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Chapter 4 : The Pride of Padfoot
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The Pride of Padfoot
Sirius’s legs hurtled through the street, side-stepping a small group of teenage girls that squealed as he shot past and jumped over the open man hole where the muggle builders were working. A particularly ugly one with a head like a potato stuck his head out,
“Oi! Watch where you’re goin kid!” he yelled as Sirius laughed joyfully, swinging on a lamppost and turning down the alleyway to his right. He was so late; his mother was going to kill him! Most kids probably say that but in Sirius’s case he was probably right!
He narrowly ducked under a man’s arm and found himself by the side of the busy road where loads of muggle’s stood waiting by the traffic lights. Sirius quickly joined them and tapped his foot. This was taking ages he thought and looked up at the red blinking light and screwed up his eyes in concentration. Within seconds it had flickered to green and cars swerved and broke quickly along the crossing. Sirius laughed his typical bark-like laugh and slid across the bonnet of the red car in his way and continued down the narrow street.
He hadn’t meant for it to go on this long, but meeting up with Jasmine was the only fun thing he done these days. She was a muggle who lived on the other side of town who loved to watch Sirius’s magic. It was only basic stuff but she didn’t need to know that.
Finally he turned down his street and spotted number eleven and thirteen and ran to stand exactly between them. Within seconds a house started to appear there, inflating like a balloon between the two buildings. Sirius sighed inwardly as the black house appeared and ran to the door. If he could just sneak in.....
But as he reached for the serpent styled door handle it opened slightly and a small figure stood in the crook of the door, looking up at him with a smug expression,
“Master Sirius is very late!” it croaked, holding the door from opening. The small figure looked like a very small man dressed in a dirty loincloth with tiny limbs and big bat-like ears with fluffy white hair growing out of them. His skin looked far too big for him and his bloodshot grey eyes bulged excitedly from above his snout-like nose,
“Kreacher will have to tell mistress...yes....it is Kreacher’s duty to the noble house of Bl.....”
“Shut it Kreacher!” said Sirius pushing the house-elf aside and storming into the house. Instantly he could hear arguing from down the corridor and looked up to see his mother stood yelling at a small balding, hunched wizard holding a battered looking bowler hat in his hands and spinning it nervously. She hadn’t noticed him as Sirius edged along the left side of the wall slowly and hid in the open doorway of a room with a large tapestry.
“Master Sirius should be ashamed. A constant disappointment to Kreacher’s mistress....” continued Kreacher talking to himself behind Sirius as he closed the front door. Sirius snorted loudly at the elf, his eyes darting at the black staircase on the opposite wall and awaited the perfect moment to run up them and to his bedroom without being seen. “But Kreacher knows, yes, Kreacher knows where Master Sirius goes when he leaves the house”.
Sirius stopped still and turned his head swiftly towards the elf. He screwed up his face,
“You don’t know anything Kreacher! Keep your ugly nose out of my business!” he sneered quietly as Kreacher trotted past muttering,
“Kreacher has seen him. Seen him in the street playing with the muggle girl, Kreacher knows because Kreacher followed Master Sirius. And now Kreacher gets to tell his mistress; oh! How happy she will be with Kreacher and the wretched Master Sirius will be punished, yes, punished!” he croaked laughing and rubbing his hands together as he wandered down the corridor. Sirius quickly reached out and yanked the elf towards him covering his mouth with his hand.
“Now you listen to me Kreacher”, said Sirius, panicking slightly, “You’re not to tell my mother anything understand? That’s an order Kreacher!”
Kreacher’s smile filtered off his face as though someone had been told Christmas was cancelled. His eyes narrowed as Sirius pushed him away and continued looking up the corridor, and within seconds clicked his finger’s and disappeared into thin air.
Sirius listened carefully to his mother’s rants;
“I’M NOT PAYING A GALLEON OVER FIVE FOR THIS PAINTING! WHAT UTTER RUBBISH! IT LOOKS NOTHING LIKE ME, AND YOU CALL YOURSELF AN ARTIST!” she shrilled as the small man looked down at his feet,
“I....I’m sorry if your ladyship Walburga is.....is displeased with the painting, but...but the agreed price was fifteen galle.....”
