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Chapter 1 : On the Run
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Sirius slid quietly inside the front door his younger brother was holding slightly ajar. “Which is why you are going to keep your big mouth shut about me being here, now aren’t you?”
Regulus grumbled under his breath and closed the door as quietly as he could. It was nearly midnight which meant that their parents would be sleeping, but they most definitely did not want to run the risk of waking them up. Especially after the screaming match that had occurred that night at dinner.
It had been the worst argument ever, and although it had only happened several hours ago, Sirius could not remember what had sparked the fight or even exactly what they had argued about. All that mattered from the whole thing, was that he had finally told his parents what he truly thought about their pure-blood ideals and had finally made the decision to leave this oppressive house forever.
Sirius quietly made his way up to his room and packed a magically enlarged bag with as many of his things as he could fit. His Hogwart’s trunk was sitting in the corner of his room still packed from when he had gotten home only a few short weeks ago. He really didn’t see how he was going to travel anywhere lugging that thing around, but he knew that he couldn’t just leave it behind. This was going to be more difficult than he had anticipated.
“Where are you going to go?” Regulus asked nervously. “Mother has already owled practically everyone she knows to warn them against helping you. She even contacted Gringott’s to revoke your access to the vault!”
Sirius paused in his packing to look up at his younger brother. “I’ll be fine. I don’t want anything from Mother, Father or anyone else in this family. Especially not their dirty money. I’ll figure out my own way.”
Regulus looked skeptical, but must have known that it was pointless to argue. Instead he flopped down onto Sirius’s bed and took a good look around the room. “You are planning on taking down all of this Gryffindor garbage aren’t you?”
Sirius grinned sheepishly. “Oh no. That will be staying. I want Mother to have something to remember me by.”
“You know she will find a way to remove it right? I would even be willing to help her with that one,” he said with a disgusted look on his face.
“You are more than welcome to try,” Sirius replied with a chuckle. “Now…I need to get going. Please feel free to tell Mother and Father goodbye for me. Wait…on second thought…don’t bother. They won’t care either way.”
Sirius made his way downstairs with his heavy trunk and his overstuffed bag as quietly as he could. Regulus followed closely behind him and almost knocked them both over when Sirius stopped short in front on the drawing room of the first landing. Sirius dropped his luggage and walked into the room muttering to himself.
“I see that Mother wasted no time in trying to erase me completely from the family,” he remarked coldly as he stood in front of the Black Family Tapestry. It still reeked of smoke from having Sirius’s name burned off of it.
“Ah. Yes. I’d actually rather surprised she didn’t manage to burn the whole house down with the way she was attacking the thing,” Regulus commented.
Sirius fought back the surge of anger that threatened to overwhelm him for the second time that night. He took a deep breath and walked out of the room with a renewed sense of determination. This time he didn’t bother trying to keep quiet. He almost wanted to wake his parents so he could have someone to yell at again, but he reached the front door with only Regulus following behind.
As Sirius dragged his trunk onto the front stoop he turned back and gave his childhood home one last look. “Well, kid, take care of yourself, huh?”
Regulus only nodded and closed the door, as Sirius shrugged and made his way down the walk. He wanted to dance right there in the middle of the street. He was finally free! He would never again have to listen to his mother tell him what an embarrassment to the family he was. He would never again have to endure the cold disapproving stare and the continuous silent treatment from his father. He could start living on his own away from everything he hated about his tyrannical life in this miserable house.
Lucky for him he knew exactly where he needed to go to start. He needed to find his way to the one place that he knew he would always be welcome, with his best friend, James Potter. Unfortunately he had to figure out how to get there by non-magic means. He was too young to apparate, and he knew that James’s parents had anti-intrusion charms cast upon their house which would not allow him to use the Floo network to get there. No, he supposed that he was going to have to use muggle means of transportation. At least until he got out of London where he would be able to use his broomstick without risking being seen by any muggles.
It was a bright cool night which made walking almost pleasant if only he wasn’t stuck dragging this heavy awkward trunk behind him. Lucky for him the streets were nearly deserted so he didn’t have to worry about the peculiar stares of many muggles. The only ones that he encountered were either homeless vagrants or inebriated drunkards stumbling home from the pub.
