Harry had been told by Dumbledore that she would be in a very delicate mindset at the moment and so to give her the least amount of information possible before she had adjusted properly. Personally, Harry didn’t see how she would ever adjust. From what he had gathered she had been a school friend of his fathers and in her 6th year had simply disappeared. It was crazy that no-one had ever mentioned it before, and he felt mildly as if he was in a dream. If he felt like this then he could barely comprehend how she must be feeling.
He sat at the edge of her bed, she was fast asleep now and looked much more peaceful. Snape also stood there too, though reluctantly. Dumbledore had ordered him to keep an eye on her and he looked rather unhappy about the whole arrangement.
“Did you know her?” Harry asked.
Snape’s eyes narrowed. “No.”
“You seemed to.”
“Well I didn’t.”
Harry frowned. “She knew you,” he persisted. “She knew my father and you knew him, You must have known her.”
Snape’s face twitched but he didn’t reply to this. They both fell silent as Charlotte rolled over. Her eyes fluttered and she opened her eyes. She saw the two of them and seemed to re think her position to wake up and she closed her eyes tightly.
“No you aren’t dreaming,” Snape said, in a very uncaring and impatient way.
Charlotte opened her eyes. “You know Snivellus, I think I preferred you when you were younger.”
He snarled. “You know, Charlotte, I think I preferred it once you had disappeared.”
Her cheeks flushed at this but she didn’t say anything. Harry’s fists were clenched. Snape was not exactly following the rules Dumbledore had left. She sat up slowly and rubbed her eyes.
“This is so strange,” she whispered, looking around. Her eyes filled with tears again. “I kind of liked my old life.”
Harry had absolutely no idea what he could possibly say that would be of any use to her without giving her unnecessary information but he also was curious. No-one had ever mentioned her before.
“Did you know my father?” he asked gently.
Charlotte stared at him. “Yeah. James is… was… he and I were friends. I used to be friends with a girl called Mary but um we fell out so I hung around with James, Remus, Peter and Sirius… Is James still friends with them?”
Harry winced. He shouldn’t have said anything. Here come the questions. “Er. Sort of.”
“You were a charming wee bunch, weren’t you,” Snape commented sarcastically.
“Ah Snivelly. Seems you haven’t got any less bitter at all,” she said to him.
He looked angry and Harry was worried he’d tell her James was dead or something. The shock would probably kill her.
“Too bad you were frozen in time. You and Black would have been such a lovely couple,” Sarcasm dripped of his tongue and her face melted as he said this.
Harry froze where he was. She and Sirius had been a couple? As in, they were going out?
She opened her mouth to say something but then shut it and she looked at the ceiling, obviously trying to stop the flow of tears that was welling at the corners of her eyes.
“I bet you couldn’t be happier Snape. Too bad Lily got married to James and had Harry…” she said quietly.
Harry looked at Snape, his nostrils were flared and he looked possibly like he might kill something.
“What do you mean?” Harry asked immediately.
Charlotte glanced at Snape and then paused, she shrugged. “He er… Didn’t like James. Now he has to deal with him and his son…”
“Oh,” Harry answered, but couldn’t help but feel there was meant to be something more in her sentence.
All of a sudden Charlotte had pushed herself out of bed and was putting her shoes on. Snape stood up, probably with the intention of stopping her but he found himself awkwardly standing in front of her, unable to do anything.
“What are you doing?” he asked uncomfortably.
“You can’t, you have to stay here. Don’t you want to finish school?” Snape asked her.
She stood up. “I don’t care in the least about finishing school that I started 25 years ago. I want to see my friends.”
Ah. Here we are. The snag.
Luckily Dumbledore had rushed in, he came over immediately.
“Ah Charlotte, you are up.”
“Yes I am,” she said.
“Well I think it is time we arranged who you are to stay with and where. I know you must be feeling curious about all the people you care about but believe me, things will become clear.”
Charlotte shrugged. “Fine. I want to stay with Sirius.”
Dumbledore looked uneasy. “With Sirius Black?”
“Yes. Him. He’s my… friend and he’ll look after me,” she said.
“He was your friend,” Snape corrected. “He hasn’t seen you in 20 years, don’t you think he’ll be a tad shocked?”
“He will… but everything will sort itself out,” Charlotte persisted. “I’m not going to stay somewhere else and bloody well twiddle my thumbs okay? I’m going to see him, and everyone else and sort it out.”
“He is 36 years old Charlotte,” Dumbledore said quietly. “You do realize this?”
Charlotte looked miserable but she nodded. “Yeah. I know.”
