Chapter 47 The blank canvas to the side of Atticus’s desk was making sounds, running footsteps could be heard and in moments, the uniformed guard appeared in the portrait. “Sir, there is a large black dog on the grounds, moving towards the house.” The sentry was panting. “From which direction?” Atticus laid down his quill quickly. “The south, sir.” The sentry answered. Atticus immediately apparated to the woods south of the house and waited. It wasn’t long before the large dog came padding into sight. Atticus truly did think of Seraphim as his son, at least his adopted son. He had been there since almost the very moment he was born. Walked the floor with him when he was teething and Megan was worn out, Boxen fast asleep. He'd fed him and changed him. He’d comforted him through nightmares along with Meg. He’d watched him grow but mostly importantly he loved Sirius’s son. The dog froze in place when he saw Atticus. Atticus approached him slowly but evidently Sirius in his animagi form was completely aware. The large black dog did not move a muscle but a low growl was issuing from his throat. “Sirius, I know it’s you.” Atticus spoke in a hushed tone. “It’s all right, I know all about Pettigrew.” The dog hesitated and transformed quickly into the man Atticus knew. “Hello Sirius.” Atticus walked up to him. “It’s good to see you “Is it?” Sirius asked and Atticus realized that Sirius was very angry with him. “Yes, of course.” “Kept your promise didn’t you? You’ve protected her all right.” Sirius’s voice was beginning to rise and Atticus steeled himself. “Kept her too, I hear.” “Sirius, for God’s sake, she’s not a possession.” Atticus spoke calmly. “I love her, I married her.” “How nice for you.” Sirius was seething but his eyes kept returning to the grounds in front of the house, constantly searching. “Yes, it’s been lovely.” Atticus said with a touch of sarcasm. “I love her almost desperately and now I have to wonder if I’m about to lose her.” “Lose her?” Sirius smiled but it was without warmth. “You think I’ve come to drag her off with me, is that it Sliverton? Going to set those monsters on me to get rid of me?” Atticus closed his eyes briefly, “No. I know you aren’t here to abduct her.” Sirius looked the man in front of him up and down. As usual he had a friendly expression on his face but he did look strained around the eyes. Sliverton had aged incredibly well also, he looked almost exactly as he had when they were younger, just a bit of gray around the temples, a few faint lines on his forehead. “Then what do you have to fear?” Sirius snapped. “I just want to talk to her.” “I fear that when you do, she’ll go with you.” Atticus spoke honestly. Atticus felt as if the kindest thing that creation could have granted him would be for his heart to stop beating now so that he would never have to see this. However, his children would need him. He tried to muster all of his strength. Sirius was once again looking at Atticus. He remembered his visit to the jail. “So, did you really want to get me out of Azkaban?” He asked. “Very much.” Atticus looked Sirius dead in the eye as he said this. “I see, hadn’t fallen in love yet then?” Sirius wanted to be angry with Sliverton, but truthfully, what had he done wrong? “I had been in love with Megan for quite some time before that.” Sirius digested this in silence. He understood the implication. Atticus had wanted to free him to make Megan happy or because he believed in justice, or both. “Well then, thank you.” It was a hard thing for Sirius to force himself to say but he meant it sincerely. They stood in silence for a few moments, neither knowing what to do. “Look, why did you come out here?” Sirius finally asked. “Just so that I could talk to you for a moment before, to tell you to try and put it all to her gently.” Atticus swallowed. “I didn’t come here to beg for my life with Megan. As much as I love her, if it isn’t her choice, if she wants to leave with you then I’ll understand. She loves you still, you see. I know she loves me also, but if I have one major downfall as a husband and father it would be that I’m not you.” “Father?” Sirius’s eyes had flown wide at the word. “You have children together?” Atticus was baffled, “Yes Sirius. Oh God, you don’t know?” “I just found out two days ago that you were married.” Sirius coughed, his lungs were still healing from his long stint in the prison. His heart leapt slightly, Megan had been able to have children after all. It was a happy thought. “No, Sirius, I mean you don’t know anything else?” Atticus was staring at him in surprise. From the house the little voice of Aristotle could be heard shouting happily: “Mummy, mummy, mummy!” As the toddler came tearing around the corner of the house and into view. Megan ran swiftly after him, laughing. “Come back darling, let’s plant more flowers.” “No, I want bubbles!” The child’s voice was joyful. Megan laughed still more as she pulled out her wand and said, “Fine then!” From the end of her wand shot bubbles in every hue of the rainbow and the little boy chased them, trying to pop them with great gusto. Aurelius tore into view, “Sorry