Part Two: Innocent Traitor
Sirius Black laid against the cold cement wall of his cell, as his half-lidded eyes barely registered his surroundings. In the flickering candle-light, he saw the outlines of the bars that held him in; he saw the silhouettes of his demon guards as they swept past, tattered robes of black sweeping behind them. He shivered, out of habit.
He assumed it was night; however, there was no real way for him to confirm his suspicions as there were no clocks, or Muggle watches, or even windows. Time was nothing but darkness inside the bowels of Azkaban.
Something drifted past the bars of his prison, and a plate appeared on the ground before him. Was it that time already? he wondered, even as he pulled himself up and staggered over to the newly arrived dish. Picking it up, he moved back to his wall, not even reacting when a horrible scream of agony pierced the silence from only a few steps away.
Mechanically, and without feeling, he began to eat the slop that passed for edible fare here in the wizards' dungeon. Screams were nothing new to him, nor were the other sounds of human suffering that came to him through the eternal night. Soon they would fade away, for only the new prisoners ever reacted as so, when they still had some humanity left within them.
How long exactly he had been confined within these walls was a mystery, but he knew that it must be near a decade now. A decade that he had been locked up with murderers and betrayers, thieves and Death Eaters. One innocent man in a sea of guilty. Not that it mattered, of course. No one knew he wasn't guilty; no one knew that he hadn't been the one to betray James and Lily.
Sirious coughed, and he put the slop down onto the ground, no longer even remotely hungry. James and Lily, Harry and Remus, and that insidious bastard Wormtail were often at the forefront of his thoughts. So many times he had revisited that night in his mind, in his dreams. He remembered riding up on his motorbike, and seeing the end of everything; he could still see Harry dwarfed in Hagrid's huge arms, watching as his godson was taken away.
But most of all, he remembered finding Peter.
Peter, cowering. Peter, as Sirius yanked him out of hiding and threw him out on the street. Peter, grinning a split second before the night exploded and his memory went dark. Ten years later, Sirius Black was still angry and unforgiving, if only of himself.
Why had he suggested the change of Secret Keeper? Why had he been so completely confident that this was so obviously the best course of action, that no one would ever think of Wormtail, and that James, Lily and their son would be so much better off? He had reassured them, even as James shook his head and Lily held Harry just a little closer. Her green eyes told him more than she could ever say, and yet he had just ignored their protests and pushed Peter towards them.
With that push, he had killed his best friends. The only man that he had ever trusted, the only woman he had ever truly loved. They were to him like siblings, but so much closer than that; they had been a part of him. He would have died for them; he should have died for them. Sirius grimaced in the dim light, as yet another forgotten scream floated through the air.
And Harry. Just a boy, just a baby, just another innocent casualty of war. The child with the familiar black hair and glowing emerald eyes strayed constantly into the prisoner's thoughts. The boy saviour, the hero, the one who had ended the war. And yet all Sirious could think about was the fact that that child was an orphan, parents so cruelly taken away from him by another man's mistake.
Sirius Black slid down the wall and laid down on the cold, sticky floor of his cell, and gazed up, studying the imperfections in the ceilings and the pockmarks that were like tiny, dead stars in the sky. Stars whose light had been extinguished. Stars that had fallen from the heavens.
He was not prone to tears, but if he had been, he knew he would be sobbing by now. His heart clenched inside his chest as he thought of everything that had passed, and the things that would never be. Peter, the traitor, the scum that had life when James and Lily did not. Remus, outcast, a tortured soul that never stopped fighting for the world that hated him. Harry, his godson, forever alone.
Sirius clenched his fists, and a strange anger enveloped him. An anger, that he soon realized, borne of exasperation and helplessness. All of his life, Sirius had been part of the action, he had been there to help. Whether it was running with Moony under the moon's soft illumination or fighting back to back with James against the forces of evil, he had always been able to be there.
And now, caught behind the walls of the world's greatest fortress, he couldn't be there.
A long moment passed. A sigh escaped his lips and he rolled back over onto his front and propped himself back up against the wall, pulling his knees up to his chin. His eyelids began to droop, and he was about to drop into the forgiving land of sleep when he heard a voice come from nearby.
A human voice.
Quickly, he crawled over to the bars of his prison and tried to listen. Suddenly now, all the screams of horror and pain were so loud, he could barely hear. Straining, he finally managed to catch the conversation.
"-and yes, the last twelve years have been relatively calm. There's no need for worry."
Twelve years? Had he really been in here that long?
"Yes, of course, Minister."
The voices were coming closer. Sirius looked out, and he saw the Minister of Magic coming his way, companion beside him and the Daily Prophet tucked in underneath his arm. And the picture, on the top right corner... no... it wasn't possible.
Cornelius Fudge was approaching now, and Sirius knew this was his only chance. He had to know.
"Minister, could I have a look at your paper?"
Fudge looked down at him, and when he registered Sirius Black's face, he couldn't help the revulsion and horror that came to his face. After all, he had been there twelve years ago. However, he supposed, this man had gotten his due. He would, of course, be in here forever.
The Minister passed the paper down to Sirius without a word and walked away, flunky in tow. And Sirius Black, ultimate traitor of the wizarding world, understood. Peter Pettigrew was not dead. He wasn't dead.
But he soon would be. In the black night of Azkaban, Sirius Black formed a plot of revenge.