Disclaimer - Still not mine.

A/N - Here it is, Chapter 17. A little later than I'd planned, but I'm afraid that really couldn't be helped. It kind of grew. Sorry. Anyways, I hope you enjoy it. It is the end of 'Hidden', though not the end of the story. The second part of my little series, which is titled 'Lost', should be coming along soon.

Chapter Seventeen

For several long moments Sirius continued to lie as still as he could, his father's laughter echoing in his ears, his eyes closed. Maybe, he thought hopefully, if the man thought he was unconscious he would just leave again. Maybe. His father's first words, however, quickly disabused him of that notion.

"I know you're awake, Boy," he announced, "so you can open your eyes. I said 'open your eyes'!" Biting back a cry as a brisk kick emphasised the order, Sirius reluctantly obeyed. "That's better," the man continued, his tone almost pleasant as he hunched down beside him "Do you know how I know you're awake?" A long fingered hand reached out and brushed almost tenderly over the band that crossed Sirius' chest. "These lovely little things." Sirius couldn't prevent his flinch, nor could he prevent the gasp that escaped him as the twining energy pulsed and tightened in response. "They're only active whilst you're awake."

Silence settled between them. Sirius stared up at his father, barely blinking as he took in the man's peculiar expression. Had it been anyone else he would have termed it pleasant, affable even. That couldn't be a good sign…

"Are you comfortable?" the man suddenly said. Sirius didn't reply. What was he supposed to say? Oh yes, very much so, thank you? "What do you think of the new… arrangements?" His father moved closer - too close - a smirk twisting his lips as he gazed down at him. Sirius merely stared back, wide-eyed. "They're just a precaution, really. And you brought it on yourself. Had you not tried to escape…"

The man's smile, however, and the pleased expression that filled his eyes, told Sirius that his attempted escape was merely an excuse. Not that one was really needed…

"No," the older man added, an avid expression on his face, "you're not going to be escaping again, are you?" Again he reached out and lightly brushed the twining energy, this time causing a choked cry to escape Sirius' throat in response. "No. I didn't think so." With a chuckle his father rose gracefully back to his feet.

"Why are you doing this to me?" Sirius croaked, gathering together the tattered shreds of his courage as the man moved away. "Why? Why not just end it?" Letting his eyes fall closed he added, in a voice barely more than a whisper, "Please just end it. "

He cracked his eyes back open as the sound of footsteps halted. His father turned to look back at him, an expression of pure disgust on his face. "You really are pathetic, Boy. 'Please just end it'," he mocked. "The mind boggles as to how you could be a child of mine. A Gryffindor brat! And you're not even a particularly impressive one of them, are you? Aren't Gryffindor's supposed to be brave?"

Releasing his breath in a sigh of defeat, Sirius lowered his eyes, letting his gaze drop to the floor. His father was right. It was obvious to anyone who cared to look. He was pathetic. Worthless. He had never made a decent Black and he would never make a decent Gryffindor.

"As to why," the man continued. "It's quite simple really. Because I can. Because you are mine. Mine to do with as I wish. Your life is mine and it will end only when I decide it must." With that said he turned and sauntered across the room, his fingers trailing idly over surfaces as he went.

Sirius lay, unmoving, as his father meandered around his room, his cheek pressed against the coarse fibres of the carpet. His eyes were fixed upon the large, dark red stain only a little way from him. His blood - that was his blood, he realised. Shifting his eyes to his unbroken arm, resting against his stomach, he gingerly turned his wrist, gritting his teeth against the immediate flare of the bindings. The jagged, raw line of the single cut he had made there was almost lost amidst the thick coating of blood, but he could still trace its path. It's deepest point lay beneath the base of his thumb. It finally trailed off almost halfway up his forearm.

He really should be dead. Why could he not be dead? Surely it would have taken only a little while longer… Why had his father arrived when he did? A half hour later and he doubted any fancy potions would have been able to bring him back.

