Revised 02/06/05 Thank you to all the people who have helped me fix up this chapter: forsakenphoenix, FavBlackT, Cor_Leonis, and Jess of QA.
Following the Footsteps
I could still hear my father’s voice shouting at me as I slammed out of the house at 13 Grimmauld Place, calling me a blood traitor and a worthless son. At the time, I was too angry to be bothered by his words, but afterwards, once I was happily ensconced at my best friend’s house, I wished the words both of us had said could be taken back.
It all began five years ago when I was sorted into Gryffindor. Since then, I haven’t heard the end of it from either of my parents. They said that the hat must have made a mistake, certainly no Black
would be placed in such a dishonourable house as Gryffindor
. The problems escalated when they discovered my best friends were blood traitors and half-bloods. I could not forgive them for insulting those I felt closer to than anyone in my family and they could not forgive me for making the choice between family and friends.
I chose friends.
My family expected me to join them in the campaign against muggle-borns and half-bloods; I could not. To do so would have meant joining the people I hated most: Malfoy, the Lestrange brothers, Avery, Nott, and above all, Snivellus
That day would never happen.
Sitting in the train compartment with James and Remus, I saw my brother Regulus enter the platform through the wall with a servant. Mother or Father had never come with us to the station, rarely ever did they say goodbye to us either. Regulus looked at the train and must have seen me, because he frowned and looked away. Mother had probably told him to ignore me. From what I had heard from Andromeda, most of the family had disowned me, like they did to her when she married Ted Tonks a few years before.
There was a empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. No, it wasn’t that I was hungry, it was that I felt separated from the rest of the world. Even though I still carried the Black family name, I was no longer one of them
. It wasn’t as if I was alone in the world, with friends like I had, that was impossible, but I felt like a balloon released into the atmosphere. I was free.
It was possibly the best feeling I had ever experienced. Losing my family was a sad occasion, I’ll grant it that, but I had no ties to the world; I could do as I wished with no one telling me what to do or how to act. I may not have been of age, but the same feeling of freedom ran through my veins.
“How did you two do on your OWLS?” Remus queried, interrupting my thoughts.
“Brilliantly, of course,” James answered pompously. “Even old Grimm had to give me an E in potions. Everything else was O’s and E’s. I still don’t know what I’m going to do, though; maybe something in the Ministry or with Gringotts where I can travel.”
Remus looked over at me, expecting me to answer similarly. The problem was, though, that my OWL results had been another of the reasons why my parents infuriated me so much. I was expected, as a pureblood from a high-born family, to wow the entire evaluating committee and get O’s on everything. But I had not, which made my parents ridicule me all the more. They, of course, blamed my friends.
“I did alright,” I finally said. “A few O’s and E’s.”
James diplomatically said nothing and instead looked out the window. Remus raised an eyebrow in question, but let the matter drop. He changed the subject to one that was really no better.
“Did you have a good summer, Sirius?” Remus asked, not knowing what I had done.
“Well, if you call running away from home and being disowned a good summer, then yes,” I replied rather stiffly. No matter how hard I had tried to make light of the matter, I could not. I was no longer part of the Noble and Ancient House of Black. Mother had probably already burned my name off of the family tree.
Remus’ eyes opened wide. “You did what
?” he asked in horror.
Beside me, James barely suppressed a smile. Remus had always been a bit of a goody-two-shoes.
“Yeah, I left home and moved in with James for a bit,” I answered, with a careless shrug. “I just couldn’t stand Mother harping on and on about how important it was to be a Black and how I would never live up to the name. And frankly, I really don’t care. Anyway,” I added, “don’t you have to go to the Prefect’s carriage. They’ll be looking for you.”
Looking at his watch, Remus jumped from his seat. “Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I’ll see you guys at school, then, and if I can’t talk to you in private at dinner, meet me by the willow before lights out.” He grinned wolfishly, “We have some plans to make.” He ran out of the compartment, tugging at his grubby robes.
James turned to me with a broad smile. “Poor Moony, we’re such a bad influence on him.”
I returned the grin. “One moment, he’s the nerdy little prefect; the next, he’s a scoundrel like we are.” James laughed at my use of Filch’s name for us. “Without him, we wouldn’t have half the fun we do,” I added mischievously.
