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From that day Kristen somewhat avoided Dumbledore, telling Sirius that she simply felt uncomfortable when he was around. Her friend accepted it without question, her odd behaviors becoming a regular occurrence.

Over the next week he told her stories from Hogwarts and the few things he knew about her life before she went there. She was fascinated by it all and asked questions until she was blue in the face. She was surprised though, that James’s mother never once told her stories, nor had Kristen inquired for them. Kristen rarely saw her anyways, occasionally running into her as Sirius and herself made the rounds of checking up on their friends each day.

Then, finally, James woke up.

They first heard it from his mother, who came running into their room to tell them. They instantly went to him, finding him sitting up in bed and looking a little worse for wear.

“James!” Kristen shouted with joy even though she did not really recognize him.

“Hello,” he replied with a wide grin.

“Nice to see you mate,” Sirius told him.

“You too,” James agreed, slowly taking in his surroundings as his mother beamed. “What happened though? I remember the death eaters and then that’s it.”

“They attacked us. Crucio.” Sirius answered, subtly glancing at Kristen to reassure that he could provide the information.

“I know you’re very excited for you friend but I’m going to need both of you to leave while I do a check over,” the healer assigned to James said kindly to the children.

As they walked back Sirius glanced at Kristen, noticing her unusual quietness. “Is something wrong?” He asked her with concern.

She looked at him, searching for exactly the right way to say what was on her mind. “Don’t tell him,” she said slowly, picking her words carefully. “Don’t tell James that I can’t remember.”

“But he’s your best friend,” Sirius tried to assure her. “It wont make him feel differently about you.”

“I know, I just don’t want him to know yet. I mean, if he outright asks, I won’t deny it, or if his mum tells him it’s all right. I just want him to act as if everything’s okay.” She said with a shrug of her shoulders, obviously acting as if everything was better than it actually was.

Sirius was tempted to just take her answer, the thing he usually did when she began acting secretive like this. But he knew something was bothering her and over the last week he had taken it upon himself to take care of her as Dumbledore began avoiding her like the plague and Mrs. Potter, uncharacteristically, began to forget about them. “Kristen, you can tell me what’s bothering you.”

She sat at the end of his bed, her usual spot when talking to him. “I don’t want him to try to change himself. I mean, I know I was simply lucky that you’re acting normally. And even then I’m not sure you are but I trust you. I just don’t want to have to risk it with him.”

“That’s not all that’s bothering you,” Sirius prodded her. She’d been getting more and more depressed, he could see it. Every day she talked a little less and slept a bit more. He wasn’t sure what it was, perhaps fear for her friends or remorse over losing herself. “Tell me.”

She looked around the room, as it she was afraid for anyone to hear. “Oh I know you’ll hate me when I tell you,” She said worriedly, pushing her fingers through her hair. “It’s just, I don’t know why my parents haven’t come to visit me. I’m guessing now that they don’t like me, or perhaps I hate them, I’m not sure. I feel awful though because you never complain about it and here I am moaning like a baby.”

“Oh I’m so sorry Kristen,” He said quickly. “I should have told you sooner, I just didn’t think about it. Your parents don’t know you’re here. They don’t even know you’re a witch.”

Kristen crinkled her eyebrows in confusion. “Why not?”

Sirius shrugged. “From what I gathered they would not have approved. They have something against magic I think.” He then looked at her cautiously. “Are you sure that’s the only thing that’s bothering you.”

She put on a bright smile. “Yes. I had just been wondering. It was silly of me really.”

Now he just accepted it, knowing that when she was ready, she would tell him all that was going on inside her mind.
* * *
Another two weeks had passed, in which time both Remus and Peter had awoken. Once again, Kristen kept it secret from them that anything was wrong and Sirius went along with it. James and Remus suspected though, James because he was released from St. Mungos a week and a half after his awakening while Sirius and Kristen had not, and Remus because he was acutely aware of her odd behavior. Peter was simply happy to be awake, his mother fussing over him and shooting Kristen and Sirius several cold stares.

Kristen had no idea why Sirius was still there with her. She assumed it was due to her memory loss that she was still in residence but Sirius seemed completely healed besides a few minor aches and pains. She didn’t complain though, she was happy for his company. Not that she didn’t enjoy James, Remus, or Peter’s company; she simply didn’t see them as often. After Remus and Peter were discharged they joined James at school, visiting once every few days.

It was December 10th when Lily finally awoke, the last of the group. Her mother screamed in enjoy at nearly three in the morning when Lily had softly asked for a glass of water.

