Chapter 54 : Imprisonment
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Once upon a time, exactly one year ago, I pulled out a brand new green, spiral notebook and wrote the words, “Chapter One,” at the top. So yes, today, the 18th of December, in 2006 I started Once Again, although it was called You’ll Fall For Me then. Many of you have asked and I suppose that I will now tell you that this story is completed over on vertiaserum.com and has been for several months now. I could not tell you and have you run over there to take a peek.
Normally, I like to provide music to go with this chapter. I had a song and a link all ready, but then several weeks ago a notice was posted on this site banning youtube links. So there went my brilliant plan. Anyways, if you’d still like the song is Never an Absolution by James Horner and you’ll find it on youtube if you type in the title. Go ahead. I really like it.
I tend to ramble in my author’s notes so I guess I should cut this before it turns into something never-ending. I’ll leave you here saying that this chapter you are about to read was one of the hardest for me to write, but it my favorite never the less. You may hate it, or love it, or feel sorta strange. I dunno. Just see for yourself...
The cottage in Godric’s Hollow was still smoking slightly as the roar of an engine broke the stillness; that of a motorcycle.
The rider who sat astride the vehicle stopped dead when he saw the mutilated house.
He leapt onto the soft, damp ground and ran up the steps towards the porch.
Sirius had been one of the few that had been confided with the location of the Potters. Remus had believed Sirius to be the Secret Keeper due to his friendship with James. He had thought they were all going into hiding to confuse Lord Voldemort.
When he had found the home of the real Secret Keeper deserted he had decided to check Godric’s Hollow, just to be sure. The hole that had been blown out of the upper right wall seemed to confirm his fear.
“James? Lily?” he yelled into the darkness, straining his ears for any sign of response.
When he got none, he tried the doorknob. It was unlocked. Strange.
He entered cautiously and the first thing he saw was the body of James Potter sprawled on the ground, dead.
Sirius dropped down to his knees. He felt like his world was crashing down around him.
A cold pit was forming in his stomach. It seemed impossible to understand, even though the evidence was lying right in front of him. “No, no… Prongs, Mate… Come on… Wake up! Wake up!” His voice cracked on the last word and his throat constricted dangerously. “James?” His voice was now a hoarse whisper. “Y-You need to get up. James…”
But the body of James Potter just lulled to the side, not moving, not caring.
Sirius took at shaky breath and stood up. He felt numb, like a thick fog was engulfing his brain. He did not know what to do, so he did the only thing he could. He pulled off his cloak and draped it carefully over the body, trying to preserve it as long as possible.
Sirius turned around abruptly and stared at the staircase just beyond him. Deep down, he had an idea as to what was up there. Each step he took felt like white hot knives jabbing into his body. He probably should have turned back, but he had to know, had to make sure.
Upon turning on the landing, he walked slowly into the nursery.
It looked as if a bomb had been set off. Furniture had been overturned and curtains ripped to shreds.
And there, just to the right of the crib, laid the form of Lily Potter, her eyes open and glassy… empty.
Sirius found himself walking over to Lily, almost trance-like. He did not need to yell and shake her to know that she was already gone. There was nothing he could do. The lump in his throat only grew bigger. Sirius reached down and closed Lily’s eyes with his index and middle finger. Now she looked as if she were merely asleep. That did little to ease the pain.
How could someone do this? James had worked so hard to win Lily—and now they were both gone. It was all wrong. Everything was wrong.
Sirius’ head jolted up… and then he remembered. The baby. Harry Potter. Where was he?
The crib was empty.
Sirius closed his eyes, trying not to think of the innocent boy in Voldemort’s hands.
His progressing thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of something… or someone… howling outside.
The first thing that popped into his mind was Remus. But it was a half-moon that hung in the sky.
Sirius ran down the staircase and out the front door, drawing his wand.
It was Rubeus Hagrid. He had tears leaking from his beetle black eyes, and he was holding a small bundle in his arms. The baby.
“What’re…” Sirius’ voice came out strained and cracked, so he cleared his throat and tried again. “What’re you doing?”
“Hagrid hiccupped. “Dumbledore’s ‘rders ter bring ‘arry ter his aunt ‘nd uncle’s.”
