplace which was crackling away in the background.

“Lottie, you have to understand, I thought it was for the greater good.” Dumbledore implored.

“All these years!” she shouted, her eyes welling up “All these years, I was made to believe that I was going crazy!”

“Albus, I truly believed at one point that I had made it all up in my head! You left me there at that wretched place! You have no idea what you have done!” Lottie screamed at him, tears falling from her eyes.

“Lottie, please forgive me,” Dumbledore pleaded.

“Forgive you?” She asked in utter disbelief, “Forgive you? You have just told me that you willingly took me away, left me in another country and have stopped me from getting to Harry every time I’ve tried for the most outlandish and quite frankly outrageous reasons and you expect me to forgive you?”

Dumbledore said nothing.

“I HATE YOU!” She yelled at him. The fire roared to life, lighting the room with its fiery glow, alarming Dumbledore who took out his wand and flicked it, calming the fire.

“I do not doubt that” Dumbledore said quietly, still looking at the fire. “But I’ve come here not only to give you the truth but because I need to ask you to do something.”

Lottie scoffed, shaking her head “You’ve got some nerve, old man,”

“It’s about Harry” He replied simply, “He needs your help.”

Lottie narrowed her eyes at him. “Does he even know about me?” she asked.

“No.” said Dumbledore sadly. “Another part of my plan that has failed so miserably. He does not know about you. No one does.”

Lottie’s eyes grew wide. It explained a lot. “I see.”

“It is why no one came for you.” Dumbledore explained, “They believe that you are dead.”

“You are not helping your cause, Albus.” Lottie warned him, her voice laced with a dangerous calm.

Dumbledore ignored her and continued on, “Harry is in grave danger from the Dark Lord. Every day, he grows stronger and Harry is going to need your help.”

“My help in what?” asked Lottie.

“In defeating him.” Dumbledore said simply.

“You ask too much of this family, Albus.” She shot at him.

“You are right, but it is written in prophecy. It cannot be undone.” He told her. “You hold a great power, one that I know, when the time comes, will be crucial for Harry to succeed.”

“When the time comes? What are you saying?” demanded Lottie.

“I am saying that you must help your brother, be there for him and support him when he needs it.” Dumbledore said. “The next year will, I hope, uncover a great deal in helping our efforts to destroy Voldemort, but he will need you.”

“Oh, so now it’s okay after you spent a great deal of time and effort preventing it…right” she said, sarcastically. “Because its for the greater good, yeah I know.” She turned away from him, trying desperately to digest everything she had been told.

“It is not polite to look into people’s minds without their permission Lottie.” Dumbledore said.

“Oh because you don’t?” she spat at him, turning to face him.

“I am no where near as skilled as you when it comes to the art of Legilimency,” He said humbly. “You can see thoughts as though you can hear them, can you not? You feel people’s emotions as though they were your own.”

Lottie shrugged. “And what of it?”

“It is an incredibly rare skill, one you were born with. And that is not all, is it?” he asked. “You do not own a wand, yet you can perform some of the most complicated magic, wandless and wordless.”

“How do you know that?” Lottie asked, shocked.

“I have kept my eye on you. There is not much I do not know about you.” Dumbledore said. He looked ashamed.

“Get out.” Lottie said forcefully. He had overstepped and she was done with the conversation and him. It was too much.

“Not before I have your word that you will help Harry.” He replied simply.

Lottie scowled at him. “Of course I will!”

“Thank you.” Dumbledore said. He reached into his robes and pulled out an envelope. “I must tell you one more thing.”

“Just the one?” she questioned, mockingly.  

“You will not be able to approach Harry until the week of his seventeenth birthday.” Dumbledore said, handing her the envelope. “The details of where to find him are in here. Do I have your word that you understand?”

“I understand.” She replied, snatching the envelope from him. “Now get out of my bookstore.”

Dumbledore bowed his head and disappeared with a loud crack.

Lottie stood in the room, clutching the envelope before letting out a loud sob and crumpling to the floor in a heap.


A/N: Thank you to everyone who has been asking about this and have been so patient! Part 3 coming in hot tomorrow, but I hope you're enjoying it so far! I'd love to hear what you think! 
 

 



Chapter 10: Chapter 10. The Explanation, Part 3
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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.