No - he couldn't think like that. All he had to do was get though this, and then he could get out. Soon he would be free. He wouldn't think about what the future might hold for him. He wouldn't think about his family… or his friends. Or the mess that he was making of his life. Soon he would be free. He had to fix his mind upon that.

"It's such a beautiful day, is it not?" his father announced brightly, halting beside the window. "A little chill, admittedly - do you not find it a little chill?" He paused, casting an enquiring glance Sirius' way - as if he actually expected an answer. "I've always liked the snow," the man continued in a musing tone, resuming his lazy amble. "It's so crisp and pure - at least until those hideous Muggle contraptions start churning it into a grey, slushy mess." He smirked before adding, "But what can we expect, really? After all, everything touched by Muggles becomes impure. All we can do is wait for a cleansing rain to wash it all away."

Sirius made no reply, his eyes remaining fixed upon his blood covered arm. He would not allow himself to be provoked by the man's words. He knew only too well what his view of Muggles entailed - he had been forced to listen to it far too many times in the past. He would not rise to the bait. He didn't have the energy. Nor did he wish to make this little session any worse than it had to be. Soon he would get out. Soon he would be gone and he wouldn't have to listen to the man's words ever again. All he had to do was get through this.

"You know, I had planned to do this the easy way," his father suddenly informed him, his tone almost conversational. Sirius slowly, wearily, lifted his eyes. The older man had paused now beside his bed, the bedspread in his hand. "A nice, simple potion," the man continued, "that would wipe all memory of the events of the past two and a half weeks from your immature, dull-witted little head. Unfortunately," and the grey eyes were as sharp as cold steel as they fixed once again upon his, "it will take a further day to replace the one you spilt."

Even though he couldn't see it from where he lay, Sirius knew what his father was looking at. It was the blue stain, the one from that potion - the one his father tried to give him the day after he'd nearly escaped. He had wondered, vaguely curious, what that potion had been for. At least now he knew… He rather wished he still didn't.

"But enough of this idle chit-chat. I do have work to get back to, after all." All traces of affability now gone, the man strode back across the room, withdrawing his wand as he approached. "You see, your mother is right about one thing - you do know too much."

Sirius forced himself to breathe, fighting back against the rising tide of absolute terror as his mind slipped from one possible torment to the next. He would get through this. The man wasn't going to kill him - not after he'd only just saved his life. Whatever else was thrown at him he could endure. All he had to do was get through this and then he could leave. His eyes fell closed, blocking the sight of his father's pale, sneering face and the wand that was directed straight at his forehead.

"That, however, can be easily changed. Obliviate!"

His let out a shocked cry as the charm struck him, his automatic attempt to move arrested by the instantaneous flare of searing pain. Oh no! Oh, Merlin - no! A memory charm! He hadn't even considered that possibility... He had to remember! He couldn't forget. If he forgot… If he forgot what had happened over these past two weeks - what point was there to anything?

But, although he may have been bound and unprotected, he wasn't completely helpless. He fought back in the only way left to him. The shields that he flung up were ones perfected throughout his childhood. He thrust back against the probing of the charm as he had done so many times against his mother's mental attacks. He had defended his mind against her. He had even defended his mind against Voldemort! He could do so again against his father!

He barely heard the man's wordless snarl of annoyance, but he felt the charm strengthen its attack. Still he fought back. He could do it! His father's charms ability was notoriously weak. He may have been a genius when it came to potions - but he was quite the opposite with charms.

Despite his greatest efforts, however, he could still feel the charm worming its way through his mind, sifting through his memories. No! He continued to fight back against the invasion. He would not have his mind tampered with in this way!

His father stood over him, his wand pointed still at his head. The sneer was gone now from his face as he gazed down at his son, an expression of pure hatred having taken his place. Although he didn't hear the word spoken, the next time the charm struck him it came accompanied by a now familiar wave of pure agony. Crucio.

