Disclaimer: I do not own anyone or any place…all JKR's…not doing this for money…et cetera, et cetera. If you sue me, you might get a pencil with orange music notes on it…very valuable. Please don't. I like my pencil.

A new note: This is the edited version of the chapter. There were a few things that needed rewording (and respelling), so I fixed. Hope you still enjoy. Chapter 2 coming soon. No, really. Stop laughing.

No matter how tightly he pulled the curtains together the night before, the sun would always find a way to blast him full in the eyes every morning. Grumbling, Sirius Black solved the problem by turning over and burying his head under the pillow.

Privately, he suspected the evil prat he had the misfortune to call his brother. Regulus was always an early riser—leave it to him to find blinding his elder every morning entertaining.

Suddenly, with no warning whatsoever, his blanket was ripped off of him. In the next second, a cold hand gripped his ankle and dragged him off of the bed.

"Ow!" he protested as he hit the floor. "What the—Bella!"

Bellatrix Black stood over him, glowering down with her beautiful dark eyes. "Get up, twerp."

"Why?" Sirius glared right back, trying to snatch his blanket back. She tossed it into the hallway. "Because you're coming with me. Now, up—before I hex you."

Muttering a few choice words under his breath, he kicked her out of his room and barricaded the door. He dressed slowly, distracting his foul thoughts by pulling the crinkled envelope out from under his pillow. He took out the acceptance letter again, reading it over and reliving the joy. Finally, he thought, I can get out of here and—

"Sirius!" He froze, his mother's voice still echoing in the stairwell. "Get down here at once!"

Sirius stuffed the letter back into the envelope and slid it into his jacket. He carefully reopened his door and slid down the banister, coming to a halt in the hallway at his mother's feet.

"Yes, mother?" he asked as civilly as he could manage, straightening and glaring back at Bella, who was leaning impatiently against the wall.

"It is time for you to gather your school supplies." Sirius felt a flare of hope; maybe now he could convince her to let him go alone! "As you know, your father and I simply cannot spare the time, so I have asked your cousin Bellatrix to allow you to accompany her."

Sirius stared at his mother. "Can't I just go alo—"

"No, my boy," Mrs. Black interrupted smoothly. "You are still young, and must be protected." Her black eyes were hard, but she used her motherly voice. Sirius felt his ire rise—Bella wouldn't protect him. She was more in the market of terrorizing him.


"And you'll give her no trouble, or I shall have to be angry with you. Do you understand?" Sirius felt his blood run cold at her words. He felt the familiar urge to get out of the house, so he nodded quickly. "Good. Thank you again, Bellatrix."

"It's no trouble, Aunt, I assure you," she smiled, gliding smoothly out the door. Sirius followed her quickly, getting away from his mother as quickly as possible. He stayed a couple steps behind his cousin until she reached back and dragged him up by his jacket collar.

"Walk with me, Sirius. Pretend you like me," Bella smirked.

"That would take far too much effort," Sirius snapped back, sidestepping her backhand swing. He threw his arm up and grabbed her wrist, feeling the urge to twist her arm—but she caught him across the cheek lightly with her other hand and moved close to his ear.

"Now, now. You wouldn't want me to have to tell your mother you misbehaved, would you?" she crooned softly. Sirius released her immediately, stepping away and putting his back to her so she wouldn't see his expression.

Bella kept walking, humming softly to herself. Sirius couldn't bring himself to look at her face, see her smug expression, see the superiority in her eyes. He quickened his pace until he was far ahead of her, an idea forming in his mind.

She caught up with him outside the Leaky Cauldron, an expression of supreme distaste on her face. "Let's get your stupid things quickly, and get out of that Alley," she whispered in his ear, but he brushed her off. He moved ahead of her into the pub, trying to lose her in the crowd.

Unfortunately, the crowd parted for them, allowing her an easy time of keeping up with him. Sirius inwardly cursed his family and their blasted reputation, and decided he had to wait for Diagon Alley to lose her.

