Disclaimer - All recognisable characters and settings belong to JK Rowling, not me.

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Chapter One

By Misthea



The first long week of the holiday had passed. Tomorrow was Christmas Eve - yet still he had heard nothing from his friends. Not a single owl, nor a call through the floo. Usually he would have received at least one a day. Usually. Then again, these weren't exactly normal circumstances, were they? He didn't blame them. Of course he didn't! He himself wouldn't particularly want to keep in touch with someone who had acted as he had...

Sirius sighed as he gazed out of his window at the icy world below. It was a beautiful day, with myriad ice crystals glistening in the thin sunlight of the winter morning, but he was unable to experience it, confined as he was, yet again, to the small room at the top of number twelve Grimmauld Place. His room, though that would have been practically impossible to discern merely by looking at it. The walls were bare - so different to James' room, Sirius thought with a pang of sorrow, where the walls were covered in a multitude of Quidditch posters. Nothing like that was allowed for him. The shelves here, unlike James' mass of games and gadgets, or Remus' familiar mountain of well-read books, or even Peter's comics, held merely a scattered assortment of battered textbooks from his earlier years at Hogwarts. Anything in the chamber that might have identified the personality of the boy who inhabited it had long since been wiped away. He had given up wondering what had happened to his mementoes of childhood long ago; all those items carefully retained until he had left for school over four years ago, and missing when he had returned three months later.

The sounds of breakfast drifted faintly up to his ears - the clatter of pots and dishes, the soft murmuring of voices. These were accompanied by the heady scents of bacon and coffee, making his hungry stomach growl in protest. He only prayed that today they'd remember to feed him. Or let him out. Now that would be nice. Unlikely, but nice. It was rare that a punishment such as this lasted less than twenty-four hours and it had been only late afternoon yesterday that he'd angered his mother enough to be 'disciplined'. Unfortunately that had been before dinner had been served. Merlin, he hoped they gave him something to eat...

Laying his forehead against the cold glass of his window, Sirius continued to gaze out at the small square far below. He'd sat like this for hours as a small child. Muggle watching, much to his mother's displeasure. He liked watching the Muggles as they went about their lives. In fact, they fascinated him, with their big, noisy vehicles and bizarre clothing - and their complete ignorance of the magical world on their very doorstep. It wasn't until he'd left for Hogwarts, however, that he'd had the opportunity to indulge his fascination without fear of reprisals. And there he had also discovered others who shared his interest; people who didn't view it as an unhealthy obsession, something too loathsome to ever hold the regard of a member of the Noble And Most Ancient House Of Black. Ha!

Sirius hated his family. He hated everything that they stood for – their mania for the purity of blood, their hatred of Muggles. But most of all he hated their support of the rising madman known to the world as Voldemort. And, much as he disliked the punishments he was so frequently forced to endure whilst in his ancestral home, there was no way he could calmly stand by and listen to them condemn everything in which he believed, not without making a response of some sort. As yesterday had proven. He had managed to ignore their insulting of Dumbledore. He'd even held his tongue whilst they moaned on about 'Mudbloods' being allowed into Hogwarts. Then they started to discuss those well-born families who were 'traitors to their blood', and who they felt Voldemort ought to start targeting next. Families such as the Potters. Needless to say, at that point the careful restraints on his anger had broken.

With a sigh, he rose from his perch on the window ledge, hugging his robes tightly to his body as he shivered in the chill air. Today was probably going to be a very long day, he thought to himself. Almost involuntary he began to pace the length of the room, pausing at the far end to half-heartedly try his door handle. Not that he was at all hopeful that it would be unlocked - hoping that in this house could only ever lead to disappointment. It was locked, and it would almost certainly be staying that way until his mother decided to let him out. Whenever that event might happen.

His eyes fell on the trunk sat at the foot of his bed. The trunk that housed his Hogwarts things. His homework. No, he shook his head, disgusted even by the thought of it. He would have to be incredibly bored to even think about that! Although, having said that, he would probably start it at some point... He sighed as he collapsed onto his bed. Yep, today was going to be an incredibly long day.

