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Chapter 2

Alice sat on the sofa, a teddy in her hand as she watched her husband hide behind the arm of the sofa, the little form of her son Neville was beside her. He was leaning towards the place where his daddy was hiding, a big anticipating grin on his little face.

“Ahh.... peek a boo!” Frank shouted, his head popping out over the arm. Neville cackled loudly and fell backwards on his nappy-cushioned behind.

Alice smiled as her son cackled madly, and pushed himself back up on to his feet, tears of laughter falling down his red cheeks. He held tightly onto the back of the chair with his small hands to balance himself, as Frank stood up from his sitting position on the floor. He scooped his sons into his arms and lifted him into the air; Neville’s face was now a deep red.

“Daddy doesn’t want your mummy to go to this stupid meeting, oh no he doesn’t,” and Frank planted a kiss on Neville’s cheek. “What is it about?” he asked, holding his son against his chest and looking down at Alice on the sofa.

“Sirius Black,” she said softly. Frank’s features darkened in sadness and he shook his head.

“Alice, you know he didn’t do it,” he said with a sigh, before sitting down on the sofa. Neville had now fallen silent, he took one of Alice’s hands in his and watched as she wiped away one of her silent tears from her cheek. He waited for her eyes to drift up to meet his.

“I know Frank, that’s why I’m going here,” she answered, “the ministry is too arrogant to see anything else. They want to look like they’re doing something good for once-,” and the minute Alice said it, she could feel herself snap in anger. “I mean, throwing a perfectly innocent man in prison is right now, is it!?” she yelled, her cheek blushing angrily.

“No, Alice it isn’t,” Frank answered.

Alice stood up from the sofa, and walked away, brushing her hand through her short brown hair, making it stick up on end, this gesture was a stab to the heart for both of them- Alice had gotten the habit from watching James Potter do it constantly.    

Alice noticed what she was doing, and pulled her hand away from her hair, she stared at is as if it was going to kill her, before balling it up into a fist.

“It should have been me,” she choked out, still with her back turned against her husband and son.

“Alice, don’t talk like that, it should have been nobody. It was supposed to just drift past with everyone still alive,” Frank said forcefully but still gentle. Alice looked over her shoulder at her husband, line of tears streaming down her cheeks.

“They were still just two children, they didn’t know what it was like to live,” Alice whispered, dabbing at her face.

“Lily and James were more than just two children,” Frank answered.

Neville started to make gurgling noises from beside Frank on the sofa, and for a second Alice forgot to be angry but then mentally shook herself.

“They were barely out of their teen years! Can you remember when you were twenty one?” she asked Frank. Frank looked at her, and bit his lip; and Alice knew she had won this fight with the answer he was going to give.

“I was still living with my mum,” he mumbled.

Alice looked at him, and closed her eyes to stop more tears from falling as she turned back to look out of the sitting room window and out onto the front garden. She had gotten her point across to him

“It should have been us,” she whispered, mostly to herself, the guilt that she was trying to keep hidden now consumed her- they were the ones who were supposed to die.

Alice had just left for the ministry a second ago, leaving Frank and a sweet-toothed Neville alone in the house.

“Is that nice?” Frank asked, kneeling down in front of his chocolate covered child as Neville giggled at him. He scrunched one of the pink sweet wrappers in his hand and grabbed for a tissue. When he turned back around to his son, he saw that Neville’s chubby face was spotlessly clean from any piece of chocolate. Frank was momentarily stunned into silence, before his heart leapt with the sudden realization.

“Did my Neville just do his first bit of magic?!” he said excitedly, and he pulled a smiling Neville onto his feet. “Oh, who’s a clever boy? Mummy is going to be so proud of you,” he pecked a kiss on his cheek as he felt like bursting; his son was not a squib! He wanted to tell someone, but then with a terrible pang of his heart, he remembered that the person he used to tell these sorts of things to be now dead. Frank sighed and leaned back against the sofa.

Alice strolled around the fountain of the elf, wizard, witch and centaur and towards the elevators where people were trying to squash themselves into the small space. She stood back from the elevator, and watched the pained and annoyed faces as the bars slid in front of the people and they jerked backwards, away from the floor and disappeared from view.  

