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Wish You Were Here by Kriztal

Format: Novella
Chapters: 3
Word Count: 16,548
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Contains Spoilers

Genres: Drama, Romance
Characters: Harry, Sirius, OC
Pairings: Sirius/OC, Harry/Ginny, Harry/OC

First Published: 05/31/2008
Last Chapter: 11/01/2008
Last Updated: 11/01/2008

Summary:




Harry finds a series of hidden letters that seem to be writen by Sirius' long lost love. As he embarks on a journey to discover some of his godfather's best kept secrets, he ends up discovering some things about himself he didn't knew where there on the first place.

I want to thank the amazing Musicbox @ TDA qho made the lovely banner!


Chapter 1: Yesterday's Letters
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Disclaimer: The characters and places you recognize are product of J.K. Rowling's utter genius; the rest, is all mine.
Disclaimer 2: The tittle of this stoy comes after Pink Floyd's song "Whish You Were Here". The tittle of this chapter is inspired in The Rolling Stones' song "Yesterdays' Papers".



Chapter One: Yesterday's Letters


20 June 1994

Dear Sirius,

I have to admit: I’ve written and rewritten this letter about a thousand times over the past thirteen years, always hoping for the time to finally send it. Words can’t express my complete sorrow and guilt. I know you expected more of me. I did try; I swear. After He killed James and Lily and my world fell apart, I attempted to reach you, to look into your eyes, and ask you if you really were their Secret Keeper. I went to Dumbledore for help, but he told me there were more than twenty eyewitnesses and they had all identified you as guilty. Sirius, I was so lost. I couldn’t believe it. But everything pointed toward you--even Remus, for Merlin’s sake! Even he was convinced of your guilt in their murder. And somehow, I gave up. I went to Dumbledore for the last time, told him I was retiring from the Order, and asked him to reach me when the truth finally came out. I still remember his last look. He said to me that it was unwise to linger in a hopeless limbo and that accepting the truth was the first step to healing. I know this all sounds like a lame excuse, and you may be right, but I have to make you understand. I wanted to fight--for you and for us, but my fuel, my main motivation in life turned out to be a mass murderer. I was left with nothing, no one to rely on. The person I trusted most was sent to Azkaban. I hope someday you’ll be able to understand what I went through and forgive me. Now, thirteen years have come and gone, and finally I have received the letter I’ve longed for for so many years. I still can’t believe Pettigrew was behind it all, feeding You-Know-Who information about us since God knows when and betraying James and Lily like that. I hope I get the chance to get back with that traitor before I die; he deserves to suffer for everything he took from us. Deep down I always knew you were innocent. I just hope you don’t hate me for giving up on you. All these years, I’ve felt as if I handed you to the Dementors myself. There is so much I want to tell you. I would like to see you. Please think about it.

Yours forever,

Iz


***


5 August 1994

Dear Sirius,

Thank you for writing back. I didn’t expect you to be warm and kind after all these years, so that’s alright. Just keep writing to me, OK? That’s all I ask for. I hope you are having a nice time, wherever you are. You certainly deserve it. Have you thought about my proposition about seeing each other? I’m living in France now. Maybe you could come by and visit? We’ll take all the precautions necessary to ensure your safety.

Now to answer your questions. I’m fine. I’m the proud owner of a small bookstore specializing in rare, antique books. Business is pretty good. I have great clients all over the world, and I get to travel around continental Europe to acquire copies of unique volumes. I haven’t contacted anyone from the old days. After what happened, I pretty much disappeared. It wasn’t easy at first. I missed everyone, especially Lily. Knowing that she was dead made everything so much harder. Dumbledore is the only one who has known where I’ve been all this time. I’ve been writing to him occasionally, asking about random things, especially Harry’s fate. He doesn’t give much news about Harry, though; always the stoic “fine.” He has always been a bit mysterious about Harry’s whereabouts, which is perfectly understandable. I’m quite sure Harry won’t be completely safe until You-Know-Who is dead, and we both know he is still alive somewhere.

Take care, Sirius. Please be careful. I’ve read the news. They’re still looking all over for you, contacting the people from those days and asking awkward questions. It won’t be long before they come knocking at my door. If they actually manage to find me, that is. Don’t worry. You can trust me. I hope that in spite of everything, you still do. Have a nice vacation. I hope you finally get a decent tan.

With all my love,

Your Iz


***


16 September 1994

Dear Sirius,

I haven’t received any news from you since July, and I’m getting a bit worried. I hope you are OK. I guess it isn’t easy for you to send post. So until you can, I’ll just keep writing. You know--keeping communication channels open even if it is a one-way channel.

Recently, all kinds of memories have been coming back, both happy and sad. I feel that I have so many unfinished chapters in my life. I need some healing, Sirius, and I’m sure you do, too. Please think about my offer. Let me see you just one more time.

Take care,

Iz



***



5 November 1994

Dear Sirius,

I understand your silence of all those months. Don’t worry about it. I must say, I’m not sure going back to the UK was such a good idea. I know you feel compelled to watch over Harry. I also think that if you get caught and sent back to Azkaban, you will not be such a great godfather. Please reconsider it. Harry is at Hogwarts, under Dumbledore’s permanent care. Nothing will happen to Harry while Dumbledore is at the school. I know that the chance of all that happened at the Triwizard Tournament being just an accident or coincidence is quite slim, but are you sure you need to be there?

In your last letter, you said you might be passing through France. Does that mean we can see each other?

Although he doesn’t remember me, or even know anything about my existence, quietly send all my love to Harry.

Iz


***



21 January 1995

Dear Sirius,

It took you a while to write back, but I’m glad you finally did. I imagine it must be awful living in that smelly, cold cavern. I trust you are taking all precautions for your safety. But, I know you are a skilled wizard and a mastermind at concealment, so I’m sure you’re able to pass incognito. I still don’t know how was it that you and James managed to sneak around Hogsmeade so often without being caught. You once promised you’d tell me sometime. I hope you’ll stick to that.

I completely understand your responsibility toward Harry right now, so I know we won’t be able to see each other until the tournament is over. I’ll be waiting for you. I have been for almost fourteen years now. Speaking of Harry, how is he?

Take care,

Yours lovingly,

Iz


PS: I saw a picture of you in a “Wanted” announcement published in The Prophet the other day. You look awful with your hair so long. On the other hand, you look devilishly sexy with that “bad guy” look you’ve managed to develop.


***



29 March 1995

Dearest,

You remembered my birthday! Thank you for the roses. They’re lovely.

I’m thrilled to know Harry has been doing OK and receiving high marks at the tournament. Whoever set him up to get enrolled in those bloody games must be quite disappointed. I’m relieved to know that he has you as a guardian angel.

I wish I could be there with you, keeping you company at least. I’m quite confident this nightmare will be soon over and all wizards will be able to live in tranquillity. You’ll be cleared of all charges, and we will be able to see each other again in the open and live the rest of our lives in that cottage by the lake as we planned. Dreams are nice, huh?

Take care.

Yours,

Iz




***



25 June 1995



What do you mean He is back?

Care to elaborate?



***



28 June 1995

Sirius,

I received a letter from Dumbledore, too. I’m not going back. My life is here now. I won’t budge. I’m sorry. Maybe you expected more of me, but I’m staying in France. If I can be of any assistance to the Order here, then I will gladly help.

I guess this means we won’t be seeing each other over the summer as you promised.

Take care,

Iz


***



2 October 1995



I think I did all I could when I received Hagrid here for a few days. I’m sorry to disappoint you again, but I’m not going back to England. Please, stop asking.



Isabel




***

26 December 1995

Happy Christmas!

Iz



***



31 March 1996

Sirius,

Thank you for the book. You are right; it is quite the jewel. And don’t worry; I would never dream of selling it. My birthday was fine. Thank you for asking. I had a nice celebration organized by some of my friends. It was a bit quiet, but it was OK.

I’m glad you keep writing to me. Believe me, it is very important to receive news from you. I like to read your stories about the latest events and your thoughts on the current situation. You know perfectly well that I care about you very much. But please, I would like you to stop asking me to go back. I can’t go back, Sirius. I have things going on here; responsibilities. I’m not that young anymore, and I can’t throw caution to the wind as I did fourteen years ago.

I don’t mind you telling Remus I’m still alive and well. I consider him my friend too. Tell him I’m sorry for leaving as I did, and that I promise that someday I will explain my reasons. If he wants to write to me, I would be more than delighted to hear from him. Please, send him my love and best wishes.

Bye,

Iz


***



28 May 1996

Dear Sirius,

You deserve a more elaborate explanation. I’m not sure why I didn’t tell you this before. It is quite an important thing. I have a daughter, Sirius. Her name is Pauline, and she’s thirteen years old.

She’s a great kid. She smiles all the time. She’s funny and intelligent. She makes great marks at school and seems to be quite popular among the boys. She is the most beautiful girl I’ve ever known. I wish you could meet her; you two would get along. She’s just like you in so many ways. Her laid-back attitude and lack of caution remind me so much of you.

So, there you go. That’s the main reason why I can’t go back to London. I have a daughter, and I have to take care of her. I’m not on my own anymore. I have to be responsible for her, and I can’t allow myself to be put into a situation where my girl could be left without a mother. You probably think it’s so cowardly of me, and you may be right. But I remember well what happened when James and Lily died and left their only son alone in the world. I remember when Bellatrix and her gang tortured Alice and Frank, driving them to insanity and leaving behind a worse-than-orphaned son. So much for being brave! I won’t have my daughter go through that. If you had children, you would know what it is like. You do have Harry, though, so you must have at least a shrewd idea.

