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Shades by dragongurl
Chapter 1 : Sirius
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 1


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Black.

More than just a color, more than a word. 

A name

A name that meant pride, purity, and better.

Sirius stared into the mirror and tried to see the Black in himself. He looked like a Black-dark hair, grey eyes, and, as his mother said, ‘a face befitting a prince.’ But he didn’t feel like one. Or act like one. And he didn’t know how that made him feel.

“Sirius!”

He jumped at his mother’s yell.

“Hurry up or we’ll miss the train! You can’t be late for your first trip to Hogwarts!”

Sirius rolled his eyes and turned from the mirror. She was only being nice because she thought that the Sorting Hat would fix everything. Every Black had been sorted into Slytherin and his parents assumed, despite his obvious differences, that he’d be the same.

While a small part of Sirius hoped the same, he was determined to prove his parents wrong. Any hope of pleasing them had died long ago and he was eager to show that his rebellion was more than a phase.

Grinning, he grabbed his trunk by the handle and raced out of his room.

“Coming!”

-~-~-~-

Black.

The color of a paw that had been a hand just seconds before.

Gasping, Sirius turned to look in the mirror and tripped over his legs. 

All four of his legs.

Laughter and gasps of amazement came from the boys around him, but he scrambled back to his feet and stared into the glass.

Gazing back at him was an immense black dog. Excitement shivered down his spine and he started as the dog’s tail responded by wagging.

Whirling around again, he yelled out his excitement, filling the room with loud barks. He bounded to James and watched his friend’s face change from amusement to alarm. 

“No, Siri-oof!”

James’ breath whooshed out as Sirius knocked him to the ground. After a brief wrestling match, James managed to push Sirius to the side before standing up with a look of intense concentration.

Sirius paused, panting, and saw Peter and Remus holding their breaths in anticipation.

It happened in a blink. One moment he saw James, and the next, a stag.

Sirius barked in excitement and ran in circles around the room. James followed, stumbling a bit on his new legs, but quickly gaining confidence.

Their energetic celebrations ended after a moment and the Animagi turned to their companions.

Remus, who knew his friends well, quickly sidled away, leaving Peter standing alone in the corner.

The short boy’s watery eyes got wide as he realized that he was cornered.

“Come on, guys!” he whined, backing further into the corner. “You know I can’t do it yet. It always takes me forever to do magic and I’ll probably end up only half-transforming or kill myself or...”

Peter cut himself off with a squeak as both Sirius and James pounced. Squeezing his eyes shut, he cowered back. Then, suddenly, he was gone.

Remus gasped. “What just...?”

Sirius and James had backed away in surprise and Sirius let out a whine as he stared at the dark corner.

He was inching towards the corner, sniffing, when a small grey shape scuttled out of the darkness.

Sirius scrambled back with a yelp, changing back to his human form as he moved.

James, who had transformed when Peter had disappeared, moved towards the shape.

“It’s just a rat, Sirius,” he said.

Sirius scowled, embarrassed, and retorted, “I knew that! I just didn’t want to step on it.”

James gave him an amused look and was about to respond when Remus spoke. 

“What is it doing?”

The rat had begun twisting and thrashing about.

Remus gasped and ran towards it.

“Guys, what if it’s Peter?”

Sirius and James exchanged incredulous looks.

“Excuse me?”

Scooping the rat into his hand, Remus lifted it to eye level.

“It’s okay, Pete. Just stop struggling so much and concentrate,” he turned to his other friends. “How did you turn back?”

Sirius, still doubtful about Remus’ theory, was trying too hard not to laugh at Remus’ conversation with the rodent to answer. James just shrugged.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I just...did it.”

Remus set the rat on the floor and stepped back. 

“Come on, Pete. You can do it.”

They watched the rat sit perfectly still for a few moments. Then Sirius shook his head.

“This isn’t working. How about...”

He walked quickly to the rat and made as if to step on it.

With a squeak, the rat became a petrified Peter. 

“Don’t step on me!”

Sirius doubled over with laughter, hearing James and Remus laughing behind him.

Peter scowled and got to his feet.