“I DONT CARE WHAT THE AGREED PRICE WAS, THIS IS TERRIBLE, A DIRTY SMUDGE ON MY FAMILY HOME! NOW TAKE THIS BAG OF FIVE GALLEONS AND GET OUT OF MY SIGHT! AND TRUST ME YOU’RE LUCKY TO BE GETTING THAT!!!” she yelled, thrusting the bag into the small wizards hands as he stammered and bowed awkwardly before scurrying down the corridor. Sirius flattened himself behind the doorframe and watched as the man shot passed him; his eyes watery and cheeks flushed. He put on his shabby hat and walked out into the street shutting the door carefully behind him.
Sirius peered back down the corridor at his mother. She was looking at the painting and a big triumphant smile appeared on her face. She clapped her hands together happily as she straightened the portrait and bounced joyfully on her heels. Sirius wasn’t a stranger to this behaviour from his mother and he hated her for it.
He took this moment of his mother’s happiness as an advantage. Holding his breath he made a quick dash for the stairs where a tiny foot appeared and tripped him, causing him to crash into the banister and slide down to the polished black floor below. He looked to where Kreacher had appeared and watched as he smiled; wildly bashing his head on the wooden stairs, punishing himself. His mother’s scream was instantaneous,
“YOU!! GET HERE NOW BOY!” she screamed as Sirius climbed to his feet, rubbed his sore knee and wandered timidly over to her.
“Happy birthday mum”, he muttered as she snatched at his collar and pointed her bony finger into his face. His mother’s black and grey flecked hair was wound tight into a bun that wobbled furiously as her black eyes bulged from her waxy face and her usually upturned nose flared angrily, “DON’T ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’ ME! I TOLD YOU TO BE BACK TWO HOURS AGO! YOU WILL LEARN TO RESPECT ME BOY”, she screamed, little flecks of spittle hitting his face. Sirius bit back the retort rising in his throat; experience taught him it was a bad idea arguing back when she was like this. “Right......”she said eventually, leaning back and pulling on her dress to straighten it out again, “Go and wash that muggle smell off you its disgusting! And go get your dress robes on. Your uncle and auntie will be here soon. I want you clean and downstairs to welcome them in an hour”, she ordered as he quickly turned away from her and stomped angrily up the stairs past the shrunken elf heads in jars, kicking Kreacher as he went.
He threw open his bedroom door and flung himself on the black four poster bed. He had two bumps on his knee and head that throbbed horribly but Sirius wasn’t one to complain about that. That was just letting her win. He felt along the bed to the old radio on the bedside table and turned the old knob automatically. Instantly the Wizarding Wireless Network started playing his favourite from ‘Alfie and the Goblins’ a new wizarding band with a heavy guitar solo.
He jumped off his bed doing his best air guitar impression, and waddled over to the large expensive looking mirror on the wall. His shoulder length black hair had gone slightly frizzy where he’d been running through the street, and as he looked into his black eyes that shone out from his boyish eleven year old face he knew that however bad things got in this horrible house he’d never let them see him cry. Not that he ever did. Sirius started to smile a cheeky grin as his mind drifted off towards the events of his day. He remembered how Jasmine had laughed and clapped her hands when he made her hairpin dance in his palm. The memories they shared were always like a small talisman of happiness that he carried around the house with him making it all seem bearable.
He finished his frantic guitar solo and clicked his fingers as the wardrobe flung open its doors and spat his dress robes out onto the bed, fully ironed and clean. He looked at them miserably. They were everything he hated about being a Black; rich, snobby, in-your-face and forced on him.
He slowly started to pull them on angrily as the door opened behind him. He wheeled around and saw to his dismay his younger brother Regulus leaning on the open door frame, his arms folded smugly. He looked very much like Sirius, his hair was the same colour and length but slightly more oily, his eyes were same shade of black as Sirius’s but more gaunt and his smile was just as charming except that there was usually a sinister reason behind it.
“Alright Sirius?” he began, “heard mum shouting at you agai.....”
