Ellie stood in the large, old parlour of Grimmauld Place, looking around at the gathering of people. The room had been completely transformed, all thanks to Mrs. Weasley. As soon as she had arrived with Ginny and Ron, she had set her youngest two children to work helping her clean in preparation for that day. There were no more cobwebs in the corners of the room, and it actually felt a bit airier, if it were possible. Ellie had tried to help, but Mrs. Weasley had only tutted and sent her off, saying they were just fine and why didn't she go check on her mother?
There weren't many people in the room - roughly a dozen or so - though Emmie wasn't sure how many she should of expected. Some she knew, some she didn't. They were all wearing black and spoke in hushed tones.
Her gaze continued on until it settled on a large portrait that had been placed on an easel in front of the fireplace, the person in it smiling and winking at anyone who walked near it.
It was a face she had only seen in newspapers. Granted, this photograph was vastly more appealing than those had been. He didn't look like a mad, escaped convict in this one. He looked… friendly. Fun-loving. A bit of devilish glint in his grey eyes.
As Ellie continued to study the portrait from across the room, she could feel eyes studying her.
"Didn't even get to know him…"
"How's her mother holding up?"
"She looks so much like him…"
Ellie shifted slightly on her feet, smoothing the front of her dress as she tore her eyes from the photograph. She was no stranger to people looking at her and whispering. Gotten rather used to it at Hogwarts. She was a Selwyn in Gryffindor, after all. The first, according to her family, though her mother had also been Gryffindor. They were the odd ones out. Being a Selwyn in Gryffindor had gotten her loads of attention her first year. Most of it not so good. She spent most of her first week crying in the bathroom before she finally stood up for herself. She punched a third-year boy in the nose after he had told her to go slithering back to Slytherin with all the other snakes where she belonged.
She had gotten detention for it and never told her parents what it was really about. But she had gained some supporters from that incident. Namely Ginny Weasley, who took her under her wing from that point on. The two had remained close, becoming even closer last year when they both wholeheartedly joined the DA.
Life had gotten easier after that incident her first year, thankfully. At least in Gryffindor. She still got the occasional blood traitor or muggle lover from Slytherin. Those lot she had unfortunately grown up around, though she had never really liked any of them. There was a time when she and Pansy Parkinson had been sort of friends, though that most assuredly died the day Ellie was sorted.
But now, Ellie was standing in a room full of people who were there to mourn a man she had never met. A man that was apparently her father. She glanced over, seeing her mother sitting in a chair, making polite conversation as she sat with her back ramrod straight and her legs crossed at the ankle. Ellie had seen her mother like this many times before - the ever proper pureblood wife. It was a role Aurora had played for all of Ellie's life when in public or around other purebloods or Evan Selwyn. Ellie figured her mother was trying to put on a strong face for everyone else - she had heard her sobbing in her room at night when she thought everyone else in the house had gone to sleep.
"How are you holding up?" Ginny asked, stepping up to her, the nerves apparent on her face. They had had a decent row shortly after the Weasleys had gotten there over the fact that Ginny and her whole family had known the truth all along and didn't tell her. But at this moment, Ellie found that she didn't care so much anymore. She needed a friend right now.
"Ehm… I'm okay. It's just…" Ellie trailed off as she looked back over at the portrait. "I mean, I know he was my father, but… is it bad that… I don't really feel...anything? I didn't even know..."
"Suppose I can understand why you'd feel that way," Ginny said.
"I mean… I am upset," Ellie said. "But… mostly because I didn't get to meet him… and everyone else here apparently has. And they all kept it from me... I don't even know most of the people here..."
Ginny was silent a few moments, watching her friend as she felt her own guilt. She had wanted to tell her about Sirius, but her parents made her swear that she wouldn't - knowing it was something left for her mother to tell her when she was ready.
"I wish… Harry should be here. He'd probably know more about that," Ginny said. Ellie looked over at her. "I mean… he knew Sirius. And… he knows what it's like to have a parent die before you really know them…" Ellie nodded, looking back at the portrait. She still hadn't wrapped her head around the fact that her life was now tangled up with the boy she had idolized for years. Though they were in the same house, up until last year, Ellie had rarely - if ever - interacted with him.
"Suppose he would," she said, remembering everything she had learned while in the DA last year.
"Elle… you know I'm here for you. For… anything," Ginny said, reaching out and squeezing her hand. Ellie smiled softly as she looked back over at her friend.
"Thanks, Gin," she replied.
"And you've got the whole DA with you as well," Ginny continued. "When we get back to school." Ellie frowned at that. She still wasn't sure she was ready to return to Hogwarts. With her father - well, the man she had thought her father - now in Azkaban as a death eater, she was sure it would be rough, at least at first. People would certainly look at her differently. Those who didn't know the full story, anyway. That her mother had been in hiding all last year, terrified that he would find her and kill her. Granted, news of the divorce was likely to have spread like wildfire through the pureblood circle - purebloods never ran away or got divorced, so it was likely the summer's biggest scandal.
