Chapter 1 : -
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12 Years, 13 Letters
Sirius stands by his porch stiffly, forcing a smile at Dumbledore, Moody and Kingsley as they make their way past him and into the front door of Number 12 Grimmauld Place. He waits seconds that passes by like lifetimes, his heart hammering and his head throbbing as a heavy burden of unwanted weight fills his chest.
“Coming?” comes the guttural growl of Moody, whose face pops back out the door, his blue eye whirling in its socket.
Sirius forces a dark chuckle as he nods once. He hesitates another brief moment as Moody’s figure stumps back into the hallway, and averting his gaze, Sirius inhales what is left of the clean, free air before he makes his way to follow the thumps.
The dark, narrow hallway shoots back similarly dark memories the moment he steps foot on its grimy, rotten carpet. His grey eyes roam the brown stained ceiling, the peeling wallpaper and the wispy cobwebs that have lodged itself on the once golden branches of the chandelier.
Sirius lets the door close with a click behind him, his back instinctively straight and his chest puffed out as he paces down the hallway, ignoring the quiet creaks that sounds below his feet. A crash echoes in the kitchen and instantly, an ear splitting scream resonates throughout the house.
“FILTHY BLOOD TRAITORS! BEGONE FROM THE NOBLE AND MOST ANCIENT HOUSE OF BLACK, SCUM!”
Footsteps scatter into the hallway and Sirius walks slowly towards them, bracing himself for the immensely distorted remnants of his mother.
“YOU!” she shrieks, her eyes bulging from her sockets as she points a bony finger at her son. “THE TAINT OF SHAME ON THE HOUSE OF MY FATHER’S! STAINS OF DISHONOUR!”
Sirius gives her a deep look of contempt, of a burning rage as he pulls the moth eaten curtains shut, muffling her incessant expression of profanities.
“My mother,” he forces a grin to the others, one that doesn’t reach his eyes. They turn away and resume muttering their protective spells, leaving Sirius alone with the almost silent whispers that haunt him.
Hell, he thinks as he stares distantly, his insides burning with the same desolate feelings he had felt in Azkaban. This is hell.
“It’s okay,” Sirius says as he examines his crusty, brown hand with interest, before tapping at it with his wand, “must be Wartcap powder in there.” He smiles at Harry and George who had looked at him concernedly and tosses the silver snuffbox into the sack of deposited debris from the cabinets.
His smile instantly diminishes into a frown as they look away from him, carrying on with their own cleaning. His frown intensifies as his fingers wrap around a bundle of rough parchment in the drawer, a frayed rope tying the pieces together. His eyebrows furrow with curiosity but before he can read the black ink scrawled onto the top most parchment, a yell sounds behind him.
“I don’t know what it is!” Harry shouts as he attempts to violently brush off a pair of multi-legged tweezers off of his arm. Sirius bounds to him and grabs hold of its silver body, throwing it onto the table before smashing it with a large, heavy-sounding book.
Harry grins his thanks and Sirius grins back, but his thoughts are distant. He walks back to the cabinet and picks up the bundle of parchment, carefully stuffing them into his pockets before continuing with the cleaning, his mood unchanging from the foreboding that settled within him the moment he had stepped foot in this house; the house that had never been his home.
Sirius lounges on his large, four-poster bed as he stares pensively at the open window, the black sky outside sparkling with the flutters of its stars. His eyes shine white as they find the brightest star in the sky…Sirius. After an eternity of watching it dazzle its marvel, Sirius tears his gaze away from it and forces his thoughts away from the other bright star that looms across the world, unseen and out of sight.
He gazes, with a deep frown, at the small black and white picture on the opposite wall, illuminated by the bright radiance of the moon; the four, distinctly familiar figures waving pleasantly and grinning widely. The blurry sight of it sickens him with more than anger, but with regret, guilt, and intense, hopeless yearning that imbues itself deep within him.
Sirius sighs deeply as he looks away from it, the cold breeze swaying the open curtains gently and caressing his bare skin. He can’t prolong it any longer.
With a quiet rustle, Sirius pulls out the bundle of yellow, droplet stained parchments and tugs at the thin rope.
His breath is caught in his throat, his eyes are wide, and his face is draining of its colour, as he stares at the topmost piece, the black scribbles scrawled across it instantly recognised.
Sirius’ heart stops beating.
I’ve been condemned for something I never would’ve considered doing. Ever. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Trust no one, Reg, and rely on yourself.
