Where Angels Fear To Tread
Part II: Avenging A Death
Azkaban. A place where angels fear to tread.
A place of your worst nightmares. A place where fear, hopelessness and despair are prevalent and hope and optimism all but nonexistent.
It was here that Sirius Black, wrongly convicted felon, murderer and traitor, sat huddled in the corner of his cell, gaze fixed avidly on the photo in the newspaper article in front of him. He had acquired it when Cornelius Fudge had toured the fortress a few weeks ago. The clipping read:
Minister of Magic Employee Scoops Grand Prize.
Arthur Weasley, Head of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office at the Ministry of Magic, has won the annual Daily Prophet Grand Prize Galleon Draw.
A delighted Mr Weasley told the Daily Prophet, "We will be spending the gold on a summer holiday in Egypt, where our eldest son, Bill, works as a curse breaker for Gringotts Wizarding Bank."
The Weasley family will be spending a month in Egypt, returning for the start of the school year at Hogwarts, which five of the Weasley children currently attend.
The photograph contained what he assumed were all nine of the Weasleys waving furiously as they stood in front of a massive pyramid.
Yet it was not any of the grinning Weasleys that drew his attention. Rather it was the large black rat perched on one of the boys' shoulders. The index claw on one of the paws was missing. Despite this, the rat may have appeared to just be your average pet rodent. Sirius knew better. The number of times he had seen Peter Pettigrew transform…
And now he was the pet rat of a Hogwarts student. Perfectly positioned to hand Harry to Voldemort if he heard even the slightest rumour that the dark wizard was again gaining power.
He had to stop that from happening. Harry was his best friend's child and, as his godfather, Sirius could not bear the thought of anything or anyone harming him. He knew that Harry most likely didn't even know that he had a godfather. If he did, and knew it was Sirius Black, then he would believe, like everyone else, that it had been him that had betrayed James and Lily. Harry would despise him.
But not for long.
Sirius would find Peter and his name would be cleared. This time, he would be given a chance to explain. At the very least he would be given a court trial before being sent back to Azkaban. And if that did happen, he would get Peter before he went. The traitor wouldn't get off this time.
Now he just had to escape.
* * * * *
Sirius was waiting in his dog form four mornings later when one of the Dementors on guard opened the door to bring his food. As the guard began to close the door behind itself, he quickly slipped through and past the others. He counted six Dementors. Six, for one man, day and night! He noted again how lucky he had been to keep hold of his sense of self in the many years he had spent there.
Trotting past the other cells, he couldn't help but hear their occupants' unintelligible mumbling and screaming. He tried to stop himself from feeling pity but he couldn't help wondering if any of them were innocent as he was.
They at least had been given a trial. Not like him. No one had doubted that he was guilty. It had been straight to Azkaban for him. Truly being the notorious Sirius Black, possibly the most infamous criminal ever apprehended, was not all it was cracked up to be.
There had been no heroic last stand. Only him being taken away by twenty members of the Magical Law Enforcement Patrol while the true culprit was awarded an Order of Merlin First Class.
It wasn't all the Ministry's fault, though at times sitting in the cell with only the dark for company it was easy to tell himself that it was. Easy to tell himself that the Ministry should have known the truth. Should have known what had really happened and who was really to blame for everything – the spying, the betrayal of the Potters and the massacre of the muggles. Peter Pettigrew.
But Peter had been as sneaky as the rat he could become. He had outsmarted them all. Calling for the entire street to hear that Sirius had betrayed Lily and James. Cutting his finger off before blowing up the street, making it look as if he had been killed along with the thirteen muggles he had murdered with that curse. So straight forward and yet so brilliant. Even Sirius himself had not been able to keep from laughing at the pure simplicity of it.
If only they had informed Dumbledore of the change in Secret Keeper. If only he hadn't insisted they use Peter in the first place.
Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, Sirius turned his mind to the task at hand. No one had ever escaped from Azkaban before for a reason and he intended to make it out intact.
This would not be a failed attempt at which everyone would shake their heads and mutter about how Sirius Black had been a fool to even contemplate the thought of escape. They might call him a murderer, a traitor or a spy and he could discount them, knowing them false, but he would not be called a fool. He could not suffer the thought of Peter Pettigrew, sitting on his wizard's shoulder, snickering at what an idiot he had been.
Making his way down the dim corridor, he couldn't help but notice that several of the Dementors standing guard outside their respective cells turned their heads to their heads to follow his progress as though confused. He unconsciously picked up pace, wanting nothing more than to get away from their foul presence.
Turning a corner, he paused to sniff the air before continuing, claws clicking faintly as he padded down the hallway.
And still the cells lined the walls, most with a guard keeping watch outside. These were the lower security prisoners. He was awed at just how large the prison was. There must have been almost a thousand prisoners and perhaps three times as many Dementors on this floor alone.
He could smell the fresh air now. It burnt his throat and nostrils as he panted, his tongue lolling out to the side of his powerful jaws.
Enclosed in a small concrete room, fresh air was not a luxury he had experienced for twelve years and he relished every element of pain it caused him. It was getting closer too. Every step brought him closer to freedom and revenge. Every step and the soft sound of waves lapping against the shore grew vaguely louder.
Windows appeared on the walls and sunlight streamed in, bringing light to a dark place. They didn't have bars on them. They didn't need them. Seeing one slightly ajar, he propped his paws up against it and pushed at it until it swung out. Looking out, he saw that he was on the second floor but jumped out anyway. He had waited too long for this to let a bit of height get in his way now.
He landed with a light thump on the grass outside, continuing to the waters edge without pause. He bounded into the water with a splash and started out. His hind legs pushed at the water with powerful strokes and his front legs paddled him toward the distant shore.
He silently thanked all the years of secret excursions he and friends had gone on at Hogwarts. They had included anything they could think of and he remembered only too well the first time he had tried swimming in his dog form. He had almost drowned.
They had been fooling around down near the lake, Sirius and James keeping Remus under control, Peter darting along side. James had dared him to swim in the lake and his slightly inflated ego had not let him back down. He had made a mad dash down to the water side and executed an enormous leap into the water.
What he hadn't counted on was the fact that, while his thick coat kept him warm, he wasn't at all accustomed to the awkward paddling motion he had been forced to adopt. By the time he had made it back to shore, the cold had soaked through his fur leaving him shivering, exhausted and fortunate to have made it back alive.
Now, as he pulled himself up onto the rocks lining the coast, he shook himself, sending droplets of water flying. He turned back for one last look at the place he had spent the last twelve years of his life.
He had swum a long way. The sapphire ocean stretched out before him, reaching to the horizon. The only break to the continuous blue was the bleak island from which he had come. The isle itself was really nothing more than a barren landmass. He knew from experience that the only vegetation was the dead brown grass drooping trees, stripped of all leaves. From here all he could see was the fortress looming ominously in the distance, seeming to suck all light from the air surrounding it.
Turning around once more, he slowly dragged his weary body over the rocks and onto the farmland that scattered the area and away.
Rest could wait.
Sirius Black was free and he had a death to avenge.
Thank you everyone, for reading. I hope you enjoyed it. Please spare a few moments to drop me a line and let me know what you liked/didn't like/thought needed improvement. Thanks to those who reviewed Biding Time: peachfreak, Alaawya, JadedEcho and Karen Scollins, All reviews are welcomed and reviewers ceaselessly venerated.
I do have plans for another Pirates of the Caribbean story, another Harry Potter one, and some one-shots from Mercedes Lackey and The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan.