Heather’s eyes slammed open, and she just stood there for several minutes. It took her mind and body quite a while to keep up with what she had just witnessed. After about five minutes, however, she began to react. Her eyes began to water with tears, and her whole body began to tremble. Soon she was convulsed in sobs. She vaguely noticed that she was still standing, but right now, that little victory mattered not at all. In fact, as soon as she noticed this, she remedied it by dropping to the ground in utter despair.
“No...no...” she sobbed, rocking back and forth, wringing her hands and muttering incoherently. One would think her mad. “Please no, that’s not true...that’s not true...” she whispered. Her hands shook terribly as she tried to wipe the sweat from her forehead. “I’ll do anything,” she finally whispered, her eyes full of such emotion, her heart felt fit to burst.
“There, there,” said a calming voice. “Everything will turn out for the best... you’ll see.”
“How can it?” she whispered, ignoring the fact that she didn’t know the provider of the voice. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered now, except keeping Sirius alive. “All of my visions have come true so far...”
“Only because you have chosen to let them happen,” the voice responded wisely. Heather turned on her knees and saw Orin standing there, his orange eyes peering at her sadly. “There is always an alternative.”
“Yeah well, you don’t even know what I’m talking about...” she muttered, realizing that he was not the right person she should be talking to. At that moment, however, she was too frazzled to do anything. She had just witnessed her fiance’s death, after all. It’s surprising she didn’t go insane right then and there. “Are you saying I can fix this?” she whispered.
“No...that would imply there is something to fix. Nothing is broken. These choices are not right and wrong. They are simply...different. At one point, that choice might seem better than something else,” Orin whispered, never failing to give a confusing answer.
“Whatever,” Heather muttered, too upset to try and work out his riddles. “Just tell me what I can do to stop that from happening. I’ll do anything.”
“This is something you must figure out yourself,” Orin said, coming to sit down beside her.
“Then what the Hell are you doing here?” she asked.
“Making sure that you come to the right conclusion,” he said, nodding. Heather turned to look at him.
“I thought you said that there was no right or wrong,” she pointed out. Orin nodded, smiling.
“See? You do listen!” he said proudly. Heather shook her head, hoping that would rid her of her annoying guest. It didn’t do any such thing, however, and only managed to make her a little nauseated. What could stop that from happening? Heather thought savagely. Sirius wouldn’t have given that information to Voldemort if...what? If he wasn’t Secret-Keeper. That was it! But no...that wasn’t good enough. She had to find out a way to stop him from getting captured by Voldemort altogether.
“That is not possible,” Orin said. Heather stared, knowing that the only way he could have known that was if he had been reading her mind.
“Can you...” she began, but Orin interrupted her.
“You do not have enough information to stop that from happening. But maybe, if you make the right choices, that won’t happen anyway,” he explained.
“If I stop Sirius from being a Secret-Keeper, will that work?” she asked. Orin looked thoughtful.
“It might. It depends entirely on who you pick to put in his place. If you choose one way, Voldemort might not need to capture Sirius,” he said. Heather realized what he was saying, and didn’t like it one bit.
“So the only way I can stop that is by making the spy the Secret-Keeper?” she asked.
“I never said that,” Orin said, sounding lofty.
“You’re infuriating,” Heather muttered distractedly.
“Why thank you,” Orin said, bowing his head slightly. Heather ignored him, and kept thinking. Well, one thing seemed to be clear at least; she had to stop Sirius from being made Secret-Keeper. Who took his place didn’t matter. She didn’t know who the spy was, and right now she couldn’t care less. But he’s already left! And she didn’t know where he was! She stood up quickly, which was a bad idea. As soon as she did so, she felt sure that she had hit the top of her head on a hard surface. Her eyes closed as she tried to keep her balance.
“I don’t know where he is! What if I can’t get there in time?!” she said, beginning to sob once again. She laid a hand on her forehead, trying desperately to forget the images now running through her mind. Sirius lying in the corner, helpless. Sirius dropping to the ground...dead. She couldn’t handle it. She needed help, but who? Nobody else knew about Sirius being the Secret-Keeper, except Dumbledore, and she had no idea where he was either!
“You need to find out where he is,” Orin said wisely. As if he was unveiling some great secret.
“I know that,” she snapped, wiping at the river that was now pouring from her eyes.
“My my, you have no patience!”
“Patience?! Do you have any idea what I just saw?!” she asked, grabbing the little man’s shoulders in fury. “You have no inkling of what I just witnessed. I don’t need you to tell me what to do, and I definately don’t need you to lecture me on my patience. So if you think that you can just waltz in here and–”
“I know where Sirius is,” Orin interrupted, examining his nails carefully.
“–start meddling in things you don’t underst...what?” Heather asked, taking in what Orin had just said. He looked up from his finger nails and raised his eyebrows.
