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Chapter 2 : Year One
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He was escorted via Side-Along Apparition with Crenshaw to the fortress of Azkaban. The first thing he perceived was that the air was chilly to the bone, and thick with the grim drizzle of despair. It was pouring icy sheets of rain, and he also heard the stormy seas crashing around against the rocky shores of the tiny island. He looked up to see the tall tower itself. Above it was a swirling, churning storm cloud of thunder and lightning, and everywhere he saw dementors—he shuddered—gliding around in the air, patrolling. In all of this chaos, they were the only things moving with tranquility, and it was ironic, really, because they were the ones causing all of it, being in such huge numbers confined to a concentrated, isolated area.
He could also hear sounds coming from inside the walls. The sounds of wailing and pleading and sobbing and screaming and shrieking and howling and muttering. Sounds he would soon be making himself, he realized with dread. And for the first time that day, he began to feel fear again.
A pair of dementors glided towards them.
Crenshaw quickly undid Sirius’s manacles. “Fresh meat for you!” he called to the two dementors that had accosted them. He shoved Sirius forward and then Disapparated with a pop!
Sirius looked up at the dementors and gulped again, the icy sensation of their effect drenching him in cold sweat. He shivered at the sound of their foul, death-rattle breathing. He felt the color drain from his face as each one reached out a slimy-looking, scabbed, decayed-like hand to him.
The one on his left grasped his left arm, and the one on his right grasped his right.
Sirius groaned and winced, squeezing his eyes shut for a moment.
The fear rose and ate at his insides now. “Please let this be a nightmare…” he begged under his breath. “Please…let this all just be a bad dream…and make this all go away….” He continued to moan and plead as the dementors led him inside the fortress. “Let me wake up…dear God please…let me wake up and find James and Lily still alive….”
The waves of despair crashing like the violent waves outside increased dramatically as he was brought inside the dark confines of the tower. The wails and pleadings and sobs and screams and shrieks and howls and mutterings he’d heard from outside were now within direct earshot, and he heard them louder than ever.
They put him in a dark WC where he was to remove his beloved and stylish dragon skin apparel and put on the black and white striped prison clothes instead. At least they can’t take the ink away, he thought miserably, regarding the various tattoos that decorated the bare flesh of his chest, arms, and back. When he’d pulled on the prison garb, he looked down at himself a minute, and oddly enough, his first thought was how incredibly unstylish he was. After he thought this, he laughed humorlessly. “Of all times to be thinking about how I look…!”
The door opened and the dementors took hold of his arms again.
After they’d had a serial number magically sewed onto the chest of his itchy new togs, they took him to a special room where there was a Ministry official in the middle of poring over a scroll, and a photographer stood by with his camera, sitting on the edge of the table at which the Ministry official sat. The both of them were quite at their ease, for they were protected by a patrolling patronus, the form of which was a Doberman pinscher.
The Ministry official logged Sirius’ name into a book, and the photographer took several photos of him for his record, which would all include him holding up a sign with his serial number on it. Before the dementors took him away, the Ministry official made it clear to them that Sirius was to be given maximum security, with dementors outside his cell twenty-four/seven.
Sirius whimpered when he heard this order. He found it very difficult to breathe as his two dementor escorts came to bring him to his cell, which happened to be all the way at the top. Now he was really entering the prison, walking past the cells filled with the tortured souls imprisoned there. He saw them curled up in fetal positions on the ground or writhing on the floor or cringing and flattening themselves as far back against the walls of the cells as they could to put as much distance as possible between them and the dementors guarding them just beyond the bars. He saw them wailing and pleading and sobbing and screaming and shrieking and howling and muttering. At one point they passed an isolated section, and the prisoners there were completely different from the others. They were all huddled like some of the other prisoners, but Sirius saw in their eyes an emptiness that made him realize that these select prisoners had had the dementor’s kiss performed on them.