Chapter 11: Chapter 11. The Nightmare
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Chapter 11. The Nightmare.

An hour or so had passed since Mrs Weasley had abruptly sent them all to bed. After Lottie and Remus had left, everyone’s once ravenous appetites had subsided. Seeing everyone struggling, Mrs Weasley had declared the night over, sending the order home and everyone else to bed. It was her way of taking back control and re-establishing some semblance of order and structure. They were all emotionally spent and the mother bear in her came to life. She did not receive any push back; however, everyone was quite glad to be guided by her.

Harry, Ron and Hermione had all gathered in Ron’s room before Mrs Weasley came charging in and demanded Hermione leave and they all go to sleep. Once satisfied that Mrs Weasley had gone to bed, Hermione snuck back in and they stayed up chatting.

Ron and Hermione were both relieved that Harry’s anger with them had dissipated. They watched him as he talked with a renewed sense of self, about his sister and everything they had witnessed earlier. The trio talked animatedly about the events and had come up with an extensive list of questions to bombard Lottie with when morning came.

Eventually, the conversation started to slow and Harry, who had been staring up at the ceiling deep in thought, turned his head to see that Ron and Hermione had fallen asleep. He smiled at his best friends and went back to staring at a scorch mark that was directly above him. He would wake them in a moment, so that Hermione could go back to her room or risk being skinned alive by Mrs Weasley.

Harry stared up at the scorch mark and amused himself with the many possible scenarios that caused it. Whatever had caused it, Harry was convinced that Fred and George were the main instigators.

Harry could feel the events of the day taking their toll and his eyes began to grow heavy. His mind was racing, images flashing in front of his mind’s eye, it was exhausting trying to keep up with them.

“Hermione…” he mumbled, fighting the sleepiness.

“Mm?” came a quiet voice.

“Hemione you need to go…” Harry trailed off, his eyes closing.

“Mm.” mumbled Hermione, who was very much asleep.

Images still puttered around in his mind, every so often coming into focus before quickly dissolving into a wisp and nothing more. Harry felt his body relax and he fell into a deep sleep.

***

“Harry! Harry!” shouted Hermione, shaking Harry’s shoulders, “HARRY! Wake up, it’s a nightmare! WAKE UP!”

Ron was standing behind her, his face white, staring down at the bed occupied by his best friend. Harry was thrashing around loudly in bed, his arms and legs completely tangled up in the covers.

They had been watching him now for around five minutes and nothing they were doing, seemed to break through. Ron’s heart was racing, his arms and the back of his neck was tingling. They had been here before and it made him nervous. Very nervous.

Suddenly, Harry reacted and his whole body contorted and froze in an awkward looking arch. Harry’s mouth opened and the scream that came out was blood curdling. As quickly as it had contorted, his body relaxed with a thud into the bed before he began swinging his arms and thrashing his legs.

“Ron! Help me!” Hermione squealed, protecting herself from Harry’s wild swings, “I can’t control him!”

Ron swallowed and jumped into action. He knelt and moved Hermione out of the way to try and hold Harry down, but it was not working. “Get someone.” He struggled, looking at Hermione, who nodded and jumped up. She ran to the window and peered out of it hoping that Remus and Sirius were still there. She could see them, they were still sitting outside of Lottie’s tent, deep in conversation and she felt a glimmer of hope. They would know what to do.

She went screeching out of the room and hurtled herself down the stairs almost taking out the entire Weasley family in the process. They had all tentatively gathered at the bottom of the stairs to Ron’s room when they had stopped in fear when they heard Harry’s scream. They all had their wands out.  

“Hermione!” shrieked Mrs Weasley, “What on earth is going on?”

“Harry’s having a nightmare!” she yelled behind her, racing down the stairs to the kitchen.

***

“Did you hear that?” Sirius asked, stopping Remus mid conversation.

“Hear what?” Remus said, frowning.

“It sounded like a scream…” Sirius muttered, also frowning. He looked around, before holding his ear towards the tent door. Nothing.

Sirius shrugged. “That was weird…”

Remus pulled a concerned face.

They sat in silence for a moment to listen to the quiet, to see if the sound returned.
As they listened, Lottie appeared at the tent door, scaring them both half to death. Sirius chucked his glass somewhere into the lawn as he jumped up out of his seat. Remus felt his body vibrate from his feet up, as the fear washed over him.