I beg of you one last time, please stop asking me to go back. It has nothing to do with you. It’s not that I’m afraid of seeing you or anyone else for that matter. How could I be afraid to see you? Sirius, I love you. After all these years, I’m still very much in love with you. Nothing could ever change that. But my situation is different than it was last time. My life is different. I’m different. But while I have changed over the past fourteen years, my love for you remains unchanged. So please, don’t think for even a moment that I don’t want to see you again. I do with all my being long to see you.

I’m sorry, Sirius. I hope you’ll be able to understand someday.

Your Iz.


***



Harry watched Hermione as she finished reading the pack of letters he had given her half an hour earlier. Ron was sitting besides her, reading over her shoulder. As Hermione set down the last page, Harry asked her what she thought of it all.

Right after finding the letters and reading them thoroughly, Harry decided that this was a matter he should share with his two best friends in the hope they would help him decipher what it all meant. He had promised Ginny to spend the afternoon with her, so he felt a bit guilty about being in Ron and Hermione’s flat at the time, but somehow hoped Ginny would understand once he filled her in the situation. She seemed a bit edgy as of late, so while Hermione and Ron read the letters, he tried to come up with excuses and rehearse a credible story to explain her what was so important that he had to stop by Ron and Hermione’s before meeting her at the park as they had agreed. To many, finding these sort of letters would be just a cute discovery or some sort of gossip, but to Harry it meant having proof that Sirius Black once existed, had a real life and had been happy. He just had to find out about Isabel and Sirius; he had to know if his suspicions were accurate. Who else to clear his thoughts but his faithful friends and confidents? He just hoped Ginny would share his feelings on the matter.

Harry kept looking at an intrigued Hermione and asked her once more to share her thoughts.

Ron, however, considered his input on the matter far more appropriate, so he cut off his fiancée’s reply and responded, “I guess Sirius wasn’t the lone wolf we thought he was.”

Hermione kept looking at Harry. On her face was the calculating look she adopted every time she was trying to solve a problem. It was so easy to read Hermione’s calculating face; he could even see the wheels turning in her head.

“So, Hermione, what do you think?” Harry pressed on, ignoring Ron’s last intervention.

“I’m not sure,” was all she said.

“What are you talking about?” Ron demanded. “It’s obvious this Isabel-lady and Sirius were an item.”

“That part was quite obvious, Ron.” Hermione sighed. “Didn’t you read her last letter?”

“Of course, I did. That was the part where she told him she still loved him and all that corny crap. I still don’t get why it’s such a huge thing. Sirius used to have a girlfriend a million years ago. So what?”

“She has a daughter, Ron!” Hermione exclaimed, exasperated.

“A thirteen-year-old daughter,” Harry explained. “She had a thirteen-year-old daughter in 1996.”

“So? I still don’t get what the fuss is about. Sirius’s ex happens to have a thirteen-year-old daughter, and that brings you running to our flat on a Sunday? You should be enjoying the nice day with Ginny or something.”

Harry couldn’t help feeling a slight pang of guilt after Ron’s words, but dismissed the feeling quickly. He had more pressing and important matters that his rendez-vous with his fiancée.

“Do I have to explain everything to you?” Hermione asked. “If this Isabel-person had a thirteen-year-old daughter in 1996 and dated Sirius until late 1981, the girl could perfectly well be Sirius’s daughter.”

“Don’t you think we would’ve heard something about it before? I mean, if Sirius received this letter and did the same math you just did, he would’ve suspected the girl was his. In that case, he must’ve investigated the matter further and solved the mystery. He probably did. He must have written back to Isabel asking her if the child was his. And, since we never heard anything about Sirius having a long-lost daughter, I guess the girl must have a father somewhere in France!” Ron exclaimed in a triumphant tone.

“Things aren’t that simple,” responded Harry. “The letter was written in late May just a few days before Sirius died. Maybe he didn’t get the chance to ask her properly if she was his. Or, maybe he did write her back asking whether the girl was his daughter but just wasn’t around to receive the reply. I reckon owls don’t make special deliveries beyond the Veil.” Harry growled back growing impatient.

“Harry’s right.” Responded Hermione dismissing Harry’s Veil remark. “I imagine Sirius would’ve taken his time to respond to this last letter, trying to figure out the best way to ask her. One does not simply ask questions like that so easily.”

“Why not?” Ron demanded.

“Because,” Hermione said, rolling her eyes, “it’s a touchy subject. Besides, there are no other letters from her. That must have been the last time they communicated.”

"Still," Ron added, "a lot of time had passed, like thirteen years?" He asked as he counted with his fingers. "And after everything that happened I guess they were mature enough to address the matter calmly, by letter. It is obvious that they did not plan on seeing each other soon; Sirius kept postponing his trip to France by what we can read in the letters. And besides, we all knew Sirius, he wasn’t going to wait until Voldemort decided to drop dead to go and ask Isabel personally if the girl was his daughter... I bet he just wrote her back and asked directly who the father was. That is, if he even suspected the girl to be his."

"Oh, Ronald, please. One does not simply write letters like that. If I were to become pregnant with your child, and not tell you, do you think is something to discuss over a letter? Or would you prefer to meet me and discuss the issue personally?"

Ron went silent, Harry grinned when his best friend’s ears became completely red. It always happened when he felt uncomfortable; he guessed mentioning the possibility of children fell fully into the description. After a few seconds, Hermione spoke again.

"I thought so." She sighed grinning.

“But still, in his will, he left everything to Harry,” Ron interjected evidently trying to change the subject. “If he had a daughter, don’t you think he would’ve left everything to her, instead of him?”

“We don’t know when exactly Sirius made his will,” Hermione continued. “He could’ve left everything to Harry ages before he even received this letter. Or if he wrote the will shortly before his death and knew of the existence of…” Hermione rummaged through the letters. “Pauline, he still wouldn’t have been sure the girl was his. So why change his will to leave everything to a girl who could be related to some Frenchman, as you said? It wasn’t as if Sirius knew he was going to die.”

“Yes, I get your point. But remember Dumbledore said that the house had been charmed by Sirius’ dad so that it would only pass to a Black descendant? Since the last of the blacks died, the house could pass to Harry, otherwise it wouldn’t have.” Ron added.

“Ron, you got it wrong,” smiled Hermione. “It was charmed by Sirius’ dad but the charm was broken when Sirius wrote the will. The house could’ve still passed to Bellatrix or Narcissa. They were Blacks as well.”

“Well not really, they were married to other pure-blood blokes. They were known as Bellatrix Lestrange and Narcissa Malfoy, in case you forgotten. Maybe the charm only worked for people wearing Black as a last name.” He sneered.

“C’mon Ronald. You’re just being stubborn. If that was the case, the house wouldn’t have passed to Isabel’s daughter either. She wasn’t christened as a Black you know. It was a matter of blood not last names.”

“We don’t know that. Isabel wasn’t specific about the girl’s last name in her letters. Calling her Pauline Black would’ve been quite a give away being that she didn’t want Sirius to know she had a daughter!”

“We don’t know that either. Maybe Isabel was waiting for Sirius to go to France and tell him the news in person in stead of writing it on a piece of paper. I guess that’s why she insisted so much on seeing him once more. She wanted to tell him personally that he was a father. That’s what I would’ve done, what any girl would’ve done. But being that things back then were so complicated with Voldemort being back and fighting a silent war with the Order, the Sirius-Isabel encounter seemed farther and farther; so maybe she decided she better tell him by mail. I guess this was the entrée for the big news.”

“And,” Harry added, “Isabel says that the girl is just like him in so many ways! It’s a not-very-discreet way of hinting that the girl is Sirius’s daughter,” he concluded, as if settling the matter.

“I’m still not sure. What about Dumbledore? He must’ve known Isabel had a daughter. He would’ve done something,” Ron insisted.

“Well, not really,” Hermione said after thinking about Ron’s last statement. “She said Dumbledore knew where she was and where to find her in case Sirius was released, but that doesn’t mean he knew she had a daughter.”

“But, Hermione, she said she used to correspond with Dumbledore. She obviously trusted him if she made sure he still knew where she was. She would’ve confided in him.”

Harry and Hermione stared at each other, thinking. It was true. Ron had a point. Dumbledore seemed to be the only person whom she trusted. If she had been pregnant with Sirius’s baby, the logical thing to do would have been to tell Dumbledore. And besides, Dumbledore always seemed to know everything about everyone; now, years after his death, Harry knew it had nothing to do with Dumbledore’s skill as a legillimens or unknown clairvoyance powers, it was just because he was trustworthy and even more, he elated wisdom which always motivated people to confide in him.

"Ron has a point Hermione," Harry sighed, "I’m almost sure Dumbledore knew many things about Isabel’s life. Just think how it must’ve been at the time. Sirius was in Azkaban, my parents were killed, Pettigrew had been supposedly murdered by Sirius... If Isabel became pregnant of Pauline before Sirius was imprisoned, the whole situation would’ve been more than overwhelming. I guess that she needed a lot of support and by what she says in her letter, the person she turned to was Dumbledore. Now that I think about it, it makes even more sense that Pauline is Sirius´ daughter!

"Listen to this," Harry began excitedly, "Isabel learns she’s pregnant with Sirius´ child. She is sure Sirius couldn’t have been responsible for my parent’s and Wormtail´s death, but nobody listens to her. Everybody is going to act weird towards her if they learn about her pregnancy; either because they are going to treat her condescendingly or because they will assume that Isabel had something to do with Sirius´ crimes as well, so they are going to treat her and the child as the relatives of a terrible criminal. There was no way she could’ve raised Pauline in such environment. So she tells Dumbledore that she has to flee the country, asks him to never reveal the fact that Sirius was going to be a parent and leaves without a trace."

"I think Harry is right," Ron agreed. "I imagine Dumbledore swore never to tell anyone about Pauline. And when Sirius escaped from Azkaban he just warned Isabel and expected her to deal with the matter. It is logical that Dumbledore would’ve avoided to meddle in the matter, it was something between Isabel and Sirius alone."