“At least I woke up in time for Christmas,” She said cheerily when all her friends gathered around her.

And then she was gone. Another week and she had disappeared off to school for the last days of the term, a full month of living without being able to remember a thing. Kristen began to wonder if she would ever remember, beginning to more and more often cry herself to sleep and simply hope Sirius would not hear.

It was the twenty-third when Dumbledore came to visit them. “How would you like to go back to Hogwarts?” he asked slowly, as if unsure of himself.

“Yes!” Kristen nearly shouted, wanting desperately to be out of this prison.

“There won’t be many people there as the Christmas holiday has started. I’m assuming you’re staying for the break Mr. Black?” Dumbledore turned to Sirius.

“Yes sir,” he answered glumly.

“Well then Kristen, you will have some company,” The headmaster said with a cheery smile that seemed a bit forced. “I need to go check with the healers and then we’ll leave. Be sure to get all your things.”

“Because we have so much stuff.” Sirius said sarcastically once Dumbledore had excited the room. The both looked around, the white walls and crisp white sheets seemingly glaring at them. Neither had bothered to bring anything any here besides clothes that they had constantly kept packed, always expecting to be going home.

They waited in impatient silence, ready to get out of there. Sure, they were going to miss their healer, Nickie, but St. Mungo’s was slowly driving them insane, especially without their daily rounds of checking up on their friends.

“This isn’t wise Albus!”

Kristen and Sirius both jumped at the voice outside their door. Kristen knew it by know, having met her head of house several times. Sirius looked at her before smiling and creeping to the door to listen. Kristen was close behind, relishing in the air of excitement.

“Keep your voice down Minerva,” They heard Dumbledore hiss back.

“Do not scold me! How dare you remove her from here! She needs time to regain her memory and be under the guard of this hospital! If you-know-who comes back there is absolutely nothing blocking full access to her!”

“There will be me! I won’t let him anywhere near her! She needs to be back at school; maybe something there will trigger something in her mind. I hoped having Mr. Black stay with her would be enough but apparently I was wrong.”

“She is in too fragile a state of mind right now! You were sure this couldn’t happen Albus and you were wrong about that so you could be about taking her back to school as well! We simply can not risk anyone probing her mind right now when it’s so vulnerable!”

“Unwilling Legilemency has been banned for years Minerva.”

“Did that ever stop you? And you’re the noble one!”

There was a long stretch of silence. “She’s going to Hogwarts. That’s final.”

They heard McGonagall stamp away and they hurriedly busied themselves, making it look as if they’d been occupied the entire conversation. “Ready to go?” Dumbledore asked briskly once he entered the room, an all-together fake smile on his face.

They both nodded their heads a bit numbly, shocked by what they had just heard. “You’re bags will be transferred to your dormitories later. The password is “mandrakes” by the way.” He briskly led them out of the room, the two children, with their short legs, having to run to keep up. “Mr. Black, please go first so she can see how to use the Floo network,” he said once they were at a fireplace in the bustling lobby. “Just say Hogwarts,” Dumbledore instructed him, holing out a bag of dark powder.

Sirius grabbed a handful and threw it into the fire. Kristen watched in amazement as he simply stepped in and shouted, “Hogwarts!” before being whisked away.

“Promise me Kristen, that you will not venture out of sight. Do not leave Sirius’s side and most certainly do not leave the castle. Am I understood?” He asked sternly.

She vehemently shook her head, a bit frightened by his sudden harshness as that wave of unease that she always got when he came around washed over her. “Now go,” he prodded her, throwing a handful of powder in himself. She hesitantly stepped in and cried “Hogwarts” before she began spinning wildly, rooms flashing before her eyes until she suddenly found herself sprawled out across the floor of what looked to be a deserted classroom.

“You all right?” Sirius asked, helping her to her feet.

“For lack of a better word,” She smiled and shrugged, trying to put Dumbledore out of her mind. “Come on, let’s go.”

“Shouldn’t we wait for Dumbledore?” Sirius asked hesitantly as she pulled him out of the room.

“No,” Kristen said decisively, leading him down the hall. She didn’t know where she was going but it felt right. She knew she shouldn’t listen to it, this feeling of simply knowing, the last time she had this feeling she had a breakdown because she was sure her last name was Riddle when it apparently was not. But it was such a wonderful feeling, and just maybe this time it wouldn’t turn out so bad.

