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Old January 30th, 2011, 3:01 pm
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gelowo93  Female.gif gelowo93 is offline
Fourth Year
 
Join Date: 15th February 2010
Location: England
Age: 26
Posts: 660
Re: Learning to Live Again

Two chapters in a week? You lucky people.

Chapter 17

“SHAME OF MY FLESH! YOU’RE A DISGRACE TO THE FAMILY YOU-”

“-TWISTED OLD HAG! THE FIRST THING I’LL DO WHEN I GET YOUR DAMN PORTRAIT DOWN IS BURN IT!”

Lily was overwhelmed by the noise as she entered a long narrow hallway. Opposite her there was a staircase and along the walls there were oil lamps that illuminated the wallpaper that was starting to peel. The walls were almost completely covered by small dark portraits whose occupants shunned the bright light. The exception to this was the portrait at the foot of the staircase that Sirius was stood in front of.

It spanned the entire floor to ceiling with its ornate silver frame. The life-sized portrait showed an old woman with a black cap screaming – screaming as if her life depended on it. The pale yellow skin of her face was stretched taut as she did so and her dark eyes were rolling. It was the most realistic, and disgusting, portrait Lily had ever seen.

Sirius was still holding Harry while he shouted back at the portrait. Harry was crying at all the noise and struggling to break free of Sirius’ grip, who didn’t appear to notice but was holding on tightly anyway. As Lily’s ears adjusted to the din, she saw Kreacher sneak around a corner into sight and attempt to defend the portrait.

Remus closed the door behind them as Lily rushed forwards to grab Harry off Sirius.

“SHUT UP, YOU OLD COW, OR I’LL – oh, hey, Lily.”

He passed Harry to her and was about to pull out his wand and turn on the portrait when a flash of light streaked past them and it fell silent. Lily looked over her shoulder and saw Remus making his way towards them with his wand out. He shrugged at their surprised looks.

“I wanted to see what would happen if someone tried to Stun it. It worked.”

Before either Lily or Sirius could comment, Kreacher spoke.

“Filthy dark creature, attacking mistress’ portrait –”

Sirius turned on the house elf.

“Before I forget, you are forbidden to call Remus ‘dark creature’, or Lily a ‘mudblood’, or – or insult them or Harry in any way. Understood?”

Kreacher narrowed his eyes at Sirius, gave him a curt nod, and then slowly made his way up the stairs. He did this without taking his eyes off Sirius once, who glared back until Kreacher was out of sight.

“Come on,” Sirius muttered, “everything’s in the basement.”

He led them around the corner to a door that opened out to reveal a set of stone steps. Lily and Remus followed him down the steps and into a cavernous basement. There was a fireplace at the far end and two doors that looked as if they led to small cupboards. Taking up the majority of the room was the pile of their belongings. Lily groaned at the size of it.

“Well, we might as well get started,” she said. Sirius raised an eyebrow, appraising the huge amount of things they had to find homes for.

“Nah, I can give you the tour first.” Without further ado, he turned his back on the pile and made his way back upstairs. Lily laughed.

“You know we’ll have to do it sometime, right?”

“Actually, if you just take the things out as you need them, then we’ll never have to just sort it all out,” said Remus.

“That’d be a great idea, Remus. If only we didn’t need to use the basement to cook food tonight,” Lily said over her shoulder to him, following Sirius back up the stairs.

“Oh, yeah.”

They reached the top of the stairs. Sirius opened the door slightly, looking out into the hall, then turned and put a finger to his lips. Lily nodded to show that she understood. Sirius opened the door wider and walked out into the hall with Lily and Remus behind him.

He led them back around the corner and past the portrait of the woman, who, Lily saw, was now asleep, her chest moving up and down with her breathing. Sirius opened a door on the right and disappeared into the room beyond it. Once they were all in, he shut the door.

The room they had entered had windows looking out onto the square in front of the house. A long table cut the room in half and a dresser was pushed against a wall, on top of which stood various china plates.

“This is the dining room,” said Sirius. He glanced around the room, but stopped when he saw the china on the dresser. “They’re going to go.”

“So that’s your mum’s portrait, the china … is there anything else that needs to be added to the list of things to thrown out yet?” Remus asked, smiling slightly.

“That portrait is of your mum?” Lily was in shock.

“Yes, she was always a lovely woman.” Sirius’ voice dripped with sarcasm. “We’re just going to have to be quiet in the hallway until I figure out a way to get it down. There’s nothing really interesting in here – I’ll show you the parlour.”

The three of them tip-toed across the hall into the parlour, and Sirius showed them the hidden door from there into the private study. After that, they went upstairs, making sure they were as quiet as possible in the hall. Lily almost screamed when she felt something brush against her on the stairs, and again when she realised that the thing that had touched her was a house elf head. Fortunately, in both cases she managed to stifle her scream, but it was a close call. They made their way through the house with Sirius pointing out what each room was, finishing on the third floor.

“What’s upstairs?” said Lily, pointing up another flight of stairs.

“Just the attic, my room and Regulus’ room. We don’t have to go up there – it’s nothing special.” Sirius said all of this very quickly.

“But now I’m curious why you won’t let us up. Here, hold Harry. My arms are starting to ache.” Sirius took Harry off her and she began climbing the stairs.

“Really, Lily.” Sirius sounded mockingly disappointed in her, but she could still hear him following her up the stairs.

When she reached the landing, Lily looked around. The door in front of her bore a plaque that read Sirius. She pushed the door open and walked into the room.

Everything in the spacious bedroom was covered with a fine layer of dust. Lily guessed that no one had entered since Sirius had left all those years ago. The wardrobe’s doors were open and discarded robes spilled out of them. Various other objects of little importance were littered on the floor: quills, parchment, odd chess pieces and a smashed ink bottle were just some of the items contributing to the mess. The wallpaper was some sort of silver-grey silk, though not a lot of it was visible.

Sirius had covered nearly every inch of the walls with posters. Large Gryffindor banners hung from all four walls and any space not covered by them was taken up by posters of Muggle motorcycles or (more frequently) bikini-clad Muggle women. Out of the corner of her eye, Lily saw something moving, and she spotted the only Wizarding photograph in the room.

The dust prevented Lily from seeing what it was of. She walked over to it and rubbed the dust off with her sleeve. Her heart jumped a little in her chest as she recognised the photograph. Lily had taken it herself, at the end of their fifth year at Hogwarts, after being persuaded to do so by James with the promise that he would do her holiday homework for her. She had laughed it off, saying that she didn’t need anyone to do her homework for her, but had grabbed the camera anyway and taken the photograph. The four boys in the image were stood, arm in arm, laughing, without a care in the world. How things had changed, Lily thought.

She could have been watching the photo for a minute or an hour – Lily wouldn’t have known. Someone cleared their throat behind her, which broke her out of her reverie. Lily looked around and saw Sirius and Remus stood in the doorway. With a sort of aching in her heart, Lily turned away from the photo.

“Nice décor. I’m sure your parents really appreciated it,” she said, grinning. Sirius laughed humourlessly.

“They used to take them all down every time I went back to school. That was until I realised that with all the magic going on around here the Ministry couldn’t tell whether I was doing magic or not, so I put Permanent Sticking Charms on the lot. I think they stopped coming up here altogether then.” Sirius looked around the room. “Let’s go back downstairs and start sorting that stuff out then if we’re going to need to use the kitchen.”

They didn’t make much progress on their pile of possessions in the basement. It was nearly time to start making dinner by the time they got back down there and the three of them were too hungry to bother finding places to put all of the things. In the end, they just took the things they would need that night and in the morning, and then sent the rest to the dining room upstairs.

Lily was now sat at the long table with Sirius, who was leaning backwards on his chair so it was on two legs, waiting for Remus to finish cooking. Harry’s high chair had been set up next to the table and he was sat in it, playing with the toy Sirius had made him for Christmas. Somehow, it always managed to be the first toy played with when Sirius was around and it also seemed to be Harry’s favourite. Lily didn’t mind; it kept them both quiet, even if a consequence of that was Sirius’ head becoming more and more inflated by the day.

It wasn’t long before Remus had finished cooking and the plates piled with spaghetti Bolognese were placed in front of them all. Just the smell of it made Lily’s mouth water.

“This looks amazing, Remus,” she said, before tucking into it.

They ate in silence for a while. Lily had to try to feed Harry in between mouthfuls, which proved difficult as a solo job and, in the end, she had Sirius and Remus helping.