“The funny thing is,” Hermione said suddenly, “that they corresponded for more than a year, and she didn’t tell him about her daughter until her last letter. That’s a bit suspicious, if you ask me. If Dumbledore did know she had a daughter but chose to remain silent, and she seemed quite reluctant to admit the fact to Sirius, it probably because she was completely determined to keep Pauline’s existence a secret. Maybe she never intended Sirius to know about her daughter, or to tell him in completely different circumstances."

“There could be a lot of reasons for hiding the girl’s existence. We don’t know why she avoided telling Sirius about the girl for so long, as you say, they corresponded for almost two years. What if she had an affair with someone else and got pregnant? Then the girl wouldn’t have been Sirius’s daughter, and that would be an embarrassing thing to admit. I mean, imagine writing to your long-lost lover and saying, ‘Hello, I miss you so much, and I still love you. By the way, I was unfaithful to you and got pregnant with another bloke’s baby. I hope it’s OK!’ That’s just ridiculous,” Ron snorted.

“Yeah,” Hermione managed to utter as she dwelled in her thoughts.

“No!” exclaimed Harry with disgust. “In her last letter, she told him she was still head-over-heels in love with him, and it sounds believable. She didn’t cheat on Sirius! As I already told you, I bet she got pregnant right before Voldemort murdered my parents and never had the chance to tell him. Then fourteen years later, she just didn’t know how to tell him and was waiting for the perfect time. It makes sense. As Hermione said, that’s why she wanted him to go to France to visit her. It’s the sort of thing you say in person.”

This last explanation left Ron silent. He stared at Harry with a suspicious look, not saying anything.

“You are right, Harry,” Hermione finally said, startling him. She had been silent for so long, he had almost forgotten she was still there. “I think Pauline is Sirius’s daughter.”

“How is it that you found those letters anyway?” Ron demanded.

“I’ve been thinking of selling Number Twelve Grimmauld Place for the last couple of months. I don’t like it there; it reminds me of how miserable Sirius was when he was forced to stay. So, I went to see what it was like. It’s been almost five years since the last time I visited the place, and let me tell you, it’s a complete disaster. I thought some cleaning was in order. I began by taking the things I think I’ll keep for myself: mostly Sirius’s belongings.

“By the way, Hermione, do you think there’s a way of removing Sirius’s mother portrait, the family tree and all the Black paraphernalia? I’m sure no one in his right mind would be willing to buy it unless it’s Black-free.”

“Hmm… I don’t think so, Harry. I remember Sirius saying that if he could, he would remove those portraits, but he never managed to do it.”

“You could use The Elder Wand, you know,” Ron piped in

“I’d rather not,” Harry explained. “Not for something like this.”

“Well, it’s not like you need the money Harry.” Ron began, “you could put it out for sale for half the price and say to the potential buyers you are willing to give up a series of magical relics because you don’t want the house to loose its original grandeur. It’ll look like the bargain of the century. It’s all about merchandising mate.”

“What?” Hermione laughed. “And when they actually buy the house and get tired of Mrs. Black’s constant compliments what are they going to do? Harry will appear as a slimy swindler!”

“Harry? Never. He’s the savior of the world, remember? No one would even dare to accuse him of tricking people into buying houses in his spare time.”

“I guess you could sell it to the Ministry of Magic and make the house a museum or a war memorial,” Hermione pointed out.

“Or, you can sell it to Draco Malfoy. He’ll love the pure-blood décor of the place. And I’m sure Mrs. Black would just be thrilled to see him, they’ll be great pals.” Chuckled Ron.

Harry laughed at Ron’s last comment. He pictured the idea of showing his godfather’s house to the Malfoys, it sure sounded like a plan. “It’s Ok, guys. I’ll figure it out on my own. Getting back to the point, I found the letters under a false plank,”

Harry arrived to Number 12, Grimmauld Place on a windy morning. He looked up at the familiar building and wondered how on Earth he was to convince anyone to buy the place. He walked in and gladly found that the spell Moody casted to repel Snape had been lifted; probably due to the death of the later. The house was dusty as ever and he wondered what would’ve been Kreacher’s reaction upon seeing the abandoned place. Thank God he desisted of the idea of inviting him along when he decided to sell the house. It also smelled funny, like old socks, burnt pots and humidity. As he walked through the house, he realized he was leaving tracks behind him; the five-year dust that now inhabited the house had formed a thick layer that resembled the first coat of snow that falls in the winter. At that point he decided he was going to hire the magical cleaning company the state agent had suggested after all; there was no way in hell he was going to devote his free time to clean this place. Let professionals do the dirty job, literally.

He tried to make as little noise as possible; he dreaded Mrs. Black’s rants and mostly felt completely against the idea of running to her portrait to stun her angered face. He entered the kitchen, the place that had once been the meeting haven of the Order of the Phoenix was now a mere deposit for old pans, rotten potatoes, rock-hard bread and dirty towels. The chairs were all turned on the ground and he saw several burnt marks on the walls. Harry couldn’t help but wonder what had happened in this kitchen when Kreacher received a couple of angry Death Eaters instead of Hermione, Ron and himself that dreadful day they infiltrated the Ministry. When Kreacher returned to Harry’s service, he asked the little elf what had happened when Voldemort’s cronies entered the house. He merely responded that he had tricked them into searching the rest of the house so he could escape. The little creature was cunning after all.

Harry started to search the house for things he wanted to keep to himself. After searching in vain in various rooms, he decided to go straight into Sirius’ room and began to strip the place. He wanted to keep everything, down to the last sock. As he folded one of his godfather’s old Hogwarts robes he began to wonder where on Earth was he going to store all the stuff since it seemed to pile up into what was becoming a rather big mount. He knew he was never going to use any of these things, but he still wanted them preserved and respectfully treated.

He had already done half of the room when he came across a pile of boxes jam-packed with old quidditch magazines, motorbike pictures, a couple of Muggle books on engine design and some old Muggle football t-shirts. He went through it all wondering, as he inspected carefully each one of them, what had been Sirius’ interest in the item and what had he done with them. He amused himself picturing imaginary situations in which he acquired each one of them or used them; he had a laugh with the Muggle books. What on Earth would’ve Sirius Black found of interest in those volumes, did he even understand them? He, being Muggle raised hadn’t a clue on what a crankcase, piston or a crankshaft was. And, football shirts? It was evident he didn’t support a particular team since he found a Manchester United along an Arsenal shirt. Maybe he found them interesting or trendy; he would never find that one out.

Harry moved the boxes to the door and as he did so, he heard a creaking sound that caught his attention. Upon a more careful examination he discovered the source of the noise; a wooden plank that seemed to be loose. He wondered whether this was a secret hideout for Sirius’ most precious belongings, he remembered this own storage den in number 4, Privet Drive were he hid anything magical or meaningful.

“Wingardium leviosa” he muttered as he tried to levitate the plank out of its place. When he succeeded he crouched and peeked inside the dusty hole. He didn’t see anything at first, only more and more dust. As his disappointment began to ripple through his body, the idea of lighting his wand and searching thoroughly finally formed in his head. “Lumos”, he whispered and searched once more. At last, a red piece of cord caught his attention. He grabbed the end of the gnawed string and pulled hastily. After the twine, a small brown bundle came along almost hitting Harry on the head. The amount of dust the violent movement caused was unbelievable and Harry began to cough his lungs out. After drying his teary eyes Harry tried to remember what had been the source of the ordeal and saw in the corner of his eye the parcel he had found hidden beneath Sirius’ plank.

He untied the red not and unfolded the cloth. The wrinkles evidenced that the fabric had once been white, but the passing of the years and its abandoned state, had dyed it dust-brown. Inside it he found a picture of Sirius and a young woman; and a carefully organized pack of letters.

Harry couldn’t help feeling excited when he remembered the feeling in the pit of his stomach when he found Sirius’ well kept secrets. It was something he hadn’t felt in a long time; the thrill of a new mystery, the perspective of a new adventure.

He produced the photo he had found beneath the plank and handed it to his friends. They were in a small but pretty garden. Sirius had his arms wrapped around her and was laughing wholeheartedly. Isabel was waving and laughing too. Harry could tell the picture had been taken during the summer; he couldn’t help bur wonder when and were this had been. That could be his parent’s house back yard, or Isabel’s place. It could’ve happened right after Hogwarts or right before his parent’s death. If only Sirius were there to tell him the whole story, to tell him about Isabel and the time they had been truly happy.

“Is that her?” Hermione asked, grabbing the picture.

“I guess it is. There’s nothing written on the back, but I assume it is,” Harry explained.

Ron emited a rather sonorous wolf-whistle. “She’s a good-looking one, isn’t she? Lucky chap.” added Ron.

As Hermione shot a rather contemptuous look at her fiancé, she asked, “So, what’s the plan now? Are you doing something about all this?”

“Well, if the girl is really Sirius’s daughter, I guess the house and the money I inherited are rightfully hers. So, I should find out if she’s really the last living Black descendant.”

“Don’t forget about Kreacher mate. The elf would be hers as well.”

“Yeah, I hadn’t though of that one,” Harry remarked. He had grown a great amount of affection towards the elf. They had developed a nice relationship in the past four years; Harry even dared to call it a friendship, although he wasn’t sure Kreacher really felt the same way. He didn’t want to loose him. “But I guess I would have to give her the elf as well.” He finally admitted.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Hermione agreed.

“And how are you planning to find out if the girl is Sirius’ daughter?” asked Ron.

“I guess I better find this Isabel and ask her, huh?” Harry asked.

“Well then, mate, I think you are going to see the Eiffel Tower! Do you think that Paris is full of vela descendant witches? Oh, or you could stay with Fleur’s relatives, she has great looking cousins! I’m sure they wouldn’t have a problem receiving England’s hero.” Ron interjected.

