6 October, 1977
It didn't feel real until the morning after, when Hadley woke up in her room. Rafi wasn't asleep by her feet. He wasn't anywhere anymore.
The pain hit her in the chest. She gripped at her heart and fell back against the pillows, letting the tears come. Reality was settling in like a cold, unwelcome weight on top of her.
Her mother was dead. Her dog was dead. Her father was missing, probably dead. Hadley felt their losses so deeply that it physically hurt. What she wouldn't give to have her mum burst through the door and admonish her for being in bed so late, to hear her father's laugh coming from the kitchen and smell his pipe tobacco.
He might still be alive, she told herself, don't write him off just yet.
Seeing the leftovers of the destruction in the hallway downstairs and on the staircase last night wasn't helpful either. The Auror Office - or whatever department handled such things - had cleaned up the blood, Xander had told her, but they'd left the banister in shambles and the scorch marks on the carpet and walls. Apparently it had been a bit of a firefight.
"Hadley?" A soft voice asked from the other side of her door. Sophie knocked quietly and pushed the door open gently, as if Hadley would startle. "You awake?"
"Yeah," Hadley sniffled from under her blanket, making no effort to welcome her sister in law into the room. She was facing toward her window, her back to the door and blankets clutched tight about her body.
"Xan sent me...you two have that meeting at Gringott's in a bit," the dark-haired beauty explained, approaching the bed. "I brought you some tea, I'll just...leave it on the table here."
"Thanks, Soph. I'll be down in a minute." Hadley heard the other woman sigh slightly, a mug being placed on her bedside table, and Sophie's delicate footsteps out the door. For a second she expected to hear Rafi's paws against the carpet, but she never would again.
She drew the blankets up over her head, like she did whenever she needed to block out the world for a little bit. The meeting at Gringott's wasn't for another two hours. She had time to wallow.
Hadley didn't know or care how much time had passed, but eventually she got up and took a scalding hot shower, dressed, and went downstairs.
Xander was in the kitchen, forehead resting on his hand as he stared at the Daily Prophet. The two siblings hadn't talked much since he picked her up at Hogwarts the previous day, but it wasn't a tense silence.
"Page eleven," Xander said as Hadley crossed to the sink, tossing the now cold tea down the sink and starting the kettle to make coffee.
"Our parents aren't even mentioned by name. Listen to this, 'A recent Death Eater attack on the small town of Godric's Hollow left one dead, one missing, and one injured. Sources in the Auror's Office say the motive is unclear, but they will continue the investigation until the missing person is found.'" Xander read the short article aloud to his sister before slamming his hands on the table. Hadley jumped and turned. Her brother's hands were fisted in his hair, his brown eyes glaring at the paper.
Hadley stood behind her brother, put a hand on his back. His tense shoulders relaxed a bit.
"I just...I can't believe…" he muttered. She could tell from the tightness in his tone that he was holding back tears.
"I know, Xan," Hadley said, rubbing circles on his back with her left hand, the right resting on his shoulder. He reached up with his right hand to grasp hers as he let out a sob.
"We're all we've got left, Hadley," he croaked between sobs. Hadley bent over and wrapped her arms around her brother's neck, hugging him from behind.
"Dad could still be alive," she offered weakly, her voice a whisper. They both fell silent and Hadley knew Xander didn't believe her. Hell, she wasn't sure she believed herself. But that small glimmer of hope seemed to be what they needed to pull themselves together.
"Right," Xander said with a sniff, his hands going to his face to wipe away his tears, "We should go. Don't want to keep the goblins waiting."
The kettle whistled from behind her as she stood up, letting her brother go.
Harold Dodd had been the Sinclair family lawyer for as long as Hadley could remember. However, in all that time she had never met the man her parents would mention when talking of wills and property deeds and such.
Dodd was a thin man that appeared to be Dumbledore's age. The only hair he had left clung weakly to the sides of his head, and his tiny spectacles kept falling down his long, narrow nose.
"Ah yes, the Sinclairs," he said, lowering his frail body into his chair at a pace that would make a sloth seem like a hummingbird. The old man let out a long sigh as he settled and put the pile of papers on his desk. He took his time sifting through them and Hadley's foot started to bounce. She glanced over at Xander, whose jaw was tight. It seemed that after waiting for the better part of a hour for this man to return from lunch, both the Sinclair siblings were a bit impatient.
