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Old February 19th, 2011, 3:43 pm
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Fourth Year
 
Join Date: 15th February 2010
Location: England
Age: 26
Posts: 660
Re: Learning to Live Again

Another chapter. Big thank yous to everyone who keeps leaving reviews, you guys are awesome

Chapter 20

“Bye bye, Harry,” said Sirius, kissing him on the cheek. “Have a nice day cleaning.”

“Don’t worry, Sirius, I’m sure there’ll be plenty more to do when you come back.”

“I would actually rather be here doing something, instead of having to stop your sister’s stupid son from eating his fingers when he gets too hungry.”

Lily smiled sweetly. “Tell Petunia I said hi.”

Sirius glared at her before slowly going up the stairs to the hallway, leaving Lily with Harry and Remus.

“So, where do you want to start today?” Remus asked.

Over the past week, Lily and Remus had started going through the house and cleaning all the rooms, while Sirius had returned to his post as bodyguard for Petunia during the day. By ‘cleaning’, they really meant ‘throwing everything out that in some way was connected to the Blacks’, something they had been told to do by Sirius. In any case, they hadn’t gotten very far. In some houses it might take half a day or a day to clean each room using magic, but not this one. Each room was so cluttered with objects and there was so much to throw out that it had taken almost three days to clear the dining room.

“We’ve done all of down here now, haven’t we? I suppose we should start on the drawing room.”

They finished breakfast at a leisurely pace, as neither of them particularly wanted to start the cleaning. Lily was a bit wary about the drawing room; it had more clutter than all of the other rooms combined and she dreaded to think what they might find there. Only yesterday they had found a pair of purple robes in the first floor bedroom that had tried to strangle Lily before Remus had come to the rescue.

It was mid morning before Lily and Remus could bring themselves to start cleaning the drawing room. Lily supposed that it was a magnificent room, just in desperate need of a proper cleaning. Two large windows overlooked the street in front of the house and one wall was completely covered by a tapestry. Two cabinets that were so full of old silver objects that it looked as if it would burst stood on either side of the fireplace. More cabinets and chests of drawers stood against the walls where they were not blocking the windows or the tapestry.

“What’s that?” Lily asked, walking over to the tapestry while carrying Harry. It looked very old, but the golden thread used in it still shined brightly. At the very top of the tapestry, stitched in the golden thread were the words:

The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black
‘Toujours pur’


The dates underneath the names near the top were around the 13th century and the family tree sprawled downwards from there. Occasionally, Lily would spot a black burn mark where a name must have been blasted off. She scanned the bottom of the tapestry, looking for Sirius’ name, and wasn’t altogether surprised when she saw a hole next to ‘Regulus Black, 1961-1979.

“Wow,” breathed Lily. “They really took the pure-blood thing seriously.”

“You didn’t already know that?” Remus had moved and was stood beside her, also examining the tapestry.

“Yes, but… I just don’t understand it. Pure-bloods aren’t any better at magic than the rest of us.”

“I think it’s more to do with the rest of us not being worthy of having magic. Anyway, it’s not as if the people who belief that nonsense are completely sane – just look at Old Burga’s portrait.”

Lily was silent for a moment, reading the names of Sirius’ relatives and seeing if she recognised any of them. There were the Prewetts, and one of his great-Aunts had married a Crouch, but the rest all seemed to be names that Lily recognised as Death Eaters.

“Come on, we should get started,” said Remus.

“Hmm.” Lily didn’t move.

“Lily?”

“Yes, sorry. You’re right.”

“Why are you so interested in the family tree?”

“It’s nothing really. Just my family were never that close, my mum was an only child and my dad didn’t get on with his brothers. Big families fascinate me.”

“Even when more than half of it is trying to kill you?” Remus smiled, raising his eyebrows.

“Oh, especially then,” laughed Lily. “We better start cleaning then, or this room’ll never get done.”

Lily sat Harry on an old sofa in the middle of the room with a few of his toys and set to work clearing out one of the cabinets, while Remus started on a chest of drawers. It wasn’t very hard work, throwing out the old bits and bobs into the sack, until she reached the back of the cabinets. The things that lived there seemed to have become fond of their home after so many years and did not cooperate when Lily tried to remove them. A silver something with many legs suddenly came to life and scurried up her arm when Lily tried to pick it up, and she quickly sent it flying across the room and into the sack they were throwing the unwanted things before it could do her any harm.

By the time Lily was ready for lunch, she had only just finished emptying the one cabinet. She sat back on the floor, wanting to rest for a while, when there was a thump behind her, followed by screaming and low mutterings that were barely audible. Lily span round.