“Oh, that’s just great advice Ronald. I’m sure Ginny is going to be thrilled when she learns about the kind of advice you are giving to Harry.” Hermione scolded.

“You wouldn’t.” Said Ron as his voice trembled and his face became pale.

“Oh yes, I would.”

“And you wonder why is it that I prefer to have conversations between my best mate and myself only, you can’t take a joke for the sake of your life.”

“I’m perfectly capable of that, thank you. It’s just that there are some things that no matter how you look at them are not funny at all.”

“Oh, c’mon Hermione, you make such a great deal out of things!”

“Well Ronald-”

“Guys, enough!” pleaded Harry. “We were talking about Isabel, remember?”

“Yeah, sorry Harry.” Responded Hermione still glaring at her boyfriend. “Anyway, how are you going to find her? Nobody knows where she is, except for…”

“Exactly, Hermione. Dumbledore.”



A/N: I want to thank my beta reader India Inverse who helped a great deal with this chapter. Also, I'm particularly fond of reviews, so I would love to know what you think about this chapter. There's a little box just below this note, it won't take more than two minutes. Thanks!!!


Chapter 2: Dazed and Confused
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Disclaimer: The chapter's title comes from Led Zeppeling's song "Dazed and Confused"


Chapter 2

Dazed and Confused


 

“Professor Dumbledore?”
 
He was dozing quietly. His chest heaved calmly up and down, and his half-moon spectacles gave the impression they would fall from his crooked nose any minute now.
 
“Eh, Professor?” Harry insisted.  
 
This time Dumbledore opened one eyelid and stared confusedly at his interlocutor. Realising who it was, he smiled broadly and finally opened both eyes.
 
“Yes, Harry?”
 
“I’m sorry to disturb you, but I need a word with you.”
 
“No worries. I rather enjoy your visits,” he answered with an honest smile. “How may I help you?”
 
“I found these letters,” Harry quickly began; he didn’t have much time for small talk. McGonagall had given him ten minutes. “I guess I better read them to you first.” His voice trailed away.
 
“I’m all ears.”
 
And thus Harry began reading each one of the letters he had found hidden in Sirius’ room. As Harry carried on with the reading, Dumbledore joined the tips of his fingers on which he rested his chin, adopting his pondering look. When Harry finished reading the letters, he finally asked the question nagging in the back of his mind since his arrival to Hogwarts.
 
“What do you think, Professor?”
 
“You can call me Albus. I’m no longer your teacher Harry,” he merely responded.
 
“Old habits are difficult to break,” Harry explained. “Besides, I like calling you Professor. But I’ll try calling you by your name if you prefer.”
 
Dumbledore smiled but did not respond immediately. Harry did not dare speak any further; he knew that when Albus Dumbledore was thinking, it was unwise to interrupt. He began rereading the letters in his mind as he waited for an answer. Finally, the former Headmaster started to speak.
  
“I’m guessing you believe Pauline is Sirius’ daughter,” Dumbledore began.
 
Harry merely nodded looking expectantly at his old headmaster.
 
“I don’t have an answer for that. Until now, I didn’t know Isabel had a child. But the maths adds, so our better guess is that she probably is the last living descendent of the Blacks.”
 
“She never told you? I mean, she said she used to correspond with you, that you were the only person who knew where she was,” Harry asked in a pleading voice. He had hoped on his way to the castle that Dumbledore, as always, had the answer for this as he had for everything. “She trusted you,” He finally sighed.
 
Dumbledore stared at him with a look Harry had only seen once in his old headmaster’s face: as if he was making up his mind. Harry thought he was probably considering how much to tell him and how to do it.
 
“Isabel’s story is a very sad one indeed. I guess I better start at the beginning.” He sighed once before carrying on. “She and Sirius fell in love in their seventh year. When they finished their studies and were of age they both joined the Order of the Phoenix as your parents did. Isabel was a very gifted witch; she contributed greatly to the Order. They were a great team: Isabel and Sirius. Both were very skilled in different and complementary areas and thus worked excellently together. Both of them, along with your parents, did great things for the Order. One of the hardest blows we ever orchestrated for Voldemort´s ranks was conceived by Lily’s cunning, designed by Isabel, and perfectly carried out –though a bit recklessly, I must say- by Sirius and James.” Albus sighed with an already familiar twinkle in his eye and a rather cheeky smile. “But then when Sirius was charged with the betrayal of your parents and the murder of Peter Pettigrew and a dozen other Muggles, she was suddenly placed in the eye of the hurricane.
 
“You see, Harry, when Sirius allegedly betrayed the Order, Isabel became, to the eyes of most, either another victim of his deceit or an accomplice in the disloyalty. She claimed quite loudly that he was innocent, but no one believed her. I’m ashamed to admit that even I rejected her cries for help and stood, arms crossed, when Sirius was taken to Azkaban without a trial. She asked more than once to see him before he was sent away, but they were not married, which meant by wizarding law she did not have any visiting privileges. This devastated the young girl, and she tried to commit suicide. Or so, I believe.”
 
Harry’s look of utter shock and surprise did not concern the former Headmaster. He carried on calmly with his account of events.
 
“One night she was taken to St. Mungo’s by Emmeline Vance, who had found her in the apartment she had shared with Sirius. She had apparently taken great amounts of The Draught of Peace. We could never manage to establish whether she had taken the potion because she needed a bit of rest or because she intended to kill herself. She never spoke on the matter. After the incident she told me she had decided to leave the country for good, and she re-established in France as the letter you now possess indicates. Before departing, she told me she continued to believe Sirius to be innocent and asked me to contact her if he was ever released from imprisonment.
 
“She wrote to me from time to time informing when she was changing her living address and giving me small amounts of information about her life: mostly reporting she was still alive and well. As she indicates in her letters, she always asked about you, and she was very concerned for your well being. She was one of Lily’s best friends and therefore very fond of you. She never, however, indicated she was pregnant or the mother of a young girl.”
 
Harry was completely crestfallen. He had hoped Dumbledore knew something about Pauline. He stared once more at the bunch of letters he held in his hands, lost in his own thoughts, wondering what to ask next.
 
“Did you contact her when you found out Sirius was innocent?” he finally inquired.
 
“Yes, I kept my promise,” Dumbledore answered. “I wrote to her the same night you helped Sirius escape with Buckbeak. I owed her an apology; she had been right about Sirius.”
 
“She says you contacted her when Voldemort came back,” Harry began.
 
“Yes, I did. As you well know, the night Voldemort came back, I reformed the Order of the Phoenix. Being that she was a previous member, I asked her to come back and help us.”
 
“But she didn’t.”
 
“No, she didn’t. She replied, saying that if she could help me from where she was, she would gladly do it. Otherwise, she was determined to stay in France. I didn’t push the matter further; at the time, I believed she wasn’t ready to face Sirius again. I never suspected any other reasons behind it. And to be quite honest with you, I didn’t give the matter much thought. I was busy recruiting other people to the Order. I merely required her assistance when Hagrid needed a place to stay during one of his missions.”
 
“When he went with Madame Maxime to search for the giants?”
 
“Yes,” he answered with a nod. “Obviously Sirius didn’t let the matter go.”
 
“What do you mean?”
 
“Evidently Sirius asked her repeatedly to reconsider her initial decision,” Dumbledore said pointing at the letters Harry held in his hand. “I advised him to give her a little space, but he did not.”
 
“Sirius told you that they were corresponding?”
 
“Yes, he told me. He was very curious about what Isabel did right after he was arrested. I told him what I knew. He also wanted me to convince her to fight for the Order. Clearly I didn’t do such a thing, and, although at the time recruiting people was crucial to the Order, I tried to persuade him to stop his attempts as well. During a couple of meetings Sirius pointed out that if Isabel had been with us things would’ve been better, being that she was a very gifted witch. He always tried to introduce the issue subtly or mention briefly her name.  He even used to ask Remus to write to her asking her to come back and fight for us; I don’t know if he ever did. But in the end we all knew Sirius simply wanted to see her again.”
 
Harry had one more question but wasn’t sure if he should ask it. He wasn’t even sure Dumbledore had the answer, but he had to know.
 
“Was Sirius still in love with her?”
 
“Yes. I’m afraid very much so.”
 
“Where can I find her?”
 
“The last time I heard from her she lived in Paris. If you have quill and parchment I’ll dictate to you the address.”
 
“Thank you, Albus,” Harry said when he’d finished scribbling the street name on a wrinkled piece of parchment he had found in his left pocket.
 
“Anytime, Harry.” And with these last words, the portrait of Albus Dumbledore fell back to sleep.

 

***

 
"Please, explain that again because I just don't get it," Ginny said.

 "I already did. I have to go to France," Harry sighed. He had showed her the letters and told her about the conversation he’d just had with Dumbledore's portrait.
 
"Why can't you just owl the woman?" she pressed on.
 
"I want to talk to her in person. I want to meet her," he explained. Harry couldn’t understand why this seemed to be such a problem. He had expected Ginny to be excited about the mystery involving Sirius’ past and the prospect of another Black still alive. Instead, her features had hardened progressively as he told her the story, and now she was completely enraged.
 
"But it’s the end of the season; you promised to be there!" she insisted.
 
"This is important, Ginny!"
 
"I give you that, but can't you just wait until the season is over? You know that the Montrose Magpies are right behind us. We are just two games away from winning the British League!"
 
"I'll be back before the next game; I promise," Harry groaned. He could tell she was really upset with the prospect of Harry’s trip but couldn’t manage to understand what could be so infuriating about the whole matter.
 
"You said that last season! Were you there? No!"
 
