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Disclaimer: I whish I had JK Rowling’s talent and imagination, alas I must content with borrowing her characters and playing with them for a while.

Disclaimer 2: The title “La La La Lies” is taken from an excelent song by The Who (1966).


Chapter 3
La La La Lies

Harry stood rooted to the spot for ten long, excruciating seconds during which he tried to appropriately register what the girl had just said. Isabel was dead; the whole purpose of his trip, his fight with Ginny, everything had been a complete waste of time.

"Do you plan to stand there until the winter?" the girl asked. "I think you would prefer to be inside when that time of the year comes."
 
"Yes, I-" Harry didn't know what to respond, so he just followed the girl inside.
 
He entered a small but welcoming flat. He followed his hostess to a sitting room and sat on a red couch against a small window. Before sitting down he had the chance to admire the view; just below them was the famous Seine surrounded by small cafes in which people sat talking or listening to old French music. He could see now why Paris was the Love Capital; it was full of cosy and romantic spots. With an unwelcomed and surprising pang of regret he thought of Ginny and how much she would've liked to visit the place.
 
"I haven't introduced myself," the girl apologized as she invited him to sit down. "My name is Pauline Atkins."
 
Harry froze. He hadn't realized he had just met Sirius' daughter. She had mentioned before that her mother was dead; how did he miss that?
 
"I- I know," was all he could manage to respond.
 
"Oh," she seemed surprised, even shocked by this last piece of information. "So you had the chance to meet my mother." It was a statement, not a question.
 
"I didn't." Merlin, this was awkward. He didn't know what to say now, how to explain to this girl he knew she was Sirius Black's daughter. This wasn't going at all like he planned it. When he imagined how this conversation would go, Isabel was quite alive, and he was explaining to her he had found the letters and the whole purpose of his visit. But now, he was completely lost. He didn't know how to put into words the events of the past few days.
 
"I don't mean to be rude," Pauline began, "but I don't get what exactly you are doing here. I thought you knew my mother, but it figures out you don’t. I was hoping you were going to tell me how it happened."
 
"I-" Harry was completely bemused now. He took a deep breath before speaking again. "I'm sorry, how what happened?"
 
"My mother's death; you were there. You should know," she explained calmly.

 "I don't know what you are talking about. I already told you I never met your mother. Until a few minutes ago, I believed her to be alive. I came here looking for her, didn’t I?" he explained almost desperately. Harry had travelled to Paris searching for an answer; he had received a bunch gift-wrapped of enigmas instead.
 
"But she died during The Battle; she went back to England to fight because of you!" Pauline seemed confused, even a little enraged. "You have to have met her. She went looking for you. She was convinced she could help you." Harry could see despair in her pleading eyes and feel anxiousness in her creaky voice.
 
"Look, I think there has been a terrible misunderstanding here. I'm sorry, Miss Atkins, but I never got the chance to meet your mother. In fact, I learned of her existence just a few days ago."
 
And so, for what seemed the millionth time in the past couple of weeks, he narrated the story of the pack of letters and the relationship his godfather used to have with her mother. He didn't tell her anything about his suspicions of Pauline’s father’s true identity; now that he was there, he wasn't sure how to tell her that. When he finished the story, Pauline just sat there gazing at the horizon, lost in her thoughts. Harry decided it wasn't prudent to speak anymore, so he waited for her reply. He wasn't sure how much of this information she didn't know beforehand.
 
Finally, after twenty long minutes the girl spoke. "You said you found a bunch of letters my mother wrote to Sirius Black? The mass murderer Sirius Black? And you say she used to be involved with him? That's not likely; I think you have mistaken my mother with someone else."
 
"He wasn't a mass murderer. That has been clear for several years now," Harry growled. Her last remarks seemed so unfair to him. How was it possible that after all those years after he, Harry, defeated Voldemort and brought all the Death Eaters into the light, people still believed Sirius was part of that murdering, gruesome lot.
 