He didn't even bother to open his eyes as he heard the door to his room finally swing open. It was early evening now. The sun had sunk well over an hour ago and his room was dark and very cold, and Sirius again lay on his bed. He'd eventually decided that sleep was the best way of ignoring the hunger pangs shooting through his stomach, even if the pervasive chill of the room made that a difficult state to achieve. He'd tried to do his homework. He'd also tried to write a letter to Prongs, Moony and Wormtail. The second of those had been harder, as he'd not only had his complaining stomach to contend with, but also his overwhelming sense of guilt and sorrow. He had lost them. They were his closest friends, and he'd gone and thrown them away through his stupidity!

"Mother says you can come out now," Regulus' sullen voice sounded, quickly followed by his retreating footsteps.

Finally! But for several long moments he continued to lie as he was, unmoving. A heavy weight seemed to sit upon him, holding him in place. Some part of him, he inwardly acknowledged, felt that he deserved every punishment that his parent's threw at him, even though his true crimes... well - they would never view them as such. He felt sick, and the cause of his nausea was not hunger alone.

Breathing a dejected sigh, he pushed himself into a sitting position, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. His head swam at the movement, his stomach churning unpleasantly. Merlin, he needed something to eat! He determinedly rose to his feet and left the room. The eyes of the figures in the many portraits that lined the long stairways followed him disapprovingly as he padded down from the top of the house; a few of them even shook their heads in despairing bewilderment as he passed. He almost smirked. He was a disappointment to whole generations of his Black ancestors, and that was something that his Gryffindor sensibilities could not help but be proud of.

Bloody Slytherins.

The large, gloomy kitchen was empty, thankfully. He really hadn't fancied an encounter with any of his mother's House-elves, and this was the one room where you could almost always find at least one. She'd probably ordered them not to help him. She wouldn't have realised that she was actually doing him a favour. Sirius smiled. There wasn't even a sound from Kreacher's cupboard. He quickly crossed to the pantry and began rummaging for things to eat. Biscuits - they'd do. And a couple of bananas. Mmm, yeah, maybe a sandwich would be good. He pulled out the loaf of bread and, carrying it, along with a knife, to the table, quickly began hacking off slices. A few minutes later he had a large, overflowing creation sitting before him.

He had barely even lifted the sandwich to his mouth, however, when he heard the brisk staccato of his mother's footsteps on the stone staircase outside. He sighed in resignation, gazing at his sandwich longingly. He knew that walk. His mother was on the warpath, and he, as always, was to be the one caught in her way. He quickly took another bite, mentally preparing himself for yet another lecture. He would stay calm. He would not respond to her jibes or insults in any way. He would not...

She slammed in through the doorway, and paused, glaring, as she saw him. Great, he thought, almost rolling his eyes in annoyance as he fixed them resolutely, decisively, on the tiled floor. Here we go again! What was he supposed to have done now? He'd only been out of his room for five minutes!

"What is this?" she snapped, waving a sheaf of papers angrily in the air. Sirius glanced at them, at first with vague curiosity, but then with a growing sense of horror. Oh shit. This had to be the moment he had been dreading. He just knew it! He opened his mouth, desperately trying to think of some response, but she continued without waiting for his reply. "Is it true? Well of course it's true! How could I expect anything else from you?"

Shit! He was right. She'd found out about the Willow incident. It had to be that! He'd known that his Parents had been informed - Dumbledore had told him that they would be - but he had also known that a letter such as that one would have been owled to his father. The Black family insisted that matters be dealt with using, at the very least, the appearance of proper protocol. Disciplinary matters were traditionally the responsibility of the man of the house, so it was his father who received correspondence on such subjects... Fortunately for Sirius, letters to his father regularly sat on the desk in his study for months on end, waiting for him to emerge from his potion brewing long enough to read them. Sirius had planned on stealing it before that day ever came. It was too late for that now. It seemed that his mother's impatient snooping had led her to it rather in advance of him. This was not going to be pleasant.

"I have never felt so ashamed in my life! To learn of such things through the Snapes, of all people," his mother continued. Through the Snapes! Sirius almost heaved a sigh of relief, barely catching himself from doing so in time. That meant that it couldn't be Dumbledore's message... but what had Snivellus being telling his parents now, he wondered? If he'd revealed Remus' secret to anyone at all Sirius would do worse than send him on a little visit, the slimy git!