Ragged cries were torn from his throat. The Unforgivable curse echoed down through his abused body, amplifying each and every hurt previously sustained. In addition, their effects heightened as they became a part of the torturous whole, the bindings continued to inexorably tighten as he twitched and jerked in agony. And the charm continued to burrow through his mind. He tried to fight back through the pain. He was stronger than his father… He knew he was! But he could feel himself slipping.

No! He couldn't forget. He had to remember. He had to! He would get through this and get out and get his revenge. If he remembered… He had to remember. The potions… Voldemort… he could ruin the man so easily… He had to remember… Couldn't forget…

He would get through this…

He would…

His head hurt - that was the first thought to ghost through his brain as the world slowly resettled itself around him. Pain throbbed unceasingly, interrupting his thought processes and, the very instant he moved, setting an avalanche of agonising sensation cascading over his entire body. No… No, he thought - the pain in his body was from the movement… Wasn't it? It hurt… It hurt so much… Change. He had to change! No. Wait! Was it safe. He had to be alone! Was he alone? He slowly cracked open his eyes. The darkened, shadow-filled room before him was empty.

Without lingering on the how, what or why - concepts which all dissolved barely formed within his mind - he shifted into his other form. Emotions simplified as his thoughts coalesced into the more primitive thought patterns of the dog, causing the throbbing in his head to ease. Everything was instantaneously reduced to their base forms.

Get out! He had to get out!

He rose unsteadily to his feet, carefully holding his broken limb off the ground. The room span around him and, for a moment, he thought that he was simply going to collapse back into a heap. Finally it stilled and he took his first step forward. Followed by his next.

Only to be forced to a halt as he reached the closed door. For several long moments he merely stared at the dark wood. He had to go through there, he finally thought dimly. He needed it open. He slowly lifted his head and, rearing back on his hind legs, placed a paw upon the door handle and pushed downwards. The door swung open, revealing the darkened stairwell beyond as he dropped back.

He wasn't sure he wanted to go through that doorway. It scared him. He took a hesitant step back. That doorway caused pain… He shook his head as the dull ache that encased his brain amplified. He had to go through! He had no choice. He had to get out!

The panicky rush that carried him through the doorway also carried him nearly halfway down the steep staircase. He quickly forced himself to slow as he stumbled and almost lost his footing. Falling wouldn't be good. He wasn't sure he'd ever manage to get up again. With careful, limping steps he descended to the first landing, his ears constantly listening for the sound of approaching footsteps. The doors he passed remained closed. He moved on to the next staircase.

Low, unnerving voices sounded from all around him; a hum of chatter that seemed to have no obvious source, words indistinguishable even to the enhanced hearing of his animal form, but growing steadily louder as he descended further. A low growl, hurriedly silenced, escaped him as he stared around in fearful agitation. The murmur grew softer as he moved over the landing, only to renew with added force as he began down the next flight of stairs.

A sudden booming laugh, followed by a spate of loud, animated conversation, sounded directly over his head. He quickly sank back into the thick shadows, untouched by the dim glow of gas-lamps, his teeth bared in a silent snarl as he stared upwards. Portraits, his brain finally supplied. It was just the portraits… Portraits of… of… They would raise the alarm! He couldn't let them see him!

Keeping carefully to the shadows, moving as silently as possible, he slinked down to the next landing. They hadn't noticed him yet. They couldn't have noticed him yet. Surely he would have known if they had! He couldn't let them see him… He only had a little way further to go. Not far. Soon he would be out. Soon. With yet another flight of stairs finished he began down the next.

Brisk, staccato footsteps sounded from within a room. He froze, his body trembling, forepaw held carefully off the ground, his ears pricked. A person! People! People were worse than portraits. People hurt him… The footsteps paused for a brief moment before resuming - but no one emerged. He took a cautious step forwards. Caught in a sudden burst of overwhelming terror he scrambled on, running as quickly as his battered form, his screaming legs, would allow. He was soon over the landing and onto the next set of stairs. The footsteps continued, unchecked.