"Now, it looks like your parents willed everything to the both of you in equal shares. The house in Godric's Hollow was paid off a few years back. Unless you want to sell, it should be no problem. The money, however, may take some time to figure out."
"Why is that?" Hadley demanded gently, her foot still bouncing.
Dodd leaned back in his chair and Hadley thought she heard the old wooden thing sigh. "Since your father's only missing and not dead, Gringott's policy is to hold onto any willed properties until such a time as the case is closed by the Auror Office."
"So...you're kicking us out of the house?" Xander asked, concern flashing across his features.
Dodd chuckled, "No, no, nothing of the sort. You may continue to occupy the house, but you may not sell it until the deeds are in your names. I speak more of your parent's vault and accumulated wealth, which I took the liberty to have the goblins check this morning, and the amount is quite substantial. Now, if you two will sign these papers saying that we met this morning and you understand that you won't have access to the vault until such a time as your father is proven dead-"
"You said until the case was closed, not until our father turns up dead," Hadley snapped. She didn't know why she kept bringing it up; she knew her father was most likely dead. But something deep inside her wanted to slap the old lawyer for his presumption and seemingly lackadaisical attitude. Their parents had just died, was it so difficult to show a little tact - if not a little sympathy?
"Erm - yes, my apologies Miss Sinclair," the old man wheezed as he passed the papers and a couple quills over his desk. Hadley quickly scribbled her name and rose to her feet, eager to get home.
"Xander, are you coming?" she asked, but her brother remained seated.
"You go on, Had, I've got to talk to Harold here about a will of my own," Xander explained. That realization hit Hadley in the gut, but she focused and apparated herself home.
James was waiting for her when she got home. After reading the note Sophie had left for them ("Off to the healer, not feeling so well. I'll be back later. Much love, S") she made them some tea and they sat in the living room, side by side on the couch as she told him about the lawyer's visit and their meeting with the funeral director the next day.
"How's your dad doing?" she asked, looking her friend over. He had dark circles under his eyes and his black hair was more of a mess than usual. His medium brown skin looked a little pale, and she knew he hadn't slept since they left Hogwarts.
"He's fine. Broken arm, a some burns on his left side. Nothing the healers can't handle," he dismissed, taking a sip of his tea.
Since Dumbledore's office it seemed to Hadley that James was avoiding her. Letting her fall into Sirius's arms and leaving her to be escorted by his two other friends when, under normal circumstances he would've gone with her. Now, sitting in her living room, she felt that he was holding back. Fleamont Potter's injuries couldn't be that simple if James looked like hell. There was something he wasn't telling her, and she wasn't going to take that from him. Not now.
"You don't have to downplay it for me, James," she stated. He looked at her and tilted his head.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, if it's bad you can tell me."
"I'm just," James said, looking into his mug of tea sheepishly. "I'm worried you'll hold it against me."
"Hold what against you?"
"The fact that my dad lived and yours are...well…" James wouldn't meet her gaze.
Hadley was baffled, "Why in the world would I hold that against you? You weren't the one to break into my house and attack my family, James. Unless there's something you're not telling me," she added in a teasing tone, leaning over and pushing against his shoulder with hers.
"Well, you held one little fight against Sirius so…" he trailed off and Hadley rolled her eyes.
"That's entirely different! And with the way he helped me yesterday, he's earned a few points in his favor."
James shot her a sidelong glance, "So you're saying there's a chance with you and Sirius?"
The question caught her completely off-guard. Sirius and Remus had now seen her at her lowest point and been kind to her - why would James jump to the conclusion that she was attracted to Sirius? Admittedly, she was, but she was seeing Evan. Sort of.
What was she doing? She had bigger problems than her love life at the moment.
"Don't change the subject. How's your dad really doing?" she pushed against him again and he sighed.
"I didn't lie; the Healers say he'll be fine. Mostly," he muttered, taking another sip of tea.
"What do you mean mostly?"
"It's going to be a long recovery. 'Cos he's older, you know. And the spells got him real deep, caused some internal bleeding. They're um...not sure the pressure on his spine is going to go away so he might never walk again." James now focused on the rug in front of them and Hadley put an arm around his shoulders. He leaned into her and the two friends sat there, staring at the rug, for what felt like an eternity.