"But it was all over the papers before the war began, the authorities were looking all over for him," she explained as if addressing a five year old.
 
"Look, you are talking to the man that defeated Voldemort and ended the war. Trust me on this one. Sirius Black was one of the bravest, kindest and nicest people I have ever met. He was my godfather, a friend of your mother's, certainly not a Death Eater. Don't talk about things you don't know anything about!" He couldn't believe this girl's stubbornness.
 
"Well, excuse me. But you say you just learned my mother is dead. Well, I just learned that the man she seemed so afraid of turns out to be her school boyfriend and not a cruel mass murderer," she replayed airily.
 
"What do you mean by 'afraid' of him?" Harry asked raising his eyebrows.
 
"What you just heard; she was petrified by him. Every time she saw his picture on the paper she got all worried and weird. I always thought she was completely afraid of the man because she always avoided the subject and said that those things should remain in the past. So for what I knew, for what I imagined, Sirius Black was the meanest person alive, and he still managed to haunt my mother even after several years had gone by. How do you suppose I would've guessed they used to be a couple after seeing my mother react like that when his name came up?"
 
Harry fell silent. She had a point. Evidently, she didn’t know who her real father was either. Before he could do anything about it, his fears came true when Pauline asked him if he could show her the letters. If she was shocked to hear her mother used to be Sirius' girl, what was going to be her reaction once she learned that they had a child and that that child was her? The situation got more uncomfortable by the minute. She had to issue her request twice, since Harry had just adopted his ´I'm not here, leave a message' attitude.
 
"Do you have or not those letters?" she demanded quite exasperated.
 
"Y- Yes," he stuttered. "I have them here," Harry took more time than necessary to retrieve the documents from his bag. He hoped to come up with a bright and sudden idea that would allow him to get out of this one. Unfortunately, in spite of his antics, none came. "Here," he said, handing her the letters; his hand trembled almost imperceptibly.
 
After she received the pack, he stood from his chair and began pacing around the small room while she read. She took a while to finish reading them, because she read each one of them at least twice. Harry seized the opportunity to come up with a plan now that plan A had completely backfired. Also, he wanted to know more about Isabel and her death. It pained him to realise she had died that terrible night at Hogwarts apparently because of him, and he wasn't even aware of it. When Pauline put down the last letter Harry stopped his pacing and stood before her expectantly.
 
“So you were actually telling the truth; my mother did have some sort of relationship with this Sirius bloke,” she sighed. “I was hoping this was some kind of sick joke. But this is definitely my mother’s hand writing and style. I just can’t believe it.”
 
“I understand is kind of hard to take it all in,” Harry said kindly. “I was shocked as well when I found them. I never knew Sirius used to have a –” What was Isabel anyway; his girlfriend? Still, after all those years?
 
“Yeah –” It seemed Pauline understood what he meant anyway.
 
“This explains a lot you know; my mother was always kind of mysterious about her past life. I mean her life before she moved here. I always had the feeling something awful had happened to her when she lived in Britain, I guess that having her boyfriend convicted for a crime he did not commit counts as a traumatising situation.” She was still staring blankly at the letters she held in her hands; it was obvious she was digesting all the new developments. “You knew him very well, didn’t you? I mean Sirius Black.”
 
“He was my godfather, yes,” he responded automatically, but deep down he could not stop the feeling of regret that had crept onto him lately. Evidently he did not know his godfather as much as he should’ve.
 
“Could you tell me his story? The real one, I mean. I see now that the man I had believed to be my mother’s worst nightmare was actually something else, so much else,”
 
“Sure.” And thus Harry began telling her the story of Sirius Black, or at least what he knew about his dead godfather. He told her about the Marauders and their friendship. He told her about his father, Pettigrew and Sirius being Animagi, and how they developed a special bond because of Remus’ condition. He then told her about Voldemort chasing his parents and how they had decided at the last minute to make Pettigrew their secret-keeper; how Voldemort had finally found them and murdered them. By this point of the story, Pauline’s eyes were full of tears, and she wore a look of ultimate sorrow.
 
