Chapter 9 : A Night Time Stroll
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It was as if nothing had changed. It was as natural as breathing, yet so incredibly hard to believe what had gone had returned. Lily playfully held Sirius's hand, laughing soundlessly, whilst James's arm was swung casually over both Sirius and Lily's shoulders. James was looking approvingly, almost paternally at the couple, completely at ease with their relationship. Even though Lily was obviously in love with Sirius, she was looking at James in such an affectionate, calm manner that they could have been best friends.
Sirius's mind was totally blank. What his brain was trying to register caused him such pain that he physically could not cope. As his knees gave way, he crashed to the floor without hearing or feeling the impact. His brain couldn't move any other parts of his body as it was so confused with trying to understand the image that lay in front of him. He was totally focused on the flat surface in front of him which showed what he had thought was impossible. He could not feel his face stretched into an expression of disbelief, or control his yearning, his longing for this image to become true. He knew it wasn't true, of course. A small part of him knew it never would be. The whole situation suddenly dawned upon him like a cold shower. Sirius reminisced with a bitter joy the ease at which his previous life had been based upon, him and James stumbling around with laughter on the night that Filch had stolen their map, the time when they had first succeeded in becoming an animagus, that night when they won their first Quidditch match, that morning when they first met on the Hogwarts Express.... Sirius wasn't seeing anymore. His brain was too filled with memories that he could not see the tears pouring silently down his face and soaking through his robes like ice cold rain. He didn't really know if he could get up again.
"Not one of your better days, Black?" Sirius gasped so violently that he almost choked, and whipped around, wiping his face vigorously with the sleeve of his robe. Albus Dumbledore was sitting, cross-legged, in front of him, expression not one of pity but of mere sympathy. Due to his casual daily attire, he could have been out for an ordinary night time stroll, and no one would have been any the wiser. Sirius's vision was blurred as he struggled to compsoe himself, highly humilated that his Headmaster had caught him at the worst time. "How...How did you know I was here?" Whispered Sirius with much effort, scared that if he spoke any louder his voice would shake. Dumbledore gazed out of the window absentmindedly, twirling his long fingers together. "You might agree that a little stroll clears the mind, as one never knows what they will come across," Sirius recoiled slightly as Dumbledore looked meaningfully at him, his piercing blue eyes glinting slightly in the moonlight. When Dumbledore realised that Sirius was not going to reply, he continued, with the air of nonchalence that they could have been talking over tea and biscuits.
"Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light," Sirius stared at Dumbledore's serene expression , aware that Dumbledore was determindley not looking at him. Sirius suddenly came to realise the ignorance of the situation he'd put himself in and groaned inadvertently. "I do apologize, I must admit I say that phrase quite a lot," said Dumbledore pleasantly, having heard Sirius's groan. "Oh no, Professor, it wasn't that- it's just, I've been, well, an idiot," he finished lamely, staring at the ground, thankful for the darkness that concealed his burning facade. He realised with a sinking sensation how purely stupid he'd been. All the really cared about was the friend that he had met those seven years ago on the train to their new home. He cared for Lily, too, but their friendship did not have the foundations that his and James' had. So many memories become one powerful desire to never change that friendship, and never break the promise that they had cheerfully written and signed on a spare piece of parchment in their first ever Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson.
He looked back at the mirror with an odd feeling that Dumbledore was watching him through the darkness. "I know you see yourself with James and Lily," said Dumbledore suddenly, causing Sirius to tear his gaze away and stare at his Headmaster in amazement. "You can see them too?" He asked, in awe. "No, but I do see your pain, Sirius. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes the greater is their power to harm us," Dumbledore finished with an odd tone to his voice which Sirius had never heard in him before. Was it understanding? Sirius, still sitting on the floor, was drained with exhaustion as if the tears had taken every last ounce of energy out of him, yet he completely and utterly understood Dumbledore's words. He looked at the wise man sat in front of him, and stood up with a newfound motivation. Dumbledore got to his feet too with a twinkle in hs eye. "Thanks, Professor," Sirius said with more warmth and meaning than he'd had all day. "Thank you".
Dumbledore inclined his head with a smile. "Now, Black, I suggest you scuttle off to bed. I have an inkling that Mr. Filch will be on your case faster than one can say 'pepper imps'. I daresay you'll find a certain letter from Miss Nymphadora upon your arrival, and a certain Mr. Potter anxious to see you. Now, I am afraid I will have to move this mirror to a different home. Remember, It does no good to dwell on dreams and forget to live. Goodnight."
Sirius stared as Dumbledore gave a cheery wave and strolled round the corner, humming to himself, sounding oddly like a Weird Sisters song, and Sirius thought to himself how strong and compassionate this man must be to alter his state of mind and make him realise what he had to do. He stared back at the mirror with defiance he had never felt before, the desire to move on. Peering closer, he noticed a sticky piece of parchment stuck to the top of the mirror with an elegant script that he immedoately recognised as Dumbledore's. (He had been all-too familiar with it thanks to his detention slips) Smiling slightly at the sudden hialrity of the situation, Sirius took it and held it up to the natural light of dawn seeping in through the window. "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail," With a newfound energy, Sirius set off for the dormitories without a backwards glance, feeling lighter than he had felt in his life.
Suddenly, he bumped into Mr. Filch who looked distinctly menacing in his nightshirt and hairy slippers. "Student! Out of bed!" Screeched Filch, brandishing his half-broken lamp in Sirius' face. "Oh, hey, Filchy," Grinned Sirius, fighting the sudden urge to laugh. Watching the increasing horror on Filch's face, Sirius grabbed the Maraduer's Map out of his quivering hand and jumped in the air with triumph. "Here, have a pasty," Said Sirius, taking out the gross sandwich that had been in his pocket since he'd nicked it from breakfast. Laughing at the expression of mingled shock and disbelief on Filch's wart-infested face, Sirius lept in the air and ran through the corridors, cheering at the top of his voice.
Somewhere else in the castle, a man peered over the top of his half-moon spectacles and smiled.