A Feast in Azkaban
Summary: How did Sirius Black spend twelve years in Azkaban and come out relatively sane at the end, when many others in his situation went mad or died of despair in a matter of weeks?
What is identity? How is it formed, and how can it be defended? A Feast in Azkaban examines those twelve years, and all the other years that may have had a bearing on the issue.
Timeline: 1967 through 1993, non-sequentially
Spoilers: PS, CoS, PoA
Warnings: Murder, torture, suicide, rape, foul language, psychic assault, death. I'll be honest. There are some very disturbing elements throughout this story. Beware.
On the other hand, many of these things do occur 'offstage', so to speak; though some do not. All are integral to the plot, and none are handled in a light or flippant manner. Though there are dark threads in this story, it is not, in my opinion, a thematically dark story at all. But I'll leave the final determination on that to the readers.
Feedback: Always. Always to my very great pleasure and greater gratitude.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters, events or plotlines. No profit is being made.
Notes: This is a very large fic – it runs about 60 thousand words. There are 12 sections of varying lengths plus an epilogue. It is complete, not a WIP.
Dedication: Nine months ago, I posted an innocent looking notice to the Yahoo SB/RL list asking for a beta for a 'dark' fic I was working on. Several kind souls responded, but one in particular took on the monstrous task of editing this fic (and contributing much to the continued sanity of its author) without fear and with constant patience, taste, discernment, nerves of steel and great good sense. And became an indispensable beta, one woman rooting section, and very good friend in the process. Thank you, Professor Cricket, goddess of the right word at the right time. Thank you for taking this long, long journey with me and for making it better, every step of the way.
A Feast in Azkaban
The newest prisoner will not eat. This cannot be permitted.
He is a novel acquisition; so much we have already sensed. There is much to be learned, much to be savored somewhere in him; we all sense that as well. All is locked away behind a wall of featureless despondency; cold dejection, a tantalizingly stubborn unwillingness to live. He will not eat. He does not sleep. He rarely even moves about in his cell. His thoughts are uniformly black and uninteresting.
He is resisting. It is our nature to know whether a warm blooded creature's spirit is truly broken or not; it is our business as well. We cannot be deceived in this. There is a veritable glut of life left in him, this we know.
A feast of sorrow is left in him; this we suspect. We have begun to ache to taste this life; such obstinate resistance is seductive. He must eat; he will not be permitted to die just yet, not when there is still so much for each of us to learn; still securely hidden away from us all. We are patient, that is our way; there will be many more years ahead in which to pierce these guarded darknesses, every one of them. But not if the prisoner dies.
Three weeks have gone by since last he took some of the nourishment his kind must have. He must eat. We have decided to persuade him. There are methods.
A new meal is prepared; several among us are already vying to claim the task of bringing this offering to the prisoner, of applying the proper compulsion. None among us has, so far, entered his cell. Tonight this will change.
Three of our number are chosen to serve the prisoner; others, many, gather round outside the cell to observe. We cannot see, we cannot watch; that is not our gift. We can only sense, we can only savor, we can only learn and taste and, ultimately, know. Many among us hope to taste a lesson tonight.
The keys are produced, their jangling in the cellblock corridor catches the attention of the prisoner in a way nothing else has before; we all hear the altered rhythm of his heartbeat, only momentarily. Then his breath catches, stops, resumes in a smooth, deliberately controlled cadence. The heartbeat slows until it has smoothed itself out into its original, untroubled rhythm. He has controlled it, set it back on its featureless track. It's brilliant.
Such will. Resistance in such artistic detail. It's marvelous.
This prisoner must eat. Tonight. Our chosen three enter the cell. The feast begins.