Alice shoved her hands into the front pockets of her cloak and rolled up and down on the balls of her feet, as an empty lift came into view in front of her, as the gates began to open, “Longbottom,” was drawled from beside her. Alice turned slightly to see who it was, even though she knew only one person could own that blood-boiling voice- Lucius Malfoy stood beside her, his blonde hair tied back into a pony-tail and his beloved green, snake-head cane in his hand.

Without answering him, Alice strolled forward and into the elevator. According to her Lucius was a Death Eater, no doubt about it but there was nothing against the man to charge him. Even with the Dark Mark on his arm as he had stuck by his story of how he was bewitched by Voldemort through the Imperius Curse and had not meant to serve him. Alice was still convinced he was a true and loyal follower of the Dark Lord.

“See they are even stupid enough to give you a job!” Alice hissed, the other people who were unfortunate enough to get in the same elevator with them, tried to avoid eye contact with them. Lucius smirked.

“I see you’re still alive,” he snapped back. “Pity what happened to the Potters, they were such nice people,” and Lucius tilted his head to one side. “But don’t worry about it, it’s nearly over now,” and he stepped out of the lift.

Alice stared at him, and Lucius smirked as if convinced he had said what he needed to say, before turning and strutting away with his head held high, as people scurried out of his way.

As the gates closed in front of Alice, her blood was boiling and her mind was calling the man all the awful names under the sun, and she smiled when she remembered what he had said ‘don’t worry it’s nearly over’- the stupid man was still relying on false hope that the war was still taking place, even with the Dark Lord gone. Alice chuckled at the man’s stupidity, making the girl that was only person on the lift look up in curiosity.  

When Alice strolled into the room where the meeting was taking place, she found that the Minister, Cornelius Fudge, Amelia Bones and some other important and unimportant people were already sitting down at a large oval-shaped table.

“Oh, here he comes, the woman who has pulled us all down here to hear her story!” barked one of them as the door clicked shut behind Alice.

“Shut up! Longbottom sit,” Fudge snapped from the further head of the table and he indicated to Alice to sit in the chair at the other end, Alice did, hoping that she wouldn’t trip on a crease in the carpet as everybody’s eyes was on her movements.

She silently sat down on the chair.

“So?” Fudge asked from the other end, the people sitting on either side of the table turned to look at him, “What is this about? You want to let a mass murderer out of prison!” he chuckled, as if it was the most bizarre thing in the world, but nobody else laughed.

Alice took a deep breath before she began to speak.

“Sirius Black did not sell Lily and James Potter to the Dark Lord,” Alice began. There were a few whispers from some of the people gathered around the table. Fudge leaned forward in his chair.

“Where’s the proof Longbottom?” he asked.

Alice paused, she didn’t have any proof- she was just going with what her heart was telling her to do.

“Sir, James Potter and Sirius Black were closer than brothers. They were practically inseparable. Why the hell would Sirius just one day wake up and say ‘oh I’m going to kill the closest thing I have for a brother!’ Alice said, and when she stopped talking she found herself no longer sitting on the chair but she was now standing on her feet.

“Alice, that doesn’t prove anything, Black could of doing that to get closer in with Dumbledore and spy for his family and the Dark Lord-,”

“Sirius ran away from home when he was in school because he hated his family traditions and ways and the Potter’s took him in!”

“That could of been the part of the Dark Lord’s plan, make them feel like they were doing something good-,”

“Sir! James made Sirius Harry’s godfather, I think that would prove their loyalty and thrust in each other!”

“It was an easy mistake, James was arrogant.”

Alice was breathing fast; she was going to drop the bombshell on the whole of them. She took a deep breath, “They were all Illegal Animagi.”

The silence which followed this sentence was deafening to Alice’s ears. After a couple of seconds, which felt more like hours, Fudge laughed.

“Alice! Do you really think I can’t keep track of people?” he chuckled, but this was followed by angry hisses of whispers from the other people, making Fudge flush in anger and he too stood to his feet.

“What’s next Longbottom, you going to tell me Miss Potter was a Seer or something?” he snapped, all light-hearted conversation gone from the room.

“No, but you are making a grave mistake Minister!”

“He killed Peter Pettigrew,”

“He didn’t, he was found with Peter’s finger, that’s different. In his anger Sirius attacked Peter with a knife, chopping off his finger, then the man transformed into his Animagus form just before the officials arrived, so that Sirius was only left with the finger,”

“Why would he be angry with Peter?”