Then there was the other bit. Ellie hadn't even decided if or how she would tell anyone about Sirius Black.
From what she had gleaned over the last week, Sirius seemed to be a far better man than Evan Selwyn. And she wished that she had had the opportunity to get to know him. But it still didn't change the fact that she barely knew anything about him. And that he had spent 12 years in Azkaban for a crime he didn't commit. And now he was dead.
As she stared at the portrait again - saw so many features that she looked at every day in the mirror - her thoughts went back to that day.
The day that changed everything.
“Darling… his name was Sirius Black.”
Ellie just stared at her mother, watching as her hand came to her mouth and she closed her eyes, the tears freely falling down her cheeks. Ellie couldn’t speak. What did you even say to a statement like that? First of all, to find out that Evan Selwyn wasn’t actually her father. Then to discover that Sirius Black - a man that up until recently most of the wizarding world thought was a mass murderer and death eater - was.
It felt as though everything Ellie understood about her life had just been tossed out the window and then run over by a lorry. Or a herd of hippogriffs. Either one worked.
“Sirius Black… I… what?” Ellie asked, unable to properly speak as her brain tried to process the information. She wasn’t having a ton of luck with that. Aurora swallowed and walked over to the sofa, sitting next to her. She took a few deep breaths, attempting to reel in her tears.
“We started dating at Hogwarts,” Aurora said. “He helped me to run away from home… and then he asked me to marry him... We were together for three years. I found out I was pregnant with you just after he was...”
“Framed for killing all those muggles and taken off to Azkaban,” Ellie finished. Aurora whipped her head over, eyes wide. “Ginny told me as much months ago in DA. Said he’s Harry’s godfather, too.”
“Ah… right,” Aurora said, looking back to her hands. “He really was… a good man…”
“Was he… was that who you were talking about at Christmas?” Ellie asked, thinking back all those months ago. Back when her mother had been happy. Excited about introducing Ellie to the mystery man that she had been dating. A sad smile crept across Aurora’s face as more tears coursed down her cheeks.
“Yes,” she said. “He wanted to meet you so badly, but I was afraid that it would be too overwhelming… we had… this whole thing planned out for when you returned home… Going to tell you about the wedding. And this… And now… he’s gone.”
Aurora covered her mouth as a sob broke loose, the pain evident on her face.
“I see now I made a horrible mistake,” she whispered. “I should have… we should have…” She dropped her head into her hands, her shoulders shaking.
Ellie just sat there, stunned, as she watched her mother cry. In all her life, she had never seen Aurora this broken. She wasn’t sure what she should do. If she should comfort her? Or perhaps give her some privacy?
Should she be crying? She didn’t really feel like crying, though Ellie wasn’t completely sure what she felt. Her stomach churned slightly, and her head was starting to ache with the onslaught of information.
Aurora then sat up and pulled Ellie into her arms. Leaning her head on her mother’s shoulder, her thoughts turned from Sirius to what happened next. Where would they live now that her mother had gotten the divorce? Would the Selwyns still come after them? Were they finally safe? Or would they need to stay on the run like her mother at been all year? It was dizzying, all the sudden changes.
“I’m so sorry, Ellie. I wanted you to meet him so badly. And he was so eager to meet you… officially, anyway,” Aurora said.
“How do you mean?”
“Well… you’ve already sort of met him… Sirius was an animagus. He turned into a large black dog,” Aurora said.
“You mean… Snuffles? Professor Lupin’s dog… that was him?” Ellie asked softly thinking back to Christmas. The friendly dog hadn’t left her side the entire visit. He had seemed particularly bright for a dog and now she knew why.
“Yes… he couldn’t stand to go all through the break without being around you. Even if he couldn’t let you know that it was him,” Aurora said, sniffling. Ellie nodded, a lump forming in her throat.
“Mum… are we going to be okay?” she asked, her voice small.
“Oh, heavens, yes, Ellie. We’ll be okay,” Aurora said, kissing the side of her head. “We have to be…”
Ellie sighed as she sat down on the bed in the room she was sharing with Ginny later on that night. After the memorial service, most of the others cleared out, though Professor Lupin and the auror Tonks had stuck around. They had a rather quiet dinner. Aurora hadn’t said much, though Mrs. Weasley and Tonks had attempted to keep things upbeat by chatting about the summer break and what all the kids hoped to do. Ellie had answered politely enough, though kept glancing at her mother.
They were supposed to be moving into her grandmother’s manor, but her mother hadn’t given her a date yet, only saying, “Soon.” Ellie was wondering just how far away “soon” was. Though it probably had more to do with the fact that Aurora wasn’t ready to leave this place. It was Sirius’ house, after all. And her home for the last several months.
