“What the fuck?” hissed Lucille as the door shut. “Remus has been round three times already looking for you.” She bustled Sirius through to the kitchen and shoved him towards a chair.
"Oh um, sorry. I didn't bring my keys with me. I just didn't-"
"Didn't think? Sounds about right. I mean, bloody hell, just disappearing into the night on this estate? Your accent might be posh but that's not what the fuzz will think to check when they see a black guy in ripped jeans hanging around on his own."
"A bl... a black guy?"
"Oh for pity's sake. Have you been living under a rock? The riots were only a few months ago, surely you would have least read about them? It's a bloody good job I'm used to weirdos coming and going next door. You don't half draw attention to yourselves."
Sirius stared at her blankly. Individually all the words she was saying made sense, but whether it was the cold freezing his brain cells or the remaining shock that his encounter with the police had caused, he couldn't seem to piece them together into anything remotely comprehensible. The only thing that had sunk in enough for him to process was that Remus had been looking for him. Three times, if Lucille wasn't exaggerating. He must have been gone a lot longer than he had thought, and pangs of guilt began to stab through his stomach. Standing abruptly, he turned to leave, to get back to Remus, to forget about everything else in this confusing mess until the sun rose.
"Where are you going?" asked Lucille sharply. "The police may still come back, and you don't have a key. I don't even know if Remus is in or if he's out looking for your sorry arse."
Chastened, Sirius sat back down, staring at his hands. Lucille may be little but she certainly was fierce. Kinda like Lily, although that thought was too painful to explore any further tonight.
"Now, what's going on?" Lucille began. "Two men and a toddler who doesn't appear to be related to either of them move in. They seem to have no idea how anything around here works, and they use peculiar slang. Kind of like the young folk who always visited old Mrs Figg at all hours, and I'm not stupid enough to believe they were all doting nieces and nephews. I want to help if I can, but I definitely can't if I don't know what is going on."
Sirius couldn't see a way out of this interrogation, and he had a suspicion that Lucille wouldn't give up easily. Resigned, he decided he would be as honest as possible without mentioning any of the magic stuff, and face the consequences.
"Harry is my nephew and godson. My adoptive brother, James, was his father. He was Bengali like Harry. Him and his wife both passed away on Halloween night and I am now Harry's guardian. Only, I don't have the relevant paperwork. Remus is my partner and he... he does, and it could easily be said he was Lily's brother. Both Welsh. And white. Only, we're pretending to be flatmates because there are apparently muggle laws against-"
Shit, he'd already fucked up by mentioning muggles. And now he was drawing attention to the fact by stopping mid flow and freezing. Sirius painstakingly lifted his eyes from his tangled hands to look at Lucille's face. To his surprise, she was smiling at him softly.
"Muggles?" she asked quietly, eyes glinting and a small smile gracing her lips.
"Oh, um, it means... Uh... Um... It's kinda hard to explain..."
"Just tell me. I won't think you're any more mad than I already do at this point."
"It uh... it means non-magical people. Which is to say uh..."
"So you're trying to tell me you're some kind of warlock? Makes sense." Lucille tipped back on her chair to grab the kettle. "Might as well have a cup of tea whilst we talk this over. Seems like we're going to be here for a while. Milk?"
Not for the first, or even fifth time that evening, Sirius was speechless. If only McGonagall could see him now, she wouldn't believe her eyes. Although on second thoughts, maybe it was good that Minnie had no idea what Sirius was up to right now, seeing as he had seemingly managed to break both muggle and wizarding laws on his first day since moving into the flat she'd helped arrange for him. It was only when he felt Lucille's eyes boring into him that he realised that she expected a response.
"Wizard, actually." he shrugged apologetically. "Only, there's a Statute of Secrecy which I just broke in telling you that."
Again, he felt Lucille's piercing gaze on him, not dissimilar to the numerous times he had sat in McGonagall's office after a particularly ridiculous prank.
"And these people who visited Mrs Figg, they were magical too? Was Mrs Figg a wizard?"
It was weird how calmly Lucille seemed to be taking the news. "Uh, yes probably. They would have been members of the Order of the Phoenix. We were fighting You-Know-Who, the guy who killed Harry's parents. Mrs Figg wasn't a witch though, she was a squib."
"I'm pretty sure I do not Know-Who." chucked Lucille, "Although he sounds like a nasty piece of work. What would a squib be exactly?"
"Right. Um, it means a muggle born to magical parents. They're pretty rare."
Lucille bit her lip, looking pensive before continuing. "And, if a... muggle... and a wizard were to have a child, would that child be magical too?"
It was Sirius' turn to be surprised. She couldn't mean that... Apparently the look on his face was enough, as she abandoned the tea she had set to steep and dragged him into what must be Dean's room, wordlessly pointing at the ceiling.
"Such a child; could it do that?"
The ceiling was covered in glow in the dark stars, presumably stuck there by Lucille herself. That wasn't what she was referring to though. Between the stars, flecks of light danced almost as though they were reflections of moonlight on a peaceful body of water. The curtains were tightly drawn - there was no way the light was coming from the window. Sirius swallowed.
"Y-yeah." he replied slowly. "Is Dean's father around? It can be difficult to deal with the accidental magic when they're this age."
"I haven't seen him since before Dean was born, but he used to visit Mrs Figg all the time before then." Lucille replied shortly. "We were supposed to be getting married but he just up and disappeared when I told him about the baby. Mum just kept going on about how I was stupid to trust that a posh white boy could love someone like me, and I guess on some level she was right."
Sirius nodded slowly. "I wouldn't be so sure he didn't love you." he started slowly, "The war made a lot of us do things we wouldn't normally, in order to keep people safe. Certainly, the muggle wife of an Order member would have been an easy target for the Death Eaters. He could have been trying to protect you. Or..." Sirius stopped himself before he could complete that thought, though he knew both of them knew exactly what he had been about to say. "I could find out if you wanted? If he was a member of the Order I probably know people who knew him, even if I didn't myself."
"Caradoc. Caradoc Dearborn."
Sirius felt his heart sink but he nodded. "I'll ask around."
"Yeah, well. Thanks. I won't get my hopes up." Lucille replied before walking back to the kitchen and taking a long sip of tea and sitting down heavily on her chair. "Oh, you can take this key if you want. Mrs Figg used to ask me to cat sit sometimes, and I didn't get a chance to give it back before she moved. Guess I'll see you around. So sorry to hear about Harry's parents, but your secrets are safe with me. Families that are a little different have got to stick together."
Sirius took the proffered key and turned to leave. He could tell he was being dismissed, and it sounded like they both had a lot to think about. Besides, Remus... shit, Remus! Quickly muttering thanks for the key and the (undrunk) cup of tea, Sirius hurried back to his own flat. As he lifted the key to the lock he paused, memories of the argument from earlier flooding back. He needed to talk to Remus. To apologise. To tell him about Lucille and Dean. To... No. It was too much. He couldn't. The talk with Lucille had brought up a lot of feelings, and it was the first time he had said out loud what had happened to James and Lily. He couldn't do that tonight. Opening the door as quietly as possible, he transformed into his canine form as soon as he was inside. Sirius knew he was being cowardly, but this form couldn't process complex emotions, and the guilt and grief he felt was almost overpowered by the simple pain from being a Bad Dog. He curled up on the welcome mat and drifted off to sleep almost immediately to the sound of Remus singing a mournful tune in a language he couldn't understand even as a human.
"Ni chaiff dim amharu'th gyntun, ni wna undyn â thi gam. Aug hofiar oll o'th addewidion, a wnest i rywun, 'ngeneth ddel..."