The three looked at her, waiting for her to change her mind, to shout, to cry, anything but she didn’t budge. Harry briefly thought that she was one stubborn person, but the thought was chased away by his sympathy for her. She had lost everything, and she just wanted a bit of it back.
“Okay then Charlotte if this is how it is going to be there are a few things you need to know. Sirius is currently staying with Remus Lupin. Their whereabouts is hidden…”
“This is important.”
“Okay, okay. I understand,” she said.
Dumbledore nodded. “Okay I will send you there, Snape will accompany you incase they react badly, thinking you are a spy or something.”
Charlotte smiled ever so slightly. “Okay.”
“He will inform them not to tell you too much information. Eventually though I’m sure everything will slip out.”
“You will not attempt to go back in time.”
Dumbledore then turned to Snape. “Severus, You will have to take this unregistered port key I’m setting up. Umbridge cannot find out.” He lowered his voice. “Can you stay for long enough to explain this all.”
“I’m sure it will bring me great joy,” he answered sarcastically.
Dumbledore smiled. “Fine then. For now Charlotte this is goodbye. I’m urging you to be careful, this isn’t going to be a smooth ride.”
Charlotte nodded. “I will.”
Snape and Charlotte arrived at 12 Grimmauld place with a soft thud. Snape immediately moved away from Charlotte as if she were a bad smell and Charlotte took a deep breath.
This isn’t going to be a smooth ride.
She knew that. Of course she did.
Do you? Can you honestly tell yourself you don’t half expect your 16 year old boyfriend to come walking in?
Snape walked forward a couple of steps, pulling out the paper with the name of the house on it. Charlotte read it and slowly but surely the house appeared in front of them. He knocked.
“Who is it?”
Evidently Dumbledore decided surprise was the best way for them to arrive. Charlotte could feel some recognition in that slightly husky voice, but she was sure that it wasn’t Sirius who had spoken.
“It’s Severus, and well. You need to see this Remus.”
Remus. Remus bloody Lupin. He was always the sensible marauder, the one who had the decency to treat people as human beings. Something Sirius and James could sometimes forget.
The door opened and they were let inside. Remus was checking the curtains were shut on a portrait and he didn’t notice the visitors.
“Well what did you want, that was so important Severus?” Remus asked, still not looking at them.
Charlotte looked at him. He was older, definitely. Hair was graying and he was taller, broader at the shoulder than he had been at 16.
Finally he turned around, the act seemed to take him and age and once he had turned he blinked and then quickly drew his gaze from Charlotte to Snape.
“What is this?”
Charlotte folded her arms. “What do you mean what? I’m not a what. I’m your friend I hope you remember.”
Remus shook his head. “Charlie? You shouldn’t time travel it’s dangerous, I mean. Charlie? Is it really you?”
Charlotte took a deep breath. “Snivellus will want to talk to you about this all, but Remus it’s me. I d-didn’t disappear. I just skipped out a few- twenty years of my life.”
Snape looked mildly ill but he didn’t say anything.
Remus’ hands shook as he raised one up to her shoulder and then let it fall limply at his side.
“How old are you?”
“16 Remus I told you. When I disappeared I was frozen in time. I arrived here a few moments ago but it felt like I had just left the Gryffindor common room. I can’t get back because the past is gone and now I’m stuck here at 16 when all of you grew up!” her voice heightened and Remus looked understandably shocked.
He looked to Snape for confirmation and Snape nodded. “It’s the truth.”
Remus groaned. “Oh Charlie. You don’t know how much we missed you. Sirius and James refused to believe you were dead, and I didn’t like it, but you just vanished. Even Dumbledore didn’t have a clue. But you are here, now?”
“Don’t give her too much information Remus. Dumbledore’s orders, it’s for her own goo…”
“Oh shut up Snivellus. Don’t treat me like I’m younger than you,” Charlotte interrupted.
Snape rolled his eyes. “You are younger than me.”
“I was born in the same year as you.”
Remus put his hands up to silence them. “Sirius was devastated,” he said quietly.
Charlotte just shrugged and tried not to cry. Nothing could be the same ever again from now on.
“Hey, hey. It’s going to be okay,” Remus said.
Charlotte laughed slightly despite herself. “Oh humour me Remus. How is anything going to be okay?”
Remus winced. “Well, you’re alive. It’s more than we thought…”
There were muffled footsteps upstairs and Charlotte’s heartbeat increased at least seven times the usual. Snape smirked. “Here we go,” he said.