Run. Run away and remove your affiliation with the Death Eaters. Only Azkaban or worse awaits you.
Sirius flicks to the next parchment, the cursive, once elegant writing visibly shaky.
One letter a year. That’s all I’m given and I’m giving them to you.
I don’t know if it’s because, I’m assuming, no owl ever makes it back here alive, but I haven’t received any word on how you’re doing. I haven’t seen you or heard of your whereabouts in here yet, which is good news. I can only hope you’re okay.
Parchment after parchment falls to the floor.
It’s terrible here. I thought I could make it through this. But I’m not sure if I can take any longer. I really hope you’re okay. I hope you’re living your life, Regulus, the way you want it to be lived out. Not how Mother or Father are telling you to. You never know when it’ll be ripped out of your bare hands.
I have nightmares and sometimes I scream in the middle of the night, only to be woken up by the insane laughter the others have succumbed to.
These memories haunt me more than they used to. I really fucking hope you’re not rotting away in here, laughing at me too.
Cold. That’s what it is here. Cold. Everything’s cold. My body’s cold, the slimy walls are cold, the food is cold, what’s left of my soul is cold. Just cold. Cold, cold, cold.
Sirius’ eyes skim through the lines like lightning, a beat thumping in his ears as his lips mouth the words he knows by heart.
I hear the crashes of the waves against the rocks and sometimes, just sometimes, I wish I were the one crashing against those rocks.
You believe me, don’t you? They’re shouting things, fucking horrible things down the cells and my ears hurt from their echoes.
Reg. Reg. Regulus. My brother. The brightest star in the Leo constellation. Reg. Regulus.
Soft drips begin to join the stains of running ink that once dribbled down the parchment, the patters quickening as he squints his eyes to read through the blur.
I think I’m losing it here. I don’t know where I am half the time and the other half I wish I didn’t. I need help. I don’t want to be here any longer.
Where are you? Ten years and I haven’t heard as much as a whisper about you.
These memories pain me, Reg. I need them out of me. Now. Before they drive me to the point of no return. Help me.
No more. I can’t take any more. I love you, Reg. Don’t ever forget that. Please. I love you.
For the last time,
There is a loud ripping as Sirius tears at the letter; a roar sounding at his lips as the fragments of parchment litters the floor. The thought of ending his life… the possibilities that would have been lost… the truth that would never have been set free… It burns him.
Sirius pants, as his heart feels wrenched from its place, his cheeks wet with the trail of tears.
“Reg,” he whispers as he gets up from the bed, eyes searching frantically through the window for Regulus, the star, “where are you?” But he doesn’t find him.
Sirius inhales deeply the cold, icy air, relishing in its frostiness as it soothes the heat that has suffused through his body. Suddenly, a grimace comes across his lips as his clenched fist unfurls, revealing the crumpled parchment within it.
There had been twelve years, twelve letters… But in his fingers lies a thirteenth letter.
His frown deepens as he reads the opening line, written in a much more cursive script.
Dear Sirius, my son,
Sirius reads the letters closely, slowly but there are only few sentences that seem to strike his notice.
He’s dead, Sirius, Regulus is dead. He’s gone.
Sirius feels his heart shatter.
I don’t know where but I wish you were here with me, so we can search for him together. Without you, I don’t have the strength to. I don’t have the strength to face what I might find.
Reading becomes difficult as his hand trembles violently.
These letters never reached him, Sirius, but I have read them and carry them in my heart.
Breathing begins to hurt him.
I have loved you, Sirius, no matter what differences we have come across and it torments me to read of your experiences in Azkaban. I wanted nothing more but to take you away from the place--
The next few words are blurred by the heavy splashes of tears that mingle with the already existing stains and blemishes.
You are my son, and I love you, Sirius. Don’t ever forget that. Please. I love you
For the last time,
Your mother, who has not, for a second, loved or forgotten you,
Sirius’ lips tremble as the corners drop. He closes his eyes as he imagines the brushes of the wind as the feels of her soft touch. Her once beautiful face flashes across his mind and he lets the tears seep freely through the lashes of his eyes.
He swallows the air, wishing it to drown him with its gentle kisses.
A shrill wail sounds floors below and his eyes jerk open.
“FILTHY MUDBLOODS AND BLOOD TRAITORS-”
Sirius’ chest is heavy as he listens to her scream, the tears settling on his cheeks.
“SCUM OF THE EARTH! BEFOULING THE HOUSE OF MY FATHERS-”
The screams stop and for an infinitesimal moment, he wishes they didn’t.
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