A/N: At first there was only going to be the one chapter from part one focusing only on Sirius' mum. But my muse said that showing both sides would be better, so here it is. BTW, the flashback is significantly larger than last chapter's so let's see how that works.
Part Two: Requiem for a Son
The touch of your hand
Still lives in my skin
Like a shadow I can't embrace
Wherever it ends
Is where it begins
Without ever leaving a trace
Sirius sighed good-naturedly as he lightly dabbed his pet's foreleg with a wet cloth. The hippogriff wasn't so badly hurt, despite all the pitiful whining noises he was making, yet it was something that needed seeing to. Besides, Sirius had been bored to tears lately and this provided a good distraction for him.
"Now how in the world did you get your leg cut, Buckbeak?" he asked rhetorically. "You're inside the comfiest room in the house." The hippogriff did not answer, but as the animagus wasn't expecting a response, it was fine.
With everyone out of the house, Sirius easily fell into a bit of a stupor. The children were at school learning how to be good little productive wizards and witches. The adults were out doing things for the Order like good little vigilantes. And Sirius remained here, like a good little useless puppy.
He wanted out. And he wanted out NOW. When he was on the run during the first year or so after his escape, he would have given anything to have a safe place to live. But now that he was a prisoner in his own house, Sirius could feel the months of disuse wearing down on him.
And it wasn't even that he was in a house with no way out. It was that it was THIS house that he was a prisoner of. This god-forsaken pit that he thought he escaped years and years ago. When he had stormed out when he was 16 with only his school trunk, he was under the assumption that it would be for forever. He couldn't take his bigoted parents, with their obsession with the 'family honor and heritage.' And he couldn't take his soft little brother who could have had his own mind, but ended up siding with whatever made their parents happy. It was maddening and sick and he couldn't take it anymore.
Now the old occupants of the bed were long dead and buried, except for one walking corpse of a House Elf, yet the memory remained the same. And he found that the memories today hurt almost as badly as when he first ran away.
In his own way, he was able to deal with it. Cleaning out the house of dark and dangerous artifacts was only one way. Giving Buckbeak his parents' old room was another. But these little things, while gave him some satisfaction, couldn't make him come to terms with the Black house. That, he had to learn over a long period of nearly a year.
He gave Remus Regulus' old room. The position of 'brother' had most certainly been fulfilled by the werewolf where Regulus had fallen short. Harry and Ron were given the old nursery. In his mind, Sirius felt it fitting. The future was supposed to be housed in such a place. And they were certainly the future. Sirius wanted Harry to have as little contact with his sordid past as possible.
As for himself, Sirius took his own room back. It was just as he had left it all those years ago, which was more than a little surprising. A small part of him wished it was because his mother left it for him to return to. A silly wish. She probably couldn't stomach entering it long enough to clear it.
Sometimes he would lie awake with his eyes closed and pretend that things were different. Buckbeak shuffling around became two parents who loved each other and him. Remus waking up became a vibrant younger Regulus who adored his elder brother. And he was 16 again, with his whole life ahead of him. Then his eyes would open and the dream would end.
Once upon a time, he didn't have to pretend. No, his family wasn't perfect, but few were. He hadn't known his father well. Castor traveled often and died when Sirius was still young. His mother he didn't really see often until his 10th year when he would start to attend the parties she loved so much. Regulus had been his best friend growing up before he met James. They did everything together until Sirius split from the family. But Regulus' love for 'the good of the family' outweighed any ties he had with his estranged brother.
Molly often accused him of living in the past. Said he was a grown man and should start acting like it for Harry's sake if for no one else.
"I'm in my mid-thirties," he said to an indifferent Buckbeak as he wrapped the gauze tighter. "But I still feel no older than 20. Time stops in that prison, can't she realize that? How can she expect me to behave like an adult when in my mind, I just got out of school?" He chuckled lightly. "That woman frets more than Mother ever did. She keeps yelling that Harry is not James, and how dare I think that. I'm his bloody godfather, aren't I? I was the first one to hold him after his parents. That boy is my world, and I love him like he was my own. She has no right accusing me of otherwise. She'd take him away from me if she could."