He also told Pauline what Dumbledore had revealed to him about Isabel’s and Sirius’ relationship. He told her everything: about Azkaban, about his escape from the prison and how Harry had to fight hundreds of Dementors to save him. He narrated Sirius’ story from his point of view until his murder by Bellatrix Lestrange.
 
Several silent minutes followed Harry’s last sentence. Pauline was trying to dry her tears with her left hand, but failed miserably. Automatically Harry offered her his handkerchief and began softly drying her tears.
 
"Just in case you are wondering, these are not sadness tears," she finally spoke. "These are anger tears. I can’t believe my mother lied to me like that. She never mentioned him, not once. I was the one who used to bring up the subject from time to time; I was always the one cornering her to get information. And she gave me none. All I had all those years were my suspicions. But I always knew there was so much more around Sirius Black that she let on. It wasn’t normal you know, a woman collapsing like that every time she heard or read something concerning the man. She used to jump like a hundred miles every time she thought she heard his name…"

"I understand," Harry mumbled. Pauline raised her eyebrow. "No, really I do. I understand how it feels to be kept in the dark by someone you care about. But if I learned something about it, it is that people do that because they care, because they are protecting us."

"Which is rather stupid, if I must say." She finally smiled. It wasn't really a smile, but a chuckle. And to Harry, it was enough.

"My mother cried for weeks when she learned he had been killed. She thought I didn't notice, she believed I was oblivious of the matter. By the time, I had already developed a method to spy on her when she locked herself in the bookstore. She cried and cried; she looked like a zombie. She used to sit on the floor with a glass of wine in one hand and Sirius Black's photo in the other, and she cried silently. I always thought she was somehow happy with his death. I thought she had finally had the chance to make amends with her past, or something. But still, it seemed to me so weird.
 
"And after that she changed. It was like if a pile of bricks had been dumped upon her shoulders. She looked so guilty, so sad. I tried to talk to her, but she wouldn't say a word about it. She said I was too young to understand, that someday she was going to tell me everything. She asked me to leave her alone, and so I did. It was the worst summer of my life, and I’m ashamed to admit I was glad to leave for school when September came. I didn't want to see her. I even stayed at school for the Christmas break.

"The war was getting worse in England. People here were scared that You-Know-Who's power would reach them. It was so obvious when he took over the British Ministry, Muggle-borns from all over the UK were seeking refuge in continental Europe. My mother agreed to receive a couple of Muggle-born wizards. They helped us with the bookstore; they were very nice people. But my mother continued to change; she wasn't happy anymore. She became obsessed with the war, and she tried by all means possible to get news. Real news, I mean, from England. It was at that moment that I realized my mother was after all British.

"She didn't let me go to school that year. She said that being the daughter of a British half-blood, I would be in danger if the war ever trespassed the island's frontiers. It was the lamest excuse she could come up with. I asked if it had something to do with her old life in Britain, if there was someone looking for her, if she had come to France because she was running away from someone… but she never answered. She just asked me to trust her and told me that if we remained together nothing could ever happen to us.

"That's why I still struggle to understand what the bloody hell was going through her mind the morning she woke up and decided that you, of all people, needed her help. In a matter of hours, she packed a small bag and left for England. That was the last time I saw her. A week after the final battle, when the paper published the names of the victims, I learned my mother was dead. And no one, no one ever gave me an explanation. I went there and recovered her ashes, and nobody seemed to know my mother. They said they had identified her by magical means. I waited for your visit for months. I hoped you were going to explain to me why. But you never came."

"I'm sorry," Harry didn't know what else to say. How could he know Isabel had decided he needed her help? He didn’t even know the woman. Thinking back he realized he must’ve seen her dead body when he helped the new Ministry with the killing recount, and he probably catalogued her as a Jane Doe, as many did. Little did he know that those nameless scattered bodies could be so closely related to him and his friends. What was he supposed to do now?