“Peter is the betrayer, not Sirius. He was the Potter’s secret keeper,”

Fudge narrowed his eyes as the he tried to handle the information that was being thrown at him.

“How do you know that?”

Alice took a deep breath “Lily and I met up two days before she died; she told me Peter betrayed them, not Sirius. They didn’t pick Sirius as their secret keeper as he was too obvious, but Peter. ”

“Why didn’t she tell Albus?”

Alice paused, she hadn’t thought about that, she looked down at the table and then back up at the minister.

“Because she didn’t trust Albus, she felt comfortable telling me. She felt like it was her fault that they picked Peter and not Sirius,” Alice mumbled, not wanting to say the true reason why Dumbledore wasn’t defending the man, because he thought Black killed the twelve Muggles and Peter. 
Everyone fell silent, Fudge bit his lips.

“Fine,” he sighed “This is only because I want you out of my hair and nothing else. If you are willingly to go up against the Wizengamot tomorrow at noon and defend Mister Black ‘s innocents than he may have a chance to get out,” Fudge said, looking angered that he had to show weakness.

“Thank you,” Alice said, and with her heart leaping around madly in her chest, she silently left the room, on her way back home to take up the night minding her son while her husband went to talk to the prisoner who was going to be a free man in less than fifteen hours.

As the boat bumped up against the side of the bank Frank clambered out, his feet sinking into the mud and the feeling of dread and despair filling all his senses. He swallowed hard and looked up at the thousand of slits for windows in the dark, dirty walls of the prison.

He picked out his wand from an inside pocket, “Expecto Patronum,” he whispered and the silver panther appeared beside him, and the dreadful feeling as if he was about to die disappeared. He pulled his overcoat tighter around him, no matter what he felt like, he still hated the prison. His breath came out in small puffs in front of his face as he began to walk towards the large from door of the building, his Patronus trotting beside him. 

Just outside the walls sat another building, a lot smaller than the prison but build in the same way. Frank turned off the road which led to the front door of the prison and onto the one which led to the other building. He knocked his knuckles against the wooden door three times, and it immediately swung open.

Inside was a large room with twenty desks inside of it with wizards and witched working away, all grimed-faced and horrid looking and Frank understood why, even though they weren’t in prison and had their silver Patronuses sitting around the place, it still left its effects on them. 

“How may I help you?” asked a blond-haired woman, as she walked up to him, looking like she was better off on her death-bed than anywhere else.

“I’m here on business, I need to talk to a prisoner,” Frank explained.

The girl nodded.

“Come with me, there are just a few forms you have to fill out,” she said, walking into a small office on their right and Frank followed her, his silver Patronus trotting in after him.

The woman sat down on the chair behind a messy desk and pulled out a bundle of forms from one of her drawers.

“Just fill in whatever you can, I can do the rest,” she said, handing the papers over to Frank, as he sat down and she moved away a bundle of papers to make space for him to write.

Frank picked up the quill the woman had also handed him and began to write his name and his Auror Identification number, the girl all the time staring deeply at him, watching every flick of his wrist as he wrote.

Twenty minutes later, after the woman located the files of Mister Sirius Black which took her a whole five minutes. He and the woman were walking silently towards the wooden front door of the prison, their two Patronuses trotting beside them. As they stopped outside the door, something to Frank’s left caught his eye, and he turned to get a better look. There was a graveyard with thousands of little crosses, he felt like turning around and running home.

The woman didn’t pay any attention to the graveyard, she pulled out her wand and gave it a small flick, a low creak broke through the silence and a second later the doors pulled apart, to show Frank a Quidditch Pitch sized hall which was dark, depressing and dungeon-like. The dark forms of Dementors glided around them, their movements becoming more exited by the new visitor. 

“I hope your fit,” the girl said as she brought Frank to the bottom of a set of a large stone staircase.  “Your prisoner is on the highest floor,” she explained, picking up the hem of her cloak and beginning to make her way up the steps.

“The minor criminals are on the lower floors while the high security are above,” she continued to explain. Frank didn’t answer her, he was putting all his concentration into preventing himself to curl up into a ball and cry his heart out- the painful screams and yells from the surrounding prisoners was overpowering.

When they reached the top of the stairs, the girl turned around to face Frank who was by now a shaking wreck, he felt like he was going to throw up.