Sometimes he wondered if James were mad to name Sirius the godfather. Of them all, he was most irresponsible. Even as children, they all decided he would be the first of them sent to Azkaban. The Potters knew they were living on borrowed him, that Sirius stood a good chance of needing to accept his vows. At the time, Sirius felt the most unworthy of all. He didn't exactly have the best experiences when it came to quality parenting either.
But he would give his life for those under his protection. That he knew. James must have known that as well.
He sighed and thought back to his mother. "I wonder if you could say the same, Mother. Would you risk life and soul for me?" At his most bitter and angry, he would say of course not. That his mother had been a cold and vengeful woman who cared only for her fancy parties and rich friends. But when he was more calm and logical, like now, he knew that that was not the case.
For all her faults, Victoria was a Black. And Blacks promoted the welfare of the family. Protected the family with everything they had. And as the heir of said family, Sirius was well taken care of. He liked to think that his mother didn't care only for her heir, but for her son as well. There had certainly been a time when he had been as precious to her as Regulus was, or any of her numerous jewels. Even though he and Lady Black fought nearly constantly about everything, there had been a fondness there beneath it all. Quick minds like theirs enjoyed the challenge, needed it to keep from going sluggish. But there was love there… yes, despite it all, there had been love.
Lightning flashed again and thunder roared almost immediately. No one sane should have been out in this storm. Therefore, it only made sense that the two young boys of 12 Grimmauld Place could be seen racing through the streets with their coats held over their heads.
"Mother is going to kill you," Regulus shouted over the deafening thunder. But his voice was filled with laughter, and his light blue eyes sparkled.
"Me?" his elder brother shouted back. "You're the one that took forever at the bookshop." He looked up at his leather jacket mournfully. "This'll cost a fortune to have fixed."
"Sod on your jacket! My new books are soaked!" He looked over at Sirius. "But I did have fun today, Siri."
Sirius grinned back. "Me too, Reg."
Just as another lightning bolt struck dangerously close to the pair, they reached the enchanted doorstep of their home. They looked at each other with mutual dread and Sirius reached for the doorknob. Just as the 15-year old touched the door to his home, it flew open of its own accord.
Before the soaked boys could comprehend what was happening, they were ushered inside by two gnarly hands.
"Young Masters, what are you doing returning so late? Mistress is in a fury and dinner is in 10 minutes. You are not showered or dressed or…"
"Oh shut up, Kreacher," Sirius pushed the House Elf aside and walked further into the hall. "Where's my mother?"
"Not another step, young man!" came a familiar yell. "Not in those filthy shoes on my clean carpet!" A rustle of skirts preceded the entrance of Lady Victoria in all her glory. Dressed in her finest royal blue dress and enough diamonds and sapphires to sink a ship, she looked ready to receive the Queen herself. Her finely manicured hands clutched at her gown as she flew down the stairs in quite an unladylike manner. Her hair, neatly done in jewels and curls, was beginning to look windblown.
For a moment, Sirius thought he saw worry on her normally impassive face as she looked he and his brother over. But the look quickly fled from her face and was replaced by anger. "And just what in the name of Merlin possessed you to stay out 4 hours passed what I said? And in a storm of all things! Regulus, I told you to get your books, and…"
"It was my fault, Mother," Sirius stepped forward in his muddy shoes. "Remus met me at the bookshop, and we went to find…"
"Oh, not another word about that filthy mutt friend of yours," her anger now rounded on her eldest. "You know I do not approve of you consorting with his kind."
His chin lifted higher. "I know."
Unwilling to fight with her son who was soaking and late, Mrs. Black let his impudence slide this once. "Well, you're making us even later by standing in the hall like a fool in your soaked clothes. Take off your shoes and come upstairs. You too, Regulus." With that, she turned and walked upstairs, expecting the three other members of her household to follow.
Kreacher waddled up the stairs after his Mistress faithfully as the boys took off their shoes. The two looked at each other with mutual exasperation and dread. Their mother was nearly impossible to live with when it came to her little dinner parties for all the extended family and her friends.
Sirius entered his room and saw his robes for the evening already laying across his bed. Kreacher was at work cleaning up the mud he managed to track in. All the while, the Elf was tugging on his sleeves to make him hurry and get changed.