"Yeah, you should be. It is after all, because of you that my mother is dead," she said out of pure spite. But five seconds later he could see she was sorry because shame appeared all over her face.

Still, he felt even worse now, and yes it was possible. This whole thing was so unfair. He had no idea Isabel existed then; he had no idea she was at Hogwarts that night. And the worst thing was that even if he had known about her, he couldn't have stopped her from dying just like he couldn’t stop Fred, Remus or Tonks from dying.

"I just get so angry about it sometimes. I wonder what would've happened if my mother would've let me go with her. I'm sure I could've helped. And no one was there to mourn her, to tell her story. She was just another causality to every one. I imagine they found her on the grounds somewhere and nobody claimed her. Her body sprawled on the ground, people walking by without even looking at her..."
 
A painful pang of disgust ran through Harry’s body; he remembered how Dumbledore looked the night he died. His former headmaster looked so lonely, so little, so insignificant. Just like so many others looked just a mere year later, after the Great Battle of Hogwarts.

"You mother used to have many friends among the Order; they probably knew she was there," he finally said trying to erase the painful memories and ease his nagging conscience.  

"Yeah, well none of them went into the trouble of telling me I was an orphan, did they? Maybe they thought it was better to take in if I read it in the paper."

"None of them knew she had a daughter. And haven't you thought that maybe they died as well?"

Pauline opened her mouth but no sound came out.

"I understand how you feel, really I do."
 
Silence greeted Harry’s last remark. Pauiline’s eyes betrayed her hatred and sadness, but then her gaze softened and she finally whispered.

"I don't think you do, but thank you for trying." She half smiled at him. Harry felt a bolt of lighting running down his spine.
  
"Mr. Potter, there is something else that keeps nagging me," Pauline began.
 
"Please call me Harry. You are making me feel old." He smiled at her.
 
Pauline giggled just a bit; yes, but she still giggled. And she looked gorgeous doing it. "I'm sorry, Harry."
  
He smiled back. Without even thinking about it twice, he sat beside her and looked into her grey, beautiful eyes. He felt a bolt of joy when she welcomed his move with a warm smile. Harry felt a shock of pain when he realized it had been such a long time since he had felt the delicious anguish and anticipation that another's woman's smile made him feel.
 
"You said that there was something bothering you?" Harry asked.
 
"What year was it when your parents were killed?"
 
Harry knew where this was going, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. "1981." Was his low, quivery answer.
 
"When, exactly?"
 
"October the 31st." He replied lamely.
 
"And you say my mother and Sirius were still together when your parents were killed?"

“Yes, they were.”
 
“Why did you come all this way, after all these years, Harry?” she asked in a soft voice.
 
“I already told you: because I found all these letters,” he responded as he pointed to the pack of old parchments that Pauline had previously left over the coffee table.
 
“So you got curious about my mother and decided to come by and visit,” she said skeptically. “Or was it something else, something you read in those letters that caught your attention?”
 
Harry did not respond. He knew that by that point Pauline had already guessed he believed her to be Sirius’ daughter, but he didn’t know how to address the matter.
 
“You think I’m Sirius Black’s daughter.” She finally answered mirroring his thoughts.
 
“The possibility occurred to me, yes.” he admitted.
 
“I don’t know. I don’t have an answer to that. My mother never told me who my father was. She told me he had died during her pregnancy. But I never believed her, like I never believed so many things she said to me. I guess I could be his daughter, I was born in 1982.” Her voiced trailed away as a lonely tear fell down her cheek.
 
“Anyway, what is it to you?” She asked as she failed miserably to sober up.
 
“It is more of a legal matter, actually. If you are Sirius’ daughter then you have the right to inherit his house and a large sum of money, among other things. Also, I guess you have the right to know who your father was.”
 
“I don’t want them, the money and the house, I mean. Even if I am his daughter, I don’t want them, and I don’t need them.”
 