“Merlin Lottie!” hissed Sirius, clutching his chest. “Announce yourself!”

“Something’s wrong with Harry.” She said, anxiously, ignoring their reactions. Had she not been so worried, she would have found it highly amusing.

Remus, finding his feet, looked at her and moved the chair out of the way to take a step forward. “What is it? What’s happened?” he asked her.

“I don’t know, I just know something’s wrong. I thought I heard…” she trailed off.

“A scream?” asked Sirius, his breathing now coming back down to a normal rate. “Yeah we thought that too, but I’m sure it’s just an animal or something.”

Lottie glanced at him. He was looking up at the house and his voice was not convincing. “Maybe, we could just check?” she asked them, nervously, her eyes flitting back and forth between them. She felt off kilter; possibly from catapulting herself out of bed after very little sleep. Though she could not place the feeling, she was convinced something was not right.  

Remus placed a hand on her shoulder and gave it a squeeze. “I’m sure he’s fi-”

Remus was cut off by a clattering behind them. The three of them whipped their heads around in the direction of the sound, only to see Hermione racing down the steps and lawn towards them.

“Sirius, Remus, Lottie!” She shouted. She was motioning to them all to come towards her. “You have to come! Quickly!”

Remus, Lottie and Sirius all leapt forward in a sprint to meet her halfway, almost colliding with her. Hermione quickly turned on her heel and led the way back to the house, with all three, hot on her heels.

“Hermione, what’s happened?” panted Sirius as they crossed the threshold of the kitchen.

“It’s Harry, isn’t it?” said Lottie, breathing heavily.

Hermione nodded. “He’s having a nightmare…” she gasped, going up the kitchen stairs two at a time. “But not like the usual ones he has… it’s much more intense. We can’t wake him”

They all followed her up the stairs, keeping up the pace. Dread slowly filled Lottie. She had known. How, she was not quite sure. But it was as though it had come into her dream, except it was more powerful than that. “I knew it…” she muttered to herself.

“But how?” asked Remus, as they came up the last staircase to Ron’s room. Lottie looked at him and shrugged.

“Harry!” yelled Sirius, who was the first one to enter the room after Hermione. The whole Weasley family were crowded around the bed. Ron, Ginny, Fred and George were all huddled on Ron’s bed, trying to stay out of the way. Hermione went over to join them. Mr and Mrs Weasley were kneeling next to Harry, while Bill, Fleur and Charlie all hovered behind them. Sirius dropped to his knees, as Mr and Mrs Weasley stood up to give him space. He tried to hold Harry down, but it was no use, Harry was too strong. Lottie’s eyes grew wide when she saw her brother. His body was contorting, and his bed covers were twisted around him. His face was pale, but there was a sheen of sweat covering his face and body soaking through his pyjamas.

“Harry, Harry!” Sirius pleaded urgently, trying to shake him awake, “Wake up, please, it’s just a nightmare. You’re alright… come on, wake up!”

“No, he’s not…” said Lottie slowly, her eyes narrowing. “He’s in pain.”

“What do you mean?” asked Remus, worriedly, “from what?”

Lottie spun around and found Ron and Hermione. “Hermione…you said this wasn’t like a normal nightmare?”

Hermione jumped and nodded. “Usually we can wake him...”

“Has he ever had one like this before?” Lottie urged.

Ron nodded. “Once.”

“What happened?” Lottie pressed him, trying not to get frustrated. Why were they being so slow with their answers.

Ron shifted uncomfortably and glanced at his family. “Dad was attacked.”

Lottie looked at Mr Weasley and suddenly all was clear. Something bad had happened as a result of Harry’s nightmare, that was why they were all looking so uncomfortable.

“But that was because You-Know-Who entered Harry’s mi-” Sirius shot back before stopping himself, his eyes growing wide. He looked back at Harry and then up at Remus who shared the same look of abject fear.

Lottie did not need them to finish the sentence. She felt her stomach drop and her body went cold. If she was right in her deductions, Sirius and Remus were worried that Harry was not alone in his mind right now. That a certain dark wizard was in there with him, causing him to react the way he was.

Another scream pierced the air.

Horrified, Lottie watched as long, deep gashes started appearing all over Harry’s body, followed by deep, dark welts.

