Chapter 5. The Reason
It was a while before they broke their embrace. It was Sirius who moved first, stepping backwards slightly before raising his hand affectionately to Lottie’s head.
At his touch, Lottie lifted her tear-streaked face to look at him. She tilted her head to the left slightly and placed a hand over his, sniffing. Oh how she looks like Lily, thought Sirius, but with James’ eyes. And he was right. Lottie had the same heart shaped face, high cheekbones and other features just like her mother. If her eyes were green and her hair a deep auburn, they would be the spitting image of each other. However, Lottie had blonde hair and her eyes were a deep hazel, like her fathers.
“Oh Lottie,” he said, wiping away a falling tear from her cheek, a little more confident in his own voice now. “How?” he breathed, then clearing his throat, “How is this possible?”
Remus looked at Lottie, who was staring up at Sirius and placed both his hands gently on the tops of her shoulders. “We thought you were… we thought you’d…” he mumbled, not really wanting to say the word. She met his eyes.
“Died?” she asked quietly, “I know.” Lottie looked down at the grass and then looked back up at them. The sound of her voice was so familiar and yet so different.
What’s that accent? Remus thought. Is that American?
The trio stayed silent, the only sound was the gentle rustling of the nearby crops and hedges. Suddenly, a bright orb appeared next to them making them jump. Remus and Sirius raised their wands again and stepped in front of Lottie, shielding her from the orb. They looked around the field waiting, but then a sound they recognised came from the light and they both relaxed.
Come back to the Burrow. You are not safe in that field. All three of you.
It was Kingsley’s voice. Remus and Sirius exchanged looks.
“He has a point Padfoot,” Remus said, looking around and then back at Lottie, “We’re exposed here.”
“We could relocate to the garden,” He agreed, looking at Lottie and then to the tent. “I’m sure Molly wouldn’t mind.”
Remus nodded, though not completely convinced.
Lottie watched them. She could hear what they were thinking, and she was not overly comfortable with the idea. But, then again, it was one step closer to the only thing that had kept her going. Harry. So, when Sirius and Remus looked at her anxiously, she just shrugged.
“I guess I’ll gather my things.” She murmured, turning away from them.
Sirius and Remus watched as Lottie raised her right hand to the same level of her shoulder and then grasped the air in front of her, bringing her hand into a fist. What they saw, confused them. The entire tent began to fold in on itself, slowly dismantling. As it did, a rucksack came shooting out of the tent into her left hand, followed by a disgruntled Oscar, who landed at her feet. The tent, now fully folded, rose and levitated towards them. Lottie plucked it out of the air and shoved it into the small, black, suede rucksack. She pulled the drawstrings together tightly and lifted the flap over which connected with the bag with a satisfying click.
Lottie sighed deeply and bent over, scooping up Oscar from the grass. Standing upright, she looked at Sirius and Remus. “Okay, I’m – What?” she asked them, looking at their puzzled frowns and knowing what was coming.
“Where’s your wand?” Remus asked, looking at her hands.
“I don’t have a wand.” she replied simply.
“But how did you do that?” asked Sirius, motioning to the now empty space where the tent once sat.
The hint of a smile tugged at the corner of her lip. “Magic.” She said with a shrug and swinging her bag over her shoulder, began walking towards the gate.
Remus and Sirius did not follow immediately, but instead hung back and looked at each other.
“Dumbledore wasn’t lying, was he?” muttered Sirius, raising his eyebrows.
“Apparently not, Padfoot.” Remus said slowly, watching his goddaughter walking away.
Lottie stopped and turned around, “Are you coming?” she asked tentatively.
“Yes, of course.” said Remus, walking forwards.
Sirius followed before he stopped again, suddenly realising something. “Wait a second… is that Oscar?” he asked in an astonished voice.
“There.” said Bill, raising his hand and pointing out of the window. “They’re coming back”
Kingsley sighed in relief as Mad Eye puffed out a bit of air. They caught each other’s eye and grimaced. Neither of them would ever admit it, but they had, for a small moment, doubted Dumbledore,
Everyone else just simply turned to look out of the window. Fred, George and Ginny stepped forward to join the group at the window. When Ron made a move, Hermione grabbed his arm.
“What?” he asked, looking at her hand on his forearm and then back up at his best friend.
“Ron, this is wrong.” She whispered.
“I know,” he whispered back, “but aren’t you curious, you of all people?”
“Of course I am!” she hissed, “but that doesn’t make it okay. Harry is going to be so hurt and confused.”
“I know he is, but isn’t it better that we find out as much as we can now, so that we can help him when he finds out?” Ron asked, quietly. “Come on.” Ron walked over to the window to join the others.
He had a point, she couldn’t deny that. “If he even let’s us…” she muttered to herself, following Ron to the window.
Sirius, Remus and Lottie had walked the short distance between the field and the Burrow in an awkward silence. No one knew what to say. After explaining that it was indeed Oscar, the conversation had stopped short.