“Get lost Regulus!” he interrupted growling and turning to face his brother as his trousers fell to the floor where he’d only managed to get one foot in them. His brother was fully dressed in his sleek black dress robes and seemed to be drawing a whole new level of smugness from them. He snorted at his older brother but Sirius just smiled, his hands on his shirt and pants,
“You’ve got about five seconds Regulus before I take these off and throw them at your head” he laughed.
“You wouldn’t dare!” he replied uncertainly,
“Wouldn’t I?” he asked as Regulus’s smug grin vanished entirely and he quickly slipped out the door. Sirius smiled widely and turned up the volume on his radio.
* * *
“SIRIUS, REGULUS GET DOWN HERE NOW! YOUR AUNT, UNCLE AND COUSINS WILL BE HERE ANY SECOND!” screamed Walburga from the bottom of the stairs as the two smartly dressed boys hurried down the steps and met in the hall. Walburga bent down and yanked their ties into place as their father stepped into the hall. He wore an expression of extreme boredom as he twiddled his curly black moustache and stowed his short black pipe in the pockets of his black robes. His short, jet-black hair was oiled to one side and his dark eyes travelled over his family huddled together in the hall. Sirius never spoke to his father Orion; he was gone early in the mornings and worked at the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures till late at night. He only really made an appearance at family occasions like this one where he was pretty sure his mother had forced him into it. Sirius’s eyes darted to the heavy golden ring on his finger with the Black family crest on it, something he loved more than both of his sons put together.
His mother waved her wand over his face and blasted all the dirt off it making it itch and sting badly for ages afterwards and when the doorbell finally went, his mother had pulled the family into a ridiculous huddled position as if they were posing for a picture. Kreacher waddled over to the door and opened it wide, bowing ridiculously low as a hugely plump man entered proudly into the house and threw Kreacher his coat. The man was wearing long bottle green dress robes with tails that touched the floor, his black handlebar moustache bounced up and down on his fat face that bunched itself around his large round monocle that shimmered in the lamp light. His hair wrapped around his bald head, oily and black. This was Cygnus, Sirius’s uncle and Walburga’s brother. He waddled onto the carpet with his slick black walking stick and beamed a yellowing smile as he moved towards his sister.
“Walburga, you look simply splendid!” he said holding out his arms to hug her.
“Cygnus! Thank you so much for coming,” she replied rather falsely. Sirius didn’t move quickly enough and got squashed between them as they embraced each other. He could smell the mustiness of Cygnus’s belly and had to bite back the sick.
“Not at all, not at all! I wouldn’t miss my Sister’s birthday! And Orion my good fellow, how good it is to see you again”, he said pompously and moved in to shake his father’s hand. When he moved out of the way Sirius could see the rest of his relatives as they stepped onto the threshold. Standing there quietly behind Cygnus was his wife Druella. She looked the exact opposite of her husband being very pale, gaunt and thin. Her straggly blonde hair fell unevenly over her flimsy grey dress and her heavy lidded eyes rarely left the floor. She didn’t say anything to his parents but stood there blankly; shy and weak. A bright blonde haired girl pushed past her mother as she walked proudly into the room. This was Narcissa; his cousin and Cygnus and Druella’s youngest daughter. She had just turned fifteen and was looking around the room like she owned the place. She totally ignored Sirius and Regulus and walked forwards to shake his parent’s hands. Sirius hated the lot of them except the last girl he saw enter the room.
Andromeda, Cygnus and Druella’s sixteen year old middle daughter, was the only cousin Sirius ever liked. He smiled as she tripped over the troll leg umbrella stand in the doorway and laughed nervously. She had long curly black hair and kind light brown eyes that twinkled pleasantly when she saw Sirius who gave her a short wave and a smile that she winked and returned. She patted her mother comfortingly on the shoulder and moved in to shake Walburga and Orion’s hands. His parents, whose smiles were fake until now, dropped their pretence and wrinkled their noses when they shook it.