Sirius continued with the dementors to his cell, his insides writhing faster and faster with all his fear and anxiety, mixed with the anguish and grief and hopelessness that flooded him. The deaths of James and Lily, the betrayal of Wormtail, the loss of his friendship with Remus, and never knowing his godson, Harry…the pain all these things were causing him were made a thousand times worse by the presence of the dementors all around him. His insides were on the verge of shattering like thin sheets of glass. He started to cry, gradually losing sense of his own self-worth, viewing life as a very pointless affair, and he prayed that it would end very soon.
Then he got a very bad case of the shakes. When the dementors shoved him into his cell, he shuddered uncontrollably. He was trembling so badly that he fell back against the wall, and watched as the barred door was slammed and locked shut. He slid down to the floor and hugged his knees. The tears still streamed down his face, though he had stopped making choked sobs, as he surveyed with wide, glistening eyes the dementors surrounding his particularly isolated cell at the very end of the row.
“Oh God...” he moaned. “I don’t wanna be here…please take me away from here…somebody…anybody…please….”
His mind filled with swirling clouds of cold and voices from the past arose from his memory, saying things he’d hoped he’d never have to relive as if they were actually happening to him all over again….
James and Lily lay dead among the debris of their home in Godric’s Hollow.
“It was You-Know-‘Oo, Sirius,” said Hagrid mournfully. “He—He got to them….”
“No…no…” he whined. All my fault…all my fault…. “Please…I didn’t mean for this…please…please…..” Make it stop…please….
He no longer had his wand…they had taken it away…he couldn’t make a patronus…. He wondered if Remus could use that wandless magic of his to make a patronus…probably not…wandless magic was a lot harder than wand magic, so simple spells in wand magic became quite difficult with wandless magic….
Remus.... James…Lily…forgive me…. All my fault…Harry…your son…I failed him…. I failed you…. I failed you all…I couldn’t even keep my Aurelia safe…my Aurelia…you were too beautiful to die….
The clouds in his mind swirled faster and grew colder….
He was back in the dark depths of the hidden cave, running towards that infernal Veil through which his beloved Aurelia was falling with a yell, having taken a misstep trying to dodge a Killing Curse delivered by the Death Eater, Travers. She was falling…falling…and then she was seen no more…. Only the Veil fluttered to mark her having fallen through…. She was gone…. No…no…she wasn’t gone….
James grabbed him around the chest, holding him back. “Sirius! Sirius! Stop it! It’s too late!”
“No!” Sirius shouted. “No, it’s not! Let me go, James! I have to get her! I have to save her!”
“Let her go, mate! She’s gone!”
“No she’s not! She’s only just gone through! I’ve got to get her back!”
“Sirius! Listen to James! There’s nothing you can do!”
“Shut up, Remus! Both of you! Just shut up and let go of me!—Aurelia! Aurelia!—Let go! I’ve got to get her back!”
“She can’t come back, Sirius! She can’t come back because she’s d—”
“SHE IS NOT DEAD, JAMES!—AURELIA! AURELIA! COME BACK! AURELIA…!”
“Aurelia…!” he wailed. “Come back, love…! Please…!” He began to rock back and forth, trying to force his mind to resist the dementors’ power. But another terrible memory was forcing its way to the forefront of his consciousness….
He was sixteen and had just returned home for the summer from Hogwarts before starting his sixth year there. He was up in his room putting up posters of bikinied Muggle girls using a Permanent Sticking Charm so that his disapproving family could never tear them down no matter what they tried.
“Sirius Orion Black!” shrieked his mother.
He did not answer her, but ignored her and went about his business putting up his posters.
“Answer your mother, boy!” his father thundered.
Sirius sighed but continued to ignore them as he finished putting up the last poster. He stepped back to admire the effect, a broad elfin grin creeping across his handsome features. He heard the sound of his parents’ pounding footsteps as they marched up the stairs. He heard them arrive at his bedroom door. Without knocking first they unlocked the door and threw it open. Sirius turned and saw them stride inside with little Regulus sneakily sidling in behind them, his beady eyes hungry.
