Chapter 5 : Shattered (Part 1)
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Chapter 5 – Shattered (Part 1)
There was a knock on the door.
Sirius was alone in the dorm. He was alone a lot lately; partly due to the punishment and partly from his own accord. Sirius had always used anger as a defense mechanism and the last few days had been no exception. It hurt less if he pretended he didn’t want to sit with his friends any more than they wanted to sit with him. The anger could only last so long and he could not fool himself forever. The wall he’d built around himself eventually crumbled and the pain hit him sharply.
The guilt of what he had done weighed heavily. He deserved this, Sirius thought. He deserved to be alone and miserable. He deserved for his friends to treat him as if he didn’t exist. He’d betrayed their trust. He didn’t even react to the jibes of the Slytherins anymore. And now the pain had moved to a sort of numb feeling. He went through the motions of daily life, but didn’t really feel anything.
Sirius’s birthday had come and gone with barely an acknowledgement. None of his friends had said a word, so it was a good thing he wasn’t feeling much these days or that would have hurt worse. He wondered vaguely what his friends had planned for that day before this had all happened. Only Lily Evans and Mary MacDonald had actually wished him a Happy Birthday. It had shocked him because Evans thought he was as arrogant as James and he rarely spoke to MacDonald; she was too silly and girly for him. Sirius knew from Remus that the fifth year prefects were in charge of posting a monthly birthday list on the Gryffindor bulletin board. Apparently Evans actually kept tabs on the list unlike most students who could care less.
Over the course of the week he had endured every possible version of the ‘think-before-you-leap’ and ‘all-actions-have-consequences’ lecture. The Professors were taking turns in overseeing his detentions and they all felt the need to lecture him as well. When Professor Keenan had attempted to speak with him, Sirius had walked right out of detention. He’d hid in one of the secret rooms his friends had found last year and returned to Gryffindor Tower around the usual time he’d been returning. No one in Gryffindor acted suspicious and though Sirius was on the edge all day waiting to be reprehended, it seemed Professor Keenan had not told anyone
Sirius had no desire to keep up with the rumors going around. He didn’t have to in order to know the falling out between him and his mates was the main topic of discussion. There was a definite coldness whenever he entered a room. If he’d been so inclined Sirius would have found out that there were a percentage of students on his side, at least based on what they thought had happened with the Whomping Willow. Snape, after all, was unpopular. Instead Sirius was short and rude to any student who attempted to speak to him. He decided it was better this way than to wonder if they were sincere or just trying to get him to talk about what had happened.
The knock sounded again on the door; a little louder.
“Yes?” Sirius called dully.
Gideon Prewett walked in. “I’ve got to escort you down to the train. McGonagall’s orders, sorry.”
Prewett hesitated looking around the room and at the small bag on Sirius’s bed. “Are you all packed?”
Sirius nodded, clasping his over-cloak on, pocketing his wand, and slinging the bag over his shoulder. It wasn’t as if he needed very much. He would very likely be banished to his room most of the time, and given clothes to wear to whatever event his presence was needed.
“And just to warn you, you’ll have to sit in the compartment across from the prefects… for the entire ride. I or another prefect will be checking up on you.”
“I see,” Sirus said and Prewett frowned. Sirius was actually relieved to have been assigned a compartment; saved him from having to sit with fellow students. Prewett was clearly expecting some sort of argument, and he appeared lost with Sirius’s agreeableness. “Well I’m ready.”
They descended down the stairs together. James and Peter were walking up in the other direction – laughing. Their laughter hit Sirius like a punch in the gut. The boys sobered up when they saw Gideon and Sirius.
“Hello, Prewet,” James greeted. His eyes met Sirius’s briefly and for a second it seemed as if he was going to say something. It was the first time James had really looked at Sirius since his cutting words to Sirius a few days ago. The tension on the stairs was practically unbearable and Peter broke it. “James, we still need to pack.”
James turned abruptly from him and Sirius could feel his face flush. “Right. Right,” James muttered. James and Peter continued by the stairs.