“HARRY!” yelled Sirius, trying to stem the flow of blood that was blossoming all over Harry’s body, soaking through his pyjamas and onto the bed covers.   

“Sirius move out of the way…” Lottie said sharply, getting down beside him and Harry.

“Lottie, what are you doing?” Remus asked abruptly.

“I think I can help him. I just need to enter his mind. I can at least break the connection if there is one or find out what’s causing this…” Lottie told him., shifting forward on her knees, getting closer to the bed.

She raised her hand and placed it on Harry’s forehead, which was damp with sweat and felt cold and clammy to the touch. She closed her eyes and felt the world around her fade out and her body went rigid.

What came next was a black swirling mist that twisted and coiled around her before clearing and showing her exactly what Harry was seeing and feeling.

Except she was on the side lines, watching it through what looked like a window. Only the window did not have glass, instead the air shimmered in front of her like an invisible wall. She peered through to see Harry on his hands and knees, panting for air and a tall thin man standing over him.

“Tell me!” screamed Voldemort, pointing his wand at Harry, “Tell me what it said!”

“No.” came Harry’s voice. He was quiet and sounded weak.

“CRUCIO!” Voldemort screamed, waving his wand. Lottie watched as Harry’s body twisted under the curse, her blood running cold. Anger washed over her as she watched Voldemort torturing him. She slapped a hand on to the invisible window blocking her from entering Harry’s mind. The window shook under her hand, breaking Lottie from her focus on Harry, to the glass that had now appeared under her hand. Lottie raised an eyebrow.

“Tell me Potter!” Voldemort warned. “I have seen your fears. I will come there and find you myself, murdering anyone who stands in my way. Do you want that?”

Harry shook his head.

“Tell me what it said.”

Lottie watched on, waiting for her moment.

“No.” Harry whispered.

Lottie saw a flash of red in his eyes as Voldemort slowly raised his wand again. Before he had time to utter a spell, Lottie raised her hand again and smashed through the glass, causing Voldemort to look at her in shock. He had not been expecting visitors.

“Oh?” he asked, tilting his head to one side, sounding almost amused. “And who might you be?”

Lottie clambered through the window and could hear the crunching of glass under her feet as she walked towards them. Her heart was hammering in her chest and she could hear the rapid beating in her ears.

“Gatekeeper.” She told him, steadying her voice. She was staring at the man that had taken everything from her. Emotions were threatening to burst out from every part of her body. She clenched her fists and could feel her nails digging into the palms of her hands. It was painful and she was sure she had pierced the skin, but it kept her grounded.   

“Gatekeeper?” Voldemort repeated.

Lottie nodded slowly, not breaking eye contact with him. If she had any hope of successfully breaking this connection, her eyes could not leave his. “It’s time for you to go.” She growled.

Voldemort let out a laugh that made the hairs stand up on the back of her neck. “Go? I don’t think so. I have a few more questions for our young friend here…” he said, waving his hand towards Harry.

Out of her peripheral, she could see Harry was unmoving and curled up. Something that looked suspiciously like blood was starting to pool around him. A feeling of dread rose from the pit of her stomach. She blocked it out, trying to reassure herself that Harry was fine. She needed to concentrate. Anger quickly replaced her fear, coursing through her veins and she felt herself shaking with rage.

“I wasn’t asking.” Lottie told him and with a surge of energy, she summoned everything she had, clearing her mind and Harry’s. She threw out her hands out, palms facing Voldemort and locked her elbows in defence.

There was a flash of light and the connection broke. Lottie watched as Voldemort’, screeching with rage, whipped out of sight, but not before she caught a glimpse of his mind. She recognised the image immediately; specifically, the horses quietly grazing nearby.

Horror and panic filled her, and she broke her connection to Harry’s mind. She had to warn them.  

***

“My L-Lord?” asked Bellatrix, edging towards her master. He had been silent whilst in the mind of the Potter boy, but he had just let out a scream of rage that made the ring of Death Eaters standing behind him, inch back in fear.  

Voldemort hissed venomously as Nagini twisted dangerously next to him. He remained silent, his mind recounting everything he had just seen.

“My Lord?” Lucius hesitated.