His mother, Walburga Black, gasped at the new posters that decorated Sirius’ bedroom. “What abomination is this? They’re barely wearing anything! And they’re not moving!” She glared wide-eyed at Sirius. “You dare, boy…?” she breathed menacingly.
Sirius glared unflinchingly at both his parents, sinking down onto the edge of his bed.
“Sirius, these other decorations,” his father, Orion Black, began, gesturing with glances of loathing at the Gryffindor banners and such that brightened Sirius’ bedroom with gold and red, “were one thing…but these….” He nodded towards the Muggle posters with absolute repulsion. “They’re Muggles boy….”
Walburga winced at the word, “Muggles”.
“Take them down,” Orion ordered.
Sirius raised his eyebrows at his father. “No.”
“Take…them…down,” Orion repeated through gritted teeth, advancing on Sirius.
“I can’t,” Sirius replied coolly. “They’ve got Permanent Sticking Charms on them.”
Orion raised his hand, brought it down, and smacked Sirius clean across the face.
Sirius gave a small cry of pain and clutched his stinging, throbbing cheek in his now somewhat trembling hands. He heard his brother laughing at the door, and their parents paid him no heed.
“You’ve got a lot of nerve, you bleeding little blighter!” Orion shouted. He hit Sirius again, and this time Sirius whimpered and cringed like a dog enduring verbal and physical abuse, tucking its tail in between its legs….
Tears gushed unimpeded from his eyes. He heard his father call for Kreacher to bring him his cane…the big black one with the silver snake on it….
Kreacher arrived promptly, his own beady eyes just as hungry as Regulus’.
Orion snatched the cane from Kreacher and raised hit high above his head.
Sirius’ legs turned to jelly and he slid off of the bed to his weakened knees. He threw his arms over his head, yelled and whined in pain as the cane bore down on him…over and over…no matter how much he screamed for his father to stop…for his mother to make his father stop…even for Kreacher to make him stop….
Sirius felt the mist and cold press in closer on his lungs…on his thoughts…on his heart…. “Ow…” he groaned feebly. He could feel the pain again of his father smacking him mercilessly until he’d managed to beat his way past his arms and get him square on the nose, where it had promptly begun to bleed profusely….
“Leave me alone, Kreacher! That’s an order!” Sirius shouted over his shoulder, racing upstairs to his bedroom. It was two weeks after he had put up those Muggle posters.
Kreacher tailed him, calling after him in his cackling voice, “But Mistress ordered Kreacher to keep an eye on the bad, bad Master Sirius, even if Master Sirius said different! I must obey her, or I shall be a disgrace to the ancient and most honorable name of Black!”
“Shut up!” Sirius bellowed, covering his ears. “I hate you all! Get away from me, you fucking—!” A sharp pain shot into his left ankle. As it ran up his leg, Sirius gave a strangled cry, cutting himself off and stumbling forward, landing hard on his knees on the steps. More pain. He looked around and saw Kreacher lifting his mouth away from where blood from his ankle soaked through his white socks, right where teeth had torn right through the material and sunk into his flesh. “You—!”
“Mistress told Kreacher to punish Master Sirius if Master Sirius said dirty, naughty words to Kreacher,” Kreacher said coldly.
Sirius glared at him, hating him, disgusted by him, and covered his bleeding ankle with his hand. He heard his mother laughing at him from the top of the stairs….
“I hate you!” Sirius cried out wrathfully in the gloom of his cell. “I hate you all! I HATE THE FUCKING LOT OF YOU!” He began to hear a terrible screeching sound in his ears. It was the sound of a knife scraping against a blackboard, over and over again. Sirius grabbed his head with hands at it rang and rang painfully in his ears, making his blood rise and boil. But the screeching grew faster and faster and more and more intense….
“No! Don’t! They’ll kill you!” Remus screamed as Death Eaters lashed him with their whip of pure silver.
Sirius and James hurled spells at the Death Eaters trying to keep him from coming to Remus’ aid. But then Remus’ screams ceased. Then Sirius heard the screams of Death Eaters as Lily and Peter took down the ones torturing their werewolf friend. Then Lily screamed and Sirius and James whirled around as they fought through more Death Eaters to see Peter shooting spells at any Death Eater that approached them, while Lily bent over a Remus as still as death….