"We had to round up all the remaining Dementors! I just couldn't say to Kingsley 'I hope you have fun patronusing these guys. I'm going to a Quidditch game now.'" He sighed. "Besides, we've already discussed this like a thousand times, Ginny. I already said I'm sorry!"  If there was something that bothered Harry beyond anything else, it was Ginny’s need to fight old quarrels over and over again. It seemed like ‘sorry’ just wasn’t enough; she kept ramping about things that had happened ages ago as if they’d just happened the day before.
 
Ginny stared at him but said nothing. Harry could see she was angrier than ever, but he wasn't going to give into this little tantrum. Ignoring her murderous glances, he went to the kitchen looking for a butterbeer.
 
"Don't you walk away from me, Potter!" she raged once more. “You always seem to think that whatever quest you begin is far more important than anything else. Maybe that was true years ago in Voldemort’s time, when you were destined to defeat him. But not everything is about you and your needs, the world does not revolve around you ‘Oh Chosen One”. The world isn’t yours to save anymore Potter! There are people back here in realityland who have lives as well and you don’t seem to respect that. This game is important to me, I need you to be there. You know that I play so much better when you’re in the crowd; you know I need you to be there.”
 
Oh-oh, she had used the 'Potter' word. This wasn't going to be pretty. Instead of turning back immediately, he summoned a bottle of butterbeer and waited lazily for it to come to him. Ginny was being so unreasonable, she was definitely blowing things out of proportion. He uncorked the bottle, took a sip and finally spoke in a conciliating tone. "Look, Ginny, this is very important to me. I am going to France for a couple of days to find out if Pauline is Sirius' daughter, OK? Please understand that it is important to me. Sirius was the only family I had left; I owe him that much!"
 
She stared at him with a disbelieving look. A single tear rolled down her cheek as enormous amounts of sadness seemed to ripple through her body. She stood there frozen as rage began to replace the disappointment her eyes betrayed. She picked up the small cushion she had just bought to decorate the sofa, and threw it at Harry. The cushion was soon followed by a couple more and her wand which she held in her left hand started to blow little red sparks.
 
“I can’t believe you!” She screamed pointing the wand at her fiancée.  “I just told you how important your presence is for me, and what’s your answer? More self-centred bullshit! You talk as if I was the egoistical bitch here, as if I didn’t understand the importance of Sirius in your life and how much you cared for him. I do understand Potter, I’m just asking you to postpone the trip for after the game. Is that too much to ask? Things won’t change until then, this Isabel lady will still be in France and the girl will remain to be Sirius’ daughter, or not. Why does this trip have to be urgent? Because you can’t put at bay your curiosity? You’re acting as if you’ve just received an owl informing you of her imminent death!”
 
“It is not like that Ginny. I do care about your game, I do want to go and see you play.” He walked towards her and reached for her hand. She jerked off and averted his gaze but softened her features and lowered her menacing wand. “Look, I know you are angry. You think I won't be back in time to see you play against the Magpies, but I promise you I'll be here. The game is ages away. I have all the time in the world to go, meet Isabel, and come back."
 
"I know your weird conception of time Harry; your 'couple of days' always turn out to be a couple of weeks." She retorted looking away.
 
"In that case, you shouldn't be worried at all; your game is in two weeks! I'll be back just in time!"
 
Ginny snorted. Harry knew she was still angry, but was sure she was coming around. He tried to embrace her, but she remained still and avoided his warm gesture.
 
"You’d better be. I'll never forgive you if you miss it!" She finally gave in.
 
"Not in a million years. You sound as if I hate seeing you play; you know I love to see you on a broom. You look incredibly sexy, my dear. And I really appreciate my VIP passes as well," he grinned.
 
"OK, Potter." She half-smiled. She walked towards the kitchen but stopped midway. She summoned another butterbeer for herself and turned back to her fiancé. "Now, Harry, we have to discuss the date subject; my mother is getting on my nerves,"
 
"What is the hurry? I am going to marry you, Ginny; I just want to settle a couple of things in my life before the wedding."
 
"But we could set a date, nonetheless." She sipped from her drink before continuing. "You just calculate how long it might take you to settle the mystery issues you've bragged so much about, and we'll set the date based on that."
 
"Tell me something Ginny," he began. He couldn’t believe they were talking about this again. They had had an argument about it the week before and had finally agreed to let the matter drop for a while. What was it about women and dates? "Is it really your mother who's pressing the issue, or is it you?"
 
That did it. She was furious, again.
 
"How dare you call me a liar?" She screamed.
 
"I'm not calling you anything. Its just that lately the date subject is always on the table, and to be honest I'm getting tired of it!" Harry sincerely couldn’t understand why she continued to press the subject when he had explained that he needed to rearrange different things in his life before marrying her.
 
"Why on Earth would you ask me to marry you if you don't intend on actually doing it?"
 
 "This is ridiculous! I want to marry you; I have since God knows when. I just want to get my life organised before I do. Why is that so hard for you to understand? We have all the time in the world, Ginny, we are still young. I'm only 21 for crying out loud!"
 
 "I knew it! You think I'm gonna suck your youth away," she cried. "Padma warned me against this." She finally muttered.
 
"Have you gone mad? It has nothing to do with my youth, Ginny. It's just that I haven't completed my Auror's training; I haven't got a place of my own; I-"
 
Ginny cut him off. "What do you call this then?" she asked.
 
"A shaggy flat!" he responded. "Besides, since when do you take advice from Padma?"
 
"Excuses!" she shot back. "Hermione and Ron are getting married in two months, and we haven't even set a date!”
 
"I don't know what your problem is, Ginny. This is not a race, it doesn’t matter who gets married and when. It's like you're a completely different person; I don't recognize you anymore. You used to be laid back, funny and calm. Now you are angry all the time! Every thing drives you mad, and you are always complaining. What has happened to you? Since you joined the Harpies you’ve become such a-" But he stopped in mid-phrase before he said something he would regret for the rest of his life.
 
"Say it," she demanded. "End your sentence."
 
"Nothing. Just give it a rest." He sighed as he ruffled his black, tangled hair.
 
"No, I'm waiting." Ginny crossed her arms and began tapping the floor with her left foot.

"It is not important. What is important is that-"
 
"You don't have the balls! I know what you were going to say. A bitch! That's what you were going to say."
 
"Ginny," he pleaded.
 
"It's OK, Harry. Maybe you are right. Maybe, I have changed so much we shouldn't be together anymore."
 
"That's not what I meant."
 
"Yes it is. You just don't have the guts to say it out loud." And without another word she Dissaparated, leaving behind a deafening emptiness.
 

***
 

 “And then she Dissaparated,” Harry groaned as he held his head in his hands. He had just finished telling Hermione what had happened between Ginny and him.
 
“Oh, Harry, I’m so sorry. What are you going to do now?”
 
“I don’t know. It’s been two days since she left, and I haven’t been able to get in touch with her. I’ve already sent her seven owls; I tried to reach her through the floo network; I even went to The Burrow, but she doesn’t want to hear from me.” Harry was getting really worried by now. First he thought it was another of Ginny’s fits; he had waited for hours for her to come back and talk things over once she calmed down. He had tried to contact her, tell her he was sorry and try to reason with her, but she seemed stubbornly decided to give him the silent treatment. He was even beginning to wonder if she really meant to leave him; the thought made his insides turn.
 
“Maybe you should give her a little space; I think that she needs to think things over.”
 
“She was so upset.” He took a sip of tea. He had hoped Hermione would serve him a full glass of Firewhiskey, but given the earliness of the hour, he didn’t even dare suggest the pouring of liquor in her house.
 
“Yes, I imagine she was. But still.” Harry could tell Hermione was trying very hard to choose the right words before continuing. “You may be right about her latest changes. She is somehow different,”
 
“I know. The thing is I can’t place a finger on what has exactly changed,” he began.
 
Hermione gave him an incredulous look. “Harry, you know she’s become a little more edgy, and she gets angry with us about anything. Even Ron and I feel we have to choose our words carefully around her; she seems to take everything so personally.”
 
“Yeah, I know what you mean, Hermione. It’s just that I don’t understand where all these temperament changes are coming from. Since she joined the Harpies she has become unbearable. I don’t understand. Playing professional Quidditch was her dream; now that she’s made it, she doesn’t seem happy at all.”
 
“Maybe she can’t handle the pressure,” Hermione suggested.
 
“Ginny is not the type. She’s been through worse.” He sighed. Indeed, Ginny had fought Death Eaters numerous times and spent a childhood surrounded by men; she was a tough girl.
 
“Yeah, Harry, but this is different,”
 
“How so?”
 
 “I guess she’s afraid to fail. I think that Ginny feels that if she screws up this one chance, her life will be over. There’s nothing else she wants to do in life besides being a professional Quidditch player.”
 
“But she’s brilliant, Hermione. She was chosen from a hundred witches to make the team. Witches older and far more experienced than her. She is a natural! Don’t forget I’m her former Captain, I know what she’s made of!”
 
“Have you told her that?” She asked, “Maybe she needs to hear that from time to time. And besides, this is the professional leagues, you know? There is so much pressure.”
 
“I guess you are right.” This didn’t make Harry feel better. Now he felt like a complete git. He had failed to see how much Ginny needed his support.
 
“Don’t feel guilty about it, though.” Hermione had obviously read right through him. “I guess that’s the problem with women sometimes. They assume their partners should be able to read their minds and automatically know what’s wrong with them. When the truth is, men are completely oblivious of such things. Ginny should be the one telling you this, not me.”
 
This is why Harry loved Hermione so much. She had the gift of putting complicated things into simple words. She was great with giving advice about the most complex thing in the world: women. Harry was The Boy Who Lived, he knew how to fight Dementors, trace Black Wizards, detect concealed, dangerous magic; he even knew how to cook a decent meal with magic. But he was completely useless when it came to understanding women.
 
“And what do I do now?” he implored.
 
“I don’t know. You won’t find the answer in that Best Way to Charm Witches or whatever-it’s-called book of yours though,” she snorted. “When it comes to relationships, things are not written in books.”
 