He had only gotten several kilometers from his home before he realized that he was lost. The only way that he had ever anywhere in London, or anywhere else for that manner, was by relying on magic. This meant, of course, that he was unsure how to navigate through the city any other way. He was beginning to wish that he had taken a few galleons from the family vault before his mother had contacted the goblins, so that he could have summoned The Knight Bus.
After almost two hours of walking Sirius decided that he desperately needed to take a break. He easily found an all-night diner, stashed his trunk and bag behind a dumpster in an alley across the street and sat himself at a table near the doorway. He had no money, most especially muggle money, so he knew that he was going to have to play this all really cool if he hoped to get away with some food.
“What can I get for you, dearie?” the tired elder waitress asked.
“How about some coffee?” Sirius asked.
“Any food for you tonight?”
He thought for a moment before smiling up at her and saying, “I suppose so. How about some eggs, ham & toast?”
The waitress jotted down his order and walked back into the kitchens. Sirius looked around the shop and noticed a very old looking map of London hanging on the wall. He got up from his table to get a better look at it and realized that it must have been several hundred years old. Despite the age of the map he was still able to recognize several remaining landmarks of modern London, which could still help him decipher where he was and where he needed to go.
“Brilliant isn’t it?” a voice called from behind him. Sirius turned to see that the waitress had returned with his coffee. “My late husband came from a family of map makers. That particular map was from his great-great grandfather. Unfortunately my husband didn’t continue with the family profession, choosing instead to open this shop. His family was not pleased with his decision, but it worked out well for our little family,” the woman finished with a distant look in her eyes.
“It is amazing how much the city has grown since then,” Sirius remarked. “Where are we on this map?”
The woman gave Sirius a smile, handed him his coffee and pointed to a small point on the map. Sirius made a quick mental note in his mind and then sat down at his table. Based on the map he still had quite a long way before he was even outside city limits. He was determined, however, to not let this information bring down his mood. He had taken several dead ends and wrong turns, but he was on the right path now and each step he walked was one step closer to a new beginning for him. For that he felt only happiness.
When the waitress brought him his food, he devoured it as quickly as he could, anxious to get back to his journey. Once he finished he tried to think of how to convince the waitress to retreat back into the kitchen to allow him to dash away quickly and avoid his bill. The elder woman, however, was wiser than he had anticipated.
“So this is where you run out on your tab then, dearie?” the woman remarked with a knowing grin. Before Sirius could comment she continued. “Did you really think that you are the first runaway to find his way into my diner? Oh no. Although I must admit that you are far kinder than others that I have encountered.”
Sirius felt like his stomach had dropped to the floor. What was he going to do now? Would the woman phone the police? Would he be forced to return to his home?
“I-I’m sorry, ma’m. I was just lost and hungry,” Sirius stammered as he searched desperately for a way out of this mess.
The woman chuckled. “No worries, dearie. I have no intention of causing you any trouble. I knew from the moment you entered my shop that you were on the run. I only wished to give you a place to sit and consider what is was that you were running from before you found yourself too far away to return. After all, running away from your problems only increases the distance from the solution. The easiest way to escape from a problem is to solve it.”
Sirius looked in awe at the woman. He could not help but feel ashamed that he had planned on trying to take advantage of her. He knew that he did not deserve such kindness.
“I promise you ma’m, the only way to solve my problem is to run away. There is no solving it,” he mumbled. “Once I get where I am going, though, I can send you what I owe you.”
The woman only smiled. “May I pack you a loaf of bread for the road?”
Sirius shook his head. “There is no need madam. I will be at my destination by morning.”
“Well then you had better get going, Dearie. You only have about four more hours before the sun rises.”
Sirius thanked the woman several more times, hurried out of the shop and recovered his hidden luggage. Keeping the mental image of the map in his mind, he found himself covering the distances through the city at a much quicker rate, although he did encounter several minor disruptions along the way, including an out of control taxi driver, a wild snarling dog and several dead ends.