The boy suppressed a shudder as he felt the servant's gnarly hands on his skin. Kreacher always managed to freak him out and it had been this way for as long as he could remember.
"Leave me alone, Kreacher. I am perfectly able to get dressed all on my lonesome."
Kreacher scowled at this, but moved to obey, unable to do anything but. He stopped at the door. "Mistress asked Kreacher to tell Young Master to see her after he is done getting ready."
"Alright, fine," Sirius waved him away. "I'll go talk to her. Now get out of here, will you?" he sighed to himself and put on the royal blue robes that matched his mother's dress and his brother's robes.
James had once commented on the Black family robes, describing them as 'plumage fit for peacocks.' Personally, Sirius rather liked them. With these robes he would never want for anything. He had a family, friends, status, money… He didn't have to like everything about the Blacks. In fact, he hated most of what they stood for. But they were family. He belonged with them. And as the heir of the family, he had certain responsibilities. Besides, with the power to change the image of the family, he didn't mind so much.
Over the clasped cloak came a finely crafted golden necklace with the crest of the family on it. It was just in time, because as soon as he was done, there came a knock at the door.
"Come in," he called out. It was his mother as expected. Her hair was now fixed and her makeup reapplied so she looked like a porcelain doll once more. She looked him over with disdain.
"Are you still not ready?" she asked.
"I am ready, Mother," he answered though he knew what she meant. She glared at him, knowing he knew what she meant and waved her wand at his head.
"If you insist on keeping your hair a shaggy mop, you will make it presentable the few times you do more than play with your delinquent friends."
He sighed and reached up to feel his hair, which was now magically slicked back. "Presentable? Mother, it looks like it hasn't been washed for months now. Almost like Severus."
She slapped his hand away and glared at his comparisons. He only didn't use the pet name 'Snivellus' because he knew she would hex him into oblivion heir or no. The Snapes were good friends of hers, and an insult upon her friends meant an insult upon her. And no one insulted the Black matriarch and lived with all their body parts intact.
"Hold your tongue, you impudent boy," she seethed. "You look like a gentleman, so don't open your mouth and ruin the illusion." She walked around him like a shark, eyeing him for any flaws in the appearance. Now and then she would straighten a wrinkle or fix a clasp. "I know that it was Regulus who kept you two out late. I know a liar when I see one, and you, my son, are the worst. If you were with that wolf pup you would have told a lie to make it seem like you weren't."
"I defy you all the time, Mother, who's to say I don't tell you the truth if only because I know you don't like it?"
She stopped in front of him and fixed the Black crest on his throat. "You defy me to my face, you defy me behind my back, and you defy me in front of Regulus and Kreacher. But you never defy me in public, nor do you do it on a night where you know guests are over who are always listening for scandal." He had to smile at her reasoning.
"Mother, you must find other hobbies besides deducing logic and patterns in my defiance."
"It's called managing more than oneself. I suggest you try it sometime. Which leads me to my next order of business. You defended Regulus when it was his fault. Why?"
"I'm a Black, aren't I? Family is my first loyalty. I had to protect him, didn't I?"
"You make him soft by letting him rely on you. Blacks are strong. He must own up to his responsibilities to this family." She adjusted his cloak for the millionth time so she didn't have to look him in the eye. "Something might have happened. You were hours late and with that new group out putting Mudbloods in their place, you might…"
"Murderers you mean. Killing innocents for no…"
"The point is, Sirius, is that something might have happened tonight. You and your ridiculous jacket may have fooled them into thinking you were nothing but a Muggle." Was that worry he saw again in her eyes?
"Then blame me. I'm older and it's my jacket. I should have made sure we were home in time."
"It was his errand, so it was his duty to be back on time. You were merely to keep an eye on him. Telling him where to go when will not teach him anything. I'll let him get away with it this time, but I warn you, Sirius, not to coddle him again."
Her eldest grinned cheekily. "Isn't it the baby's right to be coddled?"
"Sirius, shut up."
He chuckled and followed her out the door to meet his brother on the top of the stairs. They were to go down together as a family with Mrs. Black first, Sirius a step to her right and back, and Regulus a step to her left and 2 steps back.