“Here comes the flying Death Eater,” said Remus, as he flew the fork around before finally ‘landing’ it in Harry’s mouth. Sirius laughed.

“You can’t say he isn’t helping the cause,” he said, and then looked at Lily. “Is he staying up tonight with us?”

“No, I’m trying to be a good mum.” Lily rolled her eyes. “There’s no way he’s staying up tonight - he doesn’t even know it’s new years! And he’d be grouchy all day tomorrow if he did, I don’t want to have to deal with that when I’m sleep deprived.”

“Don’t forget the hangover,” Sirius smirked.

Sirius kept trying to persuade Lily to let Harry stay up with them to see in the New Year, but she didn’t give in. She went to put him to bed at half seven in one of the bedrooms on the second floor that they had decided he could have. Lily was reluctant at first, but Remus and Sirius had persuaded her that he should get used to sleeping on his own again.

“Goodnight, Harry.” She kissed him on the cheek and waved her wand to extinguish the lights.

Lily quietly made her way back downstairs and into the parlour. Sirius was attempting to engage Remus in conversation, but Remus didn’t seem too interested. He was answering Sirius’ questions with short answers that added nothing to the conversation.

“I don’t know what it could be, Sirius. It could be anything.”

“Exactly, it could be anything. What do you think, Lily?”

Lily sat down in one of the armchairs. “What are we talking about?”

“The thing Dumbledore mentioned in the meeting yesterday. He said that the Death Eaters probably had somewhere apart from their headquarters, what do you reckon it is?”

“I don’t know, it could be anything.” Lily laughed at Sirius’ annoyed expression. “Do we even know where it is?”

“You think what it is depends on where it is?”

“I think there’s too much about it that we don’t know to start speculating on what they’re doing there. It could just be a prison for their hostages or somewhere where they’re developing some new evil weapon. Are we really going to talk about Order stuff? It’s New Years Eve!”

“I suppose not. I was just curious.”

“You’re always curious, Sirius,” Remus said. “Remember that time you wanted to see what happened when a werewolf transformed?”

“That wasn’t why we did it! You know that wasn’t why, and I must have only said that once.”

“I think it was one of the many times I caught you looking at animagus books.”

“You didn’t catch us that many times,” Sirius scoffed.

“I did, though,” said Lily. “’We’re just looking at the theory’ – you lot were the only people I wouldn’t believe that excuse off. Especially when you were speaking very loudly about how something hadn’t worked.”

“Hey, this isn’t a ‘poke fun at Sirius’ festival. I always made sure no one could hear me.”

“That was just as suspicious. There was nothing you could do that would make looking at animagus books innocent.”

“Okay, I’m not having fun now. Everyone’s supposed to have fun on New Years Eve and I’m not.”

“What do you want to do then?” Remus was suppressing a smile.

Sirius looked around the room. There wasn’t much in here: the sofa and armchairs surrounded three sides of a coffee table with a fireplace along the other; along the back wall was a bookcase (which was the secret entrance to the study); nearby there was another table against a wall with chairs pushed under it. Behind the door to the hallway was a cabinet with cupboard doors made of glass and a few drawers beneath them. It was this that Sirius’ eyes landed on.

“Have you ever used a Transfig-Orb, Lily?” he asked, his face breaking out into an evil grin. Lily glanced over at Remus, who was smiling.

“No,” Lily said slowly, “what is it?”

Sirius had jumped out of his chair and was now rummaging in one of the drawers of the cabinet.

“I don’t even know why we had one, really. Some ancestor of mine must have actually had a sense of fun that got lost somewhere. It’s like an orb and you have to transfigure it – aha!”

Sirius pulled out what looked like a grey lump of clay. It was about the same size as a football and Lily would have thought it completely inconspicuous if it had not been emitting a faint pulsing glow. Sirius tapped it with his wand and it flew out of his hand, resting in mid air at eye level.

“You take turns transfiguring or charming it in some way and every now and again it’ll sort of explode and change something in the room so that it’s the same as the Orb,” he explained. “I stole it once and took it to school, we’d mess around with it in our dorm. I can’t believe you haven’t used one, Lily.”

“Muggle-born,” Lily said, rolling her eyes. “Is there a winner, or…?”

“The winner is the person at the end who hasn’t been hit by the Orb. How about it then?”
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