Sirius furrowed his eyebrows. “But I’m his Godfather. Give him to me… I’ll look after him.”
The Hogwarts gamekeeper held Harry up higher. “M’ sorry, Sirius. Talk ter Dumbledore…”
Sirius could only stare. “B-But… what’s even going on? I-I thought Voldemort was supposed to want Harry. H-How is t-this happening?”
A few more tears ran down Hagrid’s face. “’arry beat ‘im. ‘ats all I know. M’ sorry, I gotta go.”
The twenty-two, raven haired man closed his eyes. He did not want to think about what had happened. If he thought about it he would collapse right there. He would yell out until his throat was sore. But he had to concentrate on the task at hand. He could not let his emotions get the better of him. Not yet, at least.
“Take my motorbike,” he said. “You need it more than I do.”
Hagrid hiccupped again. “’re yer sure?”
“Yeah…” Sirius said in a hollow voice. There was nothing left. There was nothing more he could do. It was over.
Peter Pettigrew was the only thing that made sense. Peter had been the Secret Keeper. He was the only one who could have told Voldemort.
And because of him James and Lily were both dead — never to see daylight again.
Because of him, they had left an orphaned little boy alone in the world — never to know his parents or the heroes they were.
Peter had befriended them, betrayed them, and then stabbed them in the back. He chose to save his own life rather than protect those who cared about him.
It all came down to Peter.
That was the conclusion Sirius came to as he saw the very man mentioned above cross a street in downtown London.
He had to act. There was no way he was going to let that murderer get away. It was now or never.
“PETTIGREW!” he bellowed, striding out from where he had been standing.
Peter jumped and whirled around, fear apparent on his pale, rat-like, face. His pupils contracted when he saw who had called his name.
They were standing in an area populated by muggles. A gas station stood about a hundred meters away.
It had taken Sirius all night to track down Peter, and now the sun was blazing high in the sky.
Sirius had not slept. He did not know what was fueling him. It may have been the fact that whenever he closed his eyes he saw the Potters. Dead.
He did not stop walking until he was two feet away from Peter.
“You bastard!” he hissed. “You set them up!”
Peter tried to look confused, but the worrisome look in his eyes gave him away. I-I don’t know w-what you’re talking ab—”
“Don’t give me that shit! You know very well what I’m talking about, you slimy little worm,” whispered Sirius, menace in his eyes. The rage was growing in him. “James and Lily! This is your fault. You fucked them over!”
Peter jumped. “I don’t kn—”
“You were the Secret Keeper. And you’ve been spying the WHOLE time!” He paused.
“But it ends here. Right now. I would kill you… but you don’t deserve to end this easily. I’ll let them drag you to Azkaban and let the Dementors eat out your soul.” Sirius stared at him in deep loathing. “You deserve it,” he said again.
Then something in Peter changed. He stopped trembling and his eyes became more focused.
“No you won’t,” he whispered. His voice then turned to a shout. “James and Lily, Sirius! How could you?”
People who had been walking up and down the street turned to stare in their direction, startled by the increasingly louder yells.
Sirius stared at Peter, a snarl curving at his lips. “You dare you-”
But he was cut off as Peter started yelling again. “How could you betray them like that, Sirius? How could you sell their location to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named? James was supposed to be your best friend. How could you do it? Have you any sense of dignity?”
Sirius just stared, amazed. Peter wasn’t able to do such a thing. He wasn’t able to suddenly turn this onto him. He must have had some sort of conscious eating at his soul.
But he did not care anymore. He would kill him right there and then. He pulled out his wand.
He started towards him, but Peter sidestepped.
The two men, who had at one time been friends, stared at each other, their past together forgotten.
Then Peter spoke, a strange sort of grin playing around his mouth. “Touché.”
There was a sound like an explosion and Sirius automatically yelled, “Protego!” as debris and dust flew over his head.
The shield charm deflected the worst of the curse, but through the smoke he saw a balding tail whip down the sewer pipe a meter away.
When the air cleared Peter was gone, and the bystanders saw Sirius standing by himself. A wand in his hand.
No less than thirteen lifeless bodies were strewn around him.
