For you, always

Chapter 16

Chapter 16

"S-Sirius … R-Remus … L-Lexi …" Pettigrew squeaked, and Lexi felt physically sick as he uttered her name. "My friends … my old friends …"

Lexi's grip on her wand was so tight the tops of her knuckles were turning white. Every inch of her body shook with fury she rose her wand towards Peter, as did Sirius, but Remus seized their wrists and shook his head as a warning, then turned back to face Peter.

"We've just been having a little chat, Peter, about what happened the night Lily and James died," he said, quite pleasantly. "You might have missed the finer points while you were squeaking down on the bed there –"

"Remus," Peter gasped, as though conversation was a new art form. "You don't believe him, do you … he tried to kill me, Remus …"

"So we've heard," said Remus, in a cold voice Lexi hadn't heard before. "I'd like to clear up one of two matters with you Peter, if you'd be so –"

"He's come to try and kill me again!" Peter squealed all of a sudden, pointing at Sirius using his middle finger. "He killed Lily and James and he's going to kill me, too … you've got to help me, Remus …"

Lexi could no longer contain herself. "How dare you!" She cried, and Peter's frantic eyes darted to her. "You evil piece of –"

"Lexi!" Said Remus sternly, fixing her with a serious stare. "We need to sort a few things out."

"Sort what out Remus?" She said wildly. "He betrayed Lily and James! He framed Sirius for it! Because of him an innocent man has spent the last thirteen years in Azkaban! There is nothing else to sort out!"

She felt Sirius place one of his bony hands on her arm. "Harry needs to hear this," said Sirius softly, squeezing her arm. "He deserves to know the truth."

Lexi's eyes met Sirius' once more and she lowered her wand. "Get this over with," she hissed.

"I knew he'd come after me!" Peter shrieked, making Lexi jump. "I knew he'd be back for me! I've been waiting for this for twelve years!"

"You knew Sirius was going to break out of Azkaban?" Lexi said incredulously. "When nobody has ever done it before?"

"He's got Dark power the rest of us can only dream of!" Peter answered shrilly; Lexi could tell he was grasping at straws. "How else did he get out of there? I suppose He Who Must Not Be Named taught him a few tricks!"

Sirius suddenly let out a bark of laughter.

"Voldemort teach me tricks?" he said, as though the very notion was amusing.

Peter flinched at the name of his master, as though hearing it aloud pained him.

"What, scared to hear your own masters name?" Sirius said. "I don't blame you, Peter. His lot aren't very happy with you, are they?"

"Don't know – what you mean, Sirius –" Peter muttered, his eyes still searching for an exit. His face was red and shining with sweat.

"You haven't been hiding for me for twelve years," said Sirius. "You've been hiding from Voldemort's supporters. I heard things in Azkaban, Peter … they all think you're dead, or you'd have to answer to them … I've heard them screaming all sorts in their sleep. Sounds like they think the double-crosser double-crossed them. If they ever got wind that you were still alive, Peter –"

The more Lexi thought about it, the more she realised she'd never had much to do with Peter at Hogwarts. He always seemed want to be around James and Sirius, as though he knew he didn't quite fit in and so hung round with bigger friends who could protect him. It seemed as though this had defined his adult life too.

Lexi listened, growing dizzier with each lie that escaped from Peter's mouth. Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, Peter still chose to pin Lily and James' deaths on Sirius. Then there was Harry. Lexi felt a great sadness in her heart at the thought that Peter's actions had meant he'd grown up without a proper family. She hardly believed Petunia, the jealous sister that she was, would have provided a loving home for her nephew.

"Sirius," Lexi voiced, interrupting Peter's frenzied mutterings. "There is something I'd quite like cleared up."

Sirius jumped as though he'd forgotten Lexi was there. He didn't answer, but stared at her as though taking in her appearance for the first time.

"How did you get out of Azkaban?" She asked, ignoring Peter's frantic nodding in her direction. "If you didn't use dark magic?"

"I don't know how I did it," he answered slowly, frowning as though pondering the answer. "I think the only reason I never lost my mind is that I knew I was innocent. That wasn't a happy thought, so the Dementors couldn't suck it out of me … but it kept me sane and knowing who I am … helped me keep my powers … so when it became … too much … I could transform in my cell … become a dog. Dementors can't see, you know …" He swallowed, recalling the memory causing tangible agony. "They feel their way towards people by sensing their emotions … they could tell that my feelings were less – less human, less complex when I was a dog … but they thought, of course, that I was losing my mind like everyone else in there, so it didn't trouble them. But I was weak, very weak, and I had no hope of driving them away without my wand …

"But then I saw Peter in that picture … I realised he was at Hogwarts with Harry … perfectly positioned at act, if one hint reached his ears that the Dark Side was gathering strength again …

"So you see, I had to do something. I was the only one who knew Peter was still alive …"

Lexi's mind struggled to process what Sirius was saying. An over powering feeling of guilt burnt through her chest, and an ache in her heart grew for the horrors that Sirius had experienced over the last thirteen years.

"It was as if someone had lit a fire in my head, and the Dementors couldn't destroy it … it wasn't a happy feeling … it was an obsession … but it gave me strength," he continued, as though his courage grew by the second. "So one night when they opened my door to bring food, I slipped past them as a dog … it's so much harder for them to sense animals emotions that they were confused … I was thin, very thin … thin enough to slip through the bars … I swam as a dog back to the mainland … I journeyed north and slipped into the Hogwarts grounds as a dog … I've been living in the Forest ever since …"

So it was Sirius that Lexi had seen on the edge of the forest looking up at her. "You … you were watching me, f-from the forest that day," she said slowly.