It was customary for the guests to arrive as the hosts prepared themselves. So the sound of the party already going on reached the upper floor.
Regulus was fiddling with his own clasp on his cloak when they arrived. Sirius came up and helped him fix it with a practiced hand. The younger boy smirked at his brother. "Don't we look smart this evening, big brother?"
Sirius ruffled his hair fondly. "You look rather sharp yourself, Reg. Ready to go crash this thing?"
His brother chuckled, but shook his head. "Unlike you, Siri, my goal in life is not to get kicked out of the family before I graduate."
Sirius sighed dramatically. Though he took his familial duties seriously, his brother acted as though this family were his love and life. "My dear baby brother, you assume so little of me. Great Aunt Callisto was disowned in her 17th year. If I get kicked out, it will be long before then."
Regulus clapped Sirius on the back. "Even among failures you insist on being the best."
"Well I am a Black."
"Quiet you two. That's enough foolishness for the evening," their exasperated mother hissed. She waved her wand again, fixing Regulus' ruffled hair. "It's time to go. And Sirius, if you do not behave and be polite to the others tonight, I will put a fire hex on your jacket so quickly…"
"Yes, ma'm," he saluted smartly. "I can play nice for one night."
"You had better," she threatened before starting her way downstairs. They obediently took their places and followed her to the dining hall.
Sirius mentally prepped himself for the evening. The hardest part was the beginning and it got easier as the night wore on. Normally he loved being the center of attention. But here he could only be Sirius Black, heir. Padfoot could not open up. He could not make people laugh at his antics like he wanted. He had to adhere to a certain set of rules. This kind of attention only made him uncomfortable.
Entering the room, he turned his body on autopilot. If he had to stop and think about what he was doing, he doubted he'd be able to go through with it all. The least of pleasant duties lay right before him in the shape of a greasy haired git and his family.
"Lord Alcor, Lady Navi, you remember my sons, Sirius and Regulus," she said to her first guests, the Snapes. The pair were unpleasant to look at and even worse to know. Long friends with the Blacks, Sirius would not dare speak against them in front of his mother, but he knew that when the time came, he would cut all ties to them forever. He was sure that Severus, currently decked out in his finest, no doubt forced to by his own mother, would have little objection. At the moment, said greasy haired git had an air of indifference on his face, but would not look at his rival for fear of losing control and hexing him on the spot.
"Ah yes, young Master Sirius," Alcor nodded to the eldest boy. "I have heard that you are doing quite well in school this year. Severus speaks most highly of your skills. Particularly in dueling."
This was all a part of the game they played every year. The younger generation usually put up a friendly front if only to get their parents off their backs. It was doubtful that Alcor ever heard much complaint about Sirius, just as Sirius would not speak of his problems with the youngest Snape. But he knew that it would never go so far as to 'speak most highly' of the other.
"I am hoping to do well in my O.W.L.'s this year, Sir," he said politely inclining his head. "I find that preparation ahead of time is the best way." Oh if James could see him now. Dear Prongs always did hate this sort of formality. Sirius himself had little patience for it. His natural inclination was to say what he felt when he felt it. But as he believed his mother's threats about destroying his jacket, he performed this game flawlessly.
"He is most successful in each of his classes," Victoria went on with obvious pride. "Though I daresay he hasn't the gift that your son has in Potions."
Now that the mutual complements were over with, Sirius was no longer needed in the conversation. With Regulus at his side, he made the rounds of all the guests, greeting them each properly like a good little heir to the throne. Welcoming the Malfoys to his home took some real forcing out. But with Regulus at his side, it was a bit easier to do.
"Sirius! Regulus!" came a new voice. Turning around, he was nearly tackled by his younger cousin, Andromeda. Her two older sisters, Narcissa, and Bellatrix were a bit more subdued in greeting their cousins, but happy all the same. Those three lived for parties as any girl their age did.
Narcissa, the eldest at 15 years of age, immediately went off to greet her other cousins, once chatting with Sirius and Regulus for a while. She was a bit too vain for Sirius' tastes and thought very little of his notorious pranks in school. She had learned the hard way to steer clear of him when possible.
Bellatrix, the least pleasant of the three sisters at 14 years old merely said hello before leaving to discuss various things with Rodolphus and Rastaban who were both distant relatives of theirs.
