Descent into Madness

Epilogue: In the End

Oh yes, I remember that day. I remember the look on her face: pride. She'd helped to give me the strength to do what was in my heart. And she was right. Hogwarts had become my real home the moment I stepped through those doors. She knew more about a part of me that I rarely, if ever, even let my closest friends see. She saw the solemn-eyed boy I was inside.

You think they'd have known me well enough to know that I could never do what they accused me of. But I was wrong, oh so wrong. They all felt betrayed.

In the end, I can see how they'd construed it. I'd deceived them all before, after all, hadn't I? I guess they thought I'd just deceived them again. I guess they thought that my entire life had been one lie after another. That my brotherhood with James was all just some act? That was their means of justification.

They used it against me, you know. "That poor boy, beaten all his childhood. It's no wonder he turned out strange." Deceiver. That's what they thought of me. Even McGonagall believed it. In her fury at having ever trusted me she believed everything. And how could anyone argue the contrary?

"He had something wrong with him, that boy. Had a bad start on life. Abuse will do that to a man."

To a man… They say I went mad the night I allegedly sold Lily and James to Voldemort. They arrested me laughing. No, I hadn't gone mad then. I'd begun to loose my sanity long before that. When pressed with the matter I know McGonagall recalled holding a sobbing child in her arms, years of denial spilling forth from my eyes. Perhaps she knew the workings of my mind then. She had told me I'd always be safe at Hogwarts. I was a fool to ever believe…

Locked in a cell with nothing but the shivering memories of despair as company for twelve years, that's enough to drive any man insane. But you see now how I was used to abuse. My sanity had already slipped long ago. They could not break me. Not when inside a part of me was always broken.

Do you understand? They certainly like to believe they did. It explained away my guilt for them. Do you not see?

I was born into madness. They were right on that account. But I knew how to deal with it. It was my plague, this constant silent pain. The weeping of my heart was always my reminder of who I was. But I grow weary now, weary of the pain. I am tired of running. Tired of leaving. Tired of loving.

My brand of madness was given to me at birth. My earliest years in this life taught me what to expect from this world that is determined to beat me down. And yet I do not fight back- not anymore. I'm too spent now to keep up the façade. My tired, wounded eyes turn to the blue patch in the gray sky. I imagine now my appearance reflects the suffering that has always dwelled within my heart.

Then let them look at me and fear, for such wretchedness harrows even the bravest of men. Brave… she had called me brave that day. And perhaps I was. Once. But no more. I am wounded beyond recall. Bravery is beyond me. I let down my façade long ago and now lay exposed to the world. Let them see in me what they will. I care not.

My brand of madness was given to me at birth. I was born into madness. It just took others a while to see it.

Please Review!

A/N: Sorry I didn't warn you all that this would be the last chapter. Please, let me know what you think of this chapter and the story overall. I have an idea for a follow-up piece, if you will, along with a separate story. Should I continue writing?

Review Responses:

LaLa-the-Panda: Wasn't it fun to see...er... read McGonagall swear? LOL. I'm glad you liked it. And thank you ever so much for reading and always leaving me feedback. I treasure it. Thank you.

paige-rossi-black: (Grins) Thank you so much, my dear! I'm glad I was able to help you see McGonagall in a slightly different light- as the powerful woman that she is, protecting her students. :o) Thank you for always reading and reviewing. You've helped me so much. And just so you know- those stories that you recommended are on my to-do list:o) Take care, my friend!

EsScaper: Need I tell you how valued your opinion has always been to me, my dear? Thank you so much for always offering it and all of your lovely feedback. Most importantly, thank you for reading. I'm immensely pleased that you enjoyed the previous chapter. Sirius' anguish, as you've so aptly dubbed it, was like a film scene in my head, and I'm glad I was able to translate at least some of that. Again, thank you so much for your constant support. And I've finished Death Before Dishonor and am now moving on to Promises Unbroken. Thanks again for the recommendation:oD Be well, my friend. :o) Until our paths cross again...

saiyanwizardgurl: LOL- I also would have loved to be there to witness Mrs. Black's face! And give her a good kick in the shins... Thank you so much for always reading and reviewing. Your feedback has always been a joy. Thank you so much. I wish you the best!

niccc: LMAO! OMG- that Wendy's crack still has me giggling. ;o) Did you hear the woman stuck the finger in there herself? Gah- so disgusting that I won't get into it... lol. Ah my dear, you have been an absolute gift to me! Thank you so much for your feeback and support. I wish you the best in life and writing. Take care, my friend.

Aurinko: Thanks so much for your feedback, especially on the characterization front. :o) I hope you enjoyed the rest of this tale, and thank you so much for reading. Bless your heart! Until next we meet- may you ve well.

Trovia: LOL- I'm so glad you liked the "damn proud" bit. :o) And your comments on her backbone and the portrayal of a more mature Sirius are greatly treasured. Thank you so much for your reading, reviewing and perceptiveness. I wish you the best, my dear. Take care.

Allacaya: I think my first response would be that my favorite is Raiders of the Lost Arc, however, when I think on it Last Crusade is right after it, if not side-by side. I used to dress up as Indy for Halloween all the time. ;o) And I read Hidden and loved it, naturally. Thank you SO MUCH for letting me know about it:o)

Thank you so much for always reading and reviewing and giving me such wonderful feedback and food for thought! I'm delighted that you enjoyed this last chapter and hope that you have enjoyed this story overall. As to your questions... I had written another chapter that answered most of them, but in the end I decided to exclude it, as I felt it would take away from my intent with this story, which I hope is presented quite clearly in this chapter. Again, thank you for always being there, and for your support. Take care, my dear fellow-adventurer!

Padfoot: Oooh my Padmeister! Thank you so much for always reading and reviewing! You are a bright light in my life, and I am honored to call youmy friend.:o) I know I don't have to say good-bye here, so I shall not. But all the same, thank you so much for your support and encouragement. Be well, mellon-nïn. Namarië!

RubyRaisin: Ah yes, poor Sirius is indeed the tortured soul... most likely what drew me (and many others) to him in the first place. Yeah- I also love the idea of McGonagall giving him the strength to get through it all... or at least helping to give him the strength. And thank you so much for your comments on the way this story was written. It really means a lot to me and helps me as I continue. I've been immensely honored to entertain you, my dear. I hope that you are well and have enjoyed this tale. Thank you.