by inez stanley

It was the morning after it all happened that I found out for sure. I had a feeling, when the events of that night took place and there was no word from Potter, that something had gone amiss. But not until Dumbledore broke the peace of my early morning brooding was I allowed finally to savor the knowledge of the thing I had waited for what seemed like my whole life.

Sirius Black was dead. And I felt, surprisingly, no warmth.

When have I ever felt anything but cold?

I remember a time when I was hot with the fire, the passion of youth. I remember the day, the countless days that Potter and his friends humiliated me, the numerous occasions that Evans scorned me. I remember the nights when I lay in my cold bed, wanting her so much that my freezing blood seemed to boil. And then there was the intensity of the blazing hatred I felt at various times, toward Dumbledore, toward Voldemort, and more than anyone else, toward myself.

I held myself back. I restrained myself more than humanly possible. I never performed to the true extent of my abilities where Potter's crowd were concerned. Really, had I, the whole lot of them would have been pushing up daisies ere they reached third year. I never killed or tortured the way I would have preferred to kill and torture. It was always foolish wand waving and cold words. I never laid a finger on any of them. I never even looked them in the eyes. ("I never even heard their screams," he whispers silently, taking in his fourth shot of bad vodka without flinching. He wonders if the demon inside him can hear this confession as he slowly slides one cold arm out of its cold coat sleeve, touching frigid fingers to the tattered duvet.)

I looked at Lily sometimes, and the ice inside melted a little. But all the nights she came to me in my mind were nothing. They were fantasy. I needed her like a virus needs healthy cells. And she loathed me like a mouse in the desert loathes a hungry snake.

If I had been allowed- If I had let myself become the water to her wine, I would be hot inside like the hottest ice-tailed comet.

Now I am just cold. Colder than the fuelless fire in the eyes of Lord Voldemort. Colder than the stone in my soul.

Why did you have to hurt her, Father?

Why did you have to leave us, Mother?

Why did you overlook it all, Albus, and why did my heart grow numb like claws on a cat?

("And just as deadly..."- He picks up a muggle cigarette and lights it, pressing its warmth against the dead of the mark on his forearm, and feeling the tears fall at last.)

Why did you love her so much, James?

Why did you hate me so much, Sirius?

Why were you so kind and atypical and strong and sad, Remus?

Lily, I miss you like black misses white.

(The questions are formed in his mind, and as they reach the tip of his tongue they are choked back with the feeling of wretched self-despising. The demon must feed. The demon must feed. THE DEMON MUST FEED.)

God, why did I let myself trust you? Why did I ever let this fire build up, and why are you so good to them, and why is Sirius now happy in his realm of joy with Lily and James, and why am I here? And why does Dumbledore trust me, and why did Lily know the truth- that finding happiness with someone like me would be equivalent to finding Utopia in the middle of Voldemort's lair, or finding some trace of fire in the middle of this hellish ice I feel consuming me, wrapping around me... (He breaks down, his eyes raining on the black silk of the pillowcase, his teeth sinking into his own flesh, his fingers flexed in anguish.)

(He gently places the cap on the decanter, magicking it over to his bedside table as he washes out the glass with a swish of his wand and sending it to rest beside the crystal bottle. Then he shuts his eyes under the pretense of sleep.)

Sirius is dead. And as strange as it is to say, I miss the bastard.

He gave me someone to hate almost more than I hate myself.