A/N: love to reviewers.
Black hair, grey-blue eyes, and a personality that screamed "Motorcycle." He was always that reckless sixteen year old, in a way. Even twenty years later, when his hair was no longer roguishly elegant, and his features no longer healthy and adolescent, and his mind no longer clear and sane, he was still a bit of that sixteen year old rebel. He was still a bit of that sixteen year old, who ran away from home and bought himself a motorcycle, so he could feel free- be free from his parents.
He didn't lose his sanity in Azkaban. It was already gone by then. He did not protest as the Ministry witch angrily informed him that Crouch had sent him to Azkaban for life, without a trial. He did not protest as the dementors locked him in his cell, and he did not protest when they visited daily, wanting to suck every last bit of life out of him. He was the original rebel, and he didn't need to protest to rebel against them. His silence, his appearance of sanity, was rebellion enough.
But he wasn't sane. Not without James. Not without the freedom that James had bought him when they had become friends. In Azkaban, they thought they had silenced the rebel, but they had not. He was rebelling- for James, for Lily, and for himself. Because that's what he did. He was a rebel.
The only thing- inanimate object (though he did not always see it like that)- that he missed in Azkaban was that motorcycle. That motorcycle, which he had given to Rubeus Hagrid to rescue Harry with. That motorcycle that spelled freedom, and that meant loud noises and irritation for the type of people like his parents. He missed being sixteen.
But you couldn't silence the rebel.
You couldn't silence that Black.
He'd been fighting fiercer opponents since he was five, and the walls of Azkaban could not contain him. He'd fought his father, his mother, and sometimes his brother- his brother, the traitor. He'd trusted Regulus- believed him to be more than what his Mother had thought. But was he? What was Regulus now? Dead, most likely. But he didn't need Regulus, he told himself. He didn't need anyone. No walls could hold him in- not even Azkaban's. Especially not Azkaban's. All he needed was his freedom, and that was what he was best at getting.
For a few months, while hunting Peter Pettigrew, he was free once more. He was running, but he didn't mind running. It was hiding that he hated. Nothing would keep him in; nothing ever could. Grimmauld Place had kept him in for so long, but he'd escaped that when he went to Hogwarts. He had become a Gryffindor, almost permanently separating himself from that house he hated so much. And then, he had returned after fifth year, and he found he could not live there any longer at all. Not even for the two months of summer holiday could he remain there. He needed to leave- to be free.
So he went to the Potters'. He was free there for a year, but he made a mistake at Hogwarts. He nearly lost himself his freedom at Hogwarts. He nearly murdered. And so, when he returned to the Potters' for the next summer, he packed his things, thanked them- (for they- in a year- had been more of a family than sixteen years of Noble and Ancient Blacks) and left. He bought himself a flat, and that motorcycle.
Remus grinned at it as a frivolous investment, and Lily smiled at it (once she was on smiling terms with him) as an understandable toy that Sirius enjoyed. But James saw it for its function as a necessity in his life. He needed that motorcycle. And he was perfect for it. He'd never been "in love" before, except maybe with that motorcycle.
It was a part of his personality: anyone would tell you that.
He was the rebel- with the leather jacket, aviator shades, smirk, and motorcycle: a rebel with a cause, because he would show up to the Order meetings with that motorcycle, glad to be rebelling against Voldemort. Glad to be fighting. He was good at that.
But when Voldemort killed James and Lily- when Peter betrayed them- he lost that motorcycle. He stood in the rubble and wreckage of what had once been Godric's Hallow and stared through the smoke- tears in those stormy blue eyes for the first time in many years. He hadn't cried since he was seven- he hadn't cried since his mother had told him never to cry again. He had been sad before- when James's parents died, when Eve Lavenza had died, when he'd been deserted for those few days by the other Marauders... but never like this.
And he lost his sanity at the same moment he lost his freedom. And also at that moment, he lost that motorcycle.
He tracked Peter with only the intent to kill the thing that had betrayed them all and that had taken away James. He did not run from the authorities, for he cared less for his freedom than for vengeance against the thing that had taken all that he loved: James, Lily, and even Harry. Harry: off to live as he had. In a house he hated, with a family that hated him.
But he too had to return to that house. When Peter escaped, and the Voldemort returned, and he could no longer hide in his islands, he returned to London. He returned to that house that he hated. For Lily, he told himself. For Harry. For James.
He wasn't free in that house. He was alone, with a house-elf that hated him, and a picture that screamed at him. Dumbledore and Hogwarts were no rescue for the sixteen-year-old thirty-five-year-old. He was still handsome, young- if not a teenager-, and he had the motorcycle. But he could not ride it anywhere, and he was not free. He wasn't himself, if he wasn't free.
Then, he got the opportunity to be free one last time. To leave that house, and do something noble. To repay James for the freedom that James had bought him at Hogwarts. He would fight for Harry.
And he fell through the curtain, but he had redeemed himself. He had redeemed himself for Snape back in sixth year, for the Lily and James's deaths, for Harry. It was James who had bought the freedom, and it was because of that debt to James that he had had to repay him- through Harry. He had had to live at Grimmauld Place for James and Harry. But not longer.
And on the other side of the curtain, he was sixteen again. Sixteen and reckless, with smooth black hair, grey-blue eyes, and a personality that screamed "Motorcycle."
Dedicated to JS-K: The Rebel