Sirius stared. Peter was gone-but the result of his last at remained.
After that, Sirius seemed to slip into a dream.
Dimly, in the back of his mind, he could hear people screaming, running forward to cradle the bodies of the loved ones caught in the blast. People were crying, tears streaming down their faces. Was he, Sirius, crying too? He thought he was. He thought he may have felt the faint trickle of a salty tear tracing his jaw line. But he could not be sure. It was all so distant—like a dim movie playing in the shadows of his mind. He was in a fog… surrounded by steam.
It could have been real or it could have been in his head. He did not know.
He thought he saw a group of people gathered in a semi-circle around him. Were they all crying with him? Were they all sharing their misery and despair? But they were all staring at him as if he were some sort of rabid animal. Were they afraid of him?
Sirius thought he vaguely heard the ‘pops’ of people apparating out of thin air. The crowd around him—was the crowd yelling at him? He thought he heard shouts and screams and the sounds of shattered glass.
But he could not be sure. It was all so faint to Sirius. The lights and sounds were jumbling his thoughts…bring back memories…scattering his senses.
Was this how Sarah and Nathan had felt? True, Sirius was not about to die, but he felt like he was. Sarah, Nathan, and their unborn child. This child who would not get a chance to live in the world. It was unfair. Their happiness had been taken away.
Was the same thing happening to him? Emma, too had been taken away from him. This was the woman who he had almost had the honour of calling his wife. They could have been happy together. They could have run off and had anything they wanted. But Voldemort’s war had taken her — taken the girl he loved. She had not deserved it. Not at all. Voldemort showed no mercy. Was this because no one had ever been merciful towards him? Or was it simply in his nature? Sirius was once again, puzzled.
And now James and Lily were both gone. That was the thought he lingered on. Was this because he cared more about them or because it had happened so recently? Sirius had recovered after the deaths of his friends and fiancé.
But James and Lily…they had been betrayed by a man they thought they could count on. The world’s most beautiful couple had vanished. Their hopes and dreams were gone.
Sirius’ stomach gave a painful lurch as he realized that he and James would no longer be able to ride broomsticks together, feeling the wind blow their hair back. No longer would he hear Lily’s laugh as she kissed and nuzzled her baby boy. No longer would they enjoy coups of tea on the porch after sunset, discussing old times. He had almost been apart of their family after her had lost his own.
Sirius found himself finally moving to shift his gaze down towards his left hand. The cut on his thumb had long since healed over since he and James had become blood brothers that fateful night all those years ago. Healed over like their friendship had. They had created an unbreakable bond—a bond that had sealed when their cuts healed. All that remained for Sirius was a thing scar, approximately an inch in length. He wondered if James had a scar. He had forgotten to look—to ask. He had forgotten to ask a lot of things…
Then Sirius thought of what Peter had yelled. He said that Sirius had betrayed them. Was it true? It had been his idea to use Peter as the Secret Keeper — his idea to change at the last minute. The only people who had known where Peter, James, Lily, and himself. Was this, in fact, his fault? He had as good as killed them…signed their death certificates by offering Peter as Secret Keeper…it was his fault…Sirius’ fault…
Sirius became vaguely aware that he was still standing the middle of the street. Ministry officials seemed to be working their way through the growling crowd, questioning and modifying memories.
Peter had caused all of this. ALL of it. But Peter was gone. Sirius lumped his shoulders. Everyone was gone…anyone he had ever given a damn about had been taken away.
“Well you know what?”
He had yelled it, causing everyone who had been standing around to stare at him, suddenly afraid.
He was not sure who he was yelling at. His head was tilted upwards and his arms were thrown out to the side.
Was he yelling at God? Or was he yelling at himself? He did not know. He did not know who to blame anymore. It all seemed so useless.
“I don’t care anymore!” he roared, still staring upwards. “I give up! Everyone’s GONE!”
And then he laughed — not his usual bark-like laugh — but a hollowed one — a laugh that entered the chambers of one’s heart and never left. It was a laugh that portrayed every bitter and resentful thing that had happened. It was cold and bone-chilling. It was as if Sirius had let loose…and given up. Everyone who had heard it never forgot it. It was embedded in their memory forever.