“Is this it Cygnus? No Bellatrix today?” asked his mother in a falsely pleasant tone as Cygnus smiled and shook his head,
“No, no she’s busy doing very noble work elsewhere but....” at this point he tapped his fat, fleshy nose “we’ll keep that to ourselves. Now where is this charming portrait I’ve heard so much about? I take it that filthy half-blood artist has finally had it delivered?” he said impressively as his mother jumped with excitement,
“Of course, of course come this way!” she said as the Black family huddled towards a large pair of curtains on the wall. Sirius took this chance to sidle towards the back of the group where Andromeda was. She smiled and high-fived him, something they done every time they saw each other. “Okay are you ready?” Walburga said with an air of snobbishness holding the small cord and with a quick tug; pulled it down and the curtains flew open. Most of the room gasped but for very different reasons. Cygnus jumped immediately into how ‘marvellous’ and ‘spectacular’ it was and ‘not bad from a half-blood’ whereas Sirius and Andromeda pulled identical looks of scepticism. It was like looking through a window, it was so creepily life-like that the eyes followed them all without blinking. She was the splitting image of its host, so much so that Sirius had the horribly daunting feeling that it would be watching and telling him off just as much as the real one.
“Wow, that’s just lovely!” whispered Andromeda sarcastically as Sirius bit back the laughter. Walburga, who hadn’t heard her, seemed to love the attention and eventually moved them towards the dining room blushing wildly.
“That’s it Cygnus you sit there, no, no sorry Druella your seat is there that’s it” she said as they all shuffled into the room. He’d never seen her being this polite before in his life! he thought as the eight of them arranged themselves around the large dining table. It was seriously bugging him, at least his father looked as bored as he always did as he pulled out the small black pipe again and started smoking at the head of the dinner table. Sirius felt his mother grab the back of his dress robes and force him into a seat beside Regulus and Narcissa before walking round and sitting at the top of the table on the right of Orion. She sat opposite Cygnus who sat beside Druella. Sirius looked across the table and saw that Andromeda was opposite him and they smiled at each other. He honestly didn’t know what he would do without Andromeda at these twisted family events. Cygnus coughed loudly and turned to his sister,
“I must apologise Walburga for our lateness”, he said fully aware that they weren’t a second late, “you see Druella couldn’t decide on what to wear even though Salazar knows I’ve bought her enough clothes!” he added nastily as Druella gave him a tortured look before quickly looking down at her empty plate that Kreacher had just placed on the table.
“Not at all Cygnus, It’s completely fine. Now have I shown you our new silverware?” she replied picking up a silver goblet and holding it in the light, “finest fifteenth century goblin-wrought silver, which of course we had embossed with the Black family crest”.
“Ahhh marvellous my dear sister, of course, I’ve just bought the whole thirteenth century collection of Goblin-made ornate decorative swords myself, thought it would look nice in the entrance hall you know.....” He said placing his walking stick on the floor.
Sirius tuned out, he knew the score. The children were just there to be seen not heard. He let the adult’s bragging pass over his head and drifted off, thinking about Jasmine and the way the freckles on her nose bunched when she smiled.
“Kreacher! Fetch the finest elf made wine in the rack”, shrilled his mother as Kreacher croaked,
“Yes my mistress!” and scurried off into the kitchen, returning moments later with a large bottle of clear liquid which she snatched from his hands. She pulled out her wand but Cygnus beat her too it,
“Ahh allow me Walburga”, he said as the wine rose into the air and poured itself into the eight goblets. Walburga put up her hand to stop it,
“Cygnus, I rather think the children are too young to be drinking this”, she said but he waved his hand dismissively at her. Sirius knew the reason she didn’t want them to drink it wasn’t because she cared about them but rather because she thought it too good a wine to waste on children.
“It’s tradition sister, everyone of us is from the Noble Black family are we not?” he said pompously. Narcissa and Regulus looked thrilled at being included like adults and raised further in their seats as their wine was poured, whereas Sirius and Andromeda shifted uncomfortably in their chairs. Walburga had a haunted look, his father a bored one and Druella simply looked at the floor. When all the silver goblets were full Cygnus raised his into the air motioning that they all do the same,
“Now, I’d like to wish my dear sister Walburga a happy birthday! May the muggles and squibs lay down their lives for your honour!” he said as Walburga blushed happily, “So here’s to my sister, my family and the noble house of Slytherin, Toujours Pur!”
Everyone on the table repeated the family motto; Toujours pur and sipped their wines, Sirius put the glass to his lips and stopped. He didn’t like this but pretended to drink anyway. He looked over at Andromeda and got a sneaking suspicion she had done the same.