Sirius was silent as she drug him along, not quite sure where she was going. He really didn’t care though, mostly because he had discovered something over the last month. He really, really liked Kristen St.Clair, James Potter’s best friend and also so obviously the object of Remus’s affections. He hated admitting it; especially since it had been in the back of his mind since that first night they had detention. He had refused to admit it to himself, especially the next morning. But the past month she had come to rely on him and he had seen something in her that wasn’t there before, trust. That one quality and made him feel nervous at the sight of her and never want to leave her side, something that had never happened to him.

“Hello little cousin.”

Sirius jerked around to see Bellatrix Lestrange. “Hello Bella,” He responded, moving in front of Kristen instinctively.

“What are you doing down here. We don’t want any of your mudblood loving scum here,” She spat at him, glaring maliciously at Kristen.

“We were only walking around,” Kristen stepped out from behind Sirius to stare to older girl down. “That’s not against the rules.”

“It is when you’re on Slytherin ground.” She cracked her knuckled threateningly, advancing on them.

Sirius rolled his eyes heavily. “Stop being so dramatic Bellatrix. Just let us go,” Sirius growled, grabbing Kristen’s hand and beginning to walk away.

“I know what he did to you Kristen,” Bella shouted after them.

Kristen stopped suddenly and turned. “Who?” She asked slowly.

“The Dark Lord,” She answered with a smug smile. “I know what he did to you at Hogsmeade.”

“Don’t listen to her,” Sirius warned, hid grip becoming firmer on her hand.

“But we need to know what happened. Maybe she’ll know why I can’t remember anything.” Kristen fought back, desperately wanting to take any help offered to her.

“He made you one of us,” She whispered, drawing closer. “He told all of us about it. How he tortured your little friends and then you begged to join his army. He branded you as one of us.”

“Shut up Bella,” Sirius snarled, jerking Kristen away. He knew she was lying, and he knew he shouldn’t have allowed Kristen to even listen to her. The look on her face right now was horrible. She looked absolutely terrified.

“She was lying to you,” Sirius told her soothingly once they were well on their way to the Gryffindor common room.

“I don’t think she was,” Kristen answered quietly, comforted by the fact that he hadn’t let go of her hand even after his cousin had said those things.

“I know you Kristen. You would never join the Death Eaters. You hated him.” Sirius assured her.

“Then what is this?” she asked suddenly, pushing up the sleeve of her shirt to show a mark of some kind.

“Oh Merlin!” Sirius said in awe, tracing the mark of a serpent through a skull’s mouth with his finger. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Well it seemed bad,” she said simply. “So was she right? Is this his mark?”

Sirius ran his fingers through his hair nervously. “Well…technically –”

“So I am in league with him!” Kristen stammered out, her eyes wide in horror. “Oh I’m so sorry Sirius! You must hate me! I swear I don’t want to be! I have absolutely no idea what I was thinking!”

“Calm down,” Sirius told her, holding his hand over his mark. “I don’t believe anything Bella just said.”

“But the mark –”

“I know it’s there. Once you get your memory back we’ll know the real reason why.” He spoke in soothing towns, trying desperately to calm her down.

She wiped the back of her hand over her face where tears had started to fall. She gave him a shaky smile. “Thanks Sirius.”

“Don’t thank me yet,” He warned, keeping his eyes down. “You need to tell Dumbledore about this.”

She jerked her hand away, looking more than a little angry. “Why? So he can hate me more than he already does?”

“He doesn’t hate you Kristen.”

“You don’t see the look in his eyes when he talks to me. It’s like he’s afraid of me, which leads him to hate me.” She snapped at him.

“Alright,” Sirius consented. “This is your life, you can make your own decisions. I won’t make you go to Dumbledore.”

She was silent after that, letting him lead her through the corridors and keeping a protective hand over the mark on her arm. They came to the Portrait of the Fat Lady, who loudly proclaimed her love of seeing them again before allowing admittance.

“Your room’s up there,” Sirius told her, pointing up the girl’s staircase. She kept her silence as she made her way up. “I’m sorry Kristen,” she heard him call to her, causing her to turn around. “I was just thinking that that might be the best thing to do. I didn’t mean to make you angry.”

“I know,” She answered quietly before continuing up the staircase to the first year’s dormitory. It was totally empty besides her trunk, which was in front of the bed closest to the door. She changed into her pajamas, even though it was only nearing eight. All she wanted to do right now was sleep though, sleep and forget everything that was happening to her: the mark on her arm, the headmaster hating her, forgetting everything… she couldn’t stand it! She just wanted it to end before it all became too much.

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