The next two days were rough for Sirius. If he stayed in his room, the Gryffindor colors everywhere mocked him. The picture of the Marauders he’d tacked on the wall was now empty except for him. At night Sirius stared at the two-way mirror, and countless times he almost said ‘James’. He had never realized how much he had relied on the strength his friends had given him to battle his parents. Yet despite this need, he did not try to call James. Sirius could not bear the thought of James not answering… or worse, James answering and telling him he belonged with the Blacks, so why fight it?
If he ventured out of his room, he had to deal with his mother, father, and brother. Every time he was in her presence, his mother purposely said things about blood purity and mudbloods that she knew had previously enraged him. Mrs. Black’s words became more and more deplorable as she tested to see how far she could go before her son snapped. He could not find the energy required to get into shouting matches with his mother. Sirius’s lack of defiance and the way he moped around filled the Black’s with hope. Sirius’s father had already spoken to him twice at length about ‘sense of duty’, ‘loyalty’, and ‘family honor’. And he had let his father prattle on, suddenly in the role of devoted son. He wasn’t though; Sirius clung to that belief. He just wanted to be left alone. He didn’t want to argue. He was soon to see the consequence of letting his family believe he was compliant.
On his third day home, Lucius and Narcissa arrived for lunch. In all honesty Sirius had forgotten that his mother had sent them an invitation. Narcissa, her light colored hair fell in graceful waves past her shoulders, hugged and kissed him. She said sweetly, “I am so glad to have you back.” Sirius gave her an odd look.
Lucius, his white-blonde hair pulled back, shook his hand formerly. “Good to hear you’ve changed your mind.”
“But I haven’t,” Sirius said befuddled. He might have been out of it, but Sirius was pretty sure he had never said he’d join up with Voldemort. Though his parents hadn’t actually come out and said this is what they expected of him, it was now clear all his father’s talk of duty was leading up to this.
Mr. Black stepped in, putting firm pressure on Sirius’ shoulder. “We have plenty of time to discuss such matters! Let’s all sit down to eat.”
Lucius nodded and took Narcissa’s arm as Mrs. Black moved them to the room where the platters of sandwiches had been set-up.
Sirius was taken to the side by his father. He was pushed right up against the bricks built around the fireplace. He could feel the heat of the stones through his robes. “What rubbish was that just then?”
Sirius loosened his father’s grip; a bit of the fire that he’d lost back in his eyes and voice. “It isn’t my fault you gave Lucius the impression that I am suddenly joining up!” His words were braver than he felt. It suddenly dawned on him that even though his parents didn’t have any association with Voldemort, Lucius Malfoy did.
Mr. Black stared back hard at his eldest. The firelight cast shadows on his face. “You will join up.”
Sirius opened his mouth to protest.
“You no longer have the resources to defy us. No friends. You are very close to having no family. It can be a very cruel world. Do not forget that I do have the resources to ensure your misery should you not do your duty. Now let us enjoy the company of our extended family.”
Sirius didn’t move.
“You can come at your own will or I will use magic. Stop acting like a child; this is not the time to make a scene.”
Sirius clenched his jaw and followed his father into the other room. He felt dazed. How had this happened? He’d been a bit more agreeable and suddenly his parents thought he’d jump when they said so.
He had trouble focusing on the topic of conversation; though there was no need, as he was expected to sit silently and only speak if called upon. Lucius and Sirius’s father talked about the Ministry mostly; who was bribing who, who was trying to advance.
Lunch ended. The women stayed in the room to gossip about more trivial manners, while the men went into the formal study. It was a different room than Mr. Black’s personal study. Sirius bet his mother had put up a fight about not being in the room when the more important matters were to be discussed. She took just as much – if not more – interest in her heirs as her husband. Narcissa though would not enjoy such talk nor would Lucius feel it was appropriate for his young wife to be in on it all. Regulus was completely thrilled about being allowed to be present.