“Is this for real? Hermione Jane Granger actually saying that the answer for everything is not in books?” He asked half-laughing “And please explain, how is it that you know about The Book?” Harry was completely stunned. He was convinced the existence of the sacred manual was only known by a selected group of males related to the Weasley clan.
 
“You guys are so obvious.” She wore a smug look but didn’t elaborate any further. “I guess you better give her some space right now. Let her think things over. Don’t pressure her anymore.
 
“I guess you are right. I’m still going to go find Isabel,”
 
“Are you sure? I know that it is important, but is it really urgent?”
 
“Yes it is. I’ll leave Ginny a note at The Burrow so she knows where I am. And besides, by taking this trip I’ll prove her wrong; I’ll be back in time for her game. You’ll see. And when I come back I’ll try to set a ruddy date.”
 
“We will be waiting for you. If you have the time, you should go and visit Montmartre; it is beautiful. And I strongly recommend the Pére Lachaise cemetery if you like history. Also, you could go a visit all the monuments on the right shore of the Seine, and be sure to visit the islands because you’ll find the best pieces of French architecture. And-”
 
“I don’t think I’ll have the time for visiting monuments, Hermione.” Harry laughed cutting her off. “But if I somehow do, I’ll keep all your suggestions in mind.”
 
Harry stood up and thanked her for the tea. He explained he couldn’t stay for lunch because he had to pack before heading to the Dissaparating point; his departure was scheduled for 3:00 PM that afternoon. She gave him a hug and wished him good luck after instructing him to write should anything happen. 
 
As Harry packed his bags for the small trip he was about to make, he pondered over the Ginny situation. Although he had the feeling that by leaving for France he was probably going to mess things up more than he already had, he had made up his mind. He was going to find Isabel no matter where she was. This whole deal was very important to him; Sirius’ had been the closest thing he had had to a parent, and thus he felt he owed him at least this little voyage.
 
The idea of Sirius being in love had never crossed Harry’s mind before, which was quite ridiculous now that he thought about it. Sirius used to have a life before Azkaban, and it surely included a romantic relationship. He was a very handsome man; he probably was the Hogwarts’ most popular guy during his schooling years, and it would be very difficult to think that he didn’t take advantage of his looks where the women were concerned. Harry wondered why Sirius never mentioned anything about Isabel or dating women, for that matter. He felt a pang in his stomach when he realized that, as it had happened with Dumbledore, Harry had never discussed with his godfather anything different than the war and Harry’s role in it. They had hardly talked about his parents or their youth as marauders; he had never been very interested in Sirius’ past life. He had never asked much about it. Maybe that was because Harry had wrongly thought that after the war he would have all the time in the world to talk with Sirius. He had never considered the idea of losing him. He sought comfort in the thought that he would have had to be a sick person to have considered the idea that Sirius Black would be murdered before they could even begin a life together. Then again, they were at war, and every war has casualties, generally the most painful ones. 
 
As Harry set the auto-watering-plant spell around his flat, and sent a note to the Burrow explaining where he was and how to be found, he felt a bit guilty about leaving. Maybe Hermione and Ginny were right; he didn’t know how to set his priorities. Maybe what he needed was to start caring a little bit more about his fiancé’s needs and support her as she whished him to. But then he began wondering with a bit of excitement about Isabel. What is she like? What is going to be her reaction when I come knocking at her door? Does Pauline know anything about Sirius Black and the Order of the Phoenix? Will Isabel admit Pauline is Sirius’ daughter – if she is, that is- or will she deny her daughter’s father’s true identity? Harry was nervous at the prospect of the meeting, but he couldn’t wait to arrive in Paris and meet the woman who once had made his godfather a happy man. As quickly and suddenly as his guilt had assaulted him; it disappeared to be replaced by happy anxiousness and the urgent need to leave London.
 
He arrived at the Dispparating point just in time. After a quick explanation to a Ministry official of his motives for the voyage, he walked onto the international Apparating platform and vanished on the spot. International travelling took a few milliseconds longer than local movements, which was quite uncomfortable for Harry; he hated the plunging and suffocating sensation of Apparition. Although those additional seconds were not of great significance, they were enough to make the trip excruciatingly tiresome.
 
The streets of Paris were different from anything he had known; they were more jovial and welcoming. People weren’t so nice though; they seemed to be quite tired of foreigners, and so they acted as if the only ones that mattered were Parisians themselves. The rest were just lucky to be there. Harry then realized he loved the city.
 
Finding Isabel’s place wasn’t difficult at all. The hard thing was actually knocking on the door. He took a deep breath, and before raising his arm, he imagined what would’ve happened if, instead of remaining in London, Sirius had visited Isabel, found out he had a daughter and stayed there. A twinge of regret that didn’t belong to him rang through his body as he found his fist banging on the door. 
 
A few minutes later, the door slowly creaked open. A stunning pair of questioning grey eyes welcomed him, followed by the most perfect visage he had ever set eyes upon. There she was, the most beautiful woman in the whole world, and she was smiling at him.
 
“Oui, bonjour?” she asked.
 
“Er-” was all he was able to mutter.
 
“Est-ce que je peux vous aider, monsieur?” she inquired further.
 
“Hem, oui.” He finally managed to respond. “Do you speak any English?”
 
“Oh. British,” she acknowledged. “Yes. Can I be of any assistance?” Her English was quite fluent, unlike Fleur’s, but it still held French vestiges underneath its singsong tone. It was lovely.  
 
“I’m looking for Isabel.” He hesitated. “Er, what’s her name… wait. Oh yes. Isabel Atkins, I believe.” What was happening to him? He knew perfectly well Isabel’s last name! He had lost the ability of coherent speech or thinking, for that matter.
 
“Who is looking for her?” she asked in a grave tone.
 
“Harry Potter.”
 
“Oh, I see.” She just stayed there examining him. He felt annoyed when he realized she was staring at his scar as if confirming his identity. “Come in,” she finally whispered. “I’m sorry, but my mother died three years ago. I expected your visit much sooner, I was beginning to wonder if you were going to come at all.”
 
 

 

A/N: I want to thank my incredible beta reader India Inverse who always had wise and encouraging words. Please review, I really appreciate your comments as readers.

 

 

 

Chapter 3: La La La Lies
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: I whish I had JK Rowling’s talent and imagination, alas I must content with borrowing her characters and playing with them for a while.

Disclaimer 2: The title “La La La Lies” is taken from an excelent song by The Who (1966).


Chapter 3
La La La Lies

Harry stood rooted to the spot for ten long, excruciating seconds during which he tried to appropriately register what the girl had just said. Isabel was dead; the whole purpose of his trip, his fight with Ginny, everything had been a complete waste of time.

"Do you plan to stand there until the winter?" the girl asked. "I think you would prefer to be inside when that time of the year comes."
 
"Yes, I-" Harry didn't know what to respond, so he just followed the girl inside.
 
He entered a small but welcoming flat. He followed his hostess to a sitting room and sat on a red couch against a small window. Before sitting down he had the chance to admire the view; just below them was the famous Seine surrounded by small cafes in which people sat talking or listening to old French music. He could see now why Paris was the Love Capital; it was full of cosy and romantic spots. With an unwelcomed and surprising pang of regret he thought of Ginny and how much she would've liked to visit the place.
 
"I haven't introduced myself," the girl apologized as she invited him to sit down. "My name is Pauline Atkins."
 
Harry froze. He hadn't realized he had just met Sirius' daughter. She had mentioned before that her mother was dead; how did he miss that?
 
"I- I know," was all he could manage to respond.
 
"Oh," she seemed surprised, even shocked by this last piece of information. "So you had the chance to meet my mother." It was a statement, not a question.
 
"I didn't." Merlin, this was awkward. He didn't know what to say now, how to explain to this girl he knew she was Sirius Black's daughter. This wasn't going at all like he planned it. When he imagined how this conversation would go, Isabel was quite alive, and he was explaining to her he had found the letters and the whole purpose of his visit. But now, he was completely lost. He didn't know how to put into words the events of the past few days.
 
"I don't mean to be rude," Pauline began, "but I don't get what exactly you are doing here. I thought you knew my mother, but it figures out you don’t. I was hoping you were going to tell me how it happened."
 
"I-" Harry was completely bemused now. He took a deep breath before speaking again. "I'm sorry, how what happened?"
 
"My mother's death; you were there. You should know," she explained calmly.

 "I don't know what you are talking about. I already told you I never met your mother. Until a few minutes ago, I believed her to be alive. I came here looking for her, didn’t I?" he explained almost desperately. Harry had travelled to Paris searching for an answer; he had received a bunch gift-wrapped of enigmas instead.
 
"But she died during The Battle; she went back to England to fight because of you!" Pauline seemed confused, even a little enraged. "You have to have met her. She went looking for you. She was convinced she could help you." Harry could see despair in her pleading eyes and feel anxiousness in her creaky voice.
 
"Look, I think there has been a terrible misunderstanding here. I'm sorry, Miss Atkins, but I never got the chance to meet your mother. In fact, I learned of her existence just a few days ago."
 
And so, for what seemed the millionth time in the past couple of weeks, he narrated the story of the pack of letters and the relationship his godfather used to have with her mother. He didn't tell her anything about his suspicions of Pauline’s father’s true identity; now that he was there, he wasn't sure how to tell her that. When he finished the story, Pauline just sat there gazing at the horizon, lost in her thoughts. Harry decided it wasn't prudent to speak anymore, so he waited for her reply. He wasn't sure how much of this information she didn't know beforehand.
 
Finally, after twenty long minutes the girl spoke. "You said you found a bunch of letters my mother wrote to Sirius Black? The mass murderer Sirius Black? And you say she used to be involved with him? That's not likely; I think you have mistaken my mother with someone else."
 
