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Chapter 1: Salvation
People say miracles happen in the Holy Night.
So… If you had one wish… Just one… What would you wish for?
Would it be wealth? Fame? Or would it be a simpler thing – happiness, love, family?
This Christmas, Sirius Black’s only wish was to stay alive.
He used to be a man who had everything. A handsome boy from a wealthy family, witty and intelligent, with some of the best friends anyone could wish for by his side; he felt like the entire world was laid under his feet. Even though the war was raging, he had felt as if eternity was at his side, the somber days of present brightened by the memory of their glorious past together and the wonderful future they were supposed to live through.
A moment took it all away. A split second required to speak two horrible, disgusting words.
Twelve years have passed since and he was a nobody now, a mere shadow of his former self. A fugitive whose very existence was despised. Ever since that fateful night he had dared to escape Azkaban, there were times when he secretly wanted to give himself up, to allow the Dementors give him the kiss and spend an eternity as a soulless shell rid of painful memories. However, a desire for revenge was stronger; it was what still kept him going. For too long had he suffered the burden of false accusations for that horrible crime, for too long was the real culprit hiding from his fate.
Even though becoming a murderer was a family trait he had been trying to run away from his entire life, even though aware that his vengeance would curse him into eternity, Sirius also knew he would not hesitate in its delivering. After everything he had been through, the salvation of his soul already seemed quite impossible and of very little relevance at the moment.
So, even though his reasoning wasn’t exactly the most noble, desperately hoping that said revenge would bring peace to his tortured mind, Sirius Black’s only wish this Christmas was strength he required to endure, and stay alive.
He is cold and tired by now, but he has to keep going. He has exposed himself too much in the past few days and it is better for him to lie low for a while, find a shelter, disappear in the Muggle world for a few days.
Be joyous, people, when you hear the news
Of baby Jesus being born in this blessed hour…
Angels are singing “Gloria”, calling to the world
Rise everyone, greet thee Savior…**
His legs are barely holding him, his stomach growling loudly. He hadn’t eaten all day. Only a few feet ahead there is a window bathed in golden light, a light so warm and tempting, the scent of food seeping outside along with it. Almost unconsciously, his feet carry him through a garden and towards a small family house. Peering inside, his dim grey eyes scan the spacey living room, the rich dinner table in the corner filled with all kind of goods. While he tries to find a way to distract the people gathered around the Christmas tree enough for him to sneak in and steal a bite or two, his attention is drawn by a lovely female voice singing a song he is not familiar with. A little boy claps his hands happily and joins in, his still clumsy tongue fumbling with the words too big for his understanding.
A strange longing fills his chest all of a sudden; a nostalgic feeling pulls at his heartstrings, a feeling different from the dull ache he had been feeling constantly for the past twelve years. His vision is becoming blurry – it must be the hunger – and suddenly, the woman’s hair seems to shine a coppery red in the eerie glow of Christmas lights. The man’s grinning face looks with every passing second more like the one belonging to his best friend, the little boy in his lap a godson he never had the chance to properly know.
The lights are blinding, burning, and he collapses with a muffled thump, along with a ceramic pot containing a dried plant he had been using as a support for his tired limbs. The shattering sound of it breaking fills the otherwise silent night as the window continues to bleed the golden glow over his shivering form huddled in the snow.
“…But I definitely heard something! I bet it’s Santa!”
The front door slammed open, the thick, freshly fallen snow squeaking with each tiny step approaching the window.
“James, come back inside this instant! You’ll catch your death of cold!”
He feels a warm hand on his neck, small fingers rubbing over his shoulder, shaking him. Even opening his eyes is an effort he is simply incapable to make.
“Mummy, it’s a doggy. Poor doggy, I bet you’re cold. Can we keep him, Mummy?”
The footsteps approaching this time are heavier, slower.
“Absolutely not! It’s a stray, probably full of all kinds of diseases…”
“Now, now, darling, it’s Christmas after all. You don’t suppose we leave him to starve to death in our own back yard, do you?”
The voices are unfamiliar and sounding very distant by now. He is unable to keep up with them anymore and suddenly, for a blissful, wondrous moment, his mind is empty of heavy thoughts and worries before it sinks into a dark, dreamless slumber.
Sirius woke up to a soothing sound of cracking fire. The warmth oozing from the fireplace and seeping through his body is refreshing, almost revitalizing. Lifting his head groggily, he stifled a yawn, somehow feeling more at peace than he had felt in years.
There was something curled around his neck, the little boy from earlier had snuggled up against his black fur and was sound asleep.
For a moment, he panicked. His life on the run had taught him never to stay anywhere around other people for too long.
The child shifted in his sleep, his arms never leaving the dog’s body. The warmth was pleasant; touching his soul the way he thought never to be possible again.
To hell with running and seeking vengeance! It would just have to wait for another day.
Sirius inclined his head a bit, his wet nose touching the side of the boy’s face as he licked his cheek in silent gratitude.
People say miracles happen in the Holy Night.
For Sirius Black, salvation didn’t seem quite as unreachable anymore.
A/N - An entry for girldetective85's Christmas drabble challenge at eHPF forums. Thank you, Jules, for hosting it! It has been an honor participating alongside such amazing authors!
**The song that inspired this is a Croatian native Christmas song "Radujte se narodi", loosely translating into "Joy to all people"