Prewett cleared his throat. “If you get bored I can hang out in your compartment during the train ride…it’s not meant as a punishment…just…well –“
“Keep me out of trouble?” Sirius asked dryly. They had just crossed across the common room.
“Probably not a bad idea, Dumbledore and the Professors came down pretty hard on you.” Sirius gave Prewett a look. “Sorry…rumors have gotten kind of out of hand. McGonagall probably shouldn’t have told us prefects even anything, but I suppose word would have still gotten around.”
Sirius nodded. They walked in silence the rest of the way to the carriages that would take them to the Hogwarts Express. The wind outside was biting cold, but Sirius, senses dulled, barely felt it. Gideon shivered beside him.
“We’ll go in the first carriage up there.” Prewett pointed. “I’ll join you in a bit.”
Sirius nodded again and stepped up into the carriage. Sirius was relieved to see it empty. Lost in his own thoughts, staring up unseeingly at the peeling paint of the carriage ceiling, Sirius wasn’t sure if 10 or 20 minutes passed when Prewett entered with three other prefects. They all chimed hello to Sirius as if was perfectly normal for him to be seated with them. The conversation inside was a bit stilted, and it was a relief for Sirius when they reached the station. Prewett led him to the compartment across from where the prefects’ sat.
“I’ll be across the aisle or patrolling. If there’s any problem you can go to any prefect. And I’ll check in every so often.”
“Ok,” Sirius muttered.
“If you want company –“ Prewett began.
“I’d rather be alone,” Sirius cut in sharply.
“- if you change your mind. I won’t ask you anything about what happened.”
“Thanks, but no.”
Gideon shrugged with a half-smile shut the door quietly. Immediately he heard some fervent whispering outside the compartment. Sirius sat down heavily on the seat closest to the window. If he cared to – he could have listened to what they were saying about him. Sirius leaned his head against the window and stared out. He was thankful for a small things; his compartment side was not facing the side where students would be entering. It would have been difficult to watch students with their friends now that he didn’t have any.
The harsh words he’d had with James and Remus were fresh in his mind. James had hurt him the worst. James, who knew him best, had known the way to hurt him worst. Once a Black. Always a Black. Ever since stepping into Hogwarts Sirius had to prove he was different from his family. He had to fight for his housemates’ respect. Even when others were suspicious of his intentions, James had never been. A month ago when Sirius had shared his worries about Voldemort’s attempt to recruit him into their ranks, James had told him quietly, “I know you would never join. You've gone through hell over the past few years against your family. You aren't going to suddenly become a blood purist."
What would James say now?
And though he hadn’t spoken to Peter and didn’t really know Peter’s true opinion on the matter, the silence spoke for itself. Peter’s loyalty was clear and even though he wasn’t as close friends with Peter as James and Remus, it hurt. He wondered if he’d made more of an effort to show he was truly sorry that things would be different.
Gideon stopped in about once an hour – always attempting a conversation and never without a smile, even when Sirius’s responses bordered on rude. No one else bothered him the entire train ride. Every time Sirius thought of his destination it sent his stomach lurching.
Gideon was by his side when the train arrived at King’s Cross. Sirius wondered if Gideon had been instructed to stay with him until he was in his parent’s grasp. Regulus bounded over immediately.
“You can leave now, Prewett,” Regulus stated rudely. Though the Prewetts were purebloods and related through marriage, the families had never quite got along. Just as the Black’s were a family of Slytherins, the Prewetts were a family of Gryffindors.
“Have a Happy Christmas,” Gideon stated with a curt nod.
“There’s going to be nothing happy about it with you being home,” Regulus mouthed. Sirius refused to comment so Regulus continued, “First time I heard of someone being forced home during Holiday break.”
Sirius wasn’t quite sure what he was going to say, but before he could figure it out, Regulus blurted, “Aren’t you worried about what mother and father are going to do to you?”