Kreacher suddenly sidled over with large trays of food that he placed ceremoniously in the centre of the table. This was one thing he couldn’t fault about Kreacher; his food was always an excellent standard although Sirius was pretty sure he’d tried to poison him once or twice. Cygnus’s eyes looked over the roast pheasant greedily before he yelped,
“The present! Oh Salazar curse me I forgot to give you your present!” he said rummaging in his pockets and turning sharply to his wife, “Why didn’t you remind me you stupid woman?!” he snapped as Druella blushed wildly. Andromeda looked at her father through narrowed eyes.
Sirius and the rest of the table watched as Cygnus produced a small brown package from his pocket and handed it across the table towards his sister. It had a very overpowering aroma stemming from it that made Sirius want to do something stupid and impressive.
“Oh Cygnus you shouldn’t have!” she cried snatching at the present greedily and ripping off the paper until a small crystal phial of red liquid fell out. Sirius’s nose wrinkled with disgust as she raised the small crystal phial up to the light, containing something that looked strangely like......
“Its Veela blood!” he said cheerfully as he re-adjusted his monocle, “It’s used in many countries as a wonderful little perfume, of course I know it was banned in England but I’ve got many contacts at the Department of Magical Transportation who managed to smuggle it across the border for me”, he said proudly, his stomach swelling.
“Oh.....right”, muttered Walburga, looking thoroughly disappointed. Sirius knew she was expecting something shiny and expensive.
“Yes, yes you know that little hunting trip I went on in Bulgaria a few months ago, well it was for that little beauty. But we had to do it on the secret you see because Veela hunting was banned world-wide a few years back but I simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity. That one there we got from a particularly beautiful one we cornered just around by the churches of Ivanovo; tried to barter for her life if you could believe that!” he said throwing back his lumpy head and laughing as his monocle popped out, “As if the beast had anything we want!, well anyway” he was wiping tears of laughter from his eyes by this point, “Listen, now there’s no need to thank me Walburga” he said waving his palm in front of her, but Sirius had a funny feeling that wasn’t going to happen anyway.
“Quite right”, said a voice at the head of the table and everyone turned to look at his father Orion who had taken the pipe out of his mouth, “dangerous beasts Veelas” he grumbled. Sirius knew of his father’s prejudice to all things half breed and near-human. “Just as bad as centaurs and mermaids if you ask me. Should be hunted and killed, the lot of them.”
“Hear hear!” said Cygnus loudly raising his goblet and drinking greedily from it, “you see, even half-bloods are like half-breeds to me, destroy them all in my opinion, leave only the pure and worthy!” he said proudly as Orion nodded his head,
“Right again Cygnus; Toujours Pur!” he called and the whole table drunk again apart from Sirius who didn’t touch his goblet. Cygnus’s eyes locked on him in an instant,
“What’s wrong boy?” he snapped lowering his cup. Walburga shot a scathing look at him and Narcissa rolled her eyes, “You’re about to join your family in becoming a noble member of the Slytherin house in a few weeks time as all the Black’s have done throughout history. It’s about time you educated yourself in the proper way the world should work, with pure-bloods on top and filthy muggle’s, squibs and half-breeds at the bottom, serving us the best they can!” he boomed as the table was filled with a lot of; ‘hear hear’s’.
“You see...” Cygnus continued, Sirius was clenching his fists under the table, “My Narcissa and Bellatrix have got the right idea! Our Narcissa has just started courting the new Slytherin prefect; a young Lucius Malfoy, from a very long line of pure-blooded witches and wizards of good wizarding stock!” at this Narcissa beamed wildly and looked like she was going to take a bow, “And right as we speak Bellatrix is doing amazing things for pure-bloods by joining into the servitude of.....well.....I’d better not say!” he said, his cheeks flapping excitedly. But he didn’t need to say, everyone by now had guessed where Bellatrix was. She was serving the heir of Slytherin, the dark lord, he-who-shall-not-be-named in his quest for a pure-blooded wizarding community. Sirius had heard many rumours and whispers in his house about the dark lord’s followers and random events and disappearances that were supposed to be caused by them. But he was sick of this pure-blood mania! His mind kept drifting back to Jasmine, his one true friend-the muggle. They don’t know what they’re talking about he thought angrily and he felt himself start to shake.