“It’s not funny. You don’t know what it’s like to be so small and helpless. I thought I was going to be stuck that way forever.”

James walked over and patted his trembling friend on the back.

“Don’t worry, Pete. I promise that you’ll never have to live as a rat.”

Remus chuckled and Sirius grinned as they stood together. They were silent for a moment.

Then Sirius said, “We did it.”

They stared at each other in silent awe. After years of research, hard work, and close calls, they had finally done it.

Remus looked around at his friends. His eyes grew watery as he said, “Thank you. I just-” His voice cracked and he dropped his head, rubbing at his face.

Quickly, James grabbed his wand and held it to the middle of their circle.

“To the Marauders.” 

Remus raised his head and smiled before adding his wand to James’.

“To friends.” 

Peter was next.

“To mischief.”

Sirius looked around at his mates and felt content. This was where he belonged. Where they all belonged.

Lifting his wand, he grinned.

“To us.”

-~-~-~-

Black.

The color of the night sky, beautiful in its majesty. 

Sirius sat on the roof of his building, feet dangling over the empty alley below. He was holding a half-empty bottle of firewhiskey, head tipped back as he studied the stars.

He was named after a star, one of the brightest in the sky, as were all of the members of the Black family.

He easily found the dog star, having spent most of his childhood and far too many astronomy lessons studying the Canis Major constellation. After a few seconds of staring at the bright spot, his eyes slid to another constellation, finding another star that had been oft-mentioned in his childhood home.

Regulus. The star whose name meant ‘little king.’

A perfect name for the little brother that had taken his place as heir to the Black fortune and prestige when he had run away from home four years ago.

Scowling, Sirius brought the bottle to his lips and chugged several large gulps. The fiery liquid that burned down his throat and into his gut was only a fraction of the ache in his heart.

“You know, Padfoot, being a rebel doesn’t mean you have to literally live on the edge.”

Sirius grunted as James joined him on the ledge. Raising the bottle again, he drank the rest of the liquid before dropping it between his feet. It sailed down to the alley and shattered alongside the remains of the last two bottles. 

“Remus told me,” James said after a moment. “How’re you holding up?”

Sirius snorted.

“I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be?” 

“Sirius...”

“I said I’m fine!” he snarled, glaring at James. “My family means nothing to me! They’re just a bunch of arrogant purebloods and just because one of them d-”

His voice caught and he looked away, taking a quick breath for control. From the corner of his eye, he saw James opening his mouth to speak. 

“Don’t you have anywhere better to be?” he said quickly. “We both know that you detested Reg, so don’t try to pretend otherwise. Run back home to your safe little wife and leave me alone. I don’t need or want empty platitudes.”

James stared at him, his face hard.

“Even if I did detest Regulus, I would never make light of what he meant to you by pretending to care. I didn’t agree with his choices, same as you, but I care because you care. I’m your best friend, Sirius, so you can cut the crap and the act.” 

His words were harsh, prompting some guilt, but Sirius knew that his friend sincerely meant every word.

He sat quietly, staring again at the stars and trying to process his raging thoughts and feelings.

“We never actually hated each other, you know,” he said finally. “We just never really figured out how to move past all the crap at home.”

He reached behind him to grab more firewhiskey, handing a bottle to James as he went. James’ eyes were intent on him, listening attentively, despite already knowing most of the story.

“You knew that we saw some of each other at school, just to talk and such, but I only saw him once after we graduated. Our darling mother had just sent me an owl to inform me of his induction to Voldemort’s ranks. The letter was full of the usual ‘he was always the better son. I wish you had never been born’ kind of stuff. I should have been used to it by then, but coupled with Reg becoming a Death Eater, I don’t know, I just...lost it.”

“That was when you landed in Mungo’s, wasn’t it?” James interrupted quietly.

Sirius nodded.

“Yeah, I snuck into school and confronted him. I told him how much of a screw-up I thought he was and how weak he had to be to mindlessly obey our parents. And he said that he might be weak but at least he didn’t make a habit of running away from his problems. We said a lot of things, Prongs, hateful things, and ended up fighting, right there in Hogwarts. When I left, I told him that I never wanted to see him again. And he told me that it was about time, because he hadn’t wanted anything to do with me for years anyway.”

He twisted the bottle in his hands. 

“Afterwards, all I could think about was his face and the way he had looked before we fought. Sure, he was angry, but it was more than that. He was hurt by what I said, as if it did matter to him what I thought. And he was afraid. So afraid. And I left him alone.”

He looked again at Regulus’ star, twinkling high above their heads, and wondered why its light hadn’t ended with his brother.

“He wrote me last week, three owls, asking me to see him. Said he had something important he needed to tell me. I ignored him, of course. Told him to piss off and tell his Death Eater friends if it was so important.”

He dropped the still-full bottle into the alley, watching as it shattered into a million pieces, destroyed and impossible to put back together.

Just like his life.

“I failed him, James. I failed him as a brother when I ran away like a coward and left him alone to shoulder the burden I couldn’t bear. I failed him when I let him join the Death Eaters and abandoned him to them. I failed- I failed...”

The pain, guilt, and regret that had consumed him since he heard the news finally broke past his barriers and he sobbed. Sobbed for the memories and the might-have-beens. 

Sobbed for the relationship that he had discarded so easily. Sobbed for the brother he had never truly known.

And James just wrapped an arm around him, not saying a word. Because there was really nothing to be said.

-~-~-~-

Black.

The color of his best friend’s hair, stark against the ash that covered it. 

No, no, no, no, no.

Sirius was dimly aware that he was hyperventilating as he stared at the rubble-covered form. 

James was lying at the base of the rubble-covered stairs. The force of the explosion must have pushed the debris through the opening, partially burying his body.

Sirius moved slowly through the hallway, body trembling, hoping that at any moment James would pop up with a grin and laugh at his gullibility.

A crunching shatter startled him out of his daze. Looking down, Sirius saw the wire frames and broken lenses of James’ glasses under his foot. At the sight, a moan broke from his throat and he lunged toward the body as his knees quaked and collapsed.

Falling to a kneel, Sirius reached toward James, to nudge him, shake him, anything to break the damning stillness. 

His shaking hand was inches from completing its halting journey when a shrill cry broke the silence.

Sirius jolted to his feet, tear-filled eyes gazing at the ceiling and the direction of the cry.

Could it be...?

Concrete and plaster crumbled and shifted under his boots as he fought his way up the stairs and into the open night air. Half of the second floor had been blasted away, demolishing the hallway and nursery.

Gasping through a throat strangled with fear and rising hope, Sirius continued to stumble through the debris toward his godson’s room.

The cry had sounded like a baby, but that was impossible.

All of the safety measures, including the Fidelius charm, were to protect Harry, the target of Voldemort’s ruthless hunt. There was no way he had let the child live and James’ body suggested a similar fate for Lily.

So, who had cried?

The cool night air blew against him and, when he glanced up, he saw stars against the inky sky. The wall across from him had been blown to smithereens and the adjacent walls were only half there. The entire ceiling was gone, burying the snitch-and-quaffle-covered rug. 

Sirius took a deep, fortifying breath before entering the small bedroom. Dodging a piece of dangling plaster, he worked his way through the debris toward what had once been Harry’s crib.

A flash of red caught his attention as he walked and he turned toward it on instinct. Bile shot to the back of his throat an instant later as he stumbled back from Lily’s body. Her long, red hair floated gently in the breeze, beautiful against the devastation.

Tears streamed down Sirius’ face as he coughed and retched.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. Voldemort wasn’t supposed to win. James and Lily were supposed to be safe and happy. They were supposed to be having more kids for him to spoil while James laughed and Lily rolled her eyes. They were supposed to be safe from hurt and heartache. 

From death. 

Because they were Marauders and Marauders never died.

Another wail tore Sirius from his thoughts. With a gasp, he lurched from his knees to the corner of the room. He would know that cry anywhere.

Harry!

Chunks of plaster and boards flew across the room as he dug through the mound of rubble. He could now hear soft sobs and cries, which spurred him to work faster.

After lifting a particularly heavy piece of wood, Sirius discovered his godson.

Harry was curled into the corner of his partially collapsed crib. Dust and plaster littered the mattress, but the wood had protected him from most of the debris. Tears covered his chubby red cheeks and he wailed again at the sight of his godfather.

Sirius swiped the back of his hand over his face before reaching down and gently lifting the baby. Harry’s sobs subsided as Sirius rubbed his back and held him tightly to his chest. 

Sniffing, he pushed to his feet and walked out, refusing to let his eyes stray from their intense forward stare, even when moving past the bodies.

Once he reached the garden, he took deep, calming breaths. He couldn’t fathom the fact that Harry was still alive. James, Lily, the state of the house, all of it seemed to imply that Voldemort had indeed found the Potters.

So, why had he left Harry alone? What had happened to the house? And where was Voldemort now?

Harry squirmed in his arms and, glancing down, he stroked the baby’s wild black hair from his forehead.

Sirius froze at the mark Harry’s hair had hidden. Holding his breath, he gently traced the fresh wound. 

A lightening bolt.

Remarks and passages flashed through his mind at the shape, lessons he had learned years before. Curse wounds...only the most powerful magic...rebounding...permanent scarring...

Then, other words crept through his mind, words that had prompted the desperate fight for Harry’s safety.

“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches. Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies. And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not...”

They all knew that Voldemort had targeted the Potter’s after Snape revealed the prophecy to him. Knew that he believed Harry to be the prophesied child.

Voldemort must have come to the house, killed James and Lily, and then tried to kill Harry. But something went wrong. For some reason, Voldemort’s curse must have rebounded, scarring Harry and hitting the dark wizard instead.

Which meant...

Voldemort was dead.

Dead. 

Relieved elation bubbled into his soul as his sorrow increased tenfold.

They had done it. James and Lily had accomplished the goal every Phoenix pledged to pursue. And they had lost their lives for it.

And with their lives, a giant piece of Sirius’ world had dissolved. An important piece. 

Perhaps, the most important piece. 

It felt as if his entire existence had been extinguished with their lives. He felt as though he had lost everything.

Harry squirmed again, cooing, and Sirius clutched him tighter.

No, not everything. He still had his godson, whom he would love and raise in the memory of his parents. He still had Remus and Peter... 

Peter!

It felt as if he had been hit with a train. Everything in him froze and focused on that one name and all the implications that came with it.

He had been to Peter’s house earlier that night, hoping to check on his nervous friend, and found it empty. That was the whole reason he had come here-a sinking feeling that refused to leave.

Because James and Lily were fine as long as Peter was fine.

But they weren’t fine. Which meant...

Sirius clenched his eyes shut as the world spun around him. Moments from the last few months spun like a movie through his mind, highlighting Peter’s every evasive answer, excuse, and unexplained action.

Peter had turned James and Lily in to Voldemort. Had been responsible for the near misses and both of the times that they had been captured.

Had betrayed them to their deaths by telling Voldemort their location.

Because Sirius had thought he could outsmart the most powerful dark wizard in the world by making Peter the Secret Keeper.

Pain and guilt formed a lump in his throat, making it difficult to breath. He squeezed Harry tighter as he struggled with the bitter emotions and the child began to cry.

Opening his eyes, Sirius loosened his grip and rocked Harry gently.

“Shh, it’ll be okay,” he murmured.

Now wasn’t the time for pain. Now was the time to make Peter pay for what he had done. Focusing on the anger helped Sirius push aside the grief. The fact that he had ever counted that slimy bastard as a friend made him grind his teeth. Oh yes, Peter would pay.

There was only one hitch to his plan. Where could he put Harry until he came back?

Sirius walked over to his motorcycle, contemplating his options. Both Lily’s and James’ parents had died over the last few years and there was no way that he would let Lily’s sister take his godson! Those good-for-nothing Muggles would probably refuse to take him anyway.

That left Moony, but Sirius wasn’t sure the wizard would think himself capable of taking care of Harry. Anyway, Remus was away on an Order mission and he had no way of contacting him.

Sirius sat on his bike as he thought; the need for revenge warring with his firm desire to care for his godson.

“Wha- Sirius? Is that you?”

Sirius turned at the sound of Hagrid’s voice and found the half-giant standing by the road.