“No, he’s not dead!” Sirius shrieked. “Dear God, he’s dead! He is! He is! He’s dead!” He felt exhaustion wash over him—exhaustion and weakness. He slumped sideways to the floor of his cell, curled up in a fetal position and clasping his trembling hands together as if in prayer. His breathing and heart rate slowed as his heavy eyes closed and he fell into the blackness of slumber.
Sirius lost all sense of time. When he awoke, he was unaware that he had been asleep for a solid week. Although that sleep had been filled with nothing but nightmares of James and Lily’s dead bodies and the hands of dementors clawing at his neck.
Slowly he opened his eyes, his throat sore from dryness, his lips chapped and crusty with coagulated blood. He was starving, and aching with thirst. His face felt hot with fever. With and effort he turned his head as he lay on his bed of straw, and saw what appeared to be a metal dog bowl filled with….
Summoning all of his strength, he lifted himself up onto his hands and knees. He still felt the despair of the dementors guarding his cell, but for the moment he wasn’t falling into a haze of one bad memory after the next. He swallowed, and then coughed and moaned from the pain of it, for his throat was so sore and dry that it was painful to swallow. He crawled all the way to the dog bowl of water sitting there beside the door of his cell. When he reached it, he peered inside to see that it was filthy.
Water had never looked so beautiful.
He dove into it, face first, lapping it up like a mongrel mutt barely surviving as it starves to death. It hurt so much to swallow, and the water was so painfully cold, and he coughed and sputtered and moaned as the fever made his insides shake. He drank up half of it, and then looked around, feeling a dull ache in his empty stomach. Near his dog bowl of water was a dog bowl of—
“Food…” he croaked. The food looked like something nasty that had been ground up. It carried the faint smell of decay too, but he had never smelled something so delicious in his life. Unceremoniously he buried his face in it and gobbled it up—every last crumb of it—before he fell back into the water and drank that up, every swallow agony, but worth it. When he’d finished, he collapsed onto the floor beside the empty dog bowl of water, coughing, then panting and gasping. Lazily he wiped his mouth off with the sleeve of his prison clothes.
“Ha! So it’s true! You are here, my dear cousin!” cackled a voice.
With an effort Sirius raised his head and looked up out of the bars of his cell. The voice had been a woman’s and the woman had been none other than his wicked cousin Bellatrix. Yet now Sirius hadn’t the strength to feel any loathing. The sense of despair was far too great.
He perceived that she was chained, and at the head of a procession of three other prisoners. All four of them were being escorted by dementors at either end. Aside from his cousin, he recognized the other three as well. The thickset man behind Bellatrix was none other than her husband, Rudolphus. He was sniggering with his wife at Sirius, grinning wickedly down at him. A thinner, more nervous-looking man was behind Rudolphus, his eyes darting everywhere. Sirius remembered him vaguely as Rudolphus’ younger brother, Rabastan. And behind him he saw…. No…it couldn’t be…. But there was no doubting the resemblance to his working-stiff father’s eyes…. Otherwise the boy in his late-teens had a petrified look about his scrawny, sickly, shivering form, the milky whiteness of his freckled skin, and the straw-colored hair….
“Please!” Bartemius Crouch Jr. begged the dementors around him, his voice cracking. “Please, there’s been a mistake! I never did anything! I swear! I swear!” He began to sob as he trailed along after the others.
The dementors placed them all in separate cells, all of which were near Sirius’. Bellatrix was placed in the cell next door on his right, Rudolphus in the one directly across from her. Rabastan and Barty Crouch Jr. were placed in separate ones a little further ways down. Sirius could hear Barty Jr. wailing.
“The Dark Lord will have you in his power!” Bellatrix crowed as the dementors locked the door of her cell. “He can offer you so much more than those blind fools at the Ministry can! You’ll see! You are dark creatures already! So much more he can offer you, you wonderful walking masses of shit! So much more! Ha-ha-ha!”