They made it out to the back and into the Alley with no problem. Sirius felt the colorful and cheerful atmosphere of the street wash over him—he almost forgot Bella was with him until she dragged him into the Alley, radiating hostility.

The trip went too quickly for Sirius. Bella dragged him from shop to shop, purchasing item after item and thrusting it into his arms. Finally, they'd collected his entire list, and she turned to give him an expectant glare.

He rolled his eyes and moved to the side of the street, then commanded in a sharp voice—"Kreacher!"

With a crack, the house-elf appeared in front of him. "Yes, Young Master?" he sneered with a low bow. Bellatrix smirked.

"Take these back to the house," Sirius commanded grumpily, shoving the packages into his arms. Kreacher took the burdens, bowed low to Bella, and disappeared with another sharp crack.

"Lazy," Bella murmured, latching onto his sleeve and dragging him towards the Alley crossroads.

"Where are you going?" he asked, trying to keep his voice steady.

"Where are we going, you mean. Knockturn Alley, there's some things I need to pick up—" Sirius stopped. "Come on, you think we're here just for you?"

She gave a particularly hard yank and dragged him towards the Dark Alley. The idea blossomed further in his mind, so he obediently followed her down, letting her think she'd won. She walked confidently, falling back into her normal arrogant stride as they moved into the other Alley. Sirius began slowing his pace, keeping it steady and even. With luck, she wouldn't notice it until—there!

He ducked aside into a nearby shop when he was far enough behind her. He risked a glance out the window; she'd never even looked back.

Feeling happiness wash over him, Sirius darted back into the Alley a moment later and made for the exit. If he could get back to Diagon Alley, he could be free for a little while—

"Hello, there, young man." A thin, cold hand grasped his shoulder as a dirty looking woman pulled him aside. "Would you be interested in my nice little collection of—"

"No, thank you, ma'am," Sirius muttered quickly, writhing out of her grasp and practically running for the mouth of the Alley. He slipped between two men coming in and dashed out into the open. Freedom!

Sirius slowed his pace as he walked down Diagon Alley, taking his time to look into the shops and enjoy the clean feeling of the street. Anything to be out of the stifling air of Knockturn Alley.

He came to a stop in front of the windows of his favorite shop, apart from the joke shop, of course. Quality Quidditch Supplies…he stood in front of the window for what felt like hours, savoring the sight of the newest broom on the market.

Finally, he turned to actually go into the shop—and collided head on with another boy. Both of them ended up on the pavement. Sirius shook his head and sat up, glancing at the other boy.

He was sprawled on the pavement, giving no more than a self-pitying moan to show he was still alive. Sirius wasn't sure what to say, but settled for leaning over him and shaking his shoulder.

"Are you ok?" The boy opened his eyes slowly and blinked, then shook his head.

"Yeah," he replied, sitting up quickly and throwing out his arm. He began feeling around on the ground in a peculiar manner. "Bloody…"

"What are you…doing?" Sirius asked slowly, watching the boy's hands creep across the pavement.

"Looking for my glasses," the other replied, his manner distracted. He started to get to his knees and widen his sweep, but Sirius noticed a pair of round, silver-rimmed glasses lying on the walk a few feet from them and snatched them up. He pressed them into the boy's hands.

"Are these them?"

"Yeah, thanks," the boy replied, slipping his glasses onto his face. He reached out to shake Sirius's hand. "James Potter."

"Hello," Sirius replied simply, not wanting to disclose his name. But James was looking at him expectantly, so Sirius fumbled for an answer. "My name's Sirius," he replied lamely. James looked at him strangely for a moment, but smirked and seemed to accept the answer.

"Cool," was his only remark. He glanced at the shop. "You going in?"

"Yeah, I was going to." Sirius glanced at the shop window again, taking a moment to admire the broom again. When he glanced back at James, the other boy was doing the same, but with an expression of nearly worship.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" James murmured. Sirius smiled.

"Come on, let's go in."