“Don’t mind Sirius Cygnus, he likes to be around muggles. Salazar knows I’ve tried my best with him but he’s always leaving the house to watch them”, sneered Walburga through gritted teeth as she stared at Sirius from across the table. Sirius couldn’t believe she threw him to the winds like that!
“Ahh I’m afraid that happens Walburga, you see children today are getting confused-thinking that muggles aren’t that different from us. It’s that soft as a pygmy puff Minister for Magic Thaddeus Thornehill, having us all running around after muggles, fraternising with half-breeds! It’s the same with Andromeda here! Had to cane the girl over the holidays when I found out who she’s been hanging around with at Hogwarts. Some muggle-born student, Ted Tonks or something”, he said before he spat on the floor where Kreacher scurried over and scrubbed it clean immediately. Andromeda looked as furious as Sirius felt. Her arms twitched towards the bowl of plump roast chicken wings as if she’d like nothing more than to empty it on his head but cast a worried look at her mother and stopped abruptly. Cygnus hadn’t seemed to notice and poured another goblet of wine down his flabby throat.
“Hogwarts is going to the dogs in my opinion”, he continued, “if we start letting more half-bloods and mud-bloods smuggle themselves into the wizarding world we’ll find ourselves knee-deep in filthy blooded children, stealing our magical education and eventually robbing us of our jobs! It’s about time someone forces old fools like Thaddeus Thornehill and Albus Dumbledore to account for their muggle-loving ways! But....well....there is someone with the right ideas.....and hopefully, if all goes to plan, we won’t have to put up with them for much longer...” ranted Cygnus, turning to his food and starting to shovel it down his throat. Everyone around the table exchanged surprised glances. Narcissa smiled inwardly as she tucked into more salad.
“So.....it’s true then? What the Dark Lord is planning?” asked Walburga softly, excitement dancing in her eyes. Cygnus didn’t even look up from his pheasant as the fat dribbled down his chin. Regulus’s eyes lit up as he frantically searched his uncle’s face. Finally Cygnus washed it down with more wine and looked up at his sister,
“Could be...”he said mysteriously, “depends what you know my dear sister”, and he glared at her; awaiting her response. Walburga sipped her wine slowly and placed it down gently before beginning,
“Well, look at what’s been happening; the mysterious disappearance of the muggle prime minister, the destruction of Whiningford, the unusual Dementor activity and countless disappearances that the Daily Prophet have tried to hush up, well....the word is he’s behind it.....you know; the heir of Slytherin”, she finished on a hushed note and everything in the Black family kitchen went eerily silent, “Cygnus......they’re saying a war is coming. They’re........they’re calling it the Dark Uprising”.
Cygnus peered through narrow eyes at his sister, his cheeks flushing red from the alcohol and wiping the pheasant remains from his chin. Sirius felt frozen to the spot. A war? He had heard his parents discussing stories from the paper, debating the whereabouts and intentions of the He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, but what scared Sirius the most was how much his parents seemed to be excited by it! Stupid pure-blood loving idiots he thought angrily.
“Well well Walburga, you are quite the perceptive one. Yes indeed, the Dark Lord planned them all. He has many followers’ sister, and not just witches and wizards. He has amassed a grand army, one to rival the might of the ministry! Soon there will be nothing to stop him from achieving his goals.....”
“Except Albus Dumbledore”, Sirius interrupted. The whole table turned to look at him. Immediately Andromeda shot Sirius a warning look, Narcissa and Regulus looked from Sirius and Cygnus excitably, Walburga’s eyes bulged and Orion stopped puffing on his black pipe and considered his son carefully. But Sirius didn’t care; his scathing expression was aimed only towards his uncle. Beneath the table Sirius’s fists had gone white.
“HA! That old fool!? You see Walburga, Orion? The young are becoming more and more stupid every generation! So boy, you think that old fossil can withstand the noble heir of Slytherin then?” he said and laughed cruelly as Druella shifted uncomfortably in her seat. Sirius felt the anger rise inside him, he wasn’t stupid. He knew what they all said; that Dumbledore was the only one the Dark Lord feared. That’s why everyone keeps saying that Hogwarts is the safest place....