Sirius nodded. "I'd seen you walked the grounds with … Snape," Sirius uttered his name with a disgusted expression. "I didn't believe it was you at first. The Dementors had … sucked all the happiest memories I had. I wanted to see you again."

Lexi felt a heavy sensation in the pit of her stomach, as though it weighed ten tons. She was vaguely aware that all other eyes in the room were on her and Sirius.

"You are as beautiful as I remember," Sirius choked.

"Sirius, I am so sorry," she wept, rushing towards him and pulling him into an embrace one that he returned fiercely.

"Consider yourself forgiven," Sirius said, stroking her hair.

They relinquished their hold on one another; Lexi took a step back and felt Remus' hand on her shoulder. Sirius turned to Harry, who did not look away.

"Believe me," he croaked. "Believe me. I never betrayed James and Lily. I would have died before I betrayed them."

Harry nodded slowly apparently unable to speak.

"NO!" Peter screamed despairingly, falling to his knees as though Harry had signed his death warrant. He shuffled around on his knees, a pleading look in his eyes and turned to each of the room's inhabitants in turn. His hands clasped in front of him as though in prayer.

"Sirius – it's me … it's Peter … your friend … you wouldn't …"

Sirius kicked Peter hard in the abdomen, winding him. Peter, gasping for air, turned to Remus who recoiled in disgust.

"Remus!" He panted, gazing at him as though he held the key to life. "You don't believe this … wouldn't Sirius have told you they'd changed the plan?"

"Not if he thought I was the spy, Peter," said Remus. "I assume that's why you didn't tell me, Sirius?" He said nonchalantly over Peter's head.

Peter made a noise not unlike a mouse being trodden on. He turned to Ron and Hermione in turn, pleading with them but was only met with looks of disgust. He turn and fell at Lexi's feet, she felt bile rise in her throat.

"L-Lexi!" He bawled, grasping the hem of her robes. "Please! You know me, you know I wouldn't never –"

"I lost my whole world because of you," Lexi roared, yanking the robes from Peter's grasp. "You took all I loved away from me! You left Harry an orphan!"

Peter was now trembling uncontrollably, and he turned slowly to face Harry.

"Harry … Harry … you look just like your father … just like him …"

"HOW DARE YOU SPEAK TO HARRY?" Sirius bellowed. "HOW DARE YOU FACE HIM? HOW DARE YOU TALK ABOUT JAMES IN FRONT OF HIM?"

Remus and Sirius seized Peter by the shoulders and dragged him backwards. Then finally, after what had seemed like hours, Peter confessed. He burst into tears, and despite the hatred, Lexi found it horrible to witness.

"What could I have, Sirius?" Peter wept uncontrollably. "The Dark Lord … you have no idea … he has weapons you can't imagine … I was scared, Sirius, I was never brave like you and Remus and James. I never meant it to happen … He Who Must Not Be Named forced me –"

"DON'T LIE!" Bellowed Sirius. "YOU'D BEEN PASSING INFORMATION TO HIM FOR A YEAR BEFORE LILY AND JAMES DIED! YOU WERE HIS SPY!"

"You don't understand!" Peter whined. "He would have killed me, Sirius!"

"THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED!" Sirius roared. "DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!"

Both Sirius and Remus raised their wands, standing shoulder to shoulder. Lexi, despite what the felt about Peter, had a feeling of dread flood her.

"You should have realised," Remus said quietly. "If Voldemort didn't kill you, we would. Goodbye, Peter."

Lexi screwed her eyes shut and turned away.

"NO!" she heard Harry yell, she turned to see that he'd walked in front of Peter, effectively blocking him from Sirius and Remus' spell. "You can't kill him!"

"Harry, this piece of vermin is the reason you have no parents!" Sirius snarled.

"I know," Harry panted as though he'd run a marathon. "But I don't reckon my Dad would have wanted his two best friends to become killers. Plus, dead the truth dies with him. Alive, you're a free man. The Dementors can have him."

Lexi felt a surge of pride for her godson, and a swell of sadness that Lily and James weren't alive to see the young man their son had become. Thin chords shot from the ends of Remus' wand, and soon Peter was bound and gagged. As Remus attended to Ron, conjuring a splint for his leg, Sirius made his way towards Lexi.

"Lex," he said quietly, and Lexi could see a hint of the mischievous boy she knew from Hogwarts. "Lex, I am so sorry. I shouldn't have kept you out of the loop. But with everything that was happening, I didn't want to worry you."

"It's ok Sirius, I understand," Lexi said gently. "So long as you forgive me for believing you were the person who … and for all those horrible things I said to you."

Sirius took her hands in his. "There is nothing to forgive Lexi," he said, smiling what Lexi knew to be his first true on in over a decade. Then he frowned. "Are you and Snape –"

"Oh goodness!" Lexi clapped her hand to her mouth, let go of Sirius' hands and dashed over to Severus' still unconscious form. Sirius watched her with a sour expression.

"Mobilicorpus," she muttered, and as though suspended by invisible strings, he was pulled into a standing position. His head lolling on his chest like a puppet. "I'll take Severus back to the castle." She announced to the room.

Once Sirius had chained Peter to Ron's right arm, they followed Hermione's ginger cat out of the room. Lexi could feel Sirius' accusatory stare burning into the back of her head, which she tried to ignore. She didn't really want to partake in the awkward conversation Sirius so obviously wanted to have.