Sirius watched her from where he had remained supine upon the floor, while she grasped the bars of her cell as she shouted after them, coming around to the bars that faced Sirius. Then her eyes flickered to him as she seemed to notice him watching her between the ghostly cloaks of the dementors standing guard.
“They keep you well guarded, dear cousin,” she rasped, nodding at the hoard of dementors guarding Sirius’ cell. “Look at this, Rudolphus: they only give you and me one to guard our cells. They give poor Sirius at least ten.”
“Sirius, you naughty, naughty boy!” Rudolphus crooned with a wicked laugh. He smiled eerily at Sirius from across the way, his face half-hidden by more of the dementors that stood outside Sirius’ cell.
The Crouch boy was yelling at the top of his lungs now for the dementors to release him. It would do him no good at all, but he did not seem to care.
“Did you find him?” Bellatrix whispered.
Sirius looked slowly around at her and croaked, “Find who?”
“Peter Pettigrew,” his cousin hissed menacingly. In her eyes Sirius saw a powerful thirst for blood and murder. “That no-good bastard of a traitor—that weak little shit what called himself a Death Eater….”
“Yes, I found him.” Sirius gathered his strength and began to crawl back to his bed of straw.
Sirius settled down on into the meager pile of damp straw serving as his bed, and closed his eyes.
Sirius shook at the sound of his cousin letting her Black temper get the best of her and banging her hands impatiently against the bars of her cell.
“Tell me!” she demanded.
Sirius finally managed a flicker of his old loathing for her, and he raised his head slightly and glared up at her as he folded his legs to his chest. “He got away,” he growled. He let his head drop back onto the straw and closed his eyes once more.
Bellatrix hissed again. “I knew you’d let him get away! I knew you’d get cold feet—!”
At this, Sirius’ eyes flew open, and all of a sudden he found a burst of strength inside him, which he used to fly at the bars of his cell, grasping them as he peered through them and the dementors at his cousin. He was mildly pleased to see her look of slight surprise. “I did not get cold feet!” he yelled hoarsely. “The son of a bitch framed me and got away! He’s got more power than you think he does, and he uses it to his own advantage! I was in the middle of killing the fucking bastard when he made his move!” He fell back, breathing heavily and aching worse than ever. His throat was surely on fire. He crawled back over to his bed of straw and lay down upon it again. He curled up into a ball and stared at the faint patch of light cast by the barred window in his cell.
After a while he saw nothing, felt nothing, except for that patch of gloomy daylight from the gray storm outside. He heard neither the pounding rain nor the howling wind. Nothing else existed for him except that faint patch of light, which gradually darkened and disappeared before his eyes.
This intense concentration seemed to be keeping the powers of the dementors at bay, and with that in mind, he kept at it, despite how fatigued and ill he was as his body continued to tremble inside and out from his fever. He allowed himself to slaver, trying to swallow as little as possible, for it was still so painful to swallow with his sore, throbbing throat. He also kept his mouth closed so as not to let any air make it any drier than it already was.
His trance was broken however by a scream that came from the Crouch boy.
“MOTHERRRRRR! MOTHERRRRR, PLEEEEAAASE! PLEEEEAAAASE, HELP ME, MOTHERRRRRRR! MOTHERRRRRR, HELP MEEEEE! PLEEEEEAAAASE…!”
Sirius coughed feebly and groaned, unable to put up any more resistance to the dementors, and he felt more terrible memories come to life inside his head....
Aurelia was falling through the Veil…leaving him alone forever…alone without her….
His father was smacking him…and then Kreacher was tailing him again, before sinking his teeth into Sirius’ ankle….
The swirls of cold fog were closing in again…filling his heart….
He was with James, Remus, and Peter again. They were chit-chatting like the old friends they were over butterbeers, and then James seemed to have said something that particularly bothered Remus….
“Aw, Moony, come on now. I’m not trying to be a prick. Really. I’m just saying: when you get married and have kids, then you can talk.”