Finally! There, before him was the door. He was there! He had done it! Only, he realised, it wasn't that easy. The door was locked. Oh shit… No… He couldn't open them as a dog. It just wasn't possible. He needed hands, fingers, to move the bolts and turn the key, and he couldn't become human again because… because…

Could he change back yet? Would it be safe to do so? He didn't know… Why wouldn't it be safe…? His head hurt. Why did his head hurt whenever he tried to think of these things? Bonds, bindings, twining cords of energy burning into his skin - that was why… wasn't it? He didn't know any more. All he knew was that he needed to be human to open that doorway down there. Which meant that he really didn't have any choice in the matter.

He started down the final staircase.

He was over halfway down when he slipped, his paws suddenly sliding out from beneath him. His eyes widened in surprise and a muffled whuff escaped him as he tumbled haphazardly, unable to halt his descent in time to prevent himself from crashing into the ugly great umbrella stand set near the base of the stairs.

Oh shit!

He scrambled hurriedly back to his feet as the loud crash echoed throughout the hallway - ignoring the pain the fall set screaming through his battered body - and stumbled towards the door.

Now! Quick - he had to change! In an instant his human form was back and he surged upwards to stand tall before the locked doorway, his stiff fingers scrabbling at the latches. Quick! Quick! There. Finally he pushed open the door. Just in time, as he felt the familiar burning sensation begin to wrap around him.

Dog… he needed to be a dog again. In an instant he morphed and surged forwards, out of the building. Cold air washed over him as he fought to keep his footing upon the icy, snow-covered ground.

"Kreacher!" The shriek echoed out from within the house and, after a moment of terrified immobility, he began to run, terror giving him a burst of much needed energy as adrenaline briefly masked the pain.

He was free! He had done it! He had to get away… He had to get as far away as he could. He had to keep going. He couldn't stop. Not yet. He had to keep on running. Fear drove him onwards, skidding and scrabbling over icy ground. He had to keep going!

It was snowing. The air was filled with a whirl of icy flakes. The ground was covered in a steadily deepening layer of fresh, crisp snow. The haloes of the streetlamps cast a diffused glow upon the wintry scene - but the beauty was lost to him. All he knew was that he was cold, and in pain… He hurt. He hurt so badly. There was barely an inch of him that didn't scream in agony. And he was scared. Terrified. He had to get away. He had to run. He had to keep moving!

And so he ran… stumbled… onwards.

It wasn't long before his pace slowed even further. His heart was pounding, his head spinning, his sight swimming. He dragged in several deep, ragged breaths, barely managing to keep going, keep placing one foot… paw… before the other. Nausea swirled through his stomach, clawing fingers snaring, sending harsh flares of pain careening through him.

He was cold and wet. So cold… His fur was soaked through, unable to keep out the chill any longer, leaving him feeling icy to the core. His limbs were numb - which, he was forced to admit, was probably not a bad thing - and each step he took was unsteady as his legs threatened to give way beneath him. Occasionally his forepaw was forced to touch upon the ground as dizziness swept over him, causing agonising pain to shoot through the broken limb. But he couldn't stop. Not yet. He had to keep going. Had to keep moving. He couldn't stop. That one thought consumed his mind.

He couldn't stop.

The world ahead of him was a blur of white and grey, falling snow, filling the air in a swirling mass, the drab buildings beyond obscured. His paws sank deep. Each step forwards took more effort than the previous as he ploughed his way onwards.

He had to keep moving.

Voices sounded - laughter, shouting - echoing down the street. Dark figures loomed out of the snow before him. He froze, his heartbeat racing. People! People meant pain… People meant…

"Hey, look! There's a dog! I bet a quid you can't hit it!"

He began to retreat, backing unsteadily through the drifts. The sudden ball of hard-packed snow that collided with his side caused him to lose his balance, his legs finally giving way beneath him.

"There - I got him! You owe me a quid, mate."

"Are you two insane? Dogs tend to have rather nasty teeth, you know?"

"Stop being such a wuss."