Hagrid was staring at the ruined house and, as Sirius watched, he fell to his knees and wailed in despair.

“Not the Potters! Not James and Lily, or tiny Harry! No, no...”

Sirius ran to him and threw an arm around the large man. Harry began to cry as Hagrid’s loud sobs filled the air.

At the sound, Hagrid looked at Sirius and the bundle he was carrying. He gave a loud gasp and wiped a hand across his tearstained face.

“Is that...?”

Sirius nodded and allowed Hagrid to take Harry from him.

“Then what happened? James and Lily, did they-?”

Sirius shook his head sadly and Hagrid closed his eyes as a fresh wave of tears streamed down his face.

A plan had already begun to form in Sirius’ mind, but he allowed Hagrid a moment before questioning him.

“Hagrid, do you know if Dumbledore knows? If he’s heard and if he’s going to come?”

Hagrid rocked Harry as he answered, his soft beetle-black eyes never leaving the child’s face. 

“Yeah, he’s coming. Sent me on ahead, he did, said he had something he needed to take care of afore coming. But I’m sure he woulda come straight aways if he’d known, if he’d heard-”

Sobs again shook him, but Sirius was distracted by the urgency of his plan.

“Listen, Hagrid,” he said, “There’s something I need to do, something that I need to take care of tonight. Would you mind caring for Harry until I return? Here, I’ll even give you the keys to my bike so that you can use it.”

Hagrid looked confused, but nodded his head, reaching to take the keys from Sirius.

Adrenaline, fury, and anticipation rushed through Sirius’ veins and he was suddenly desperate to get away. 

Stepping away, he closed his eyes so that he could focus on his desired destination.

Suddenly, his eyes popped open and he rushed back to Hagrid.

Taking Harry from the half-giant, he softly touched the baby’s cheek. Bright green eyes stared up at him and Harry reached a chubby hand up to grab his finger. 

Kissing the baby’s forehead, Sirius whispered softly, “I’ll be back for you, Harry. And I’ll make everything okay. For me and you, buddy.”

Pressing another kiss to his head, Sirius handed the baby back and nodded to Hagrid.

“Take care of him.”

Then, closing his eyes and concentrating with grim determination, he apparated away.

-~-~-~-

Black.

Color had never before been felt as it was felt now.

Cold. Oppressive. Terrifying.

Black had never had a stench, but it did now.

Decay. Urine. Feces. Death.

Sirius huddled in a corner of his cell, trying to hold on to the last vestiges of his strength and sanity.

Initially, he had attempted to track time by meals or guard patrols. The lack of regular meals had ended that strategy soon enough and human guards rarely wandered into any part of Azkaban, too scared of the Dementors to venture far from their offices.

Dementor visits, conversely, were very regular.

It seemed as if barely a minute could pass before the gut-freezing cold would settle into the cell, creep into his soul, and wreak havoc on his mind. Besides, the aftermath of the attack removed any coherent thought for countless minutes, making timekeeping impossible.

So, Sirius had no idea how long he had been imprisoned. Had no knowledge of the amount of time that had passed between his fight with Peter and now. Couldn’t tell you how long it had been since his world ended on All Hallow’s Eve.

All he knew was the terror, guilt, and anguish he felt when his memories were pulled from the depths of his mind and any remaining happiness was consumed by the Dementors.

And even when they weren’t torturing him, the screams, moans, and ceaseless ramblings of the other prisoners were enough to push him beyond sanity.

Sometimes, the Dementors would disappear and leave the entire block in a hush. But even in those brief respites, Sirius found no relief. During these times, the hidden sounds of the prison could be heard in the darkness.

The wind whistling through the holes and gaps in the stone fortress. The crash of waves against rock. The pitter-patter of tiny feet as rats searched for food and warmth.

It was the rats that bothered Sirius the most. Every squeak and skitter reminded him of Peter’s betrayal and the duel that had landed him in the prison.

He shivered and pressed deeper into the corner. The temperature was dropping again, the cold creeping across the stone floor. His breath began clouding as the dreaded swishing reached his ears.

