BLACK - by The Chat

Azkaban, 53.6.89. 101.

Dementor after Dementor passed before his cell. They did not know who he was. They did not know the name of Sirius Black, not yet. They did not know that he was an assassin, that he had killed his best friend, and Lily, who Harry was, and they did not know whether he was innocent.

Neither did he, and it did not matter.

Sirius Black was an Animagus. Every now and then, he would wander around the school grounds in the form of a dog. A great black dog, whose padded feet were as silent as those of the boy Sirius, trained for long years to sneak up on people with various vials of potion held between his fingers, or away from them, away from scolding mouths and heavy hands, away from the sad, dry eyes of his mother and the old picture of his father at his age sitting very straight in the family album. When a hysterical Severus Snape had begun running down the corridors one night screaming like a girl at the top of his voice that a rabid wolf had infiltrated the school grounds, he ended up with ten hours of detention and a severe admonition that he had had no business in wandering around the school, much less waking everyone up in the middle of the night for one of his hallucinations. When Snape the Ape left Dumbledore's office, he stopped at the door, and looked suspiciously around himself before stalking off with that strange allure of his. Sirius Black and James Potter nearly chocked to death that day from holding back their spasms of laughter. Snape the Ape didn't know about their invisibility cloak, but they suspected that he suspected. It made making life hell for Oily Snape all the funnier, because they could be found out anytime. If was maybe that day that, with the idea of Snape the Ape meeting a wolf for real in his head, that Sirius Black began to brew a strange project involving telling his worst enemy and one of his best friends.

Sirius Black was a schemer. None of his plans had ever failed before. But Sirius Black was a tactician, and as he crossed the threshold of Azkaban, felt the entire height of the dark walls breaking down upon his back, he knew that none had ever escaped from this castle, this castle of a fairy tale. Sirius Black was a Prince Charming. This had often been said. Sitting on the ground listening to the perfect rhythm of water drops from the ceiling, Sirius Black looked for the window that would make him a princess in distress, but found none. Would Sirius Black have been the evil sorcerer, he would have dropped the key to the room into the ocean below, or have swallowed it so that no playful current would bear it over to a distant shore.

A rusted silver key was washed upon a beach of white sand, at the bare feet of a young peasant who had stolen a few moments' time from his hard daily toil.

The young man hurt his foot on a metallic object. It was an old rusted key. As he picked it up, humid grains of sand came to be stuck under the fingernails of his coarse fingers.

Angry, he threw the key back into the waters, and turned away without seeing it sink. Endlessly, the ebb and flow washed the beach of clean sand.

"You're going to throw your life away for Snape?" he asked, blocking the doorway with his entire body, hands grasping the wooden frame till his knuckles were white. James Potter stared. His lips were thin, pale. Sirius Black had never seen his friend so angry. Not when he had cursed his bedsheets into feeling ice-cold for a week. Not when he had charmed his twenty-pages potions homework to throw insults at the teacher who would try to grade it in the way of the Marauder's Map. Not, in their fourth year, not when he had inadvertently asked Lily Evans to the ball before Sappy Jimmy could work up the courage to even say hi.

James Potter stared at Sirius Black, and suddenly the latter realized that his friend was afraid. Pretty Jimmy had never looked so much like a frightened child before, with his large, warm brown eyes looking at the world from behind the layer of portative windows. Of all the time they had spent together, which was pretty much the duration of their lives at Hogwarts –their life- ...

"Fine," he said. "Fine. So be it."

Sirius Black wrenched his tall frame away from the other's path, and walked past him into the darkness of their unlit dorm. For a second, his gaze stayed locked upon that of his friend, but quickly, they both looked away; as Sappy Jimmy, after a moment's wavering, backed away over the doorstep and began to march down the stairway. Sirius Black snorted and thrust both his hands into his jeans' pockets, standing at the edge of his unmade bed, the sheets tangled up in one corner. In the stairwell Jimmy's footsteps rang louder than they should, and he heard the other lapse into a frantic sprint.

With a dramatic flip, he let himself fall upon the mattress, which squeaked repeatedly before sinking under his weight. He smirked. It was easy. Sappy Jimmy was his best friend, and he had never known him before to care. Sappy Jimmy was his best friend because he had never been known to care. But he could change. He was changing already. It was, in the end, what had prevailed for him in the eyes of Fussy Lily, Bonny Lily, Jimmy's Lily. So be it. That greasy ape would never have died, but Sappy Jimmy liked to play hero. Sirius Black felt cheated of his fun.