"A Black, taking part in such disgraceful activities! You're behaviour is appalling! The number of detentions you have received this past year alone is bad enough, but this as well? This is unpardonable! Although, considering the riffraff that you have chosen to befriend, I have to say that it is not at all surprising. Why can you not be more like Regulus? Or Severus. Your father is right. A child like Severus Snape would be so much better than you!"

His mother's voice was steadily rising in volume as she lectured him, causing Sirius to grit his teeth in frustrated annoyance. Get on with it, woman. He was almost desperate now to know what exactly she knew - what it was that he'd done that was so reprehensible. Hah. He was beginning to think that it was nothing to do with the Willow incident after all, merely a catalogue of his usual behaviour at Hogwarts. Probably something to do with those dungbombs in the Slytherin common room... He hoped it was. He would definitely prefer to be lectured over that - that at least he felt no shame in - than over his idiotic behaviour three weeks ago.

Although, it was true, he would rather his parents knew as little as possible of his life away at school, he had long since learned that that was practically impossible. Not only did his suck-up brother attend the same place, but so too did all of the children of his parents' 'social connections' - he wouldn't call them friends, he greatly doubted that they were that. And those children were usually the main targets for the pranks that he and the other Marauder's were so well known for pulling. He had almost grown used to being lectured over one thing they'd learned or another. It didn't make the experience any less unpleasant, but he'd much sooner have that than the treatment they were sure to dole out when they learned that he'd almost gotten Snivellus killed.

"This behaviour has got to stop, Sirius Orion Black! It will not be tolerated any longer. You are a Black, as much as I dislike that fact. And you either uphold the family name, or you will be disinherited, thrown out onto the streets without a sickle to your name!"

Yeah, he was definitely on familiar territory here. She didn't know yet. It had to be the dungbombs. Having decided that he felt himself relax slightly and he began to allow her words to simply flow over him. He knew full well that to respond to her diatribes was to court disaster; the best way for him to avoid doing so was to simply not listen. It usually worked. For a while. Sometimes. Not listening to a woman with a voice as shrill as her's was rather difficult.

"You are a shame on this house!" she shrieked. "A shame on the proud name that we bear! Blood traitor! I can hardly believe that I bore such a creature as you. How did we manage to raise a Gryffindor...?"

That was it. That touched a nerve. Sirius finally raised his eyes to meet his mother's, his distance shattered by her words. His own anger and bitterness suddenly rose, unexpectedly, to the fore. He laughed, harshly - a sound completely lacking in amusement. "Well that Mother is one thing that you can't really take any credit for, is it? You no more raised me than you did James. You left that job - obviously so distasteful from the day I was born - to the house-elves and tutors!"

The swift blow to his face that embodied his mother's reaction wasn't particularly unexpected. He'd received worse, in fact, for far less in the past.

"How dare you? Whilst you reside under this roof you will have respect for your elders!"

He nearly choked at that. Respect for them! Not in this lifetime! He just managed to restrain himself from making that retort out loud, limiting himself to a simple glare. Another slap was his mother's instantaneous response.

"Get out," she snarled. "Get out of my sight. If I see you again today I may not have any control over my actions."

Sirius gritted his teeth against making some remark that would make her change her mind as he walked past her and out of the room. He couldn't stand them, but he wasn't stupid. And he wasn't a masochist. Astonishment was beginning to overwhelm his anger now. He could hardly believe that he'd gotten out of that little encounter so unscathed. Yeah, he had a couple of new bruises to add to his collection, but nothing too serious. And, even better, he noticed, glancing down at his hand, he still had his food! Okay, so it was a little squashed, but did he care? It was still edible. Now all he had to do was find somewhere where he could eat it in peace...

A/N - Er, hiya. This is my first time posting and I'm rather nervous, so please be nice! Oh, and just a little warning - later chapters will get kind of violent, so if you don't like that type of thing, sorry, but I suggest you don't read it.

Bye-de-byes

Misthea