Sirius pulled his knees up to his chest, covered his ears with his hands, and squeezed his eyes shut. Rocking slightly, he began to chant the phrase that had proved to be the only link to his sanity.

I’m innocent. I’m innocent.

Innocent because he had made a stupid, arrogant decision that had murdered his best friends. But innocent nonetheless.

Despair clouded his soul and he whimpered as the Dementor’s rattling breath filled the cell.

Coldness consumed his entire being as a rushing sound filled his ears and coated his very existence. He couldn’t think or feel from the cold.

I’m innocent. I’m innocent.

He felt as if he was drowning in the freezing cold as a white cloud consumed him and snatches of memories assailed him.

Standing in James’ kitchen, convincing him to make Peter the Secret Keeper...winking at Lily’s eye-roll as he drove off, never knowing it was the last time he’d see her alive...

The memories moved faster, driving stakes of guilt deeper into his heart. Distantly, Sirius was aware that he was screaming. Screaming and raking his fingernails down his face in an attempt to lessen the anguish.

Peter’s fear and cowardice when confronted...the duel, lights flashing back and forth before Peter seemingly vanished...his reappearance behind Sirius just before he killed those Muggles and cut off his own finger...the hollow, insane laugh that had torn itself from his chest as he realized that the stupid, watery-eyed boy had outsmarted him and he was royally screwed...

He twitched violently at the scenes. 

The shattered lenses of James’ glasses under his shoe...the burn of his vomit after finding Lily...

“Please, please...” he moaned. I’m innocent. I’m innocent!

Harry’s tiny fist wrapped around his finger, green eyes staring into his...promising, “I’ll be back for you, Harry. And I’ll make everything okay. For me and you, buddy.” 

Darkness dimmed the visions as his consciousness slipped.

I’m innocent. I’m innocent...

-~-~-~-

Black.

The color of the dirt under his fingernails, remnants of the filth gathered during his years in Azkaban. 

Sirius studied the blackened, uneven edges as he sat on Moony’s sofa. The events of last night replayed endlessly in his mind and his jagged nails dug into his palms as frustrated anger over Peter’s escape made him clench his hands into fists.

The clink of porcelain disrupted his thoughts, sending him to his feet in alarm.

Instead of Dementors, Remus stood before him, hands raised placatingly as he stepped back from the tea tray he had just placed on the table.

Sirius relaxed, collapsing on the sofa and burying his face in his hands. He felt the sofa dip as Remus sat beside him and placed a hand on his shoulder.

“You know, I never thought I would get to do this again.”

Sirius raised his head at Remus’ words. 

“What do you mean? Do what?”

“Sit here with one of my best friends,” Remus’ green eyes were wet as he studied the teapot.

Sirius glanced up at his friend in surprise. He’d never before considered the effect everything would have upon Remus. Sorrow filled him as he reflected on the years of loneliness, grief, and betrayal the werewolf would have had to endure on his own. Not to mention the transformations without the help of the Marauders and the prejudice he surely faced from the Wizarding community.

Thinking the whole time that Sirius had sent their best friends to their deaths.

Tears filled his own eyes at the realization and he resumed picking at his fingernails. 

“Did you mean what you said at the Shrieking Shack last night, Moony?” Remus looked back at him and Sirius met his eyes. “About forgiving me for suspecting you? It was ridiculous, but when the Death Eaters kept finding James and Lily and you were gone so long on missions and such, the stress of the Order, and...”

Remus stopped him with a squeeze of his shoulder. Giving him a sad smile, he said, “Of course, Padfoot. We all did and said things we wouldn’t have otherwise during those days. The notion that you would ever hurt James, Lily, and Harry was preposterous and yet...” 

He sighed and clasped his hands in front of him.

“But we’re here now. You’re here now.”

Sirius snorted and pushed off the sofa. Running his hand through his hair, he paced across the room.

“But for how long, Remus? Even now, we’re both in danger! All it takes is one little glance or suspicion and the Ministry will be on us like flies!”

Remus stared at him silently. Even after twelve years of separation, he knew that Sirius’ verbal explosions were rarely limited to a few sentences.

Maybe things would’ve worked out all right if Peter hadn’t escaped. He was the only proof I had that I wasn’t the one to betray the Order. Without him, I...” 