He continued to laugh bitterly, if not a bit softer, as the Ministry officials swarmed forward and placed him under arrest for murders he did not commit.
Sirius sat in a holding cell. He was being sent to Azkaban the next day.
After arrest he had finally crashed. His body had shut down. When he awoke, he had remembered what had happened…remembered his crazy actions…his outburst…what Peter had done.
He had been stating his innocence ever since.
But no one listened. No one let him talk. Barty Crouch had refused to give him a trial, claiming that the evidence against him was overwhelming and a trial would be a waste of time.
Sirius sighed. He had been somewhat numb the last couple of days, not quite able to comprehend what was happening. Form what he could recall, he was not only being blamed for the murders of the muggles and Peter Pettigrew, but people were saying that he had brought about the deaths of James and Lily Potter. He shuddered at the notion. It was one thing to be accused of being a Death Eater, but another thing completely to be held responsible for the murder of his best friend and wife.
Sirius felt the lump form in his throat again. In a strange sort of way, he hoped that James, Lily, and Emma could see him now, about to be locked away for crimes he did not commit.
“Black,” called a beefy security guard. “You’ve been allowed a visitor.”
Sirius looked up, surprised. No one had come to see him since his arrest.
He thought that Frank or Alice would have been by.
What he did not know was that they were both in St. Mungo’s, unable to recognize themselves, or anyone for that matter. Their minds and sanity were damaged beyond repair.
Sirius watched as Remus Lupin entered the room.
“Remus,” he croaked. “Thank God you’ve come. I was going to go mad in h—,”
“They say you’re already mad,” interrupted Remus coldly. He paused for a moment, and then said, “How could you kill all those people?”
“And James and Lily, Sirius! Why did you do it!?” cried Remus. “He was your best friend!”
Sirius flinched. He felt as if he had just been plummeted with ice. “Remus, you know me better than anyone at this point. You know that I never could have killed anyone—much less James.” He watched Remus from behind the bars, an almost pleading look in his eyes. “You know me!”
Fury contorted Remus’ face. “I thought I did.” He paused. “I came here today because I wanted to see you before you left for Azkaban…I wanted to see you to see if I really hated you.”
Sirius’ heart sank. The one man who he had been sure would have believed him thought he was a murdering madman just like everyone else. “You have to believe me…James would have believed me.”
Remus flushed. “Yeah, but the funny thing is that JAMES IS DEAD!...and all because he believed you. You! He put all his trust in one person, and you stabbed him in the back. What kind of friend does that?”
“I didn’t do it.”
“No? Dumbledore told the whole Ministry that you were the Secret Keeper and that Voldemort couldn’t have found the Potters unless you had told him. And then Peter found out about you…and you killed him too!”
“I didn’t,” roared Sirius, the rage building up again.
“Oh yeah?” Remus shouted back. “Two wizards facing each other with wands. There’s an explosion and you’re the only one left surrounded by dead bodies. Anyone can do the math.”
“That’s not true,” bellowed Sirius. “It’s a lie!”
“Not it’s not,” yelled Remus. “I was there afterwards. I saw you yell out like a lunatic. I saw you laughing. You killed them all!” He lowered his voice. “How do you live with yourself? James was your best friend. He would have died for you.”
As he strode out of the room Sirius heard him mutter, “I hope you rot in Azkaban…”
“This is your cell, Black.”
It was six feet by eight feet and had a low ceiling. It was completely made out of stone and there was no window. A three inch high, lumpy mattress was extended on the floor. A dripping faucet was across from it, along with a shallow basin for bodily wastes. There was nothing else.
Sirius, clad in gray prison robes, stumbled forward into his cramped quarters.
The prison warden slammed the door shut without another word, allowing the dementors to close in.
Sorrow and emptiness seemed to wash over his shivering body.
He found himself overwhelmed by flashback and memories. The faces of his friends swarmed in front of him, taking over his mind.
He and James were sitting in the hallway together. It was their last night at Hogwarts.
Sirius heard James’ voice in his head.