But now she and Ginny were in their room with no adults about. Free to finally talk about how Ellie was really feeling.
“You think you two will move soon?” Ginny asked, getting into her own pajamas.
“I hope so. This place is starting to depress me,” Ellie said, glancing around at the dark wallpaper and heavy curtains covering the window. She suspected this was how the Slytherin common room looked. All dark and green.
“How long’s it been since you were last there?” Ginny asked.
“Maybe… seven or eight years?” Ellie said, scrunching her nose in concentration. “Hard to remember… we didn’t really go that often… D-dad didn’t like it…”
“He was a right good git,” Ginny replied, probably thinking to the fact that he never let Ellie have any of her Gryffindor friends over.
“Yea, he was never that great,” Ellie replied with a sigh. “Still can’t believe that she’s left him for good. Or that he’s in Azkaban.” She looked over at Ginny. “Bit odd when you think about it… both my fathers have been in Azkaban…”
“Yea, but he deserves it. He is a death eater,” Ginny retorted. Ellie nodded but didn’t say anything. She supposed in her own way, she had loved him. He was her father, after all, or at least she had thought he was for all her life until a few days ago. Regardless of how he had been, there was a connection, faint as it might be, with him. She still felt absolutely nothing towards Sirius, even if part of her wished that she did.
“What did you think about him? Sirius?” Ellie asked, looking over at Ginny as she paused in putting her pyjamas on. The older girl turned to look at her.
“I liked him. He was funny. Bright,” she said. “Especially after your mother found him again.” Ellie nodded slowly.
“She hasn’t told me how she did that… there’s a lot she hasn’t told me,” Ellie said, scuffing the toes of her slippers against the wood floor.
“She’s still grieving,” Ginny said. “I’m sure she’ll tell you loads of stories about him once she’s feeling better.”
“I suppose,” Ellie said with a sigh as she stood and walked towards the door. “I’ll be back.”
She stepped out into the dark corridor, moving towards the bathroom to brush her teeth, when she heard something. Ellie stopped, even though she already knew what it was. She leaned over the railing, glancing down the stairs towards the floor below where her mother was staying. The sound of sobbing floated up the stairs, along with gentled, hushed tones.
Ellie crept down the stairs, finding the door to her mother’s room slightly ajar.
“You’ve got to pull yourself together, Rora,” she heard Professor Lupin say softly. “I know this is hard, but… you have to think of Ellie…”
“For god’s sake, I know, Remus,” Aurora retorted. “But… what am I supposed to do? He should be here! We were supposed to do this together!”
“I know. It’s incredibly unfair. Just as you’ve found each other again, you’re ripped apart,” Remus said.
“I feel… like I’m missing part of me,” Aurora replied. “Like there’s a large, gaping hole in my chest and I cannot fill it…”
For a few moments, all Ellie heard was the sound of her mother sobbing loudly.
“I know… I feel like part of me is missing too,” she barely heard Professor Lupin say softly. “It’s going to feel that way for a long time, I should think…”
“Will it ever get better?” her mother sobbed.
“Maybe? I’d like to think that it will. Or at least that we’ll be able to manage it,” Remus answered truthfully.
“She’ll never get to meet him… that’s the worst part of this… Ellie deserves to have a loving father… he adored her already…”
“I know. As I said, it’s not fair,” Remus replied.
“I’ll bloody kill Bellatrix if I ever get my hands on her,” Aurora nearly shouted, her voice sounding ferocious for just a moment. “I’ll squeeze the life out of her with my own two hands-”
“Rora,” Professor Lupin chided.
“You were there. You… you saw it, too. Don’t tell me that you don’t want to kill her as well,” Aurora said. Ellie’s eyes widened. Her mother had been at the Ministry that night? How had she even known what was going on? Oh, right. She had been living with Sirius. If he had heard about Harry and the others going to the Ministry, then her mother must have gone with him.
Ellie took a step closer and ventured a look into the room. Her mother was seated on a sofa, leaning over as she stared at the fireplace and flames danced across her face, highlighting her wet cheeks. Remus was at her side, rubbing her back. She was still in her dress from the memorial service. It was hard to imagine her mother being there in the Ministry. Fighting death eaters. More than that, fighting against her fath-... er. Ellie really was going to have to figure out something to call him. Now that she knew he wasn’t really her father, she didn’t particularly want to keep calling him that.
But Mr. Selwyn seemed odd. As did referring to him by his given name… Perhaps she would discuss this with Ginny. Or just think of him as him. Or that man.
“You can’t stop being there for Ellie. She needs you,” Remus said.
“I know,” Aurora said softly. “Once again… she’s all I have left. I would walk to the ends of the earth for her…”
“Perhaps start with moving to the manor?”