"I'm not being a wuss. I'm being sensible…"

"Is Mikey-Wikey all scared of the ickle doggy?"

"'Ickle'? That thing's not 'ickle'! And don't call me that."

"Go on. Throw one. I dare you!"

"No. Come on, guys - I'm cold and I'm tired. I want to get home before I freeze my bloody balls off… You bastard! You bloody bastard. God, that's cold! I'm so gonna get you for that! It went right down my bloody neck!"

After a several more minutes of frantic movement and manic laughter, the voices finally faded away. He was alone again - but he continued to lie as he was. It wasn't really all that cold. It was quite warm, actually. And comfortable. So very comfortable. His eyes closed as a hazy blanket settled over his thoughts.

No! It wasn't safe. He couldn't stop yet…

But he was so comfy here…

No… No. Wasn't safe. Couldn't stop. Keep moving. Had to keep moving…

He grimly dragged himself back to his feet. Soon… Soon he'd be able to rest. But not yet. He had to keep going.

How long he trekked for he didn't know. Time drifted as his mind blurred. He merely kept his head down and ploughed doggedly on. It was the incongruous scents of growing things, juxtaposed strangely amongst the harsh city smells, that finally drew him. He was trudging alongside a low, crumbling wall, topped with a cap of pure, white snow. It was on the far side of that wall that he had to be. He was sure of it…

With a mad, desperate scrabble he managed to drag himself up and over, the drifting snow on the far side cushioning his ungainly descent. He continued to lie where he fell, gazing blearily at the monochrome world before him. Where previously there had only been the repetitive sight of drab houses and grey, concrete streets buried beneath the steadily deepening snow, now he could see plants and bushes, trees, a tangle of untamed growth. The distant sound of running water sent a shot of recognition through him. He knew this place… didn't he? He was sure he knew it… But the knowledge, had it ever been truly present, slipped away the instant he tried to firmly grasp it.

Shaking his aching head he dragged himself a few last steps forwards. Trees, plants, natural things - these meant safety... Didn't they? Nature was associated with happy times, although the details evaporated the moment he tried to isolate them. Happy times, not with pain. Yes, here he could rest. Here he would be safe. Finding a patch of ground protected by a tangle of snow covered branches only a little way above his head, he finally allowed his legs to give way beneath him. Now he could rest. He closed his eyes. Surrendering gratefully to the waiting darkness, he sank into oblivion.

Consciousness was slow to return. The first thing that he noticed was the pain, flaring throughout his entire body. The next thing was that he was cold - an icy chill that had seeped in and settled so deep he felt frozen to his core. He was so cold. Before... before he had been warm. He wanted to return to that pleasant warm darkness. A helpless whimper escaped him, and, suddenly refusing the offered comfort, he began to fight back against the tempting darkness playing on the edge of his mind. But it was useless; nothingness again swallowed him.

He could feel hands upon him, gently touching, smoothing his fur. Pulling him slowly back from the darkness. But he could not move, could not even gather the strength to whimper in pain as his body howled its agony. Voices sounded in his ears, and he tensed, but they were not the harsh tones that he expected to hear. These words were as gentle as the hands, soothing away his fears.

"The poor creature," he heard someone say. "How could anyone treat an animal in such a way? Look at these cuts!"

Animal? He wasn't an animal! He was a boy! Wasn't he...? He attempted to raise his head to place this query, but all he seemed able to do was twitch slightly.

"I think it's waking up! Quick, Paul, run and call the vet."

The hands moved down to his front paw. Despite the tenderness of the contact the touch caused pain to shoot through him, dissipating the last tendrils of unconsciousness. A sudden rush of pain-fuelled terror gave him the strength to surge unsteadily to his feet. His eyes were barely focussed on the figures crouching beside him, his ears barely registering their shocked cries as he snarled, stumbling backwards through the tangled growth. He had to get away. Get away now! A moment later he turned tail and ran, ignoring the agony that his actions sent flaring throughout his form.