“We’ve been through a lot together, Mate…I really appreciate you standing behind me all these years…I think we found ourselves and came to term with our discoveries…I hope that our adventures are always remembered…”
That was the night they had become blood brothers. Sirius looked down at the scar on his thumb again.
“I don’t think one really forms an opinion on death until it’s staring them in the face. I’d like to say that I’m not afraid—that I’ll fight until I die, but I really don’t know.”
Sirius closed his eyes. He wondered if James had been afraid when Voldemort pointed a wand in his face. He would have no way of knowing. James was…gone.
That night a tour of Ministry officials passed his cell during their inspection of Azkaban.
“Well well well,” came the drawling voice of Lucius Malfoy. “Black…I never knew you had it in you…”
“I want to go to the funeral of Lily and James Potter,” came his reply.
There was a chorus of laughter.
“Go to the funeral of the couple you killed?” Sirius heard someone say. “I think not…”
They moved on.
“I didn’t kill them,” Sirius whispered.
And there it was, like a fire burning deep in his heart, neither happy nor sad…just fact.
He had only been in Azkaban Prison a few hours, and yet it felt like hew as losing all the memories he cherished. He could no longer remember the nights he and Emma had spent together, or the times he and his friends had laughed together. He could not recall the full moon with Remus, James and Lily’s wedding, the times with Harry, his proposal to Emma…it was all slipping away. The harder he tried to hold on the faster it disappeared—like water through his fingers. It was like trying to keep the last glimpses or a dream.
His thoughts were replaced instead by more horrific memories: The day he ran away from home, when he found out Regulus had become a Death Eater, the day he lost Emma, and finally, seeing the still, lifeless bodies of James and Lily Potter.
It was all flashing before his eyes, causing his emotions to sky-rocket.
But then, even through the Dementor’s wrath, through all the terrible memories, the fact of his innocence seared through him like living fire.
He had not killed Lily and James Potter. The day they had died…part of Sirius had died along with them.
He was innocent. Peter had killed all those muggles, not him. Peter had faked his own death. Peter had sold James and Lily to Lord Voldemort.
There was nothing happy in these thoughts so the Dementors could not rob him of them.
Sirius lay back against the wall of his filthy cell.
He tried to imagine James and Lily meeting in the middle ground between death and the afterlife. They were finally carefree and happy. They would hold hands and then turn together to walk on to the next adventure.
But before the picture could fully form, Sirius felt the though being sucked from him.
He closed his eyes, hoping that one day…one day he would remember again.
Because without memory, there would be nothing.
Final Author’s Note
It is hard to believe that this story has come to a close. I never really saw it happening, for this is the first full length novel I have ever completed. On my part, it is a great accomplishment to be able to go in and hit the “completed” button.
So I suppose that there is nothing more for me to say then to start thanking you all like mad. The first time I finished this story on Veritaserum I had a list of about thirteen people I thanked. But here I cannot do that. There are just too many people who have helped on so many levels, some do not even know it. So I guess I’ll just have to acknowledge the three people whom I know personally.
Emily, you never read this story, but you know I never would have started it if you hadn’t asked me to explain the story of James and Lily.
Lauren, you’ve read eery single freaking chapter and have told me where I didn’t quite come up to par.
Ren, You've read various chapters of this story, helped with corrections. But most importantly you introduced me to HPFF. If I hadn't been on the phone with you I never would have known that this massive archive existed.
Anyway, I cannot really explain how shocked I was when I saw that a story with my penname had reached a thousand reviews. That is something I never saw in my future.
But now it’s over and this not-so-little story has come to a close. I believe it reached 209 pages on Microsoft Word.
Thank you to everyone. I want to see all you reviewing this installment, all 306 of you. If you have never replied before I would really like if you just gave me a line about what you thought of the story as a whole. I appreciate each and every one and I thank you so much for what you’ve done so far. God, there I go sounding corny again.
For those of you who are interested in anything else I write, I recommend you peek into Deception and see if it catches your fancy. It is my main focus now and chapter Seven is soon to be up.
And as always, don’t hesitate to stop by my author’s page and ask questions. Also, I will be posting the soundtrack I devised for this story there.
Thank you, yet again, for everything. I truly hope you enjoyed Once Again.