After an indeterminate amount of time, the front door opened and Hadley heard her brother pause in the hallway, sighing.
"Better get to work," he muttered. Hadley turned her head and watched him pull out his wand, muttering cleaning charms to remove the scorch marks. She nudged James and stood up, moving to help her brother.
She waved her wand and repaired the banister bit by bit while James fixed a shattered vase and righted the table it sat upon. When the area was fixed, the three of them proceeded upstairs, silently walking to the farthest room down the hall.
Their parents' room.
Hadley reached out for the handle. For a moment she let her hand rest on it, taking a steadying breath before she turned it.
She didn't know what she expected - to see her mother sitting on the bed, poring over a book, Rafi next to her asleep. The room was dark, the curtains pulled shut. The bed was mussed, where her parents had been awoken from their slumber. Hadley suddenly couldn't breathe.
Her parents had been asleep when they were attacked. They'd been sleeping right there, on that bed. If only she could reach back three days and tell them...
She turned suddenly, running toward the toilet. Lifting the lid just in time to hurl what little was in her stomach into it, tears streaming down her face while her hands shook violently.
Xander crouched next to her, gathering her hair as she went in for round two of heaving.
"Maybe we'll deal with their room later, yeah?" he asked rhetorically. James appeared a minute later with a glass of water.
"I'm sorry, I don't know what came over me," she said weakly, leaning against the wall and accepting the water. Her insides felt like sludge, and the cool water felt good as she drank.
"It's okay," Xander assured her, putting a hand on her knee. "We do have some things to talk about, though. Think you're up for it?"
She nodded weakly and took another sip of water.
"Sophie and I were talking, she and I are going to move in here, into my old room. Would you mind that?"
"Not at all," she said before adding, "It's our house now. I'd rather it be occupied than not."
Xander nodded, but didn't say anything. The three of them heard the front door open and close, all turning their heads toward the sound. James and Xander were on their feet, wands at the ready until they heard Sophie climbing the stairs.
"It's me, boys, you can put your wands away," she said without a hint of cheer in her voice.
Xander walked down the hallway a bit and Hadley heard the couple murmuring to each other, and then Xander's voice.
Hadley rose off the floor and shuffled to the doorway, looking down the hall toward her brother and sister-in-law.
"Yeah, love. I'm pregnant."
"Congratulations!" James said, clapping Xander on the back. The father-to-be looked rather pale, and he and Hadley looked at one another for a long moment. He looked hurt - deeply, soulfully hurt.
Hadley understood completely. This was the wrong time for this to happen. While she'd been daydreaming about becoming the "fun aunt" to her brother's children, it was too emotional a revelation to have at the moment. Caught in the middle of grief and uncertainty, she simply didn't have it in her to be happy at the moment.
Without saying a word, she turned and made her way to her studio space. She opened the skylight despite the October chill, and sat on the edge of it. The sun was beginning to set, casting a warm glow over the rooftops of the town. The trees of the forest to her left had started to turn the bright reds and oranges of fall, and the chimneys of the town off to her right had smoke rising out of them, which made the chill breeze smell like a bonfire.
Normally, this sort of view would inspire Hadley and uplift her mood. She loved fall, with bonfires and schoolbooks and the heat of summer dissipating. But today it simply looked like the trees were ablaze, the quaint village blowing smoke into the air. It looked and felt like death. And truly, that was what autumn was, right? Plant life died out for the season, forest animals prepared for a long sleep, the warmth in the air gasped its last breath before being taken by the chill.
She was going to be an aunt, but her parents would never get to be grandparents. Their grandchild would never know them except for photos, which were sparse in the Sinclair household.
An idea blossomed in her head, and she moved back into her studio. She found her stacks of old sketchbooks and started flipping through them, ripping out as many sketches of her parents as she could find.
Maybe she couldn't muster up happiness for her brother and sister-in-law just yet, but she would eventually. And she would give that baby - and any that came after - a way to remember their grandparents. She wouldn't let them be forgotten, she couldn't.
With a flick of her wand, she summoned a prepped canvas and began to mix paint colors. She tied back her white blonde hair, and set to work memorializing her parents.
There you have it! Hadley's first day as a partial orphan, dealing with things with the help of her brother and best friend. I'm in a good place mentally, so I'm trying to write as much as I can while I can. Depression is a bitch, but for now it's my bitch.
Please let me know what you think in a review!