“Do you want to take a breather?” she asked. Frank violently shook his head sweat dripping down his face, as his eyes locked on the bundle of Dementors that the girl had ordered away.

“Okay, he’s in the second cell to the right, I’ll be waiting right here,” she said, folding her arms across her chest and turning to look down at the other criminals.

Frank hurried away from her, wiping the sweat from his face and trying not to pass out.

As he came up to the cell, he peered through the silver bars “Sirius?” he asked, trying to see through the darkness. There was a rustle of chains and from the heavy shadows out walked a thin Sirius Black, the handsome features of his face were already disappearing.

“Frank?” he asked, there was a loud clang and the chains around his les and arms prevented him from walking on any further, they just stared at each other.

“I didn’t kill them,” he whispered, and at the sound of the familiar voice Frank had a flashback of the last time he saw Sirius, he had been sitting with Lily and James and they were cackling madly at a joke he had told, James had been holding his new born son.  

Frank bit back the sobs that were threatening to break through “I know you didn’t Sirius. That’s why I’m here.”

Sirius looked up at him, his blue eyes managing to sparkle in the darkness.  

“I don’t want you to get your hopes up, but Alice has persuaded the minister to hear your innocents. She’s speaking tomorrow, as she’s more persuasive.  I don’t know if you are going to be there or not-,” Frank mumbled, scratching the back of his neck.

“I doubt it,” Sirius chuckled and Frank looked at the smile that spread across his face. How could he still smile? Frank thought- he was a wobbling mess and he’d only been in the place for a few minutes.

“Sorry I need to sit down,” he said, as his legs shook threateningly underneath him and he settled himself down onto the cold stone floor.

When he looked back up at Sirius, he too had settled on the ground, his bony dirty ankles visible from his stripy prisoner jumpsuit.

“I won’t hate you if you don’t get me out Frank,” Sirius said, Frank looked through the bars at him. “At least you tried.”

“Harry is the image of James,” Frank said, not knowing if it was the right thing to say, Sirius’s face lit up at the name. 

“I knew he would be. I teased James about it, he kept saying that he wouldn’t, that he would be as beautiful as Lily, he owes me thirty Galleons now.” Sirius said, and his eyes darkened, they both knew he would never get that money.

“I saw her,” Sirius whispered. Frank looked away from his staring of a spider on the wall; he knew who ‘her’ was, so just sat silently, waiting for the man to continue.

“I saw her hand, I thought if I got to her sooner she would be still alive, but when I pulled everything away , she was so peaceful looking, like she hadn’t struggled, and I knew the angels had already taking her away,” he paused and played with the end of his sleeve, after a minutes he looked back up at Frank, tears now rolling down his face “I needed to kill the person who’s fault it was that I had to close her eyes,” he hissed and pushed the hooves of his hands into the sockets  of his eyes, in his attempt to try and control the tears.

As he watched, Frank could feel a lump form at the back of his throat and he reached one of his hands through the bars. Sirius fell silent and reached out to him; they grasped each others hand tightly.

“Everything is going to be fine; you’re going to get out of here and you’re going to be a happy family, just you and Harry,” Frank said and he received a sad smile from Sirius.

When Sirius had calmed back down, he had chatted about the days he had with James, both in and out of school. Frank was just there to listen, occasionally putting in his own little comment and the mood of the place seem to lighten, but it soon ended when the woman shouted for him that his time was up, they had both stood up from their sitting positions, Frank had promised he would do his best for him, which Sirius had nodded his head to.

Neither knew what faith had in store for them.

Frank was now walking up the path to the house in which he and Alice lived in, Alice hated Frank apparating or flooeing home when it had gone past nine o’clock as Neville would most likely be asleep by then and he would be woken up by the slightest sound.

Frank pulled out his wand and tapped the tip against the keyhole, making the door swing on his hinges, revealing a silent hall.

“Alice?” he whispered clicking the light on and closing the door, “Alice?” he asked again walking into the sitting room and again clicking on the light. She wasn’t there, and the whole house was silent.

‘She must be asleep’ Frank thought to himself as he peeled off his overcoat from his sweating form and kicked off his shoes as he headed into the kitchen.

The light flicked on and he gasped in fright, his hand instinctively reaching for his wand...


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