Sirius was terrified. He expected it to be unpleasant. He wasn’t going to tell his little brother; who more than likely would let that fact slip in front of their parents. Besides he couldn’t do anything about it. He needed to use all his Gryffindor courage to survive until school started again.
Before the brothers could further converse, Mrs. Black appeared, her heels clicking importantly. Sirius steeled himself in preparation.
“My sons,” Mrs. Black said her eyes held no warmth as she surveyed her offspring. Regulus bowed his head slightly in greeting. Sirius might have done the same if his mother was still looking at him. Sirius followed her gaze and his heart gave a leap to see James watching them steadily, his face impassive. James gave a slight shrug, which Sirius did not know how to interpret. Then Sirius turned back to look at his mother and she had a calculating look to her. Since his sorting, James had always stayed by his side as they waited to be picked up by their respective parents. Could his mother tell just by this that they had fallen out?
“Let’s go home, boys.”
Mrs. Black led her sons to a shop where they could Floo home. The Blacks were above using Muggle transportation. They arrived in the living room of Grimmauld Place. It looked as dark and dreary as Sirius remembered. Most of the rooms were decorated in dark green colors and lit using gas lamps rather than the natural light outside. He was not about to linger near his mother, so he inched toward the stairs.
“Not so fast, Sirius,” Mrs. Black said. Sirius paused and he turned around forcing himself to look at his mother straight in the eyes. “Your wand.” She held out her hand, forcing Sirius to approach her. Sirius relinquished his wand. It was more than just the humiliation of it; but he literally was now defenseless from armed family members to all the magical enchantments around the house.
Mrs. Black then sent them up to wash and dress in formal robes. They were to be ready in an hour. Regulus insisted Sirius use the wash room first and when Sirius emerged Kreacher was in his room laying out the robes he was to wear.
“Young master,” Kreacher said, bowing lowly, but in a way it was clear the house elf had no respect for him despite Sirius being the heir.
“Get out, Kreacher!”
Kreacher scuttled out across to Regulus’s bedroom. Sirius dressed himself and the dark colors emphasized how tired and awful he was feeling. He certainly did not give off the usual confidence he emitted. He needed to be self-assured and defiant when confronting his mother and father and now without it, he didn’t know what would happen.
Regulus came to fetch him at dinner time, and they walked down together. Regulus bowed as they entered and Sirius followed suit without even bothering to glance around. As he picked up his head he was startled to find only his mother seated regally in her usual chair. Their most elaborate cutlery was set out and three candles flickered in their goblin silver holders.
“Your father will not be joining us for dinner,” Mrs. Black announced. She offered no other information to her sons and they both hastily took their places.
“How were you grades this term?” Mrs. Black asked. She had taken a few sips of wine, but had not touched her food yet.
Regulus opened his mouth to answer, but Mrs. Black cut him off. “Sirius first.”
Sirius shrugged. Only minutes downstairs and he already wanted to be back in his room. “Satisfactory.”
“Satisfactory? Your father and I expect top marks from you. It would be a grave disappointment if they were merely satisfactory. If they are, there will be consequences.”
“Yes, mother.” Their grades would be owled in a few days and he knew he had done well enough, but he certainly wasn’t top student in each class as his parents expected.
“And what about you, Regulus?”
Regulus straightened up before answering and proudly gloated, “I know I excelled in them all.” Sirius just barely stopped himself from rolling his eyes. Regulus could be such a kiss-up. Sirius knew he’d be punished if Regulus’s grades were higher than his. Sirius might have been naturally the smarter of the two, but Regulus made up for it in effort.
“Very good.” She abruptly turned her attention back to her eldest. “Now I don’t believe this nonsense that Dumbledore sent me about you, Sirius. I’d like a truthful explanation.”
“It is the truth, mother,” Sirius responded. He tried to sound as respectful as possible. His mother must never know the truth.
“I can’t believe you’d be sent home for a scuffle with another boy.”
Not just any boy, Sirius thought darkly.
“This Snape boy. I’ve heard him mentioned before. Who is he?”