“I’m not sure that’s up to you to decide,” Harry whispered.
 
“If it is, then I’ll just give them back to whoever owns them at the moment.”
 
Harry couldn’t suppress and ironic chuckle to escape his lips and Pauline turned her head to face him.
 
“I’m sorry; I guess that must be you.” She whispered as her face turned a lovely shade of red.
 
"Do you have any idea why she believed I needed her help? As I said, I didn't know of her existence. I didn't ask for her help," Harry said trying to change the subject.

"No, I don't know. She just kept saying she had to find you; she said she couldn't let you down as well."

"Sirius asked her all-too many times to go back," Harry said more to himself than to her.

"But there's someone that should know," Pauline sighed. "And it’s about time she told the truth!"
 
***




 
“Who is this Jacqueline person you’ve been rambling about?” Harry demanded. For the last fifteen minutes Pauline had trashed her own apartment looking for something while she spoke to herself, almost whispering, in rapid, hectic French.
 
“We are going to see her,” she explained as if that was everything he needed to know.
 
“What, now?”
 
“Yes now. Or do you have somewhere else you have to be?”
 
“No, but I wouldn’t mind receiving a more detailed explanation.”
 
“You are a nosy one, aren’t you?”
 
“Not really. I’m just the kind of person who likes to be well informed,” he responded with a mischievous smile.
 
“Ok. Mr. Well Informed, we are going to meet Jacqueline Audet. She was my mom’s best friend. Is there anything else you might want to know?” she demanded in a playful tone.
 
“No.” He smiled back.
 
“And I was looking for this.” She handed him a small crystal ball. It looked like it could belong to Trelawney, although it was purple and much smaller than those he had seen in her classroom so many years ago.
 
“What is it?” Harry asked curiously.
 
“A crystal ball.” And without further ado, she took it back and placed it in the center of her coffee table on top of a wooden sphere Harry had previously mistaken for some kind of minimalist decoration.
 
The ball floated several millimeters over the artifact. After a couple of minutes it started spinning and making a soft high pitched noise, like a very small and delicate whistle. The crystal sphere began to enlarge until it became the size of a basket ball. After what seemed five minutes, it became quite clear and stopped revolving.
 
Pauline looked eagerly inside it. Harry, deciding he should do the same, leaned in and observed its transparency. After a couple of minutes, a small room became visible. It was evident the room belonged to a house that sat near the sea for he could clearly see the ocean through the windows as he caught a warm salty scent.
 
“Jacqueline?” Pauline asked. “Jacko, are you there?”
 
Harry almost fell backwards when a woman’s face suddenly appeared before him. She was old, but he could’ve guessed that she used to be very beautiful. She had deep, piercing blue eyes. She gave him the impression of being a very sage woman. Harry felt he was looking at a female version of Dumbledore, for whom the nickname Jacko seemed completely out of order.
 
“Pauline, dear! How good it is to see you!”
 
“It is great to see you too, Jacko.” Pauline smiled. “How’ve you been?”
 
“Well, just fine. And you dear?”
 
“This is Harry Potter,” she responded avoiding her last question. She had a clear intention to cut to the chase. “I’m sure you’ve heard of him?”
 
Jacqueline’s eyes lingered over Harry’s scar for a minute, after examining the rest of his features in detail.
 
“Lily’s son. Such a handsome man he turned out to be.” Although her face appeared straight and serious, her eyes seemed to be smiling.
 
“Er- Hello,” was all Harry could muster.
 
“Jacko, Harry is here because he found some letters. Letters my mother wrote about six years ago to a man named Sirius Black,” Pauline told her in a demanding tone. Harry thought she was implying the need of an explanation.
 
Jacqueline sighed and looked away. She started to retreat from their sight when Pauline stopped her.
 
“You are not running away from this one, Jacqueline! Not this time. It is about time I receive some explanation.”
 
“You were not supposed to know about this. It was your mother’s wish.”
 
“Why?”
 