The first thing she saw was Harry on the floor, crying. Lily immediately hurried over to where he was without bothering to stand up. She picked him up, holding him tightly to her chest and rocking him. As she did so she made sure that Harry was okay: there wasn’t any blood and he didn’t seem to have broken anything. Lily’s worry and panic lessened as she realised this.

“What happened, Kreacher?”

Lily looked up at Remus’ words. Kreacher was nearly at the door now, apparently trying to sidle out without being seen. His usual general mutterings that were always in the background at Grimmauld Place changed to ones of more purpose.

“Kreacher doesn’t have to answer the werewolf, no. Kreacher thinks he’ll get away from the brat’s crying, too loud for poor Kreacher’s old ears.”

And with that he left the room, shutting the door behind him.

“Is Harry okay?” Remus asked.

“I think so. Did you see what happened?”

“No, I bet he was sneaking in here to steal stuff back like he’s been doing everyday and Harry saw him.”

“I knew I couldn’t trust him around Harry. Here, hold him while I go after the foul little-” Lily held Harry out for Remus to take him.

“Or, we could get Sirius to make Kreacher answer to us when he gets home. We’re the ones in here all day, it doesn’t make sense for us to put up with his nonsense without being able to say anything back.”

Lily frowned. Doing the more sensible course of action that Remus had suggested really wasn’t as satisfying as it would be to curse Kreacher into next week, and she doubted Sirius would mind. Nevertheless, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to start a war with the house elf, especially with so many dark objects still in the house that he probably knew how to use.

“Yeah, I suppose you’re right. Let’s go downstairs, I’m hungry.”

After a quick lunch, Lily and Remus went back upstairs to carry on with the decontaminating of the drawing room. This time, they made sure that they locked the door so Kreacher couldn’t get in and upset Harry again. They hadn’t been cleaning out the cabinets for long before Lily heard shouting behind her.

“Hey, Lily – help!”

Something black with wings was attacking Remus, who had moved onto one of the cabinets near the windows. He was waving his arms about trying to get rid of it. Lily didn’t stop to think.

Stupefy!” she shouted, aiming her wand at the thing that was flying around Remus’ head. The spell hit its target and the thing fell to the floor.

“Are you alright? What was it?” Lily asked.

“I’m fine, it didn’t get me.” He peered at the thing on the floor. “It’s a Doxy.”

Lily moved closer, and now she could see the beetle-like wings and its four arms and legs that made it distinguishable from a fairy.

“How did that get in here?”

“No idea. Do you think there’s just the one?”

“If we’re lucky. Maybe you should stay away from around there just in case.”

They went back to clearing out the cabinets. The one Lily was emptying was significantly less dangerous than the one that morning, as it was full of old photographs and silver jewellery bearing the Black family crest. Something glinted gold at the back of one of the shelves and Lily reached in to pick it out.

It was a heavy gold locket. Lily flipped it over in her hand and saw a small snake made out of emeralds. She tried to prise it open with her fingernails but it wouldn’t budge.

Alohomora,” she muttered, tapping it with her wand. It still wouldn’t open.

“What have you got there?” Remus asked from the other side of the room.

“An old locket that won’t open. You can have a go if you want.”

Lily threw the locket to Remus; he fumbled it and it made a loud clunk as it hit the floor. He bent over to pick it up and examined it, trying, like Lily had, to open it. Finally, he gave up.

“It’s just an old locket, it can go in the bin,” he said, moving towards the sack.

“Look at the mark on it, though. Isn’t that Slytherin’s?”

Remus turned it over in his hand and frowned at it.

“Yes. Do you think we should show this to Dumbledore?”

“Probably. You don’t normally find old Hogwarts founders’ relics when you clean a house.”

Remus put the locket in his pocket and they carried on emptying the old cabinets.

They managed to get through the rest of the afternoon without any more Doxies attacking them or Kreacher trying to steal back family heirlooms. Lily was exhausted when they decided to give up for the day and felt quite proud of herself for doing so much, until she took a step back and realised that, compared to how much they had left to do, not a lot had been done.

Sirius came home when Lily and Remus were halfway through dinner. He was complaining about having nothing to do all day and how the most interesting thing he did was chase the birds in the garden, until Lily told him about Kreacher.

“He did WHAT?”

“We don’t know exactly but Harry –”

“I’m going to kill him, the filthy piece of-”

“That’s what I wanted to do but Remus stopped me. He thinks it would just be easier if you make him take orders from us.”

Sirius looked as if she had just announced that Christmas was going to be twice that year.