Sirius wasn’t sure how he would be able to explain Snape to his mother. And of course she’d heard about him before. At least half the letters sent about his detentions had to be because of Snivellus.
“He’s just…” Sirius searched for the right words. “Just…just someone I don’t get along with.” He figured saying nothing would be worse. Regulus scoffed at this answer.
Mrs. Black turned her eyes to her younger son. Sirius could tell she was debating between forcing him to say more and choosing the more fruitful route of letting Regulus speak. “What do you know of him, Regulus?”
Regulus straightened up again, all important and shot Sirius a look. “He’s a Slytherin. Half-blood. An upstart that fancies himself the same status as purebloods.”
“His mother was a Prince; at least that is what I heard.”
“Interesting. You don’t get along with him either?”
“Snape is sneaky and clever. A true Slytherin. I wouldn’t want him as an enemy, but at times he needs to be shown his place.”
“You forgot greasy git,” Sirius muttered, almost inaudible, but loud enough for Regulus to hear him.
Regulus took a breath. “None of these are the reasons Sirius dislikes him, mother. It is more of personality clash. Potter and Sirius gang up on him often.”
Sirius dropped his fork at Potter. He hastily picked it back up, but it had zeroed his mother on him again. Looking down at his plate Sirius desperately wished the topic would go anywhere – even prospective marriages or joining Voldemort – literally anywhere except to James.
Mrs. Black took her time slicing into her chunk of chicken and chewing a piece slowly, deliberately. “So have the Potters invited you over for the Holidays?”
“No,” Sirius croaked.
“Why not?” Mrs. Black asked gently, as if she was concerned about there being a problem between her son and a family of blood traitors.
Sirius shook his head. He certainly wasn’t going to speak the words aloud.
“Sirius. Why. Not?” his mother demanded once more. Each of the words punctuated with hardness.
“Just family,” Sirius managed to choke out. “Just spending it with family.”
Regulus moved in his chair, eager to speak. Only a glare from Mrs. Black stilled him.
“I wondered you know, Sirius…when Potter wasn’t glued to your side when I went to pick you up…”
“We’re just …we’re just not as close. Shouldn’t that please you?” Sirius said, hoping that would be enough.
“So are we to add liar to your list of admirable traits?” Mrs. Black asked coldly.
“I only learn from the best,” Sirius spat out.
“Silence!” Mrs. Black slammed her fist down on the table. She had enough of the games. “I know the truth. Regulus owled me days ago that you have fallen out with Potter.”
“You wrote to them?” Sirius asked looking at his brother. They’d always been at odds, but since his sorting into Gryffindor their relationship had only disintegrated, and when Regulus got into Slytherin it had snowballed quickly. They were now enemies; not on the same side like brothers should be.
Regulus looked startled. “Why wouldn’t I? Anyway I didn’t think you’d be fighting this long…”
“It isn’t any of their business or yours!”
Mrs. Black cleared her throat. “Oh I think it is our business. Anything concerning the company you keep directly reflects this family. This is a very interesting development. Sirius, how long have you been fighting?”
Sirius stayed stonily silent.
“You will be punished for the disrespect you are showing me, Sirius,” Mrs. Black stated. She turned to Regulus.
Regulus answered immediately. “About a week.” Regulus earned another glare from Sirius. “Potter’s completely shut him out. He’s got Lupin and Pettigrew on his side, so whatever it is – it’s big.”
Sirius bunched up his fists, furious. He wanted Regulus to shut-up. He didn’t know how to do that and punching his brother in the face certainly would only make the situation worse.
“It was only a matter of time before this happened,” Mrs. Black said thoughtfully. She had a calculating look as she watched her eldest.
“What do you mean?” Sirius asked, despite knowing he should have stayed quiet.
“What happened between you two, dear? Did you finally show your true colors? Finally show Potter that you are a Black no matter what House colors you’re dressed up in?”
“No,” Sirius stated, but that was all he could get out because her words had a ring of truth to him. He tried not to think how closely his mother’s words had mirrored James’s. It only made him feel ill.