He looked back at his mother as the party got rolling. She was talking with his uncle Alphard now, talking about his latest accomplishments at school. He noticed that his Aunt Sagitta was absent from this reunion as she had been absent at most of his mother's functions for quite some time. There was little doubt as to why that was.
About a year ago, Sirius had had a prank go wrong at a dinner party which resulted in dear Aunt Sagitta's nose to grow large green hairy warts. Needless to say, she was not very impressed with the mixed up potion and hexed him rather badly.
Seeing her eldest under a particularly nasty freezing spell, Victoria Black immediately came to his aid. And Sirius saw first hand what Black family loyalty really was. He watched as his mother railed at her sister for attacking him, behaving as though Aunt Sagitta had used an Unforgivable rather than a mere freezing hex. At the aunt's insistence of his delinquency, Mrs. Black sent her from the house. No one had heard from the younger sister since.
When he later asked his mother about it as she treated some minor freeze burns, she replied that although he had been stupid and reckless, it did not give Sagitta the right to attack him like that. Family protects family, she said grimly. Even from each other.
Sirius walked with his favorite younger cousin for a while, contemplating what his mother had said that day. For all her complaints against him, the boy knew that he was loved. The worry she couldn't hide in her eyes that afternoon, the pride as she spoke of him, even the protectiveness she showed when he was attacked. Yes, she was his heir, and she expected things of him. And yes, she was harsh, usually overly so. And of course he knew that the dark path she often strayed to was no path for him.
But she was family. She was his mother. And he owed it to her to try his hardest. They had to protect each other.
"Andromeda was right to leave as soon as she could," Sirius muttered to himself finishing up with Buckbeak's leg. His cousin always spoke of leaving the family to pursue bigger and better things. And she supported him as much as she could when he ran away from home.
"I thought we were a family," he whispered his own prayer to his dead mother. "We were supposed to protect each other."
'Even from each other,' his mind said back. The family came first. Anyone who jeopardized the family was cast out, even if that person was a member of the family. He was deemed too risky to bring back. Especially when little perfect Regulus was a much better choice. And look where that one's actions led him.
"Black!" The voice of Snape snapped him to attention. He groaned out loud giving his feathered companion an annoyed look.
"Isn't he supposed to be teaching or something? Why can't he let me be?"
"Sirius Black! If you're in this house come here now!" Why was the Potions Master's voice so… distressed? "Enough games, Black! You'd better be in this house or I'll…"
"What the bloody hell do you want, Snape?" he shouted back, coming to the top of the stairs. "This had better be good."
Severus came to the bottom of the same stairs and stared up at him. "What have you been doing, Black?"
"How is it your business? Don't tell me you left school just to check up on me." He narrowed his eyes. "I've been in here the whole time just like I was ordered."
"You haven't left Grimmauld Place once?" The teacher was still agitated by something. Why couldn't he just drop the games and come out and say what was wrong?
"I haven't if it's any of your concern. Now would you tell me what has your wand in a knot?!"
Severus' face contorted into an angry grimace. "Stupid boy!" he cursed to himself. "Can't he listen to anything I tell him?! I tell him to close off his mind and what does he do? Stupid boy goes and…"
"If you're talking about Harry, you'll kindly stop it," Sirius descended the stairs, not liking the man's tone about the boy. "Or I'll see that you stop it." No one insulted his Harry and got away with it. Family protected family.
"Your precious Harry has gone off and caused trouble again," Snape's attention went back to the taller man in front of him. "Inform Dumbledore when he arrives that I have called the Order."
"Why? What's going on?" When Snape ignored him and headed for the door, he grabbed his shoulder and spun him around. He kept his voice down so as not to awaken his mother's portrait, but lacked none of his fierceness. "Tell me, Snape. What happened to Harry?"
"He's gone missing if you must know," the professor responded, ripping himself from his rival's grip. At Sirius' stricken face he went on. "He thinks the Dark Lord has captured you at the Department of Mysteries and now he and a group of his lackeys are missing as well as that Umbridge woman."