“I know where Sirius is,” he repeated. Heather stared at him, then hope clasped at her heart. Though a little piece of her wondered how he would know that.
“If you’re lying to me, I will find you and I will kill you,” she said. “You hold Sirius’ and the Potter’s life in your hands.”
“I’m well aware of that. Sirius is at Godric’s Hollow,” Orin said. Again she wondered how he knew.
“He told me that much,” Heather said irritably. “Which house in Godric’s Hollow?!” Orin nodded and then began to give her the exact location. He had barely gotten the last bit out before Heather had disapparated.
“Are you sure we’re doing this right?” Sirius wondered, looking at the green powder in his hand with trepidation. Lily rolled her eyes.
“Yes, for the millionth time! You take the green powder, and James, Harry and I take the blue. It’s as simple as that,” she said.
“It sure doesn’t look that simple,” James said, reading over the instructions that Dumbledore had left. “I can’t even pronounce some of these fancy Latin words!” Lily walked over to see what he was talking about.
“James,” she said, taking the paper from him in irritation, “‘inexplicable,’ is not Latin!” James looked rather annoyed, as if he wanted to go look the word up and check. He decided against it, however, as Lily looked to be in a towering mood. She finally stopped moving around, and placed her hands on her hips. “I think that’s everything. What time have you got?”
“Almost midnight,” Sirius supplied, looking nervous. “Alright, go through this one more time.”
“Okay, all you have to do is read all of this stuff from this parchment,” Lily said, handing him a piece covered in writing. “Then, James and I will read this one together,” she said, taking one for her own and standing opposite Sirius. The small living room seemed to shrink as Sirius got more nervous. James went to stand beside Lily.
“Then what?” James asked, looking apprehensively at the powders they were holding.
“Then Sirius takes his powder and makes a big circle on the carpet,” she muttered, frowning. “I’ll bet this stuff will take forever to get out!”
“Yeah and then what? When do I get to do the hokey-pokey?” Sirius asked, feigning excitement.
“Then James, Harry, and I will pour our powder into the circle you made, because...” she scanned the parchment, “it signifies a barrier around our family.”
“Then are we done?” James said nervously. Lily nodded, looking up at them both.
“I feel like a little kid again. Making a secret club, and doing the ritual, things like that,” Sirius said.
“Yes, well hopefully this will be a little more secret than one of your little clubs,” Lily said, smiling. Sirius nodded. “Alright, I’m going to get Harry...I’ll be right back.” She left the room quickly, leaving James and Sirius standing in the room together. All was tense and silent. James stared at the door through which Lily had just left. Sirius shifted around uncomfortably.
“You alright, mate?” he asked James, who gave a little jump. James slowly turned his head, and when his face came around, Sirius could see the moonlight highlighting the fear in his darkened face. His eyes were moist, and his eyebrows bowed in defeat.
“No, Sirius. I’m not,” James said, looking around as if the world had betrayed him. Sirius walked over to him, not sure what to say. He laid a hand on his shoulder.
“Things will be alright, you’ll see,” he said, halfheartedly trying to cheer him up. James shook his head.
“You don’t know that. Nobody knows that,” and his voice was crackling. “That’s my family in that room,” James said softly, nodding to the room from which cooing sounds could be heard. Lily was talking to Harry. “My wife...my child... They’re all that matter to me now.”
James leaned against the wall in despair, running a hand through his messy black hair. “You know, my entire life, I tried to run away from responsibility. I never wanted to have to deal with anything. I always thought life would be one big party, no worries,” he said with a snort. “But now...I’m responsible for Lily’s protection, for Harry’s protection. The scary thing is.... I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
He went to sit on the couch, and he placed his head in his hands. “Not a morning goes by without my waking up in terror. I can’t get to sleep without running to Harry in the middle of the night, and making sure he’s safe and sound. Every creak is Voldemort sneaking around. Every breeze is a Death Eater’s sigh. He haunts my nights, and my days, Sirius.” James was actually crying now. “I just want what every father wants. I want to raise my child outside, I want to teach Harry to play ball, and ride a broom, and sneak him candy when Lily isn’t looking. I want to read the morning paper without fearing the death of a friend being printed on the first page. I want to know that my wife is safe, I want to enjoy our nights together, not jerk awake at her slightest movement, afraid somebody might be stealing her away. Is it too much to ask?” he finished, viciously wiping at his eyes.
“No, James. It isn’t,” Sirius said, his heart bending painfully. “This war will soon be over, you’ll see!”
“There isn’t any hope for us, Sirius. Look around you! We aren’t hiding in this cottage for nothing. Haven’t you seen Dumbledore’s face? Every wrinkle is taught with fear and desperation. He hides it well, but not well enough,” James said.
