Chapter 1: Reunion

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     Tessa Hale was sitting at her desk trying to sketch a dress for her spring line when a jarring noise shook her out of her daze.  It sounded like-no it couldn't have been.  But as she looked at her window all hope that it was just a tree branch hitting the window disappeared.  There an owl hovered impatiently scraping it's talons  waiting to be let in.  She stared at the owl in awe and horror.  It was impossible!  No one knew that Tessa Hale and Cassiopeia Black were the same person.  She made sure of that.  She gave up her magic, changed her name, and never contacted anyone she'd ever known.  All for the sake of disappearing.  And yet the owl was still there. 

  

         Shaking she let the owl in.  It screeched in annoyance setting back out immediately after dropping the letter on her desk.  She sunk down into her chair staring at the worn parchment.  Should she open it?  But if she did she would never find out who it was from and how they knew who and and where she was.  With trembling hands she picked up the rolled parchment and untied it.  She shuddered reading it.  Nausea washed over her.  It was from Sirius.    It said that he had somehow escaped from Azkaban and asked her for help with something he couldn't write down.  He also said that if she wanted to hide she should have learned from their paranoid father.  Anger welled up in her.  Who did he think she was?  Did he think she was still the second year who begged him not to abandon her and Regulus?!  Or the fourteen year old he tried to turn against her own family?  Did he still see himself as a hero after all he had done?  She was about to rip the parchment and forget it had ever existed when the ring around her wrist burned bringing her to her knees.  She heard the echo of her long ago promise and gritted her teeth, "Okay I get it!  I'll help him!"  The burning promptly stopped and she shakily stood up.  "If I'm going to do this I'll need my wand."

        The attic was filled with years of dust and year old footprints still marked the time when she almost-almost opened the chest.  She undid the latches and the old wood groaned as she opened it.  Inside there were only three things: a pair of robes, an unopened letter, and her wand.  As soon as she grasped the willow wand red sparks flew out of the wand and a warmth flooded through her chasing away a coldness she had become so used to she almost forgot it was there.  She was reconnecting with her magic.  "Now for a simple test." she said to her self locking the chest back up.  Alohomora.  She thought and the chest wiggled but didn't unlock.  ALOHOMORA.  She thought again and this time the chest blasted open scattering dust everywhere and making her cough.  Satisfaction flooded through her.  "I can still do it." a tear welled up in her eye.  "I can still do it!" she yelled gleefully.  It had been so long since she felt her magic that the emotion was overwhelming.  She had not only unlocked the chest but a part of her that she spent too long trying to hide.  But now she was back. 

       Striding into the cave that Sirius indicated he was hiding out in she spotted a mangy black dog in the corner.  "Well are you going to eat like a man?" she asked raising a basket full of food.  When he did nothing she threw the food on the ground, "Fine eat like a dog then." she sneered nastily.  He fell upon the food and shoved as much as he could into his mouth at a time.  "I'm guessing they don't feed you much in prison hmmm?"

And then before her eyes the dog changed into a scruffy manic looking man.  Sirius laughed bitterly, "The starvation is nothing next to the dementors."  Tessa cringed, "So Cassie how have you been?  Pardon me for not keeping in touch I've been in prison."

"It's Tessa." she snapped.

"Oh yes how could I forget.  Tessa Hale the rising star in the muggle fashion community.  What would our dear mum say if she saw you now." he asked mockingly.

"Shut it Sirius!  You don't know anything!  You have no right, you left us!" she screamed at him.  For half a moment anguish and regret crossed over the man's face making him look even older but then it disappeared.

"You made your decision."

"Decision?!" Tessa's voice rose in hysteria.  "A decision implies that we ever had a choice.  But you took that away.  After you left Walburga tightened her grip and we were trapped.  You had the chance to see what we were taught was wrong but we never got that. So don't give me that 'you made your choice' bullshit."

Sirius rose shakily to his feet, "Then why did you come?  If you hate me so much why bother coming to help me?  Why didn't you alert the ministry as soon as you read the letter?  Come on Tessa," he spat the name out like a dirty word.  "Why?"

She froze debating whether to tell him or not.  "It's none of your business.  But I am here to help." she sighed sliding down to sit on the filthy cave floor.  "Even though I hate you you're still the only family I have left.  That's why you reached out to me isn't it?"  Sirius nodded, "Did you betray them?  James and Lilly I mean?" she asked and Sirius paled.

"No," he said hauntingly, "but I might as well have." he began to tell her the story of choosing who would be secret keeper for the Potter's.  "I was first choice but at last minute I convinced them to switch.  Everyone would expect it to be me, James and I were closer than the rest.  So I told them it should be P-Pet-the damned rat." he stopped unable to even say the man's name.  "He betrayed them.....and I gave him the power to do it."  Though she despised Sirius Tessa couldn't stop pity from washing over her.  However she did nothing to comfort him.  Because some part of her thought he deserved to feel this pain.  He had no idea what sort of pain she went through because of him.  He was at the root of every nightmare she'd ever had.  Every mark left on her for not being perfect.  It was all because of him.

Her expression hardened, "So why did you call me here anyways?"

Sirius looked up hearing the change in her ton and grinned at her maniacally, "Why to commit murder of course."

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