"You think he's gone to the Ministry?" Sirius' heart clenched in his chest. If Harry was heading into a trap…
"Of course he's bloody gone to the Ministry!" Snape whispered back fiercely. "He's walking right into a trap thinking he's saving your worthless arse. If the Order doesn't get there soon he's as good as dead. So if you'll let me get on with…"
"I'm going too! You can't expect me to sit here while he's in danger." Sirius reached into his back pocket for the wand he always kept there.
"You'll do as you're bloody told, Black," Severus hissed. "If you go you'll just make things worse."
"We're wasting time arguing about this. I'm going and you can't stop me." Sirius' wasted and haunted eyes were lit with a fire seen only when Harry's well-being was in danger. The Potions Master saw this was a wasted effort and wisely gave up in disgust. Those two would be the downfall of each other.
"Do as you will, Black. If you get yourself or him killed it'll be your own fault." He stormed out of the door angrily. "See that Dumbledore gets the message either way. He is to meet the Order there. I will not be going so I won't attract suspicion."
Sirius raced back to Kreacher's little home in the kitchen. "Kreacher!" he called out, commanding his vassal to come to him.
The old House Elf waddled out of his cabinet, a wary look in his eye. "Master called?" he asked.
"When Dumbledore comes, tell him that the Order has gone to the Ministry to rescue Harry immediately and that he is to meet us there. I'll be going too. Do you understand?"
The Elf nodded immediately, relaxed from whatever earlier anxiety held him. "Kreacher understands."
"You will stand by the door until he comes and tell him right away," Sirius repeated, emphasizing the importance of this. "You will do exactly as he tells you."
When the Elf nodded again, he ran back to the front door, eager to go to his godson's aid. Passing his mother's portrait's closed curtain, he paused for a moment. Just in case he was not able to in the future, he had to make his peace with her in his own way. It had been nagging at him for a while and it was now that it needed to be done.
"I'm sorry things turned out the way they did, Mother," he whispered softly so as not to wake her. "But I could not live the life you wanted me to. I just wish you could have understood that. Harry is my family now and I'll go to the ends of the earth for him and further if needed. You taught me the importance of family and I thank you for it. My family just didn't happen to be with you, that's all. My family was a group of three misfits and a boy. But…" he looked to the open door and then back to the closed curtain. "I'm not angry with you. Not anymore. I'm a Black, whatever that means anymore. And I remind myself all the time that even if we had totally different views on the world that, somewhere, you are watching and making sure I can die with my head held high. I won't hide from you anymore. But I won't shirk my duties to my godson. He's my world now. But know that, in the end, I love you and father and Reg too."
Time was running out and soon his world may be crashing down on him as it walked further and further into a trap. Not sparing old problems another thought, he dashed out of the house on all fours. Now he had to focus entirely on the situation at hand. In the back of his mind he knew that should he fall he could now hold his head up high. Just as his mother raised him to do.
Kreacher watched his Master leave, wringing his old gnarly hands in excitement. "Mistress," he squealed to the portrait. "Mistress, Kreacher has done well."
"What have you done, Kreacher?" the rarely soft voice of the dead woman drifted out from behind the curtain. Her voice was sleepy and lacked the bite it normally did. She only spoke this way to her devoted servant when the entire house was empty of heathens and half-breeds.
"He has sent that Sirius boy away to the Department of Mysteries. Kreacher has sent him to certain death. The house will no longer be sullied by him and his kind."
Her portrait said nothing for a while. Thinking she had gone back to sleep, Kreacher waddled to the door as he was ordered, never able to refuse a direct command. But he was jovial now, happy for a ruse well done. Master had never suspected a thing.
When the covered portrait spoke again, it was even softer than before. "But wasn't it nice to have the manor filled with children and laughter and Blacks again…"
So you live in me
And I live in you
And the rest is for love to tell
That nothing escapes
The wind blowing through
The feathers, the bones, and the shells
The feathers, the bones, and the shells
A/N: All done! Wheeee! Sorry it took so long, so I added 2 more pages than normal to make up for it. Thank you to Madum Pudifoot (I love your name btw) and of course to Nuwie. Your email response is on its way. I also added some info for Memphis Soul Song for you so you aren't lost.
Once again, I recommend this song, but unfortunately I can't remember for the life of me who sang it.