The door to the compartment opened and Peter Pettigrew, the fourth of our close-knit group known as the Marauders, entered looking harried.
“What’s up with you, Wormtail?” James inquired with a raised eyebrow.
Peter sat down across from us. “I nearly missed the train,” he began. “I jumped on the last car before it left the station. That’s why I’m so late getting here, seeing that you took one of the compartments near the front.”
It was then that I noticed the purpling mark on his cheek.
“Is something wrong, Peter?” I asked worriedly.
He shook his head quickly, a little too quickly to be telling the truth. “No, no. Nothing’s the matter; just nearly missing the train got me frightened for a bit.”
I was about to push further and ask where he got the bruise from, but James elbowed me and murmured in my ear while Peter glanced out the window. “Leave it alone, Padfoot. He’ll tell us when he’s ready.”
Grudgingly, I nodded, but inside I still seethed. Just because Peter was smaller and weaker than everyone else, people enjoyed bullying him. Poor kid couldn’t even fight back. That was why James and I had befriended him in the first place, he needed our help and our friendship.
“What should we do this year to torture Snivellus?” James asked, his voice malicious. “Last year’s hanging him by his toes was awful fun. How about we give him some shampoo for Christmas?”
Distracted by James’ devious plans, I let Peter’s dilemma vanish from my mind.
“Maybe making his cauldron shrink during potions,” I said, matching his tone. “Or what about locking him in the girl’s lavatory with Moaning Myrtle?” Peter giggled at this, but then, a better thought came to me. “Oh, here’s a great idea. What if we write a letter to Lily, saying that it’s from Snivelly, asking her to go to the Yule Ball with him? That would be great fun.”
James frowned. “No, I don’t want to involve Lily. She already hates me as is, and she’d guess right away who wrote the letter.”
“Sorry,” I said quickly. “What if we - “
Peter looked up at the door, his rodent like face shining with perspiration. My eyes followed his and saw the subject of our conversation standing there, backed by my least favourite cousin, Bellatrix.
James, his face emotionless, asked, “What do you want, Snivelly? We were just making our plans for you this year.”
“It isn’t you we want to talk to, Potter,” Severus Snape sneered. “Bella wants to see her cousin for what will hopefully be the last time.”
Bellatrix stepped forward, her sleek black hair piled on her elegant head and her pale skin glowing with beauty spells. She was probably the worst of all my family; the one closest to my age, but the one who hated me the most.
“Well, well cousin,” she said, her voice like silk. “You forgot to say good-bye before running off. Your poor mother is so worried about you.”
“Let her worry,” I said, trying to keep my voice even. “I really don’t care anymore.”
Her smile was not warm, nor did it reach her snapping eyes. “She burned you off the family tree at the first instant you were out the door, but you probably know that already. Poor little Sirius. Always the one who could never belong. I hope you’re happy with your Mudbloods.”
With that, she turned and left, but Snape remained at the door. At the mention of Mudbloods, James jumped from his seat, his wand in his hand and glowing.
“Since her ladyship’s already gone,” he gritted through his teeth. “It looks like you’ll have to pay for her words, Snivellus.”
“Tut, tut, Potter,” Snape replied coolly, his arms crossed in front of his thin chest. “No magic on the train, remember? Your little prefect friend will have to give you a detention. You wouldn’t want that, would you?”
James’ hazel eyes were burning with hatred. “If you don’t want me to scorch your greasy hair, then you better get out of here and not let me see you for a long time, Snivellus.”
“One day, Potter,” Snape replied, his black eyes shining with almost demonic ferocity. “You will realize who is the more powerful of the two of us. One day, you will get what you deserve.”
He left the compartment with a swirl of his patched and dusty robes. Peter cringed and sunk further into his seat. James and I exchanged worried glances.
“What do you think he meant by that?” I asked him, my eyes wide. I may have not been afraid of Snape, but his words chilled me to the bone.
“I don’t know,” he replied, his eyes bright with determination. “But we will have to be ready for whatever it is.”
I desperately hoped that he was right. Trouble was ahead and we would have to meet it. The Marauders would fight back, together as always.