the present
Chapter Two: The Past

Juliette Granger peered around the corner uneasily. She’d been told hundreds of time to stay in the “common” areas of Grimmauld…the areas that had been deemed safe by her mother or Uncle Remus. But she couldn’t help it…the entire house was like a fairytale castle full of ghosts, gnomes and hidden passageways. This wasn’t her first night perusing the castle long after everyone else had gone to bed, but this time was different in one important way: tonight she was on a mission.

It had started just days ago when she came across an old photo album of the Black family. Their were pictures of what the house had looked like in its days before the darkness settled over it…the way Juliette dreamed it would one day be again. Dashing men in formal clothes, ladies dressed in the most elegant attire and, rather than the gray gloominess she knew so well, the house seemed alive with love and fellowship. The people in the photos were laughing and joking, carrying on in their fanciful clothes as if they had no cares in the word…all except for one.

Knowing her mother wouldn’t approve of where she found it, she’d taken it to Remus and asked about the dark haired, gray-eyed teenager that seemed so miserably unhappy. It had shocked her to learn that it was none other than Sirius Black. She had, of course, been hearing stories about Sirius since before she could remember…Remus told of his hijinks at Hogwarts, Tonks told of holidays when Sirius would incite Nargles to attack party guests and even her mother, who rarely shared memories of the past, would laugh whenever someone brought up his infamous escape from Dementors during her own school years.

He’d become quite the legend to her…a dark knight that gave the ultimate sacrifice. Although Draco scoffed and called him a convict whenever his name was mentioned, Juliette couldn’t help but see Sirius as a fabled hero from one of her many story books. To see him so terribly sad had confused her and when Remus explained how unhappy Sirius had been at Grimmauld, Juliette knew exactly what she had to do.

Sensing the coast was clear, she slipped around the corner and down the darkened hallway. As she ventured further into the shadows, soft candlelight along the walls began to flicker to life as if ignited by her mere presence. Silently begging the door not to squeak, she stepped into the pitch black room. She jumped as cobwebs coated her face and intermingled with her hair. Brushing them off as best she could, she flipped on the light, her eyes burning as they adjusted to the new brightness.

The jumbled mess was the same as it had been during her previous visit and she could only assume her mum was too busy to have set to work on cleaning this room yet. The objects that filled the room were glorious: golden goblets, emerald studded frames that had once lined the halls of Grimmauld with family portraits, ornate mirrors with scrolls like snakes surrounding their edges. Juliette had filled many hours treasure hunting through the mess but had never taken anything from the room. She wasn’t sure exactly why, but something had told her that the carvings signified dark magic…the kind Draco had warned her against. He’d frightened her upon catching her in here once, telling her devilish gnomes would steal her breath while she slept if she didn’t mind her mother. Thankfully, she was older now and didn’t believe in such nonsense but the feeling of darkness permeated the room with such realism she couldn’t ignore it.

She squeezed her eyes shut as she tried to remember where it was. She retraced her steps in her mind, trying to remember exactly where she’d seen it last. Try as she might, though, she couldn’t recall. Her eyes fluttered open in annoyance, her gaze drifting over the many objects. She jerked involuntarily at the sudden weight in her hand. It wasn’t heavy but it was heavier than an empty fist. Unnerved, she lifted her hand slowly and gingerly uncurled her fingers. She smiled. Just what she was looking for.

The delicate silver filigree locket was heart shaped, vines entangling each other as they wound around the design. It was hollow and she held it up to the light to make sure it held nothing inside. She could easily imagine it a cage for some small object or creature and was afraid she may have disturbed its contents. Fortunately, it was still empty. Slipping the long silver chain around her neck, the heart landed almost at her belly button and she couldn’t withhold a giggle. How exactly, was she going to hide its presence from her mum?

Deciding that was something she’d deal with when the time came, Juliette stepped back into the hallway. She peered closely for any would be tattle-tales but, finding none, she hurried back to the privacy of her own room. Slipping off her pink chenille robe, she climbed into bed, covering her head and all underneath the mound of pink cotton.

“Lumos,” she whispered softly and a soft light emitted from the wand she kept hidden under her blankets. Cupping the locket in her hands, she studied it carefully…trying to find some way to make it open. She wasn’t even sure it did anything but it had been what Remus called “instinct”. For days she had had the feeling that the locket was a key to something important and only tonight, when she’d heard her mother arguing with Draco over getting married, did she realize what she had to do.

Certainly, it was one of the most beautiful things she’d ever seen and she didn’t want to believe it was bad but, Remus had warned her the things you loved most were the very things that hurt you most. She didn’t really know what he meant but she trusted him. She had thought about it, rationalized it, and had finally admitted that she didn’t care if the locket was created with dark magic…if it could help her mum, she do whatever it took.

Now that she had it though, she wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. She didn’t know any real spells and she didn’t know of any spell books that her mum didn’t keep locked up. As she began mumbling any magic words that came to mind, a soft knocking caused her to jerk from underneath the covers.

“Juliette?” Remus peered around her door. “Are you asleep?”

“No,” she answered, shaking her head more violently than necessary.

He tilted his head to the side with a smile as he sank down on the edge of her bed. “I came to say goodnight but, now I’m rather curious as to what’s causing that guilty look on your face.”

“Me?” she smiled innocently. “I’m just getting ready for bed.”

“You are in bed, Juliette,” Remus said pointedly, raising an eyebrow. “Do I even want to know?”

Juliette paused and considered. She shook her head with a shrug. “No, probably not.”

He chuckled. “Fair enough.”

“I have your Christmas present,” she whispered conspiratorially. “Would you like to see it?”

“It’s a little early, don’t you think?”

“Well, I have another one, too. I just can’t really give you this one in front of people.”

“Well,” Remus nodded seriously, “by all means, give it to me now then.”

“Close your eyes.” She demanded and when be obeyed, she slipped the locket into her nightgown out of his view. Stretching to the nightstand, she opened the door with a squeak. Checking to make sure he still wasn’t looking, she pulled out a tattered picture. “Okay, open them,” she smiled brilliantly as she held it out.

Remus sucked in a breath. He tried to feign a smile but couldn’t manage it. “W-where did you find this?”

“Did I do something wrong? They were your best friends, weren’t they?” Juliette was near tears. “I’m so sorry.”

“No, no,” Remus sank back against the headboard and slipped his arm around her shoulders. “It just took me by surprise is all. I didn’t even know this picture existed.”

Remus let his eyes rest on the picture of Sirius and James. Like many other things in retrospect, Remus wondered where Peter had disappeared to on this particular occasion. Sirius had his arm draped around James’ shoulders, both of them grinning widely. It was a muggle picture…the two weren’t moving around… but Remus could envision them in the room as if they were both still with him.

“They look so happy.”

“They were,” Remus chuckled. “It was the weekend after finals in our sixth year. Sirius had gotten this brilliant idea to sneak off grounds and take a trip to Hogsmeade. Do you remember me telling you about Hogsmeade?”

Juliette nodded. “Why did they have to sneak out?”

“They both had detention.”

“As usual,” Juliette giggled.

“Exactly,” Remus said nodding. “On the way back, we got caught by a Slytherin. He was determined to turn us in and get us in trouble.”

Juliette gasped. “What did Sirius do? He did something he shouldn’t, didn’t he?”

“You know him well. He magically bound him to a tree just inside the Forbidden Forest. The teachers had to come answer his screams. This picture was taken right after they helped him back to the school.”

“Was he hurt?”

“No, just scared. So he looked like a big baby to all the other students,” Remus frowned as he spoke. “It wasn’t a very nice thing to do.”

Juliette nodded seriously and exchanged a look with him that caused them both to grin. “But it was funny.”

“That is was. Sirius and James knew how to liven up anything.” Remus kissed her forehead. “Get some sleep, Juliette.”

“Can’t I have a bedtime story first?”

“What did I just give you?” Remus asked laughing. “All right, all right.”

Once upon a time a long, long time ago a handsome dark haired boy lived in a castle somewhere on the outskirts of London. He was a prince of a boy, noble from birth and destined for great things. He wasn’t a happy boy, though. His family was mean and treated him very badly. They convinced him that he was never good enough for anything and, after many years, he came to believe them. His birthright forgotten, his destiny lost, he left his home to find the one thing that could bring happiness back into this life.

One day, while on his magical quest, the prince came upon a trio of boys near the edge of a forest. They were leaning close together, their voices in a low whisper. They laughed out loud at their own jokes and the prince couldn’t help but be drawn to them. They became his knights and they all lived happily for many many years. Theirs lives were laced with colorful characters, beautiful maidens, goblins and fairies. It was a magical, magical time for all the boys who became known as the Marauders.

But one day, a darkness fell over the land and an evil force like none other threatened the world they had created for themselves. An evil lord, intent on spreading hatred across the nation, crossed their path and their fates were cast. They resisted for as long as they could but one by one the daring knights fell. The prince was one of the last remaining and, despite the dark times he had faced, he was determined not to lose the happiness that he had searched so long to find. The world was a better place because of him and the people who knew him never forgot the wondrous laughter and blessings he bestowed on them by merely being their friend.

Remus kissed Juliette softly, tucking the covers tightly around her tiny body. He tried to hide the tears that had streamed down his face with the story, but she was too observant. She wiped them away without comment though, offer him a hug of reassurance.

“Night, Uncle Remus.” She curled onto her side as she heard the door click behind him. It made her heart hurt to see him so sad…times like this reminding her how many people at Grimmauld were sad. There was no laughter here.

She tightened her grip on the locket, wishing she knew how to make it work. Sirius had found a way to be happy even in the face of Grimmauld…couldn’t she find a way too? She would learn how to make the locket work…no matter how long it took her.

Her eyes fluttered heavily, her mind drifting into the magical world of the prince and his laughter filled world of love and companionship. If only, she thought hazily.

If only mum had the prince for her own.

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