mum! He’s fast!” “It’s all right Aurelius, I’ll be back in a moment. We’ll finish soon.” Megan watched her youngest son playing with the bubbles and smiled before swooping him up into her arms, “You’ve got them all my brave little man, now come back and we’ll see to the garden.” Sirius was locked in place, staring. “She hasn’t changed, not at all.” Sirius said slowly. It was true. Megan looked almost exactly as she had the last time he had seen her. Hell, she was even wearing jeans and a T-shirt just as she had been prone to doing back then. She was still slim, still curvy. Her hair didn’t show any gray at all and as far as Sirius could see her face was still unlined. Her laughter had sounded exactly as it had. Atticus opened his mouth to speak but found there was nothing her could say that would be less than hurtful. He didn’t dare agree that Meg was still as lovely as she’d been. He couldn’t talk about their life together without rubbing salt in the man’s wound. He did however have to tell that Megan had something to tell him. “Sirius…” “Is she happy? She looked happy.” Sirius’s mind was racing. If he went to her now, what could he offer her? Life in a cave with a man believed to be a murderer? Having to abandon her children and her husband? Sirius Black had his own sense of decency and he began stumbling backwards. He hadn’t expected it to be like this, he had thought the Megan would have married Atticus only for convenience. He’d never imagined it could be a real marriage. Yet what he had just seen was a happy woman, who clearly loved her children. “I’m going.” Sirius was turning from the house. “I shouldn’t have come.” “Sirius, wait, there are things you need to know!” Sirius rounded on Atticus and shouted at him, “There are things you need to know too. I’m not leaving now because I don’t love her any longer. I’m leaving because I still do. If you can’t understand that, then you aren’t the man I hope to God you are.” Atticus moved forward and tried to catch Sirius arm so that he could tell him he had to talk to Megan first. “Sirius there is something you have to know…” Sirius Black was a strong man. It was part of the way he had survived his life in prison but he did have a temper himself and Sliverton was sorely tempting him. “I know enough already, I’ve seen what I came to see.” Sirius said. “You took care of her, I suppose I should thank you but I’m not really up to that right now. I’ve got to leave, I have to get away from here.” “Listen to me, you have to talk to Megan.” Sirius pushed Atticus Sliverton away as hard as he could, he had to get away from there it felt as if there was no air. If he didn’t leave now he’d go mad. Completely caught off guard the shove felled Atticus easily. He sat on the ground staring at the man above him. “I’m sorry Atticus, but I can’t.” He was desperate to be away from here. “Tell her…oh hell, tell her anything you like. She’s your wife.” With that he was gone. Atticus considered the situation for a moment, he could run after Sirius and try to haul him back but he knew it would do no good. Sirius would find out sooner or later and it really should be Megan who told him. Atticus went back towards the house slowly. He didn’t have any choice in his mind. He had to tell Megan it wouldn’t have been right to keep it from her. :::::::::::::::: “He wouldn’t even talk to me?” Megan asked but she knew it was the case. She knew that Sirius must feel betrayed and could not blame him entirely. Yet, she also knew he had wanted her to get on with her life. Knew further still that was why he had written as he had, in such a cold manner. Atticus had just finished telling her all that had happened in the woods. He’d left nothing out. Sirius did love her after all and he had no idea they had a child together. A dull ache was forming at the base of her skull and she knew that she would soon have a crushing headache. It was an enormous revelation for her but her mind could not help asking the natural question. Did she wish she’d never married Atticus? They had a happy life together. She’d wanted that life with Sirius but it had been denied to her by fate, circumstance and even Sirius had pushed her away. Yet her life with Atticus was wonderful in so many ways, they had wonderful children together too. “I’m sorry, perhaps when he has a bit more time to think, he’ll come back.” Megan was still thinking. She needed to write letters to both Dumbledore and Remus Lupin. When Sirius Black learned he had a son, she was determined that the news come from her. All of this time and all that they had suffered together and apart had earned her this right. She had no idea what she would do about the other things and frankly, she needed time to sort them out. “Stop looking like that Atticus, this isn’t the end of the world.” Megan noted her husband’s expression. “What, were you afraid I’d just take off into the woods with him?” “Yes.” Atticus was not smiling. “Well thanks, that shows a tremendous amount of faith in me.” Megan was exasperated. It was a horribly complicated situation and she knew that she did still love Sirius, perhaps even more than Atticus