"He wasn't a mass murderer. That has been clear for several years now," Harry growled. Her last remarks seemed so unfair to him. How was it possible that after all those years after he, Harry, defeated Voldemort and brought all the Death Eaters into the light, people still believed Sirius was part of that murdering, gruesome lot.
 
"But it was all over the papers before the war began, the authorities were looking all over for him," she explained as if addressing a five year old.
 
"Look, you are talking to the man that defeated Voldemort and ended the war. Trust me on this one. Sirius Black was one of the bravest, kindest and nicest people I have ever met. He was my godfather, a friend of your mother's, certainly not a Death Eater. Don't talk about things you don't know anything about!" He couldn't believe this girl's stubbornness.
 
"Well, excuse me. But you say you just learned my mother is dead. Well, I just learned that the man she seemed so afraid of turns out to be her school boyfriend and not a cruel mass murderer," she replayed airily.
 
"What do you mean by 'afraid' of him?" Harry asked raising his eyebrows.
 
"What you just heard; she was petrified by him. Every time she saw his picture on the paper she got all worried and weird. I always thought she was completely afraid of the man because she always avoided the subject and said that those things should remain in the past. So for what I knew, for what I imagined, Sirius Black was the meanest person alive, and he still managed to haunt my mother even after several years had gone by. How do you suppose I would've guessed they used to be a couple after seeing my mother react like that when his name came up?"
 
Harry fell silent. She had a point. Evidently, she didn’t know who her real father was either. Before he could do anything about it, his fears came true when Pauline asked him if he could show her the letters. If she was shocked to hear her mother used to be Sirius' girl, what was going to be her reaction once she learned that they had a child and that that child was her? The situation got more uncomfortable by the minute. She had to issue her request twice, since Harry had just adopted his ´I'm not here, leave a message' attitude.
 
"Do you have or not those letters?" she demanded quite exasperated.
 
"Y- Yes," he stuttered. "I have them here," Harry took more time than necessary to retrieve the documents from his bag. He hoped to come up with a bright and sudden idea that would allow him to get out of this one. Unfortunately, in spite of his antics, none came. "Here," he said, handing her the letters; his hand trembled almost imperceptibly.
 
After she received the pack, he stood from his chair and began pacing around the small room while she read. She took a while to finish reading them, because she read each one of them at least twice. Harry seized the opportunity to come up with a plan now that plan A had completely backfired. Also, he wanted to know more about Isabel and her death. It pained him to realise she had died that terrible night at Hogwarts apparently because of him, and he wasn't even aware of it. When Pauline put down the last letter Harry stopped his pacing and stood before her expectantly.
 
“So you were actually telling the truth; my mother did have some sort of relationship with this Sirius bloke,” she sighed. “I was hoping this was some kind of sick joke. But this is definitely my mother’s hand writing and style. I just can’t believe it.”
 
“I understand is kind of hard to take it all in,” Harry said kindly. “I was shocked as well when I found them. I never knew Sirius used to have a –” What was Isabel anyway; his girlfriend? Still, after all those years?
 
“Yeah –” It seemed Pauline understood what he meant anyway.
 
“This explains a lot you know; my mother was always kind of mysterious about her past life. I mean her life before she moved here. I always had the feeling something awful had happened to her when she lived in Britain, I guess that having her boyfriend convicted for a crime he did not commit counts as a traumatising situation.” She was still staring blankly at the letters she held in her hands; it was obvious she was digesting all the new developments. “You knew him very well, didn’t you? I mean Sirius Black.”
 
“He was my godfather, yes,” he responded automatically, but deep down he could not stop the feeling of regret that had crept onto him lately. Evidently he did not know his godfather as much as he should’ve.
 
“Could you tell me his story? The real one, I mean. I see now that the man I had believed to be my mother’s worst nightmare was actually something else, so much else,”
 
“Sure.” And thus Harry began telling her the story of Sirius Black, or at least what he knew about his dead godfather. He told her about the Marauders and their friendship. He told her about his father, Pettigrew and Sirius being Animagi, and how they developed a special bond because of Remus’ condition. He then told her about Voldemort chasing his parents and how they had decided at the last minute to make Pettigrew their secret-keeper; how Voldemort had finally found them and murdered them. By this point of the story, Pauline’s eyes were full of tears, and she wore a look of ultimate sorrow.
 
He also told Pauline what Dumbledore had revealed to him about Isabel’s and Sirius’ relationship. He told her everything: about Azkaban, about his escape from the prison and how Harry had to fight hundreds of Dementors to save him. He narrated Sirius’ story from his point of view until his murder by Bellatrix Lestrange.
 
Several silent minutes followed Harry’s last sentence. Pauline was trying to dry her tears with her left hand, but failed miserably. Automatically Harry offered her his handkerchief and began softly drying her tears.
 
"Just in case you are wondering, these are not sadness tears," she finally spoke. "These are anger tears. I can’t believe my mother lied to me like that. She never mentioned him, not once. I was the one who used to bring up the subject from time to time; I was always the one cornering her to get information. And she gave me none. All I had all those years were my suspicions. But I always knew there was so much more around Sirius Black that she let on. It wasn’t normal you know, a woman collapsing like that every time she heard or read something concerning the man. She used to jump like a hundred miles every time she thought she heard his name…"

"I understand," Harry mumbled. Pauline raised her eyebrow. "No, really I do. I understand how it feels to be kept in the dark by someone you care about. But if I learned something about it, it is that people do that because they care, because they are protecting us."

"Which is rather stupid, if I must say." She finally smiled. It wasn't really a smile, but a chuckle. And to Harry, it was enough.

"My mother cried for weeks when she learned he had been killed. She thought I didn't notice, she believed I was oblivious of the matter. By the time, I had already developed a method to spy on her when she locked herself in the bookstore. She cried and cried; she looked like a zombie. She used to sit on the floor with a glass of wine in one hand and Sirius Black's photo in the other, and she cried silently. I always thought she was somehow happy with his death. I thought she had finally had the chance to make amends with her past, or something. But still, it seemed to me so weird.
 
"And after that she changed. It was like if a pile of bricks had been dumped upon her shoulders. She looked so guilty, so sad. I tried to talk to her, but she wouldn't say a word about it. She said I was too young to understand, that someday she was going to tell me everything. She asked me to leave her alone, and so I did. It was the worst summer of my life, and I’m ashamed to admit I was glad to leave for school when September came. I didn't want to see her. I even stayed at school for the Christmas break.

"The war was getting worse in England. People here were scared that You-Know-Who's power would reach them. It was so obvious when he took over the British Ministry, Muggle-borns from all over the UK were seeking refuge in continental Europe. My mother agreed to receive a couple of Muggle-born wizards. They helped us with the bookstore; they were very nice people. But my mother continued to change; she wasn't happy anymore. She became obsessed with the war, and she tried by all means possible to get news. Real news, I mean, from England. It was at that moment that I realized my mother was after all British.

"She didn't let me go to school that year. She said that being the daughter of a British half-blood, I would be in danger if the war ever trespassed the island's frontiers. It was the lamest excuse she could come up with. I asked if it had something to do with her old life in Britain, if there was someone looking for her, if she had come to France because she was running away from someone… but she never answered. She just asked me to trust her and told me that if we remained together nothing could ever happen to us.

"That's why I still struggle to understand what the bloody hell was going through her mind the morning she woke up and decided that you, of all people, needed her help. In a matter of hours, she packed a small bag and left for England. That was the last time I saw her. A week after the final battle, when the paper published the names of the victims, I learned my mother was dead. And no one, no one ever gave me an explanation. I went there and recovered her ashes, and nobody seemed to know my mother. They said they had identified her by magical means. I waited for your visit for months. I hoped you were going to explain to me why. But you never came."

"I'm sorry," Harry didn't know what else to say. How could he know Isabel had decided he needed her help? He didn’t even know the woman. Thinking back he realized he must’ve seen her dead body when he helped the new Ministry with the killing recount, and he probably catalogued her as a Jane Doe, as many did. Little did he know that those nameless scattered bodies could be so closely related to him and his friends. What was he supposed to do now?

"Yeah, you should be. It is after all, because of you that my mother is dead," she said out of pure spite. But five seconds later he could see she was sorry because shame appeared all over her face.

Still, he felt even worse now, and yes it was possible. This whole thing was so unfair. He had no idea Isabel existed then; he had no idea she was at Hogwarts that night. And the worst thing was that even if he had known about her, he couldn't have stopped her from dying just like he couldn’t stop Fred, Remus or Tonks from dying.

"I just get so angry about it sometimes. I wonder what would've happened if my mother would've let me go with her. I'm sure I could've helped. And no one was there to mourn her, to tell her story. She was just another causality to every one. I imagine they found her on the grounds somewhere and nobody claimed her. Her body sprawled on the ground, people walking by without even looking at her..."
 
A painful pang of disgust ran through Harry’s body; he remembered how Dumbledore looked the night he died. His former headmaster looked so lonely, so little, so insignificant. Just like so many others looked just a mere year later, after the Great Battle of Hogwarts.

"You mother used to have many friends among the Order; they probably knew she was there," he finally said trying to erase the painful memories and ease his nagging conscience.  

"Yeah, well none of them went into the trouble of telling me I was an orphan, did they? Maybe they thought it was better to take in if I read it in the paper."

"None of them knew she had a daughter. And haven't you thought that maybe they died as well?"

Pauline opened her mouth but no sound came out.

"I understand how you feel, really I do."
 
Silence greeted Harry’s last remark. Pauiline’s eyes betrayed her hatred and sadness, but then her gaze softened and she finally whispered.

"I don't think you do, but thank you for trying." She half smiled at him. Harry felt a bolt of lighting running down his spine.
  
"Mr. Potter, there is something else that keeps nagging me," Pauline began.
 