Clutching branches caught in his fur; catching; tearing; hindering his stumbled path. His breath came in ragged gasps, his tongue lolling from his mouth. At each laboured, limping step his legs threatened to collapse beneath him. His sight swam. But fear still nipped at his heels. He could not stop yet!

At first his fogged brain failed to recognise the structure that suddenly loomed before him, blocking his way. Shit. Shit. Shit. A fence. Voices drawing steadily closer caused him to scrabble hastily forwards several steps along its course. It was then that he noticed the gate. Thank Merlin! Stretching up he sought to nudge open the latch. Hands. Hands! He had to have hands to deal with this. Bare seconds later numb fingers were scrabbling at the cold metal. But it was too late.

"What's that over there? It went over that way, I'm sure it did!"

He span.

For a brief moment his eyes caught upon the sight of shocked faces as he stared at them, wild-eyed. Then his body rebelled and he crumpled back into the snow. Familiar darkness was waiting to claim him yet again.


He didn't even bother glancing up from his cauldron as his wife slammed through the door into his workroom. His hand continued to move at a steady pace, stirring the thick, shimmering potion.

"What do you want, Spica?" he said. "This had better be important. I'm busy, in case you haven't noticed."

"He's gone! I told you you ought to have gotten rid of him! I knew something like this would happen…"

"What?" His hand stilled. His eyes flashed up. She couldn't mean… It took a conscious effort to start his hand moving again. "What do you mean 'he's gone'? What are you talking about, Woman?"

"I'm talking about that brat, of course. The blood-traitor! Who else? He's gone! I told you this would happen, but would you listen to me? We'll be ruined, and all because you were incapable of killing one boy!"

"Silence!" he snapped. This couldn't be real… There was no way he could have gotten out, not with the state he was in. With a frown at the potion, whose colour was slowly deepening into an unacceptable shade of lilac, he withdrew his wand and flicked a quick charm. The silver spoon began to move of its own volition. Ignoring his wife's scowling presence he strode quickly out of his chambers.

A few minutes later he stood in the doorway of the attic room, a doorway around which his sealing ward still clung. He stared within with disbelieving eyes. The inside of the room was empty.

"Impossible," he murmured to himself. "There's no way he could have escaped…"

"Well obviously there was a way!" He frowned as he glanced back over his shoulder. Spica stood behind him. He hadn't even realised she had followed. "If there hadn't been he would still be in there, wouldn't he?"

"Obviously!" he snapped back. "Have you any idea how he did it? He must have had some help - there's no way he could have escaped on his own. The wards are still in place! And he was bound!"

"Not well enough, I'd say. And who, exactly, do you think helped him, hmm? No one has entered the house. We would have know if they had. There are only we two and the house-elves, and don't even think about accusing me! The only house-elf who would have ever dared disobeying a direct order was that… Tiggy, or whatever its name was, and it's dead."

Barely suppressing a snarl at the woman's words he strode into the room, his gaze sweeping every corner. There was always the possibility that he was just hiding himself somewhere… But there was nowhere to hide. The boy was well and truly gone.

"How did you find out he was gone?" He turned back to his wife. "I told you to stay away from here."

"Don't worry - I wasn't disobeying your precious orders," she snapped in reply. "I was in the drawing room when I heard a noise. I thought it was Kreacher. It wasn't. The umbrella stand had been knocked over and the front door was open."

"What? Why didn't you tell me that before?"

"What difference would it have made? I looked out there and there was no sign of the brat. I even cast a summoning charm - with no luck. If he's out there he's already well out of range. By the time I got up to your work room he would be even further away. And," she added, "in case you haven't noticed, "it's a bloody blizzard out there tonight!"

"He can't have gone far. Not with the state he was in."

"Do you really expect him to still be around here?" Spica snapped. "If he's not back at Hogwarts yet then he probably will be very soon. All he had to do was summon that Knight Bus thing!"

She was right. As much as Arcturus hated to admit it, she was right. Unable to restrain his anger any longer he turned with a vicious snarl, his fist slamming into the wooden panel of the door - the door that should have held the boy enclosed.