His steps faltered and his words died. He leaned his forehead against the wall and spoke so softly that Remus had to lean forward to hear him.

“I won’t go back, Moony. I-I can’t...” 

“And nobody would expect you to,” Remus cut in. “Dumbledore and I know you’re innocent and we’ll do anything to help you out. And Harry-”

Sirius growled and punched the wall.

“Blast that bloody traitor! We were supposed to have a home together, Moony,” he turned back to his friend. “I asked him, you know, after we left the Shack. To come live with me.”

He sat down again, burying his head in his hands. 

“You should see how they treat him, Moony, those Muggles. I spent some time there during the summer, keeping an eye on him. How Lily could ever be related to those people is beyond me. And yet...he’s brilliant. Despite everything, he’s the most amazing boy I’ve ever met.”

Remus’ eyes and smile were soft as he nodded.

“And an incredible wizard. Although, maybe not the best student...”
 
Sirius chuckled with him.

“He’s half James, what did you expect? He was bound to cause some trouble. 

Remus laughed.

“That he does. But Ron and Hermione do their best to keep him out of trouble. He’s always in deep water with Snape though.”

Sirius scoffed.

“Of course he is. The git probably can’t get over the fact that Harry’s better than him, just like James was. Snape, a teacher. What in Merlin’s name was Dumbledore thinking?”

Remus shrugged.

“I can’t say that I agree with his decision, but Snape is a master at Potions and the students learn a lot. But I was thoroughly impressed and pleased with the way that those kids took care of him tonight,” he chuckled again. “There are times when I look at him and all I can see is James.”  

“Though he does seem to take after Lily too.” Sirius remarked.

“He’s the best of both of them. And everything they would’ve wanted him to be.”

They were both quiet for a moment.

Then Remus said, “Sirius, tell me about the night they died, would you? What happened?”

Sirius took a deep breath and let it out slowly. These were the memories that haunted him the most and he instinctually braced for the Dementors’ freeze to chill him. 

After a halting beginning, the story flowed from his tongue, taking with it a burden he hadn’t realized he carried. Sharing the events of that night for the first time, to someone who didn’t judge his mistakes and understood his pain, was a balm to his raw spirit. 

The two talked late into the night, until his eyes drooped and his words slurred.

“What will you do now?”

Sirius was quiet, contemplating the question and the few options left open to him.

“I don’t really know. I’d hole up at my parents’ place, but I’m sure they’re watching it too closely for that. I’ll probably spend a few more weeks as Padfoot till I find a place to stay.” 

Remus nodded and sighed.

“I’d offer you a room, but I won’t be here much longer either.”

Sirius looked up in surprise.

“Why not?” 

Remus gave a rueful smile that was edged with resignation and bitterness.

“My landlady’s niece attends Hogwarts and her sister told her about my ‘furry little problem.’ She’s given me two days to move out.” 

Fury rose in Sirius and he scowled.

“The bint! If she thinks she can just-” 

“No, no, Sirius,” Remus brushed away his outburst. “She has the right to decide who takes her flat and she’s decided that it’s not me. We both know that she isn’t the first and she certainly won’t be the last.”

“But after all you’ve done... Why are people so bloody stupid?”

Standing up, Remus shook his head.

“It’s just the way the world is. We both have things we’ll have to deal with. No one accepts us now, but we still have each other.”

“And Harry.”

“And Harry,” Remus agreed. “And that will have to be enough.”

Grasping Sirius’ arm, he pulled him to his feet.

“Now, go enjoy a hot shower and a warm, soft bed. You’ve earned it, old friend.”

Sirius smiled at his oldest friend and ally and pulled him into a hug.

“Thanks, Remus. I...you... Thanks.”

Remus patted his back twice, before pushing him towards the bath with a smile.

They would be all right, the two of them.

Because they had each other.

-~-~-~-

Black.

The slightly foreboding entrance to the secret labyrinth that composed the Department of Mysteries. 

Sirius bounced on his toes as he waited for Moody to open the door. While panic and concern for Harry had his stomach tied in knots, anticipation for the coming fight had adrenaline coursing through his body. Finally! After months of wasting away in that stuffy old house, he was going to be back in the thick of things.