“Alright then,” said Remus in a falsely polite tone that increasingly grew sincerely bitter with every word he spoke. “ I agree. Only one problem. Considering what I am that’ll probably never happen. Remember? I’ve talked to you about this before. Or did you forget I’m a werewolf?”
“No…I didn’t forget that Moony. I was just—”
“Rubbing it all in my face?”
“Come on now, Remus, what do you take me for?”
“At the moment? A sad arse.”
James slammed his bottle on the table. “Alright, Remus, out with it. What’s this all about?”
“It’s all about how you’re mocking me, that’s what,” Remus growled, slamming his own bottle down on the table.
“Mocking you? About what?”
“Lily? What’s she got to do with this?”
“She’s got everything to do with this!”
James leapt to his feet now. “You got a problem you’d like to share with the rest of the class, Lupin?” he demanded, clearly nettled.
“Yeah!” Remus leapt to his own feet, his fists clenched. “I do have a problem, Potter! Lily is the problem!”
“You’ve got a problem with her, then?”
“I loved her! I still love her! And I gave her up …my one chance probably at ever having a real beautiful bird of my own! I gave that up…for you! You lucky bastard!”
“Well, I’m sorry, Remus, but that was your choice, not mine or Lily’s! It’s not my fault you’re as goddamn noble as a bleedin’ Hufflepuff—!”
Remus drew his wand so fast that James and Sirius and Peter barely had time to register it; there was a loud bang.
“James!” Sirius exclaimed, springing to his feet as James flew backwards and slammed into the wall behind him. “Remus! Remus, get back here!” he shouted after Remus, who’s cloak was now whipping around the corner of the door and disappearing forever, filled with a conviction that Remus was the spy….
“No…” Sirius moaned, “he wasn’t…it was Peter—Wormtail—not you, Remus…not you….” He fell further into the darkness of slumber….
It was all soon filled with nightmares that were nothing but James and Lily’s dead bodies flashing over and over before his eyes.
Sirius shrieked in his sleep.
And so he remained in this state for quite some time. He felt madness drawing him in at a dragging pace…. Every little scritch-scratch from Bellatrix etching on the wall of her own cell for God knows why was just as much torture as the dementors.
As the weeks passed, he heard them all go quiet. Even Bellatrix and her husband and her brother-in-law and the Crouch boy were all going quiet…except when they shrieked in their sleep like everyone else…like Sirius….
One afternoon he awoke from a feverish nap, yelling that he couldn’t remember who he was…. He tried with all of his might to recall, and at last he managed it with every ounce of strength he could muster. He was Sirius. Sirius Black. That’s who he was. Never forget that.
So cold…so cold…. Why does it have to be so fucking cold…? Oh, shit! Who am I? Oh God, who the fuck am I…? Sirius…Sirius…. Yeah, that’s who. I’m Sirius…Sirius Black. Sirius Fucking Black, that’s who…! Sleep…dreams…. Where do they end…where do I begin…? I start here somewhere…at my head…. Where’s my head…? Fuck, where’s my body…? They took it! They stole it! No…no…it’s right here…. It’s so flimsy…I told them to be careful…! Shit! I’m gone! Where’d I go? Where’d I go? Fuck! Oh, here I am…. I am…. Who am I? Fuck! Who the fuck am I…? Sirius…. Sirius…. I…am…Sirius…Fucking…Black….
He was in a dark forest, and he was in his Animagus form as the big black shaggy dog. He was sniffing out for something….
There they were, waiting for him. Following him.
Yet he could outrun them easily.
So he did.
And then they were gone, and he had found his way out of the dark forest into a warm, sunny field, where Aurelia in her Animagus form as the beautiful golden retriever awaited him to go running and chase birds and squirrels and rabbits….
It was wonderful….
Why did it have to end?
When he awoke again, he had no idea that another week had passed. He did know however that something was different. He was weak from hunger, yes, but he was also a little stronger…a little more in control….
The dementors weren’t affecting him as much….
He soon figured it out—the moment he realized that he’d—somehow—transformed into the shaggy black dog in his sleep.
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