“We are your family. Even after all you have done; we have not abandoned you, and we won’t. Not like Potter. Not like your precious Gryffindors who only trusted you, I bet, because of Potter. We understand the temptations. We understand the thrill of rebellion.”
Sirius looked away. He couldn’t bear to see the triumphant gleam in his mother’s eye. His mother had always wrongly thought that he went against the family simply to rebel. It might have started off like that in the beginning, but it was no longer the case. His family tree was filled with horrible people. They were Muggle-haters and pure-blood supremacists. They were power hungry and deeply entrenched into the Dark Arts. It still sickened him that he had been brought up to see these people as models to emulate. He now saw their actions for what they truly were, but Regulus was still blinded. Regulus still wanted to be just like them.
Mrs. Black smiled and it made Sirius feel very cold. “Oh how you’ve touted your friends! One for all and all for one! And where has that got you? Where are your wonderful friends now? You’ve been dropped like your nothing! As if a Black’s friendship is nothing!”
“Can I please be excused?”
“No. Kreacher has spent the day cooking and preparing for your welcome home dinner.” She gestured to the lavish set-up. There was enough food to feed half of Gryffindor. “You will finish your dinner.”
There was a moment or two of silence. Sirius took a bite or two of his meal; hoping that at least he’d cut off his mother’s rant. Mrs. Black continued looking a bit grim, “When your father returns I will let him in on this recent development. This couldn’t have occurred at a better time. Now that you are 16, this gives our family so many possible ways to rise. There is hope for you yet.”
He knew immediately what his mother was referring to. It sent the hair on Sirius’s arm straight up and his stomach to knot up. His throat suddenly felt parched and he gulped down half a cup of water. The only reason his mother would care that he’d turned a year older had to do with Voldemort. Even though Voldemort’s attempt at recruitment had so far not been through his parents, he should have known they knew what had been going on. It seemed like a lifetime ago when he’d actually been excited for this birthday. At one time it had meant only a year more to go before he would be an adult in eyes of Magical law, but now it had a darker significance. Sirius coped with it in the only way he could. He buried his worries deep in his mind. He had too many other things to worry about and he didn’t believe his parents had any influence with Voldemort.
Dinner dragged on and on. Sirius fidgeted in his seat alternating between being anxious and bored. Mrs. Black chatted about this or that bit of gossip. Regulus readily chimed in when he knew a daughter or son of the said family. Since the incident, Sirius hadn’t been eating properly, but he forced himself to eat that evening, worried he’d never get to the solidarity of this room.
“May I be excused now, mother?” Sirius tried again; his plate as empty as he could stomach.
“Very well. Lines before you go to bed for your disrespect. Page twelve in Nature’s Nobility. Ten times should do the trick. Kreacher will pick it up and bring it to me.”
“Yes, mother.” Sirius had no idea what page twelve in the book would say, but he knew that book well. It was written in the small print and each page had a good 500 or so words. At least lines were a nice change from all the manual labor he’d been forced to do during his detentions. He stood up.
“And Sirius I haven’t forgotten what happened with Professor Keenan.” A chill filled the air, the words threatening. Sirius hadn’t for a moment believed his mother had forgotten. “But under the circumstances, if you choose correctly…that sordid deal might never have to be brought up again.”
“Yes, mother,” Sirius replied. There was no sarcastic comment, not even a rolling of the eyes. He was not sounding at all like himself. He was never this agreeable. He could see how pleased this demure behavior was to his mother. He suddenly did not see the point of antagonizing his mother any further, and he never thought things like that.
“I will call on Lucius and Narcissa to come to lunch tomorrow or the day after. Will it not be nice to see your cousin? And Lucius will be a great mentor for you, Sirius.”
“Will I be in attendance, mother?” Regulus asked eagerly.
“Of course. What do you say Sirius?”
“Sounds splendid,” Sirius said sarcastically.
Author's note: Thanks for reading! If you have a chance please review; it would make my week!
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