More than an hour later, the two boys finally dragged each other out of the shop, each making a dramatic show of self-denial. They'd almost gotten to the wailing part of their act when a sharp voice rang out from behind them.

"Sirius Black!"

Sirius froze, and felt James stiffen beside him. He risked a glance at his new friend as he turned around; James was staring at him as if seeing him for the first time. Sirius thought he saw him mouth the word 'Black' to himself and felt his heart drop through his stomach.

When he finally turned all the way, he wanted to punch Bella in the mouth.

His cousin was stalking up to stand in front of him, glaring at him with her full Bellatrix Black glare. He didn't back down, his anger rising with each heartbeat. He hadn't wanted James to know what family he came from, not when he was becoming such a good friend.

He felt movement beside him; James had taken a step back. He stood silently at the edge of the walk, watching the exchange.

"Sirius Black, I told you to come with me!"

"I didn't want to go down there—you're not my keeper!"

"I am for today! You're going to listen to me or—"

"Or what?" Sirius sneered, giving her his full glare of death. She didn't respond, but reached out and grasped his upper arm almost hard enough to break it.

"Come on. We're going home." She jerked him forward, dragging him along with her out of the Alley. Sirius threw a glance over his shoulder and saw James still standing there, his face carefully blank.

"Bella, let me go—"

"Shut up," she said coldly into his ear as she pulled him out of the Alley. He struggled, nearly breaking free of her grasp until she smacked him hard across the face. "And you can be sure your mother will hear of this."

The comment froze his blood; he stopped fighting. He would only make his case worse, if she didn't kill him already. He allowed Bella to drag him all the way home, drawing at least a little satisfaction from her furious expression.

Bella threw open the front door, pushing him hard against the wall as she stormed into the house. Sirius remained where he was, standing perfectly still. He listened to Bellatrix storm up the grand staircase, heard the door to the parlor slam. He closed his eyes, drawing in deep breaths and trying to get his heartbeat back under control.

An eternity later, the parlor door opened and footsteps began to descend the stairs. Sirius lost his battle for control as his heart leapt into his mouth, his breathing ragged and shallow. But it was only Regulus.

His younger brother came into view and caught sight of Sirius. The boy's face was unreadable for a moment, then a sneering smirk spread across it. Sirius tried to glare back, but couldn't spare the energy. He was still trying to will his heart to stop.

Then it opened. The parlor door creaked in the peculiar manner that indicated careful deliberation. Two sets of footsteps began echoing down the staircase. The first was heavy and quick—he recognized it as Bella's. The second was light, careful, and menacing. His whole body ached with dread.

Bella came into view first. The cold smile on her face barely registered in his mind. He didn't have time to consider her. He needed the precious moments to panic.

Then came his mother. She descended the last few steps calmly, as if nothing was wrong. Her face was impassive; her eyes were piercing and blank. She held out her hand to him, letting a small but sad smile grace her thin lips. She donned an expression of motherly concern, as if saddened she must punish a favorite child. Sirius knew better.

He didn't see Bellatrix's gleeful expression. He didn't see Regulus glance at his feet for a second before slipping quickly out of the hall. All he saw were the hand—and the eyes.

He couldn't resist them. Slowly, unwillingly, his feet moved from under him. His body drew him closer until he stood before her, his mind was paralyzed with fear.

She laid her hand on his shoulder gently. Turning, she began leading him up the stairs. He followed, dread leadening his footsteps. She drew him to the parlor, ushered him through the door. She made a show of sadly picking up her wand from the hall table, but Sirius could see the cold malice glittering through the false concern.

"We're going to have a little talk, Sirius," she said slowly, honeying her words. He knew what she meant. She was going to make him pay for his little trick.

She used to tell him, 'just a little prick here' or 'a mild sting there', all in the name of discipline. But by now, she'd given that up. He knew she wasn't above using any spell she knew—someday, she might even use an Unforgivable. So now, she just called their disciplinary sessions 'talks'.

She closed the door softly behind her and placed a silencing charm around the room. "Now, Sirius—" she pointed her wand at his heart, "—let us begin."