Lord Cartwright won the Prime Minister’s seat, and as such, Leah’s life became considerably busier. As she got familiar with 10 Downing Street, she could have sworn she saw a portrait in the Minister’s office move. Lord Cartwright even attempted to have it removed, everyone failed.
“Leah, perhaps you…?”
He rushed off to a meeting, Leah went to grab the portrait in the now empty office, and it replied, “I think you’d be able to recognize the irremovable charm?”
Leah smirked, “Well, that explains a lot. Does the Minister of Magic pop by often?”
“Only when absolutely necessary.”
Leah nodded and bid the painting a good day. She glanced at her watch and went to meet the Minister and escort him to his next appointment.
Later that evening, they were both in the office doing a recap of the day and going over the next day’s schedule, he had glanced up at the painting and sighed, “No luck, eh?”
“Ah well, what’s coming up tomorrow?”
After a half an hour of reviewing and revising the next day’s schedule, Leah was packing up her desk for the evening and heading home. She found Alphard curled up on the couch devouring yet another one of her old school books and jotting some notes onto a roll of parchment. He glanced up, “Hi, Mum. How was work?”
“It was good, how was your day?”
“Good, I’m making a lot of headway on my essay.”
Leah pulled out her wand and flicked it to start getting dinner ready and glanced at the Daily Prophet. Apparently, a Ministry official named Arthur Weasley won a rather large prize and was spending it on a holiday in Egypt.
Al gave up on his summer homework as dinner was served. “Mum, my friend Andrew was wondering if I could come to his house in the country for a few days.” He presented a letter serving as the invitation.
Leah shrugged, “I don’t see why not.”
“Excellent. So, does the Minister have any travel planned?”
Leah smiled, “Not for another few weeks, he is hosting a dinner party when you get back from Andrew’s that he wants staff family to attend. Want to go?”
“Do I have to get dressed up?”
He quipped, “At least it won’t be the pirate costume again.”
Leah laughed, and made him clear the table.
A few days later, back in the office, Lord Cartwright called her, “Leah, I need you in my office right away.”
She dropped what she was doing and went in and sat down. “What can I do for you Sir?”
“I need to put out a press release; a man by the name of Serious Black has escaped prison.”
Leah balked, “I’m sorry sir, did you just say Sirius Black?”
“Er, yeah? Have you heard of him?”
She shuddered, oh bugger, “Er, I remember something about him in the papers twelve years ago.”
He looked as though he was searching his memory and waved it off, “At any rate, this Black person is supposed to be very dangerous, so we need to warn the public and set up a tip line. Here’s a current photo of him and the tip line number.”
She nodded, took the photo and the number and returned her desk. As she started typing she looked at the photo, marveling at how awful he looked, then again, the guards at Askaban could do that to you.
How in the hell did he escape?
The memories of that day coming back to her, she wasn’t feeling well and things were on edge with the threat to James and Lily. She knew Sirius was meeting with the Potters and Dumbledore to help put them into hiding. He came home after the secret keeper charm was performed, to check on her.
The next day she broke down and went to see a doctor, when she got home, Sirius was in right state, “I failed them Leah. Wormtail betrayed us all.”
“Sirius, what do you mean?”
“Peter, betrayed all of us, I’m gonna kill ‘im.”
“Sir, I don’t… What’s going on?
“James and Lily are dead.”
Leah felt her stomach drop. And tried to grab Sirius before he left. “Wait! Sirius please…”
“I’m gonna kill him Leah!”
But as she shouted, “Sirius, I’m pregnant!” He was gone.
The next few days were a whirlwind of questioning, “How long has Sirius Black been in league with You-Know-Who?”
“Are you complicit in the plot to murder the Potters and Peter Pettigrew?”
“Where are your fellow Death Eaters?”
They couldn’t find the proof through any searches and Leah stuck to her story but before she knew it, Sirius was in Azkaban and people were calling her a Death Eater. She’d had enough and went to the closest form of a relative she could think of, the head of the house staff from her father’s estate.
Giles, was kind enough to take her in and helped her through the pregnancy and the first few months of Alphard’s life. Giles’ health took a turn for the worse and Leah was left again without a home. She took the last bit of her inheritance and was able to find a flat in London and eventually landed the job as the pub keep. Throughout it all, she cursed Sirius, and seriously wondered if he was in league with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. If he was, how could she have missed it?
He resented his most of his family. She didn’t blame him there, the first time he introduced Leah to Mrs. Black, you would have thought someone had given her a chest with a dead animal in it. And the ensuing row… Leah shuddered to think about it.
She refocused on the press release, there really weren’t many details, but then again from a Muggle’s perspective, there wouldn’t be. As far as they knew twelve years ago, all those people died in a gas explosion and not from a curse. She reread the release, checked for errors, triple checked the phone number for accuracy, dialing it herself. After she ensured the person on the other end, she was just checking the number, she hung up and sent all the details to the top news agencies in Great Britain.
As she wrapped things up for the day, she checked in with the Minister, giving him a copy of the press release, which was already being shown on the television. He thanked her and bid her a good evening. As she walked home, she continued her reflections on Sirius. His family though not in league with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, definitely thought he had the right idea. Sirius though?
No. He was there for her when she witnessed He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named decided that a high-ranking member of the Royal Army with a witch for a daughter needed to be eliminated. She only managed to escape by accidentally changing into her animagus form of a fox. She sat huddled under the china cabinet staring at her dead father’s blank face for what seemed like hours. It wasn’t until magical law enforcement showed up, found her and reversed the spell, that she realized what she had done. The Aurors were more focused on the attack than the seriously illegal magic she had just performed, but eventually made her go through the steps of registering herself as an animagus.
On top of that she was back at Hogwarts trying to continue her studies, but found herself reliving that night every time she shut her eyes. She started making a potion to keep her awake. Sirius realized what she was doing, “Leah, that’s a dangerous game to play, you’ll start building up a tolerance to it.”
“But, the dreamless sleep potion needs too many restricted ingredients…”
He sighed, “That’s not the route to go either… put the vial down. Let’s read something.”
They sat together in one of the larger chairs in front of the Gryffindor fireplace, reading about numerology. Leah drifted off to sleep only to jerk awake but having Sirius there to comfort her helped calm her down and eventually she got the best night’s sleep she’d had in months.
Leah glanced up and saw that she had arrived at her apartment building. A man stood there and made way towards her when they made eye contact. “Leah Rickman?”
“I’m Terrance Cootes from the Auror’s office.”
“How can I help you?”
“Are you aware of the escape of Sirius Black?”
“I had heard, yes.”
“Has he attempted to make contact with you?”
“Do you think he will?”
“I’m not sure, to be honest. If he’s smart he won’t.”
“Do you consider him to be a direct threat to you and your son?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“We know he’s threatened Harry Potter, the Azkaban guards have said so, but you did write that very scathing letter, we wondered if you think he’d hold any ill will towards you or your son?”
Leah shook her head, “No, I don’t think he’d come after us.” She thought about the letter she’d written telling him about Alphard and chastised him for acting so brashly and to never try and contact them again. That letter, convinced the authorities that she was not in league with Black and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
“Are you equipped to protect yourself?”
“Do you object if we keep you under surveillance?”
Yes, she thought, but answered, “Not if you keep it discreet.”
“Of course. Have a good evening.”
She sighed as she watched Mr. Cootes fade into the background of the area and noticed in the alleyway she usually apparated into, a large black dog watching her intently.
To be continued…