“Break the barrier.” Voldemort commanded menacingly, “Find Potter and his blonde-haired friend and bring them to me. Kill the rest.”

“The blonde-haired friend?” repeated Bellatrix, staring at Voldemort with wild eyes.   

“Are my instructions difficult for you to understand Bellatrix?”

“No, my Lord… of course not.” Bellatrix bowed her head.

Voldemort stared at her before slowly and menacingly turning on the spot to examine the rest of the group.

“Do I need to tell you twice?” Voldemort demanded, waving his arm towards the targeted area.

The Death Eaters flinched, and quickly raised their wands.

Disgusted at the sight of their cowardice, Voldemort turned and watched as a variety of spells shot up and curved down, smashing into the invisible protective barrier around the Burrow.  

***

“Lottie!” Remus gasped, catching her as she fell backwards. Her hand had shot backwards like she had received an electric shock from Harry, knocking her off balance and causing her to fall sideways. “What happened?”

Harry had finally settled and was still, but the wounds on his body were still very real.

Struggling to catch her breath, “You-Know-Who!” she panted. “You have to go, all of you…” Lottie glanced around the room. “NOW!”

Lottie scrambled up, using Remus as a leaning post and ran to Ron’s window. “Oh god…”

Everyone joined Lottie at the window, and she could hear the sharp intakes of breath. They all watched as the spells rained down on the barrier and as soon as they made contact, the sound was deafening. The barrier was crackling. It looked like an electrical storm outside.

“We don’t have much time…” Lottie murmured, causing the window to fog up.

“Lottie, what do you mean You-Know-Who?” Sirius grabbed her arm and turned her around. “What happened to Harry!”

“Sirius, I will explain everything, but we do not have time right now!” Lottie urged. “We have to leave. Right now. We have minutes!”  

“No…” Remus shot, “No, we’ll stay. We can fight him.”

“Remus, I don’t think you’re grasping this.” Lottie closed her eyes in exasperation, “He is out there, breaking through that barrier and we are outnumbered by at least…” she looked around the room. “By at least five. Is there somewhere else we can go?”

“Lottie’s right, Remus.” Mr Weasley agreed, looking at his wife and children. “We are outnumbered.”

“We are. And we do not know the extent of the damage to Harry. We have to leave and get him away to safety!” Lottie implored.

Remus nodded, glancing at Sirius.

“We can go to mine. It’s still protected by the Fidelius Charm.” Sirius said quickly.

“Right, everyone…you have exactly one minute to grab what you need.” ordered Lottie, scanning the room. Her eyes fell on Fred and George who had made towards the door. “BY SUMMONING THEM!” she yelled.

The twins froze and turned bright red, before taking out their wands. “Good grief, boys.” Lottie shook her head and turned to Ron and Hermione. “Will you take Harry’s things?” The two friends nodded and began summoning Harry’s possessions.

While everyone summoned their things, shoving as much as they could into Hermione’s beaded bag. She walked over to Harry and her stomach twisted. He was in bad shape.

“Remus, Sirius…” she mumbled. They joined her side. “Take him.”

The men nodded and lifted Harry up, very carefully. Harry let out a groan which sliced through Lottie like a knife. She shook her head and turned away from them. She needed to focus.

Suddenly, panic filled her. “Oscar!” she gasped. Lottie ran to the window, held out her hand, closed her eyes and made a fist. Within seconds, her bag and tent appeared followed by a terrified orange ball, outside the window. She grabbed them all and pulled them into the room.

“Charlie!” Lottie handed Oscar over to him. “Take him with you, would you?”

“And this…” she asked, putting her tent in the small rucksack and pulling the drawstrings tight. “My entire life is in that bag, so please be careful... And Hermione isn’t the only one who knows how to perform an extendable charm.” She added, noticing his raised eyebrow. Charlie nodded and took the bag from her.

“Right times up!” Lottie declared. “Sirius, where am I going?”

“Oh right –” Sirius began.

“Sirius, just think it.”

 Lottie closed her eyes and picked up on Sirius’ thoughts. Number 12, Grimmauld Place.

“Got it.” Lottie confirmed. “Right, come on, we have to get going.”

Another clattering bang went off and everyone jumped. They were out of time.  

“Shit!” Lottie ran to the window and threw her hands up, conjuring a giant shield that shimmered around the house, to deflect the spells that were now coming in thick and fast. “You have to go! I’ll be right behind you!”  