“I don’t know exactly.”
 
The slight tremble in her voice told Harry she was lying.
 
“I don’t care. My mother is dead.”
 
"Pauline, dear, please try to understand. These are all things that should remain in the past. Live your own life and leave your mother's alone."
 
"Do you know who my father is?" Pauline demanded dismissing Jacqueline's last words.
 
"No, I don't," she answered immediately.
 
"Yes you do! Don't lie to me, Jacko. My mother did plenty of that to last me a lifetime," Pauline pleaded.
 
Jacqueline remained silent. It was evident to Harry that she was unsure whether or not to tell Pauline everything she knew about Isabel's past.
 
"Jacko, my mother promised me she would tell me someday," Pauline added trying to convince Jacqueline to speak.
 
 "I promised her, Pauline," she finally sighed.
 
"Yes, but she did mean to tell me someday. I guess she never imagined she would die before the time came. Please, it is really important for me and for Harry as well."
 
"I can't tell you, Pauline... but if you found out on your own, I wouldn't be breaking my promise, would I?" Jacqueline finally spoke with a mischievous grin.
 
"No, you wouldn't," said Pauline in a sing song voice playing along the game.
 
 "I guess you better go to your mother's bookstore. Look among the 12th century books on Magical Theory. You might find there something that's quite out of place."
 
A couple of hours later, Harry was standing in the strangest bookstore he had ever set foot on. The shelves didn’t seem to be arranged according to a logical order; neither were the books. In between some of those, small vases filled with flowers decorated the dusty shelves. Some of the books seemed to glow, vibrate or even expel music. He could tell none of them were dedicated to the Dark Arts because they seemed somehow friendly and welcoming. The store had a mixed smell of sandalwood, old parchment and wine. It was lovely.
 
As he examined the place and picked up several volumes that caught his attention, Pauline searched the medieval section of the store looking for something out of place. Harry had offered to help, but she had pointed out that since this was his first time in the shop it would be very difficult for him to find something odd among the many books.
 
Two hours passed, and Pauline had not found anything. Harry was engrossed in reading a first edition 19th century Quidditch book when Pauline gave a small cry. Harry quickly dropped the book and began racing to her. He then realized he had unceremoniously discarded a two century old tome and ran back to put it in its right place before Pauline noticed what he had just done.
 
Two minutes later Harry sat beside Pauline on the floor. She was holding a book in her hand and she was shaking madly. Harry put instinctively his arm around her and placed his chin on her shoulder. It took him a couple of minutes to realize how bold of him it was to approach her in such a warm and familiar manner when he had just met her.
 
“Are you ready?” he asked coming out of his reverie.
 
She merely nodded and opened the book. Harry waited for something to happen, but it didn’t. It looked just like any ordinary book.
 
“Pauline, are you sure-”
 
“It has to be, it’s the only one that doesn’t belong here. I didn’t spot it at first, but then it hit me. What is an ancient Egyptology book doing sitting in these shelves? Besides, my mother loved Egyptian magic. This has to be it.”
 
She was more nervous than before. Harry took the tome into his hands and began to search for something, anything that could reveal Isabel’s darkest secrets. As he turned the book upside down, Harry whispered.
 
“C’mon, Isabel, let us see. Tell us yours and Sirius’ story.”
 
The mention of Sirius’ name seemed to do it. For a slight second, the volume shone and went back to its previous state. Harry wondered whether Pauline had seen it; she obviously had because she wore a look of utter surprise and excitement on her face.
 
“Should we open it?” she asked.
 
“Yes, I guess so.” And thus, Harry opened the ancient book wondering whether he was just about to go deeper inside the rabbit hole.
 

 

AN: I want to thank my lovely beta reader India Inverse who helped me a great deal with this chapter. I also want to thank all my reviewers (even those whose reviews were erased after the server crash) for your encouragement and opinions are very precious to me. If you haven’t reviewed yet, I ask you humbly to do so. I value all your opinions!

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