Lottie felt slightly disappointed, which was odd, because she had not really known what to expect. How can you be disappointed by something unknown? Maybe it was sadness. She was never one for feeling her ‘feelings’ or to that point, being able to properly identify them. She could in others, it came to her so easily. She could tell what anyone was thinking or feeling at the drop of a hat. Maybe that was why it was so hard for her to do the same for herself.
Sirius stopped unexpectedly, causing her to nearly walk into him, and held his arm out. He placed it on something and then suddenly, a gate came into view, followed by everything that was behind it. Lottie’s eyes grew wide.
She had known magical dwellings, she was no stranger to her world, but this was unlike anything else she had ever seen. It was… beautiful.
It was hard to make out all the details because of how dark it was, but she could make out the Burrow. It was clear that this was a home. A well-loved, well lived in, home. I can’t wait to see what this looks like in the light, she thought to herself. She felt a pang of something. Was it jealousy?
“This is the Burrow,” said Remus softly, holding open the gate for her, breaking her thoughts.
Lottie looked at him and then back at the Burrow. She took a few steps forward and then stopped. She was joined by Remus and Sirius, who stood either side of her.
“Is Harry in there?” she asked, staring intently at the house.
At the sound of Harry’s name, Sirius felt a jolt in his chest. For the past day, he had not thought about this too closely until that very moment and now, it was all he could think of. He thought of how Harry was going to feel. How Lottie was currently feeling. How as a foursome, they were going to have to fight to navigate through this utter chaos that had been dropped into their lives by someone who was now dead.
“No, he’s not” said Remus, bringing everyone back into the present. “He’ll be here tomorrow.”
Lottie’s heart did something between a palpitation and a flip. Tomorrow. Finally, after all these years of pain and anguish, she just had to wait a few more hours.
“Tomorrow.” She repeated, quietly, not taking her eyes off the Burrow. “What time?”
Remus looked at Sirius and frowned. “Six o’clock.” he said. Something had changed.
“Okay.” said Lottie, in the same quiet tone. She could hear their thoughts and did not like them. She felt another emotion brewing. “Can I set up my tent here?”
She looked at them both and motioned to the ground around them.
“Well, why don’t you come in for a bit?” asked Sirius, “Meet everyone.”
“No, thank you.” replied Lottie, in a clipped yet polite tone. “I’ll just set up here, if you’re sure that’s alright with the owners?” she motioned her head towards the Burrow.
“Yes it’s fine but Lottie, what’s the matter?” enquired Remus.
“The matter?” she asked, in a quiet, dangerous tone. Sirius stifled a shudder. She sounded exactly like Lily when she was about to shout at James for doing something wrong. “Nothing. I just want to wait for Harry. He is the reason I am here.”
There was no denying that the last comment had stung Remus and Sirius. Lottie could feel it.
“But,” said Remus cautiously, “Lottie, this is a lot for everyone to take in. We haven’t seen you in sixteen years. I want to…”
“You want to what, Remus?” she asked quietly, fiddling with Oscar’s collar. “Talk?”
Lottie looked up at him and then at Sirius. Sirius flinched slightly when her eyes locked with his. Here it comes, he thought.
“We can talk, Remus.” she said, leaning down and placing Oscar on the grass, “We can talk about Harry. About how he’s going to feel this time tomorrow. Shall we talk about that?”
Remus and Sirius stood stock still. Lottie continued.
“No? Don’t want to talk about that?” she asked, with a dangerous calm “Alright, I’ll tell you then. He is going to feel awful. This is going to tear him apart. Has no one thought about that? About how agonising the feeling of betrayal will be for him?”
Lottie scoffed as she opened her bag and pulled out the tent. “Of course not. No one does. Not when it’s for the greater good.” She said, anger now lacing her words.
“Well I do. Hell, I’ve lived it, for sixteen years” she spat at them. “So forgive me, if I don’t want to play any further part in it than I already have. I will not go into that house and sit down with everyone in it and tell you everything until Harry is sat at that table too. Because more than anyone, he deserves to know first.”
She flung the tent to the ground, waved her arm and turned her back on the two men who stood, dumbfounded, behind her.
“Lottie!” protested Remus, finding his voice, “We weren’t going to ask you to do that!”
Lottie turned her head and looked straight at her godfather. “Don’t you think you’ve told enough lies? That is exactly what was going to happen” she said, “Don’t lie to me.”
The tent was nearly upright. “I’ve had enough lies for a lifetime.” She added, quietly.
Remus stood there, unable to speak. Waves of different emotions were crashing down over him. His heart was breaking. He had helped do this to her. To make her feel this way.
Sirius opened his mouth to say something, anything, that might help but closed it again. She was right. There was nothing he could add that would make any of it less true.
Lottie bent down to pick up Oscar, who for the entire time, had sat next to her feet and stepped towards her tent. “Six o’clock?” she asked, confirming the hour for tomorrow.