"Please call me Harry. You are making me feel old." He smiled at her.
 
Pauline giggled just a bit; yes, but she still giggled. And she looked gorgeous doing it. "I'm sorry, Harry."
  
He smiled back. Without even thinking about it twice, he sat beside her and looked into her grey, beautiful eyes. He felt a bolt of joy when she welcomed his move with a warm smile. Harry felt a shock of pain when he realized it had been such a long time since he had felt the delicious anguish and anticipation that another's woman's smile made him feel.
 
"You said that there was something bothering you?" Harry asked.
 
"What year was it when your parents were killed?"
 
Harry knew where this was going, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. "1981." Was his low, quivery answer.
 
"When, exactly?"
 
"October the 31st." He replied lamely.
 
"And you say my mother and Sirius were still together when your parents were killed?"

“Yes, they were.”
 
“Why did you come all this way, after all these years, Harry?” she asked in a soft voice.
 
“I already told you: because I found all these letters,” he responded as he pointed to the pack of old parchments that Pauline had previously left over the coffee table.
 
“So you got curious about my mother and decided to come by and visit,” she said skeptically. “Or was it something else, something you read in those letters that caught your attention?”
 
Harry did not respond. He knew that by that point Pauline had already guessed he believed her to be Sirius’ daughter, but he didn’t know how to address the matter.
 
“You think I’m Sirius Black’s daughter.” She finally answered mirroring his thoughts.
 
“The possibility occurred to me, yes.” he admitted.
 
“I don’t know. I don’t have an answer to that. My mother never told me who my father was. She told me he had died during her pregnancy. But I never believed her, like I never believed so many things she said to me. I guess I could be his daughter, I was born in 1982.” Her voiced trailed away as a lonely tear fell down her cheek.
 
“Anyway, what is it to you?” She asked as she failed miserably to sober up.
 
“It is more of a legal matter, actually. If you are Sirius’ daughter then you have the right to inherit his house and a large sum of money, among other things. Also, I guess you have the right to know who your father was.”
 
“I don’t want them, the money and the house, I mean. Even if I am his daughter, I don’t want them, and I don’t need them.”
 
“I’m not sure that’s up to you to decide,” Harry whispered.
 
“If it is, then I’ll just give them back to whoever owns them at the moment.”
 
Harry couldn’t suppress and ironic chuckle to escape his lips and Pauline turned her head to face him.
 
“I’m sorry; I guess that must be you.” She whispered as her face turned a lovely shade of red.
 
"Do you have any idea why she believed I needed her help? As I said, I didn't know of her existence. I didn't ask for her help," Harry said trying to change the subject.

"No, I don't know. She just kept saying she had to find you; she said she couldn't let you down as well."

"Sirius asked her all-too many times to go back," Harry said more to himself than to her.

"But there's someone that should know," Pauline sighed. "And it’s about time she told the truth!"
 
***




 
“Who is this Jacqueline person you’ve been rambling about?” Harry demanded. For the last fifteen minutes Pauline had trashed her own apartment looking for something while she spoke to herself, almost whispering, in rapid, hectic French.
 
“We are going to see her,” she explained as if that was everything he needed to know.
 
“What, now?”
 
“Yes now. Or do you have somewhere else you have to be?”
 
“No, but I wouldn’t mind receiving a more detailed explanation.”
 
“You are a nosy one, aren’t you?”
 
“Not really. I’m just the kind of person who likes to be well informed,” he responded with a mischievous smile.
 
“Ok. Mr. Well Informed, we are going to meet Jacqueline Audet. She was my mom’s best friend. Is there anything else you might want to know?” she demanded in a playful tone.
 
“No.” He smiled back.
 
“And I was looking for this.” She handed him a small crystal ball. It looked like it could belong to Trelawney, although it was purple and much smaller than those he had seen in her classroom so many years ago.
 
“What is it?” Harry asked curiously.
 
“A crystal ball.” And without further ado, she took it back and placed it in the center of her coffee table on top of a wooden sphere Harry had previously mistaken for some kind of minimalist decoration.
 
The ball floated several millimeters over the artifact. After a couple of minutes it started spinning and making a soft high pitched noise, like a very small and delicate whistle. The crystal sphere began to enlarge until it became the size of a basket ball. After what seemed five minutes, it became quite clear and stopped revolving.
 
Pauline looked eagerly inside it. Harry, deciding he should do the same, leaned in and observed its transparency. After a couple of minutes, a small room became visible. It was evident the room belonged to a house that sat near the sea for he could clearly see the ocean through the windows as he caught a warm salty scent.
 
“Jacqueline?” Pauline asked. “Jacko, are you there?”
 
Harry almost fell backwards when a woman’s face suddenly appeared before him. She was old, but he could’ve guessed that she used to be very beautiful. She had deep, piercing blue eyes. She gave him the impression of being a very sage woman. Harry felt he was looking at a female version of Dumbledore, for whom the nickname Jacko seemed completely out of order.
 
“Pauline, dear! How good it is to see you!”
 
“It is great to see you too, Jacko.” Pauline smiled. “How’ve you been?”
 
“Well, just fine. And you dear?”
 
“This is Harry Potter,” she responded avoiding her last question. She had a clear intention to cut to the chase. “I’m sure you’ve heard of him?”
 
Jacqueline’s eyes lingered over Harry’s scar for a minute, after examining the rest of his features in detail.
 
“Lily’s son. Such a handsome man he turned out to be.” Although her face appeared straight and serious, her eyes seemed to be smiling.
 
“Er- Hello,” was all Harry could muster.
 
“Jacko, Harry is here because he found some letters. Letters my mother wrote about six years ago to a man named Sirius Black,” Pauline told her in a demanding tone. Harry thought she was implying the need of an explanation.
 
Jacqueline sighed and looked away. She started to retreat from their sight when Pauline stopped her.
 
“You are not running away from this one, Jacqueline! Not this time. It is about time I receive some explanation.”
 
“You were not supposed to know about this. It was your mother’s wish.”
 
“Why?”
 
“I don’t know exactly.”
 
The slight tremble in her voice told Harry she was lying.
 
“I don’t care. My mother is dead.”
 
"Pauline, dear, please try to understand. These are all things that should remain in the past. Live your own life and leave your mother's alone."
 
"Do you know who my father is?" Pauline demanded dismissing Jacqueline's last words.
 
"No, I don't," she answered immediately.
 
"Yes you do! Don't lie to me, Jacko. My mother did plenty of that to last me a lifetime," Pauline pleaded.
 
Jacqueline remained silent. It was evident to Harry that she was unsure whether or not to tell Pauline everything she knew about Isabel's past.
 
"Jacko, my mother promised me she would tell me someday," Pauline added trying to convince Jacqueline to speak.
 
 "I promised her, Pauline," she finally sighed.
 
"Yes, but she did mean to tell me someday. I guess she never imagined she would die before the time came. Please, it is really important for me and for Harry as well."
 
"I can't tell you, Pauline... but if you found out on your own, I wouldn't be breaking my promise, would I?" Jacqueline finally spoke with a mischievous grin.
 
"No, you wouldn't," said Pauline in a sing song voice playing along the game.
 
 "I guess you better go to your mother's bookstore. Look among the 12th century books on Magical Theory. You might find there something that's quite out of place."
 
A couple of hours later, Harry was standing in the strangest bookstore he had ever set foot on. The shelves didn’t seem to be arranged according to a logical order; neither were the books. In between some of those, small vases filled with flowers decorated the dusty shelves. Some of the books seemed to glow, vibrate or even expel music. He could tell none of them were dedicated to the Dark Arts because they seemed somehow friendly and welcoming. The store had a mixed smell of sandalwood, old parchment and wine. It was lovely.
 
As he examined the place and picked up several volumes that caught his attention, Pauline searched the medieval section of the store looking for something out of place. Harry had offered to help, but she had pointed out that since this was his first time in the shop it would be very difficult for him to find something odd among the many books.
 
Two hours passed, and Pauline had not found anything. Harry was engrossed in reading a first edition 19th century Quidditch book when Pauline gave a small cry. Harry quickly dropped the book and began racing to her. He then realized he had unceremoniously discarded a two century old tome and ran back to put it in its right place before Pauline noticed what he had just done.
 
Two minutes later Harry sat beside Pauline on the floor. She was holding a book in her hand and she was shaking madly. Harry put instinctively his arm around her and placed his chin on her shoulder. It took him a couple of minutes to realize how bold of him it was to approach her in such a warm and familiar manner when he had just met her.
 
“Are you ready?” he asked coming out of his reverie.
 
She merely nodded and opened the book. Harry waited for something to happen, but it didn’t. It looked just like any ordinary book.
 
“Pauline, are you sure-”
 
“It has to be, it’s the only one that doesn’t belong here. I didn’t spot it at first, but then it hit me. What is an ancient Egyptology book doing sitting in these shelves? Besides, my mother loved Egyptian magic. This has to be it.”
 
She was more nervous than before. Harry took the tome into his hands and began to search for something, anything that could reveal Isabel’s darkest secrets. As he turned the book upside down, Harry whispered.
 
“C’mon, Isabel, let us see. Tell us yours and Sirius’ story.”
 
The mention of Sirius’ name seemed to do it. For a slight second, the volume shone and went back to its previous state. Harry wondered whether Pauline had seen it; she obviously had because she wore a look of utter surprise and excitement on her face.
 
“Should we open it?” she asked.
 
“Yes, I guess so.” And thus, Harry opened the ancient book wondering whether he was just about to go deeper inside the rabbit hole.
 

 

AN: I want to thank my lovely beta reader India Inverse who helped me a great deal with this chapter. I also want to thank all my reviewers (even those whose reviews were erased after the server crash) for your encouragement and opinions are very precious to me. If you haven’t reviewed yet, I ask you humbly to do so. I value all your opinions!

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