The Girl at Grimmauld Place

Summary: Before his incarceration in Azkaban, Sirius Black had had an almost perfect life. He had his friends and the woman he loved, but he lost it all. So, how did he react when he returned home to find a remainder of his once perfect life in the girl at Grimmauld Place?

Disclaimer: I only own Charlotte, nothing else.

Chapter One

As the early winter's sunset fell on 12 Grimmauld Place, Harry Potter stepped out into the extensive gardens, one destination in particular on his mind. He had made a near daily pilgrimage to the rose plot at the end of the garden ever since that terrible night, and even the harsh winds of December could not stop him from doing so again.

Finally, after half a dozen minutes of weaving his way through wild mazes and overgrown hedgerows, the young man reached the sacred place, sighing a little in both relief and sorrow as his task was completed.

It was truly beautiful, to any eye, in stark contrast to the rest of the gardens, which were as dark and unruly as the house itself. The roses were in every colour that Harry had ever seen roses to be. Blooms of red, pink, white and yellow surrounded him, lifting tenfold the atmosphere of the place he was in.

Glancing through the roses to the only bare patches of earth in the garden, Harry felt his vision clouded by tears, as it always was when he was there. It was a bittersweet feeling, but one that Harry felt a moral duty to repeat, as he had been the cause of his visits, after all.

Three large curved stones stood proudly out of the earth, polished and gleaming with the colours of the day's end, while the silver writing gleamed almost ethereally in the approaching moonlight. Harry read each stone over and over through his tears. He read the one on the right hand side and paid little heed to it. He had never known her, so he could not truly be remorseful, other than for the people she had left behind. Moving his gaze to the one on the left, the tears grew in intensity. In truth, he had never really known him either, though he certainly should have done. When Death snatched him away, Harry had been distraught. But he had not really felt any guilt. He had never known what guilt truly was until the third of them had died.

He began to read the polished stone of the third, barely able to see it through the tears in his eyes, which he wiped away almost ferociously, crying out in anguish as more just replaced them. It took him a good ten minutes before the tears began to clear. He had never cried for so long in his life, but maybe that was why. He was not just crying for the people at rest in the garden, he was crying for them all.

At this realisation, Harry's gaze turned slowly back to the headstone, which was now glittering in the new moonlight. It was still relatively new itself, only being seven months old, and had not seen as much wear as the others. 'That practically makes it worse.' Harry thought in anguish, reaching out to brush the silver lettering with his hand. He pulled away from it at once, as if he had been burnt, though the stone was as cold as the night's chill.

Blinking back his tears as it became second nature, Harry glanced back down to the silver script, reading each swirl and swoop of the letters as they formed words. The words that had saved his life, and the words that had torn it apart.

Here lies Charlotte Isabella Bayley-Black,
14th February 1982 - 2nd May 1998
Who died to protect those that she called her friends,
Staring evil directly in the face even as it snatched away those closest to her,
May she rest in peace, and be with her parents at last.

Harry smiled a little as he read the inscription of the gravestone, not because of the memory of her death, but that of her life, or what little she had to live of it. Even at the tender age at which she had died, while she was alive, Charlotte had been the bravest girl Harry had ever known. She still was.

Seeing the dates written on the stone, Harry reminisced on the time when the tale of her life had been told to him, the life that filled the sparse gaps between the dates. Sirius, Remus Lupin and many others had described the girl's life to him, including Charlotte herself, during the little time he had known her. It was a beautiful story, one that had ended far too soon.

She hadn't deserved to die, not in the slightest. If he thought about it, in the time he had known her, Harry had never known Charlotte to do anything wrong. She had never once been selfish, rude or arrogant. She had always been the one to resolve a conflict, always put others before herself. That was essentially why she lay at rest.

With a watery smile on his face as he remembered the girl, Harry sat down upon the ground, his back against the tree that sheltered the gravestones from the winter. In the glinting silver of the moonlight, Harry could remember everything. He could still remember the first time he met Charlotte, could remember the pictures he had seen of the girl as a child. He could remember the smile she had given him as she cast her first Patronus charm in the DA, the defiance in her eyes as she stared at Voldemort's army and the tears in them as she watched her father fall. But most painfully of all, Harry could remember the look of determination as she had hurtled towards Voldemort, the fear as she held the spell against him, and his own scream as she had fallen.

Sighing, Harry closed his eyes, drifting off to sleep. As he slept, he dreamt of Charlotte.

A/N: This is not a one-shot, the next chapter will be up soon, but I really need to know what you think. Just so you know as well, with chapter two, it all goes back to the beginning of her life, then ends just after her death. It's like a cycle. Please review!