although it was a question she never truly liked to ask herself. There was no way that she could leave her children though and of this she was certain. She’d always considered herself a loyal person. She just wasn’t certain to whom her loyalty belonged. Yet she truly felt that there was no way she could ever leave Atticus either. Lord, it all would have been so much easier if she could only have been two people at once. “It’s not about faith, Megan.” Atticus didn’t wrap his arms around his wife as he usually would have. “You still love him, I know you do.” Megan strained her neck up and kissed her husband’s lips. “Well, I love you too if that counts for anything.” Atticus still seemed a bit distant. “Look, do you have any idea what I saw when I met you?” “No and I might add, neither do you.” “No, you’re right, I don’t. So I asked Dumbledore what I told him. I asked him right before we were married.” She was looking up at him, her blue eyes never leaving his dark ones. “You see, I couldn’t understand how I could have read you and not known I was to marry you. According to him what I saw was a good man but you puzzled me because I couldn’t see anything beyond that. That’s exactly what I told him.” “I’m not seeing your point.” “The only other person I couldn’t read entirely was Sirius Black. Have any idea why that might be?” Megan kissed him again and then he did return the gesture. “Well?” “Because, my large husband, I think that I couldn’t truly read anyone I was destined to be in love with." Megan looked up at him earnestly. Atticus stared at her, his expression beginning to soften his heart quickening with hope. “Keeping that in mind, there’s something I have to tell you.” Megan said referring to the fact that she would be able to touch him now that she knew she was in love with him. There had been something pressing on Megan’s mind for nearly two years, ever since it had become apparent that Voldemort was actively trying to rise again. “Oh God Megan, no.” Atticus knew exactly where her mind was headed. “It was pure hell for you the last time.” “It’s all right, it will only be for a short time.” Megan answered. “And I won’t use it the same way. I’ll not be testing people to see if they are trustworthy any longer. It didn’t work the last time anyway.” “Then why?” Atticus asked. “I need to read one person and then I can be done. This time I’m not following any rules though, if I can avert something terrible, it will be worth it.” Megan’s face was determined. “After that, you can obliviate the memory and the training. I’ll never do it again. If I have something to tell Dumbledore, I’ll do it.” “Megan, Dumbledore will never agree to try and train you again.” Atticus knew in his heart what she was going to say next. “Well it’s a good thing I’m married to one of the cleverest wizards in the land, isn’t it?” Megan answered. “Plus, I think I’ve figured out who to practice on. We’ve got enough animals on this place to stock a zoo.” “Oh hell.” Atticus rubbed his face. He knew what the answer would be but he had to try anyway. “Megan why, there isn’t any one person who could be that important. You may not even be able to touch the children. I’m not even sure I could train you.” But Megan would not be swayed. Her heart soared, knowing that Sirius was free although she wasn’t sure what to do about her own feelings, she did know that there might be a way to ensure that he was free forever. It still might be possible to catch Pettigrew, if she looked into the mind of the one person she suspected might have the outcome of all of this locked within him. Not just Pettigrew, but everything. Plus, she felt she owed something to her friends, all of the ones who had died fighting the first time. “What about Sirius?” Atticus asked. His wife leapt to the floor, took his hand and began leading him upstairs. Her head ached and she was confused, but she knew that Atticus needed to feel close to her. Megan looked at her husband. Who knew her better? Was there truly anyone? “I’ll need to tell him he has a son, Atticus.” Of this much she was sure. “Beyond that, I do love you.” As Atticus Sliverton prayed that would be enough, Sirius Black sat in a cave knowing that he had been wrong to go and see Megan. He’d tried to set her free and now she was. There was a certain peace in that. He wished with all his heart that her happiness could have been with him, but it wasn’t and perhaps it had never been fated to be so. Megan had thought to deny destiny and outwit fate. Sirius sighed and rolled over on his small pallet, it wasn’t possible to avert fate. But, it was possible to know what is was, if you had certain gifts and the bravery to face what might come with them. Author's note: There are three chapters remaining in this story. There's a reason for everything in this story and although it did not prove to be particularly popular, marrying Megan to Atticus does have a reason behind it. The choice will be explained in the second to last chapter and I think you'll like the pay off. Next time out: Sirius meets his son and sees Megan face to face.
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