Mr. Black poured Lucius and himself some brandy. Both men were standing while the boys had taken seats under their father’s direction. Regulus and Sirius were not offered anything. It wasn’t unusual though for the boys to be allowed wine during formal dinners.
“Sir, can I be excused?” Sirius asked before any topic about Voldemort had been broached.
Lucius looked amused by his question; while his father’s face darkened. “This is about your future.”
“It isn’t as if I have a say in it anyway,” Sirius muttered. He crossed his arms over his chest defiantly.
“Orion, forgive me, I was under the impression that Sirius was willing. The Dark Lord does not give second chances…but given Sirius’s unique set of circumstances.”
“He is willing, Lucius.” He sent a dark look at his son, daring Sirius to say otherwise. “Sirius’s induction will be a great win for the Dark Lord, and I only want to ensure that both our families are duly rewarded.”
“We will be.” Lucius walked over and examined a silver box decorated with gleaming emeralds on one of the wooden shelves. He placed it back down before saying, “The Dark Lord is being very selective with those still at Hogwarts. Sixteen is the minimum age, and that being said the inductees will still be two years under Dumbledore’s nose… it is not the most ideal of situations. Luckily Dumbledore usually likes to see the good potential in all this students. He would not kick out a student he merely suspected was a member.”
Mr. Black cleared his throat and took a sip out of his glass. “How soon can this be all arranged?”
Lucius placed his cup down with a thump. “Since this is putting my reputation and life on the line, I can arrange a meeting, but I will not go alone. Sirius must be present with me. If Sirius does not show up, I have other matters I can discuss with the Dark Lord to cover up the real purpose of the meeting.”
“Sirius will be there,” Orion said forcefully. Sirius looked away, unable to meet his father’s eyes. A month ago he would have probably stared straight back. He would have insisted he would not be there. Now Sirius was at a loss about what he should do. Maybe it was time to stop fighting his destiny…
“I hope you are right.” Lucius’s dark eyes traveled up and down the sixteen year old boy in front of him. “I shall contact you the day and time. The Dark Lord is very busy and with Christmas so near-”
“The sooner the better – I hope you understand. It must be done before Sirius is sent back to Hogwarts.” This made sense to Sirius. Back at Hogwarts he’d be with the Gryffindors, and there was the slightest chance his friends’ would forgive him. His parents planned to entrap him in his destiny while he was at his lowest. He knew and understood this, but he didn’t know if he had the strength without his friends to stand again them.
“I will try my best.”
“Excellent. Let us join the women for some dessert?”
Narcissa and Lucius left around 4 o’clock, and they did not hear about a meeting for days. Christmas passed with lavish celebrations and parties. His parents only forced Sirius to attend one such event. Sirius had stayed to the side and out of the way during the party. He spotted plenty of schoolmates, mostly Slytherins, though there was a spattering from different Houses. Sirius ended up spending some time with two Ravenclaws a year older than he was. He didn’t particularly enjoy their company, but conversation followed easily enough and they were too proper to ask him too much about his falling out with James.
At the party Sirius spotted his father conferring with Lucius causing his heart to beat erratically. His fear of coming face to face with Voldemort surfaced every so often, but Sirius was usually able to keep it at bay by simply not thinking about it. The fact that Lucius had not yet contacted them about a meeting with the Dark Lord gave Sirius a glimmer of optimism. He dared hope that Lucius was not as influential with Voldemort as he bragged. Maybe Voldemort wasn’t giving Sirius another chance. It might even mean that when the time came Regulus would also not be asked to join.
Two days after Christmas they received word from Lucius.
It was still early morning and Sirius had been lounging on his bed when Mrs. Black barged into his room. He slipped the two-way mirror under his pillow just in time. Even if he never used the mirror again, he didn’t want his mother to confiscate it. Sirius’s mother barked at him to follow her to his father’s study where the letter was read out loud.