“Don’t talk like that,” came Lily’s voice from the doorway. She was holding Harry against her, her eyes wet form hearing her husband’s confessions. James’ eyes misted over at the sight, and he went to her, pulling her into a hug. “You don’t mean that. Everything is going to be alright!”
“I don’t know what to do anymore, Lily. I’m so damn scared...” he whispered. Lily put a firm hand on his cheek.
“Listen to me,” she said in a soothing voice, though it was also crackling with emotion. “We’ll get through this. What we have is too strong to be conquered. And besides, with Sirius as our Secret-Keeper, nothing can go wrong!” she said, giving a smile.
“I don’t know what I would do without you,” James whispered, kissing her lightly.
“I don’t know what I would do without you,” Lily confessed.
“I don’t know what I would do without steak,” Sirius said, pretending to wipe a tear from his eye. Both Lily and James burst out laughing. “Now let’s get this thing started. It’s already past midnight.” Both Lily and James nodded, and Sirius, put his hands on both of their shoulders. “James, Lily, Dumbledore has complete confidence in this spell, as do I. Now, I can’t promise you much,” he said softly. “I can’t promise you that Voldemort won’t kill more people. I can’t promise you that we’ll all make it to the end. But I can promise you that I will do whatever is in my power to keep your family safe.”
Lily hugged him tightly, still holding Harry. “I know that, Sirius. You’re the best friend I could hope for,” she muttered. James looked too choked up to speak, and decided instead on a nod that said more than words could have. Sirius grinned. “Alright, Sirius you stand here, and James you can–” Lily began to move them around the room, positioning them to begin the spell.
“WAIT!” came a new voice. They all turned to see Heather charging through the door. “DON’T DO IT!”
“Heather? What’s wrong?” Sirius said, hurrying to her.
“I had a vision!” she panted. “If you become the Secret-Keeper, you and I will die, and Voldemort will torture you for the Potter’s location!”
“I would never give away their location!” Sirius said, affronted. Heather shook her head.
“You didn’t. I saw them torturing you. You weren’t in your right mind! They gave you some sort of potion, and you began talking to yourself. You told them where Lily and James were... It was horrible, I watched you die...” Heather was hysterical, crying against his shoulder, holding on to him for dear life. Sirius was stunned, but he managed to comfort her.
“Did they hurt you?” Sirius asked immediately. “Were you there?”
“No,” Heather whispered, and she watched Sirius’ face sag in relief.
“How do you know that it won’t happen if Sirius doesn’t become Secret-Keeper?” Lily asked.
“I saw it in the vision!” Heather said, deciding not to tell them about Orin. But in truth, she didn’t know how he knew either. Everybody looked around the room, and now Harry had awakened. He was looking at everybody, blinking obliviously.
“What do we do, James?” Lily asked, thinking hard. James looked around, feeling that he was making a decision that would change their destiny.
“If you change the Secret-Keeper, Voldemort would never suspect,” Sirius explained. “So if he did think there was a Secret-Keeper, he would naturally think you’d picked me. But...what if we switched it. He could torture me all he wanted, and I would have nothing to tell,” he explained, realizing that he was most likely be captured by Voldemort.
“So we lead him in the wrong direction...” James said slowly. “And you would be the bait...”
“But, Sirius! You would undoubtably be captured,” Lily said. Sirius shrugged. Heather prayed that this change in plans would be enough to keep Sirius safe.
“It may be the only way to keep your family safe,” Sirius said, thinking hard. If he had to die for his friends, so be it. Here was his test...he would prove that he wasn’t like the other Blacks. As long as he knew that Heather would be safe while he was gone....
“You won’t be captured,” she said frantically. Sirius looked forlornly at her. “He doesn’t need to even know there is a Secret-Keeper!”
“Yes, but when he finds out there is one, he’ll come for me, Heather, you know he will,” Sirius said sadly, pulling her against him.
“If he finds out. And I’m not going to let that happen!” she said. She didn’t realize that she was yelling now. James saw her distress.
“Heather, we will do everything in our power to keep Sirius safe. Don’t worry. But now, we need to pick a new Secret-Keeper...and fast.”
“Who?” Lily said, trying to keep Harry from pulling at her long red hair. “Who would Voldemort never suspect?”
“Peter,” James, Sirius, and Heather all said at once. Lily nodded. “Should we ask Dumbledore first?” she asked.
“There isn’t time. We need to finish this tonight,” James said firmly. “I’ll send Peter an owl. Sirius, Heather...I’m afraid you can’t be here while the charm is being done...” he added apologetically.
“We understand,” Sirius said. “And James...be careful.”
“I will, you know me. Always careful,” he said with a snort. He turned to go write Peter a letter.
“And James?” Sirius said. James stopped and turned. “Everything is going to be alright.”
A/N: This is one ofmy favorite chapters ever! Only because I just LOVED writing the distraught James. It really just pulled the emotions right out of me. so please review=0)
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