The footsteps grew louder. “Moony who the hell are you yabbering to? I thought you were going to help me sort out this room.”
Remus gulped. “Uh Sirius, this is kind of important…”
Sirius stomped downstairs, and feeling her stomach clench Charlotte quickly hid behind Snape, she didn’t look at Sirius. She didn’t want to see him. Sirius’ eyes went to Snape and he frowned.
“What’s so important? Why are you here,” he added at Snape.
Snape smirked. “You are about to have the shock of your life.”
Sirius rolled his eyes. “What? Dumbledore decided I can no longer even think about Harry, because that wouldn’t really be a surprise after everything else he’s stopped me doing.”
Charlotte’s urges got the better of her. “Why won’t Dumbledore let you see Harry?” she asked.
Remus and Snape both froze and Sirius made a face.
“Who was that?” he asked.
Charlotte swiveled around and found herself eye to eye with the 36-year-old Sirius Black. He was thinner, gaunter than she remembered and facial hair now graced his chin and cheeks. His black hair was wild but his eyes, those dazzling grey eyes; she could see him in those at least. For him however it was like seeing a ghost. Those charming blue eyes and her cute little freckled nose he hadn’t seen in 20 long years. He immediately realized he had gone completely bonkers.
He turned around. “I’m going to bed. Wake me up when I’m normal.”
“So never?” Snape asked.
“Sirius…” Remus began.
Sirius didn’t turn around. “I’m seeing things Remus.”
Snape and Remus both looked at Charlotte. She was obviously going to have to say something.
“Sirius I know it’s crazy but it really is me. It’s weird for me to see all of you as well, you’ve gotten so much older and I, well yesterday I was saying bye to you and James, the 16 years olds that is as I went to do my detention, and suddenly it’s 20 years later. I don’t know what’s happened but it’s been awful and I need you.”
“You aren’t real,” Sirius replied, still not looking at her.
Charlotte let a laugh escape her. “What? What? I’m not real? What is wrong with you? I am real. I’m here. I.. tell him Snivellus?”
At the usage of their cruel nickname for Snape Sirius turned around. His eyes travelled across Remus and rested on her.
“But you are still…” Sirius began.
“I’m 16 yes. I was frozen in time.”
“Frozen…” Sirius’ voice was dreamy. “I can’t believe this. I thought you had died. I contemplated suicide.”
Charlotte looked alarmed. “What?!”
Remus shoved Sirius.
“I just don’t. I can’t…” he rambled.
“I know,” Charlotte answered. “So you’re 36 huh. Um… you look old.”
Remus laughed very slightly.
Sirius shrugged a shoulder. “Yeah well, Azkaban does that to a person.”
“Azkaban?” Charlotte exclaimed. “Why were you there?”
“Dumbledore said not to…” Snape began.
“Oh go kiss ass somewhere else Snape,” Charlotte snapped. “Sirius, why were you there?”
Sirius smirked at Snape. “It’s a long story. 20 years really. You’ve missed a hell of a lot Charlie. It really is you isn’t it? I can’t remember anyone else apart from James and I speaking to old Snivelly like that.”
“The height of cool, you were,” Charlotte said. “And you knew it.”
Sirius smiled but it dropped quickly from his face. “What are we going to do?”
Snape was heavily uncomfortable here, especially when he heard the emotion is Sirius’ voice. He rolled his eyes and clasped his hands together. “Seeing as I don’t exactly care what you all do, and you obviously aren’t going to listen to my warnings not to give her too much information, then can I go?”
Sirius didn’t answer him, he simply stared back at Charlotte looking confused as anything.
Remus turned to Snape and nodded and with that Snape immediately took the portkey and vanished. This left behind an empty sort of silence.
“What are we going to do?” Sirius repeated blankly. He ran a hand through his long and untamed hair, pushing it back off his face.
Remus looked pale. “I think I’ll go make us some nice strong tea. Hm?”
Neither Charlotte nor Sirius answered, but once he had left the hall Charlotte let out a small sharp burst of laughter. She looked downwards, miserably. “Since when do you two drink tea?”
Sirius smiled slightly but managed to at the same time look as if he might cry. “Since we got old I’m guessing.”
Charlotte nodded slowly. “Are you going to tell me anything that’s happened? I mean, why are you hiding? Where are James and Peter? Did you… meet someone else? When did you forget about me? Why were you in Azkaban? What happened?”
“That’s a lot of questions,” Sirius replied slowly but as she looked enraged he held up his hand. “But I’ll answer them the best I can, for now,” he took a deep breath...
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