The Dark Lord has agreed to meet me tomorrow, December 28th, at 10 am. I will arrive at Grimmauld Place at 9:45 am.
Sirius felt his stomach drop. He had convinced himself that Lucius would not be able to arrange this meeting and his brain did not want to process what the letter meant. His parents did not say a word, watching his reaction and waiting for him to speak.
“What time do I need to be ready?” Sirius found himself asking, only because it was expected. He needed time to think. He needed time to process. This couldn’t be happening tomorrow. He needed more time. It didn’t seem real. It felt as if it was happening to someone else.
Mr. Black looked pleased. “Be ready for inspection at 9 am. Dress in your dark green robes. Comb your hair neat. We’ll go over the proper way you are to address and act in front of the Dark Lord then.”
Sirius spent the day in turmoil. He didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t believe he had let it get this far. Tomorrow he could very well be in the service of Voldemort. If his parents were suspicious about the fact he could barely take two bites at dinner, they did not mention it. Sirius supposed even a fervent follower would be nervous about his first time meeting Voldemort. The man certainly hadn’t gained a reputation of being kind and understanding. Sirius was glad to be allowed in bed early to get proper rest. Sirius had expected lectures all day about duty and honor, but he received none.
In the shower that night Sirius couldn’t help thinking about his mates. What would they all think about this? James’s words about him being a Black had stung; but had James thought his words would have this kind of consequence. Did Remus believe this would happen when he suggested he be sent home as a punishment? If Peter had been here, he would have voiced loudly the same terrified thoughts that were running through Sirius’s head.
Sirius trudged into his bedroom shutting the door closed. Finally alone after hearing the news, he felt tears threatening to spill over. The numbness had put him in a vulnerable state. He didn’t think anything his parents could do would be worse than the abandonment of his friends. He was wrong. He’d been foolish. It had taken this to snap him out of the stupor he’d been in since returning home.
He glanced over on the picture of the Marauders pasted to his wall. There was James! Sirius shook his head and looked more closely, but James was gone again. After staring a few more moments at the empty picture Sirius was convinced he had imagined it. And then suddenly James was peeking in again. Only for a few moments, but there he was. He watched again and it filled his heart with something. This had to mean something! Right? After days and days of staring at the empty photograph for this to happen on this night; it had to be a sign.
Sirius dressed in his sleeping attire and moved across the room to unlatch the window. The rain had not let up all day. The moon and stars were hidden by a thick layer of dense dark clouds. A gust of cold air hit him and a spray of raindrops caused him to shiver. The icy rain felt good; it made him feel alive
He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t obey his parents. He couldn’t fulfill his duty. Not if the only way to do so was by joining Voldemort. Even if James, Remus, and Peter never forgave him; they had changed the person he was inside irrevocably. James had shown him the distinct difference between right and wrong; good and evil. James had shown him that there were so many more important things than blood. There might have been a time when he wanted to make his parents proud, but those days were long gone. His friends might hate him, but that did not change the fact that Voldemort stood for everything that Sirius now stood against.
Sirius shut the window. It clicked close and Sirius looked around his room at a loss. Making the decision was one thing, but now what was he do? Lucius had stated he would only take him if he was willing, but could he really rely on his word? Would his parents force him to join Lucius? There were spells and curses that Sirius couldn’t hope to fight against. His mother would have no qualms about using any form magic to force him to obey.
The Blacks’s problem had always been that they had never taken his views on blood seriously; still believing to this day that Sirius did not really believe that blood did not matter and that he said he believed in those things solely to aggravate them. If nothing else, this would surely show them he’d been sincere all along in his views.
His parents’ rage would be unimaginable, when they realized his choice. They had gotten so close to getting him to fulfill the destiny they had planned for him and they would not give up without a fight. With this choice, came only one path. If he wasn’t joining Voldemort; he had to leave.
And as soon as possible.
Author's note: Thanks for reading! I would the thrilled if you left a review!