“Yes. Dumbledore’s a great wizard...” Sirius growled through gritted teeth.
“Shut up you little fool, shame of my flesh!” screamed his mother rising from her seat but Cygnus held up his hand again to stop her.
“Oh, I didn’t realise the two of you were friends!” he sneered turning to Sirius again, “tell me more boy, how often do you meet with Dumbledore? I assume you are great associates. Do you discuss your love of half-breeds over a flagon of pumpkin juice?” Cygnus, Narcissa and Regulus roared with laughter, even Kreacher sniggered in the background, “Do you compare notes on the welfare of muggles? Do you....
“SHUT UP! SHUT UP YOU FAT OLD FOOL! YOU KNOW NOTHING, NOTHING!” Sirius screamed jumping to his feet as the chair fell backwards on the floor. The table started to shake and the goblets vibrated.
“HOW DARE YOU TALK TO ME LIKE THAT!!!” Cygnus roared, he too wobbled to his feet and pulled out a fat green wand from his waistband. Out of the corner of his eye Sirius watched Andromeda leap off her chair towards her cousin as he felt a hot pain hit his cheek. Immediately the table and goblets stopped moving and lay still. He was shocked, and held up his fingers touching the burn on his cheek. He looked from his mother, who looked like she was going to erupt, to his father, who done nothing but gaze at the ceiling slipping the pipe back in his mouth.
“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING!?” yelled Andromeda at her father, moving round the table towards Sirius, her eyes welling with furious tears as she looked at Cygnus through haunted eyes. Cygnus looked flustered as he tucked the wand back into the straining waistband of his jacket and shook his head frantically,
“I...I’m so sorry....lost control....it...it was the wine you see”, he said still standing and avoiding the looks on his parent’s faces. But Walburga got slowly to her feet, a look of suppressed anger screaming in her eyes,
“Don’t apologise brother. You were well within your right. Tell them boy, tell them now that you hate muggles and half-breeds”, she said menacingly. Sirius looked up at his mother through tortured eyes. Kreacher had sidled into the room and was watching intently, this was his favourite form of entertainment. Andromeda’s hands started shaking slightly on his shoulder.
“W.....what?” he replied,
“TELL THEM NOW BOY! TELL THEM THAT DUMBLEDORE IS A FOOL!” she screamed and Sirius jumped. The attack from his uncle had shaken him to the core. He looked up at his mother,
“.......Albus Dumbledore is.....a fool”, he muttered slowly and looked down at the floor as Walburga nodded stiffly and sat slowly back onto her seat. Kreacher’s face had sunk into a look of angry disappointment, he was hoping for more than this and suddenly his voice split through the room loudly,
“MASTER SIRIUS HAS BEEN WITH A MUGGLE GIRL! THAT’S WHERE HE GOES WHEN HE SNEAKS FROM THE HOUSE OF BLACK, KREACHER KNOWS! KREACHER HAS SEEN HIM IN THE PARK SHOWING THE MUGGLE HIS MAGIC!” He screamed and ran straight for the table leg and smacked his head repeatedly on it. Seconds later, Walburga’s howl of fury ripped through the room as she tore from her seat pushed Andromeda roughly aside and grabbed Sirius furiously on the shoulders, pushing him against the black dining room wall. The air filled with gasps and sounds of people rising from their seats as his mother screamed louder than he’d ever heard her before,
“YOU LYING, FILTHY ABOMINATION! YOU STAIN OF DISHONOUR! SHAME OF MY FLESH! YOU DISGUSTING WASTE OF THE NOBLE BLACK BLOOD! ALL THE THINGS YOUR FATHER AND I DO TO KEEP THOSE STINKING MUD-BLOODS AWAY FROM THIS HOUSE AND YOU RUN OFF AND FIND ONE!YOU WILL WE PUNISHED SEVERLY FOR THIS!”
Her eyes bulged insanely as her tight hair bun became undone and began to whip crazily across her face.