“Here take this!” Hermione, recognising the look on Lottie’s face, left the invisibility cloak on the floor by Lottie’s feet.

“We’re not going without you!”

“Go!” She yelled back Remus.

“But!” Remus protested.

“Moony, she’s right! We have to go!” Sirius was struggling with Harry. “Come on!”

Lottie battled against the spells bouncing off her shielding charm. Her arms were beginning to vibrate with the force.

“Go, I’ll hold them off! GO!”

Lottie heard the distinctive sound that told her that she was now alone in the room. She glanced down at the floor and could see the invisibility cloak shimmering in the light. She would have seconds between breaking the spell and grabbing the cloak. She looked out of the window and could see people appearing in the garden, fighting against her shielding charm. They were looking up at her; they knew her location. Lottie gulped.

It was now or never.

She brought her hands together with a loud clap that sent out a shockwave, to buy her a little more time. She did not wait to see if it had worked by knocking down the attackers. Instead, she darted to the cloak and whipped it around her and turned to disapparate on the spot. As she did, she froze mid turn as she saw a wild looking woman appear at the window with long, black wavy hair. If she apparated now, this woman would hear it and if her timing and precision were right, would be able to follow Lottie.

Lottie’s muscles tensed and her mouth ran dry. Her heart was pounding in her ears and eyes. Think.

Evade.


Lottie disapparated on the spot and appeared in a forest. It was dark, dense and considerably colder than the Burrow. She knew she was near Hogwarts, because she had camped here once when there had been a sighting of Sirius Black near Dufftown four years ago. She had come here then, and it was one of her many failed attempts to get to Harry.

Not stopping to see if she was being followed, she apparated to a spot fifty feet in front of her and then again before disapparating somewhere new. This time, she appeared in Barcelona on La Rambla. It was late at night, but the street was still alive with tourists and locals and provided the perfect cover. She apparated three times down the street until she got to the other end. A few people had turned at the sound of the noise but after seeing nothing, they all carried on with their evening. Lottie took a moment to peer down the street. Convinced she had lost her trail, she walked quickly but carefully under the cloak and down a side street and disapparated once more. This time, appearing in central London. She blended into the crowd cautiously and walked for a few moments before disappearing down another side street.

Glancing around, she turned once more on the spot and appeared on the top step of Number 12, Grimmauld Place. Lottie stared at the door for a moment. It had no handle, just a large, silver twisted snake knocker on the front. She tilted her head to one side and looked at it curiously. She held a small hand up to the door and gently pressed her palm against it. She heard a series of clicks and the door opened. Raising both her eyebrows, she slipped inside and let out the breath that she had not realised she had been holding.

Lottie took a moment to lean against the cool, solid wall. She leant her head against it and closed her eyes, letting her heartrate come back down to a normal rhythm. She was not in Brooklyn anymore, that much was true.

Coming to her senses, she turned her head to look down the long hallway. There were a series of paintings on the walls along side a few large, dark, floor-to-ceiling oak doors. She could hear voices coming from the other end of the hall where there was a grand staircase and another oak door. The place gave her the chills.

Lottie approached the door at the end of the hallway slowly and quietly. She still felt on edge from the earlier attack and so was mentally preparing herself for round two.

She paused at the end of the hallway, listening for a familiar voice. She found her eyes following the grand staircase up to the upper floors. How far up it went, she was not sure. She strained her ears and when she heard Sirius’ frantic voice, she calmed and opened the door immediately at the end of the corridor.

Lottie glanced down at the stone steps and began her decent.

“We need a healer, Remus! I can’t control this bleeding!” Sirius’ voice broke.

Remus, Sirius, Mr and Mrs Weasley, Charlie, Bill and Fleur were all crowded around Harry, who was lying at the far end of the long wooden table. Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Fred and George were all huddled together in a corner watching on helplessly.

Lottie rushed in. “I can help with that.”

“Lottie!” came the cries of everyone in the room.

Remus rushed over to her and pulled her into a bone crushing hug. “What took you so long!” he chastised.

“That Voldemort’s a treat, isn’t he?” Lottie muttered, ignoring Remus’ question and breaking from the hug. She walked over to Harry and stared down at him. The bleeding was not as bad as it had been, but he was still unconscious and he was shaking.