With a final glance around the filthy room he turned and strode out past his wife. "Get Kreacher up here," he ordered. "I want this entire room stripped. I don't want to find a single trace of him left. If anyone asks -we haven't seen him since before Christmas. He ran away and we haven't seen him since."

"And what are you going to do?"

"What am I going to do?" he repeated, turning a cold glare on his wild-eyed wife. "What do you think I'm going to do? I have a potion to finish brewing, of course."

"A potion! You and your bloody potions," Spica shrieked. "That boy is going to ruin us and all you can think about is brewing yet more bloody illegal potions!"

"If you don't want us to be ruined you'll let me get on with my work in peace! For your information the boy has been obliviated. He will have no idea what has happened to him. He'll have no memory of my work. By the time he or that bumbling fool Dumbledore manage to break through the charm I'll have brewed a memory altering potion to take its place. We have nothing to worry about."

"Really? How exactly do you intend to get him to drink it?"

"I'm sure I'll find a way. Everything will be perfectly under control."

Including, he thought to himself as he turned and descended the stairs, leaving his wife still fuming in the attic room, that boy. The brat wasn't escaping him yet. The boy was his. He would find some way of getting him back and he would teach him the consequences of defiance. As stupid as the boy was, it would probably take a while - but he'd learn eventually. It was one lesson, Arcturus Black decided, that he would be only too happy to teach.

For now, though, he had a potion to brew.

A/N - There we go. The end of 'Hidden'. I can't believe I've actually finished the thing! I really hope you all enjoyed it.

A big, big thank you to all of my reviewers who've been really patient with my steadily lengthening posting times. I'm afraid that, again, I'm not going to do any individual replies - quite simply because I know that if I started I'd end up going back over the last three or four chapters worth of reviews and that would take me forever. Unfortunately I have other things I need to do while I have the computer. Please do leave me a review of this chapter, though. I would also be incredibly grateful to anyone who could take the time to let me know what their favourite, and least favourite, bits of the whole story were. I would really like to know what people liked and disliked as a whole.

One thing I will do, though, before I go, is leave you all with a little trailer type thing for 'Lost'. Here we go...

Sirius Black is missing.

As the Spring term begins at Hogwarts and his estranged friend fails to return, Remus Lupin grows increasingly worried. Just what has happened to the other boy? His parents say he 'ran away', but that doesn't tie in with what Regulus told him... does it? Why won't Regulus tell him anything more?

He is also growing increasingly annoyed by the apparent lack of concern shown by James Potter.

At Number 12 Grimmauld Place Arcturus Black is called away from his cauldrons due to a visit by two Hogwarts professors. He is both surprised and elated to discover that their queries are not about the condition in which his son arrived at school, but about the fact that he never did arrive. The boy was still out there somewhere. Which meant that getting the brat back would be even easier than he had expected. All he had to do was find him first... And so Arcturus Black begins the hunt for his absent son.

In a Muggle hospital a teenaged boy awakens. He is battered, scared and alone. And he has absolutely no idea why...

I will also say now that this is the point where I'm expecting quite a few people to say that it's AU. If you want to class it as AU - go ahead. I don't mind. I know that Sirius told Harry that he 'went to James's'. The way I look at it, though, is that you have a good dose of character bias in that section of OOTP. Sirius is telling Harry what happened - he doesn't particularly want to go into the nitty-gritty details with his Godson. The memories he was forced to relive by the dementors were not only ones about the deaths of James and Lily - he has a lot of other bad episodesin his life! And being backin that house can't be helping. He does go to James' eventually. As he says to Harry, he spends holidays there, etc. He just doesn't go there quite as immediately as his words suggest. If I had my copy of OOTP I'd write a little drabble for you all, set around that scene, but I don't. I'm at my parent's house andthe book is at mine.

Anyways, I've babbled enough and you've probably all stopped reading long before now, so I think I'll shut up now.