He looked up and saw the ceiling, melting into the surrounding beds and walls in the absolute obscurity. A wave of hatred burst through him, translated as pure, raw energy pulsing through his limbs, beating at his temples; but his fingers, half on their way to grasping his wand already, stopped themselves in their path and curled viciously around the white, clean sheets of his bed. Nothing was happening. Somewhere, somewhere on the vastly spread grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, something was about to trigger events that he could not acknowledge. Sappy Jimmy, Brainy Remmy and that snaky ape of a Snape were involved in this act which was surreal to his senses, which he could not perceive. He would have brought down the castle in that night, and beget hundredfold more panic in his destruction than in his existence.

James Potter was changing. He had said, Tricky Jimmy was way past beyond him now, that things were going too far, that there were limits. There was expulsion, there was prison. There was shame. James Potter was a prankster, he knew. But Righteous Jimmy had refused himself sentience of the greater scale of tricks, that which did not weigh Itching Potions and Detentions anymore. He had said that death was no prank, to which Sirius Black had objected that maybe death was not, but the knowledge and terror that would come before it certainly were. And Tricky Jimmy said that he would go then, if only to bear witness to Snape making a fool of himself out of abject fear.

Sirius Black refused to think of consequences.

Sirius Black did not like the tone of voice that was used, because he was the one to rub irony into others' faces.

Sirius Black was everything.

Sirius Black was perfect.

Sirius Black was an assassin, and all he got was detention.

Sirius Black was untouchable.

The boy came out of Dumbledore's office, and found himself face to face with Jimmy –onlyJimmy- and Peter, Petty Peter, who needed help doing his homework from a girl in the year below them. Susie. Not a bad girl, in the end: she made for a great deal of sport and was a tolerable kisser.

They stared at each other for a while. Sirius Black wondered what the other two were expecting out of him, and flashed them his typical charismatic smile.

There was no innocence.

He reclined on the ground. The only feeling left to him was that of a game gone wrong, a feeling of treason, of being cheated of some pleasure. He laughed vaguely, not knowing why, but he did not care. The world had always been his. Inside this darkened cell, when no light of moon nor sun touched his eyes to tell him the time of day, the world stayed his, something that he could hold, and play, throw upon a gambling table for a stake. He enjoyed the look of awed surprise that lit inside his fellow players' eyes when they realized his price, the daring smile he flashed them, gamblers like him, none as much as him. The interest in the ladies' eyes. Especially the ladies.

Sirius Black was a wizard. Sirius Black did not believe in God. Sirius Black played the world on a roulette table, with the certainty of a confident cheater.

But Sirius Black did not cheat, and Sirius Black would loose. Dementor after Dementor passed before his cell, in an endless procession. They would tire of him when he was empty, drained, left vacant of all joy. But he did not need joy to laugh. It was something that remained. Sirius Black was laughing. He did not remember why, but it was difficult to stop.

Then one day James left him. He didn't know him anymore, didn't remember having forgotten. He only felt this enormous sense of nausea rising inside of him, as if a fright of heights, contemplating an endless abyss suddenly opened before his feet. The abyss looked back. James had gone, retiring under his invisibility cloak for once and all, for the last prank he would play on his best friend: and Sirius Black felt watched by unseen eyes.

The eyes smiled. They knew something that he did not. He tried to smile at the eyes, like he always had, but he had forgotten from where he knew them, from a time before, so long ago; the impossibility of such a thing was enough to deter the precarious questioning of his troubled mind.

He stared into the darkness of the Dementor's hood.

"T'as de beaux yeux, tu sais," he whispered, almost hissing between clenched teeth, and waited. He waited with this irrational hope pounding in his heart, flooding every cell of his body, the laughter exploding inside his head, erasing all else from his mind. He pressed his face against the bars, grinning a mock of his most engaging smile. "Kiss me," he thought, yelled, offered these words upon a silver plate to the darkness that faced him. They lingered there for a moment, hanging in the air between the pair of icy blue eyes and the void before, and he welcomed the rush of cold terror inside him like a refreshing breeze.

Then that too was gone from him, and the only memory left to him was laughter.

Sirius Black smiled.

Sirius Black was perfect.

Sirius Black was unbreakable.

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