“We need a healer.” Sirius told her.

“Well I know a bit…” she murmured, “But I’m going to need Tinks.”

“Tinks?” Sirius frowned.

Lottie glanced up at Sirius and nodded. “Tinks?” she called out.

There was a crack and a house elf appeared out of nowhere at the other end of the kitchen. Lottie smiled.

Everyone else just stared. Lottie had closed her mind off ever since Harry’s nightmare so could not quite tell what they were thinking but the looks of confusion were telling enough.

“Everyone, meet Tinks.” Lottie announced. “Tinks, I need your help.”

The house elf nodded and hurried over. She was quite small, but well dressed in a pale pink dress, with long sleeves and matching shoes. “Miss Lottie, whatever has happened!” exclaimed Tinks, clambering up on to the chair and then table.

“Harry was attacked in his sleep. Several rounds of the cruiciatus curse and whatever spell caused these wounds. I can’t tell what’s caused it though… can you?”

Tinks peered at the deep wounds and welts all over Harry’s body and shook her head. “Oh Miss Lottie… your poor brother. I am not sure, I would need to investigate. Do you have your kit with you?”

Lottie nodded and her eyes found Charlie who was no longer holding her cat or bag. She frowned until Charlie nodded his head towards kitchen door where her bag was sitting on the floor. She summoned her bag and began rummaging around in it before pulling out a large black canvas bag. She handed it to Tinks who opened it immediately, pulling out a long thin metal pipe. She held it a foot above Harry’s head and then let go. It glowed a faint green and remained in the air before slowly moving across his body, scanning it as it went.

“This will tell us everything we need to know.” Lottie reassured Sirius.

Sirius nodded, his face pale.

“Sirius, are you sure we’re safe here?” Lottie questioned.

“Absolutely.” He croaked.

Lottie felt herself relax slightly and opened her mind, before closing it off quickly. If she thought they had had questions earlier, it was nothing compared to now.

“I should notify the order.” Mr Weasley stated. “We’ll need to brief them and they’ll want to ask questions…”

“Mr Weasley, I don’t disagree with you. But please, let me sort Harry before I undergo a second round of questioning…please.” Lottie pleaded.

“Lottie, it’s not going to be a questioning...”

“Yes, it will be. I know you all have questions. Not only about me, but about what’s just happened.” She replied, “and that’s absolutely understandable. But please, understand that I cannot focus on anything until Harry is okay…”

Mr Weasley nodded. “Of course.”

“I think we are safe for tonight. Perhaps first thing in the morning?” Lottie suggested.

“That sounds reasonable.” Remus placed an arm around Lottie and gave her a reassuring squeeze.

A gentle beeping sound brought them all back to Harry. The metal bar had finished scanning his body and projected a report of his symptoms.


Exposure to the cruiciatus curse – suggested treatment; plenty of rest alongside the use of sleeping potion.
Significant bruising to 70%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% of the body – suggested
treatment; bruisewort balm
Two broken ribs – suggested treatment; bone mending spell
Significant cuts to 50%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% of the body – suggested treatment; vulnera sanentur, murtlap essence, and blood replenishing potion


Lottie read the list and sighed. “Let’s get to work, Tinks.”

Tinks nodded vigorously, her ears flapping, and began pulling out various items from the black canvas bag.

***

“You mean to tell me… that they all escaped?” whispered Voldemort, walking among the wreckage of the Burrow.

The Death Eaters were all standing in a semi-circle, with their heads bowed.

“And you… you couldn’t keep up with the blonde-haired girl?” Voldemort hissed at Bellatrix.

“M-My L-Lord…”

“SILENCE!”

The Death Eaters trembled in their formation.

“Once again, you have allowed yourselves to be outwitted by a bunch of blood traitors and children. You disappoint me…”

No one spoke.

“CRUCIO!”

The air was filled with screams as Voldemort punished his followers. Eventually he relented and he watched as they all crumbled to the floor in weeping heaps.

“You disgust me. Get out of my sight.”

One by one, the Death Eaters disapparated with a puff of smoke.

Voldemort held out his arm. “Come Nagini, we must think of a new plan…”

With a crack like a whip, he and the snake disapparated into the night.

***

 



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