“Oh, he’ll hate that. That’s a brilliant idea, perfect punishment. You’re a genius, Moony.”

“I always knew that was the only reason you kept me around, so I could come up with great ideas.”

“Nah, it was so we could copy your homework.”

They ate for a while, not making conversation. The doorbell rang just as they were finishing, causing Walburga’s portrait to start screaming. Sirius got up and rushed up the stairs to quieten the portrait and open the door. He came back down, not long after, accompanied by Dumbledore.

“Good evening, Lily, Remus. I must say, Sirius, I haven’t met your mother in a long time and yet she’s still as delightful as ever.”

“Yes, some people never change. Do you want something to drink?”

“Oh no, I’ve just come for a flying visit. I wanted to talk to Lily, actually.”

“You did?” Lily looked up, surprised, from wiping Harry’s chin that he had managed to dribble half of his dinner on.

“Yes. I recently came into contact with a young man who wishes to meet you and he left it to me to contact you.”

Lily stiffened, suddenly suspicious. Out of the corner of her eyes, she could see Remus and Sirius frowning.

“Really? Do you know if he’s… Are you sure he’s not a Death Eater? What do you know about him?”

“His name is Seth Gibson. He told me that he grew up in America with adopted Muggle parents, naturally they were very surprised when he turned out to be a wizard. They passed away recently and he decided he wanted to research his biological parents. It turned out that his mother had been a teenager when she got pregnant so gave him up for adoption. Unfortunately, she had also recently deceased so he started researching to see if he had any siblings.”

“I –what? He thinks I’m his half sister, or something?”

“What if he’s just some Death Eater trying to get into our inner circle and then he’ll try to take Harry?” asked Sirius.

“Trust me, Sirius,” Dumbledore said, patiently. “I did already think of that and I asked to see proof: he had birth certificates, adoption papers, everything he had gathered. It all proved that what he was telling me was true.”

“You could forge them though, couldn’t you? It would be easy enough with magic,” said Lily.

“Which is why I suggest you meet him and decide for yourself. I didn’t meet with him for very long, I’ve been excruciatingly busy, but I didn’t pick up any immediate danger signs. I told him the situation you are in and he agreed to meet you somewhere public.”

Lily didn’t know what to think: it could be a Death Eater trying to attack them again, even though Dumbledore hadn’t noticed anything wrong with him, or it could be true and this man really was her brother. Surely she would have known though? Her mum could have mentioned it at some point, couldn’t she? It was too late to ask now. The only way to find out was to meet him herself.

“I’ll meet him, as long as Sirius and Remus can come too.”

“I can’t,” Sirius grumbled. “I’m at Petunia’s all day.”

“And I’d have to stay here with Harry,” said Remus.

“Oh.”

“I’m sure we can find someone to baby-sit Harry. Sirius will need to stay at your sister’s, though.”

“Okay, well, The Leaky Cauldron would be alright, wouldn’t it?”

“We need to go to Diagon Alley sometime soon, anyway,” Remus said.

“We do?”

“You’ll have to start making the Wolfsbane potion on Wednesday and we need to buy Doxycide for the drawing room.”

“Right, so it’s definitely The Leaky Cauldron then.” Lily hadn’t been paying attention to the phases of the moon. It felt as if she had only just stopped making the potion and now she had to start again.

“An excellent choice. Is there a specific day you had in mind?”

It was eventually decided that Lily and Remus would meet Seth Gibson the day after tomorrow, and Dumbledore promised to pass the message along. He was about to leave when Remus remembered the locket they had found that afternoon.

“It was in one of the cabinets upstairs, we thought you’d want to look at it,” he said, passing it to Dumbledore. Dumbledore narrowed his eyes as he examined it, tracing the small snake on its front with his long fingers and trying to open it but failing.

“Thank you for showing me this. I hope you don’t mind if I take it? I’d like to examine it properly.”

“No problem. I’ve never seen it before, are you sure it was upstairs?” said Sirius.

“Yes, Lily found it. It’s Slytherin’s, isn’t it?” Remus asked Dumbledore.

“One would think so. I’ll have to have a thorough look to be sure.” Dumbledore looked at his watch. “I really must be going now. There’s an Order meeting on Friday, although I suppose I won’t be seeing one of you there because you’ll have to stay here with Harry. I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening.”

Sirius went with Dumbledore to the front door. Lily’s mind was racing a little; barely an hour ago everything had been normal, and now she probably had a half-brother. It even sounded weird in her head, never mind actually saying it out loud. There was really nothing more to say about it until they met, Lily would see how she felt about it then.
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