Then something happened that Sirius couldn’t explain. A fire suddenly erupted in her hair even though no-one had their wands out and as Walburga screamed and stepped backwards Sirius felt something swirl within him, mixing with his rage and exploding in random bursts. Suddenly the plates of food were erupting all over the walls plastering the guests with bits of salad and pheasant, potatoes and gravy and the glass of wine shattered, hurling glass across the table. The chaos in the kitchen gave Sirius the chance he needed and without thinking he took to his heels and sprinted from the room and up the corridor ignoring his mother’s portrait as it stared at him eerily- he had a sneaking suspicion that she had been watching and listening the whole time, and broke out into the warm summers’ night.
His heart was racing, his cheek hurting and his head swimming from the adrenaline. He ran through the dark street in his gravy-splattered dress robes and knew that he couldn’t go home tonight. He slowed to a walk and panted heavily as he reached the park gate and walked through it towards the long metal tube at the back. He crawled inside, taking off his dinner jacket and placing it beneath his head. What happened there!? He thought as images flashed angrily in his mind. Had it been him that shook the table and caused all that food to erupt all over the place?
* * *
Sirius was furious beyond words as he fidgeted uncomfortably in the tube. Sadly it wasn’t the first time he’d slept here.
Knock, knock! Went the steel drum as Sirius jumped up smacking his head on the roof. He looked up at the top of the tube and saw Andromeda’s face smiling sadly at him,
“Hey you,” she said softly as Sirius climbed back out of the tube,
“Hey” he answered bewildered and saw that she was covered in bits of gravy and salad, “sorry” he added pointing at the food on her robes. She looked down and smiled again,
“oh don’t worry about that, watching my father pick bits of pheasant and gravy out of his moustache was probably one of the best things I’ve ever seen” she said as her face lit up. They both bit their lip and before they knew it they were laughing at the top of their voices, Sirius was actually crying with laughter.
“How....how did you find me?” he asked through bouts of laughter,
“Followed you”, she replied as her face slowly slipped from a smile to frown. She reached forwards and touched his chin gently pulling it slowly to the side to see the raw red burn where her father had hexed him.
“I’m so sorry” she whispered as Sirius looked at her determinately,
“Don’t apologise for them!” he said looking up at her, “you didn’t do this. You’ve got nothing to feel bad about!”
Andromeda bit her lip and continued, “Does it hurt?” she asked and let go of his chin. Sirius looked at her for a second and shook his head. Andromeda seemed to realise he was lying to her but dropped the subject as they both moved over to the swings and sat themselves down.
“Well I guess neither of us is going home tonight...” she said, rocking back and forwards slowly.
“Nah, I guess not”, Sirius replied,
“Hmm, well I think I’ll stay here with you then, the top of that climbing frame looks pretty comfy”, she said and Sirius felt a great rush of affection for her. He’d never had a sister but Andromeda was close enough to be one.
“But.....how would you get home tomorrow?” Sirius replied worryingly but Andromeda smiled cockily back at him,
“Oh I always bring some money you know just in case, well there’s a new travel system around set up for stranded Witches or Wizards. It’s called the Knight Bus, I’ll just flag it down tomorrow”, she said pleasantly. Sirius nodded slowly and looked at the stars. He couldn’t wait to get out of that house, to go to Hogwarts; he could be free there. He stared at one particular star in the sky that looked a lot brighter than the others.
“Do you miss it? Hogwarts I mean?” he asked, not taking his eyes off the star. Andromeda too turned her head up towards the sky,
“Everyday”, she answered sadly and jumped suddenly and squeaked, “Oh my god! I almost forgot to give you this”, pulling out a battered, bent-out-of-shape letter that had been ripped open at the top, “stole that from the side in the entrance corridor, It’s addressed to you but it was way too high for you to reach it, so I figured you hadn’t seen it yet....” she said softly as Sirius turned over the envelope. Scrawled on the front was;
HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY
To Mr Sirius Black
12 Grimmauld place
His hands started shaking as he gazed at the Hogwarts crest on the back. His mother had obviously opened it he thought angrily but was filled with gratitude for his cousin.
“Thank you,” he said holding up the letter in the light of the streetlamp nearby. Excitement erupted inside him. His cousin smiled as she watched Sirius mouth the small motto under the crest; Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus,
“It means; Never tickle a sleeping dragon”, she said as they both roared with laughter.
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