Remus and Sirius just nodded.
“I will see you at five to,” she said, pulling back the tent door. “Let me know if I need to move this” she added, nodding her head at the tent before disappearing. The tent door sealed behind her.
Sirius and Remus stood there for a moment staring at the door before they looked at each other with matching looks of concern. Sirius worried for his friend and for Harry, this was not going to be an easy couple of days.
“Come on mate,” said Sirius, placing a hand on Remus’ shoulder and pulling it slightly, “let’s go back to the others.”
“But Sirius –” mumbled Remus, looking back to the tent.
“Not tonight Moony,” he muttered, “Come on. You need a drink. We both do.”
Remus allowed himself to be steered back to the kitchen. He needed more than one.
From the kitchen in the Burrow, everyone was watching intently at the conversation happening outside. It was like a silent film.
They watched the interactions, which did not always come across as friendly. They watched the tent go up.
“Woah” said Fred and George in unison.
“That’s some tent.” added Bill.
Molly made a noise, somewhere between disdain and dread. Bill and Fleur’s wedding was in a week and that tent could not be there on the day.
“I’m sure it can come down for the day, Molly” Arthur whispered in her ear, recognising the sound. Molly nodded.
“She iz very pretty” commented Fleur, looking out of the window. “She does not look like ‘er bruzzah, non? Eh bien, I suppose she iz very thin, like ‘arry.”
No one commented, especially not Bill, who knew better. But everyone silently agreed.
Ginny, Ron and Hermione peered through a gap to get a better look.
“They’re coming back, but where’s Charlotte going?” asked Hermione.
The group watched as Sirius and Remus walked back to the Burrow. Sirius had his hand on Remus’ shoulder.
Tonk’s bit her lip. That did not look like a good sign.
Molly suddenly came to her senses and whipped around and hissed at everyone, “Move! Act natural, we don’t want them thinking that we were prying!” she flapped a tea towel around in everyone’s general direction. Everyone began to scatter, looking for something to occupy themselves with.
Ginny rolled her eyes. But we were prying, Mum, she thought. Nevertheless, she joined Kingsley, Ron and Hermione in the living room, pretending to be interested in a book Hermione was holding. Has she been carrying that the entire time, Ginny asked herself. Probably.
The back door to the kitchen opened and in came Sirius and Remus, looking miserable. Molly was the first to speak. "Well, how did it go?” she asked, nervously.
“Remus, are you alright?” asked Tonks, walking from the edge of the kitchen where she had been pretending to read a cookery book.
Remus said nothing and sat down at the kitchen table, where Mad Eye, Bill, Fleur and Charlie were already sat. Kingsley, Ron, Hermione and Ginny all appeared from the living room. All eyes went to Sirius.
“It went…” began Sirius.
“Horribly.” croaked Remus, his eyes fixed on a part of the kitchen table.
“She’s angry. Very angry and very hurt and she’s not making an appearance until Harry gets here.” Summarised Sirius, snatching the bottle of Firewiskey from the kitchen side. He sat down next to Remus and summoned two glasses and poured them out two big measures.
“Well do you blame her?” asked Hermione, quietly.
Everyone shot her a look, but no one reprimanded her. Hermione blushed but did not apologise. She did however, feel slightly sorry for Charlotte because in all this time she had been thinking about Harry, she had not once thought of how she would be taking it. It could not be easy.
“Well,” said Mad Eye, leaning forward in his chair, “I suppose we wait until tomorrow then.”
“I suppose we do.” said Kingsley, solemnly. The atmosphere in the kitchen was tense. No one was looking forward to it.
“Pass the firewiskey, Sirius” said Charlie, summoning more glasses. “I think we could all use a drink.”
Harry looked at the clock on his desk; it was almost midnight. He smiled. Twelve more hours and he would be out of his place for good. Reunited with his friends and his family. He tried to ignore the fact that he had not heard from anyone that summer and just tried to focus the idea of finally leaving the Dursley’s. It worked. His heart fluttered and he truly felt happy.
“Not long now, Hedwig” he said, walking over to his owl. He unlatched the cage and held out his arm. Hedwig talons gripped his arm and Harry carried her over to the window. It was still somewhat warm out so he could leave his window open for her to return.
“Don’t be too long, we leave in twelve hours.” Harry told her, stroking her head. He knew she would be back long before it was light out, but he just wanted to say it again. Hedwig nipped at him affectionately before she took flight.
Harry watched her fondly before turning his back to the window and looking around at his room. He was packed and ready to go and had been since Mad Eye had called. He took off his glasses and got into bed. He tossed and turned a little before he found a comfortable position. Twelve hours, he thought to himself, and if I’m really lucky, I’ll get to sleep for seven of them, meaning I’ll only have to suffer it here for a further five. I can do that.
On that thought, with a slight smile still playing on his lips, he fell into a restful sleep, completely unaware of what lay ahead.
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