Useful, at last.

He had always been an eager fighter. Back when he fought with the first Order, he had rushed into fights with enthusiasm. It was only after the battles, when the names of those lost were echoing through his mind, that the shaking would start. He would disappear to a pub, sometimes with his mates, sometimes without, and nurse his wounds, both physical and emotional, with glasses of firewhiskey. He would wake the next day with a blinding headache, usually tucked into James’ spare room, and use his banter with James and Lily to ready himself for the next time.

The click of the opening door pulled Sirius from his thoughts and he took a deep breath as he surged forward with Moody and Lupin. Eager or not, Harry’s life was in danger and that made this fight different in every way. 

The door opened to a chamber of a dozen doors which began to whirl around them after the entrance closed behind Remus.

With a grunt, Moody waved his wand and the doors stopped spinning. His magical eye spun around wildly for a few seconds before he moved to a door to their left. Pushing against it, he opened it easily.

Instantly, the sounds of dueling filled the air. Shouts of spells and exclamations echoed around them, spurring them quickly through the door.

Vaguely, Sirius registered the entrance of Tonks and Shacklebolt as they surged through the door, but his attention was focused on Harry, standing on a dais in the center of the room, facing Lucius Malfoy.

As he watched, Tonks shouted a Stunner at Malfoy and Harry dived to the side, unharmed and, for the moment, all right.

A Cruciatus from a Death Eater streamed toward him and Sirius threw up a shield as he ducked to the side. Aiming his wand, he shot a Stupefy at the masked wizard, followed quickly by a Body Bind that caught him in the chest. 

Satisfied that he was out of the way, Sirius turned to his next enemy, sending and dodging spells with ease.

Faces and spells flashed by in blurs as he pushed his opponent towards the spot where he had last seen Harry.

The Death Eater was ruthless and, though his power and skill were great, Sirius had not truly duelled in almost fifteen years. Still, he prevailed and turned to look for his godson.

To his rage and horror, Dolohov was bearing down on Harry as the boy valiantly tried to oppose him. 

With a growl, Sirius launched himself over Moody’s prone form and flew into Dolohov, sending him flying. The Death Eater snarled and raised his wand to retaliate, but Harry sent a Petrificus Totalus that left him tumbling down the stairs.

Pride and elation soared through Sirius as he congratulated the young wizard and 
pushed him away from a pair of Stupefys. 

If only you could see him now, James!

He began to tell Harry to run but was interrupted by a Killing Curse that came from across the room. He watched as Tonks fell in her duel with Bellatrix and knew that he needed to get the children out quickly.

Sprinting to his cousin, Sirius yelled at Harry over his shoulder, instructing him to take Neville and the prophecy and run. 

Bellatrix twirled her wand through her fingers as she watched him approach, a deranged smile on her face.

“What a reunion this is, cousin,” Sirius baited, casting an Expelliarmus that she easily deflected. “Enjoying our time out of Azkaban, are we?”

She sneered as she sent another Avada at him.

“Well, you should know.” 

He snarled and began casting furiously, barely taking time to breathe between spells and taunts, each of which she returned with ferocity. Their fight took them to the dais, where they danced around the veil, which fluttered in the windless room.

When Dumbledore burst into the room, sending the Death Eaters running, Bellatrix grinned and laughed maniacally.

“It seems Dumbledore’s come to collect his pet, Sirius. Run along now, your master’s calling.”

Sirius gritted his teeth, but, hearing the slight apprehension in her voice, forced a grin.

“Funny, I always thought Voldemort was the one keeping pets.” 

She glared and sent a Cruciatus that he ducked easily.

Laughing in exhilaration, he opened his mouth to taunt her again.

This time, he never even saw the curse that hit him like a ram in his chest.

Shocked, he couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe. Could only fall back, all control of his limbs suddenly gone. 

A whisper of cold trailed over him, through him, as he fell.

And just like that, Sirius fell into the darkness.

Where all he knew was... 

Black.

_____________________________________________________________

Author's Note: Prophecy taken from J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, pg. 840.


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