Sirius was greatly relieved when he found himself in the wide open countryside outside of city limits. He stopped for a quick rest at a farm and helped himself to some water from the spigot. As he began to try to situate his trunk on his broomstick, his attentions were brought to peculiarly large mass covered by a tarp along the side of the barn.
Allowing his curiosity to get the better of him he ventured over to the barn and lifted a corner of the tarp. He was amazed to see that hidden underneath the tarp was a large black motorbike. He tore off the tarp and pushed the bike out into the fading moonlight. It was, by far, one of the most beautiful things that Sirius had ever seen. Judging by the faded paint and the numerous rust spots it was obvious that the bike had sat unridden for a very long time, which made his decision to rescue the bike, an easy one to make.
As he loaded his trunk onto the back of the bike, and pushed the bike down the country road he was already imagining the modifications that he and James could make to the bike. He wondered if they could charm it so that it would fly. He’d have to leave that to James, he supposed, since he was much better at charms than he was.
As soon as Sirius judged that he was far enough away from the farmhouse he pushed the bike onto the shoulder of the road, removed his belongings from it and sat himself upon it. After many tries, a multitude of cuss words and almost an hour, he managed to get the old thing to start. The roar of the engine echoed across the early morning quiet as he loaded up his things and sped off down the road.
The feel of the cool morning air on his face was refreshing and Sirius felt as though his heart would burst from happiness. He laughed out loud as he raced a flock of birds as they skimmed along a creek looking for their breakfast and he screamed in delight as he pushed the bike faster and faster. He drove at top speeds for almost three hours straight before the bike started to slow and splutter.
He continued riding the momentum of the bike until it shut down completely and he was forced to dismount from it. He tried repeatedly to restart the bike with no luck. He kicked at it in frustration as a run-down pick-up approached from the direction he had just come. The driver slowed to a stop next to Sirius and reached over to roll down his window.
“Having troubles with your bike, my boy?” the older gentleman asked.
“Ah…yea. It just sort of died on me,” Sirius remarked. “I’m not too sure what’s wrong with it.”
“Are ya outta gas?”
Sirius stared at the man for a moment trying to understand what he meant. He had no idea what he was referring to.
Luckily for him, the man didn’t wait for an answer, “Well I’m only headed into town a few kilometers down the road here, but I’d be happy to give ya a ride if ya need.”
“Wow. Yea. Thank you, sir. It would be much appreciated,” Sirius gushed gratefully.
The man helped Sirius load the bike and his things into the back of the truck, and then climbed into the cab next to the man. They drove for nearly a half an hour until they came to a small village. The man pulled into the parking lot of a small church and helped Sirius unload the back of the truck.
“Godric’s Hollow should only be an hour or so walk down this road here, son. I would take you if I could, but I have parishioners arriving here shortly for the morning services,” the man said kindly. “There is a gas pump at the edge of town, but I’m afraid it won’t open until later this morning.”
“Uh…That’s ok, sir. I don’t mind walking. It is such a beautiful morning that a walk would be quite refreshing,” Sirius said.
The old man turned from Sirius and walked up the steps to the front door of the church. He glanced back at Sirius and called to him as he walked away, “Oh, before I forget, boy…Do be careful with the brakes on that machine…They tend to stick if not kept properly lubricated,” he said with a mischievous grin before disappearing into the church.
Sirius stared after him in amazement as the door closed behind him. In that moment Sirius knew beyond a doubt that he had made the right choice about leaving his childhood home. In just one night he had experienced kindness beyond imagination from the very muggles that his parents and the rest of their society wanted to snuff out. He could not help but hum to himself as he pushed the bike out of town.
Almost an hour and a half later, a sweating, tired but happy Sirius stood on the street in front of the Potter residence. As he made his way up the walk, the front door flew open and James Potter stood smiling down at his friend.
No words were necessary between the pair as James jumped down and took the heavy trunk from his friend and led him into the house. Sirius knew at once that he was home, and was most looking forward to finding himself a place to lie down and get some much needed sleep. After, of course, he told James about his ideas for the motorbike.
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