I've been wanting to write something Sirius-centric for a bit, and last week I got a bit of inspiration after walking a couple miles in 10-degree weather. Yeah, that's pretty cold, kids. I wear glasses too and kept fogging them up because of my scarf, which made me think of Harry, and then James, and Sirius, and Azkaban...and this came out of it, finally. Also, I don't agree with Sirius on the last statement, but it made such a good ending line I couldn't cut it.

It is cold in Azkaban.

It's the dementors, Sirius supposes (how could it be anything else) because it is always, always cold when dementors are around. Still, he knows it isn't only the temperature that has him shivering against metal and stone (though maybe it's winter outside, how would he know, there aren't any windows or sun or air and they're keeping him like a caged animal). This cold, somehow, is more than just absence of warmth, it's a thing, its own invading presence, slipping in through all the cracks—under his skin, filling his veins.

It's thanks to the dementors, it always comes back to dementors, he thinks: feverishly, struggling for sanity. They steal emotion, not just happiness—because emotions are hot things: joy, pain, frustration, love, passion, anger, they all burn with some kind of adrenaline, some flame that keeps you alive, makes you human. So when the dementors glide by and blanket you with that choking, clammy fog, they don't just take your mind and your memories, they take you—your human self—and leave you empty.

This is insane, Sirius thinks, the ever-present laughter—still tinged with madness—falling from his mouth. He is reduced to analyzing what holds him captive here. And he laughs (last of the Blacks; mad, mad, mad), and his laughter rebounds from the stone walls with a razor-edge of mockery.

Cold chokes out the laughter, too, unless it is only madness that laughs.

But this is not normal English cold, Sirius thinks again, restlessly (wishing he could pace but there's no room in his cell). Normal cold means winter, and snow, and trees gilt with frost. It means iced-over stairways and icicles in the arches. It means bundling up a bit—winter cloaks, and scarves, and turned-up collars and maybe a hat—and going out anyway. It means sliding about in a field of white, and shivering, and watching your breath mist upward; and you start a snowball fight, and end up thoroughly soaked and breathless, your hair tangled and matted from one too many direct hits, and you go inside and shake the snow off and fling yourself down in front of the common room fire, and (drowsily, there's nothing like a fire after a good snowball fight) listen to James Potter complaining that his glasses have all fogged up and he can't see a thing and will somebody do something about it, please?

But this is a happy thought, and Azkaban is only too willing to swallow it up, and there's nothing else but green light—green light, and scars, and shadow, and a chill that goes far deeper than the bones.

If there is a hell, Sirius Black is sure that it must be a cold one.

Review, and I'll make you some nice hot chocolate to warm you up.