Summary: The words, he knew, would forever haunt him, as words had a terrible tendency to do… Sirius Black was not the first innocent Prisoner of Azkaban, and the Bloody Baron knows why. By Aerin.

AN: Came to me after I saw the 2002 film again. SO I started typing and figured this was a good way to tell people I was alive, back from vacation, and hopefully posting new chapters soon. Heh. It is somewhat of a companion fic to No One Mourns the Wicked, being a part of what I have come to think of as the Hogwarts Ghost Stories. Also, please note that despite the quote, this is not a religious story. I'm agnostic myself—I just love that quote.

Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all related trademarks belong to JK Rowling, not me. The quotes at the beginning and end of this selection are taken from the 2002 film directed by Kevin Reynolds, as are the words carved on the wall.

Baron of Blood

-- "I don't believe in God."

-- "It doesn't matter. He believes in you."

Alexandre Dumas' "The Count of Monte Cristo"

The words "God will give me justice" were carved on the wall of his cell. When he first had seen them, he had begun to laugh desperately. There was no justice, not in this place, not in the world. Justice was an illusion created to give the masses a false sense of security, that no matter what happened there was hope. Hope was as nonexistent as justice was.

Eventually, however, he had caved in to the last vestiges of hope and traced the carvings with a loose sharp stone until they were dark and full and a centimeter deep. Then, with nothing further to do, he took to counting the stones in the walls. There were 72,519. He counted them many times, full of boredom and despair.

Innocence kept him sane, though it was no comfort. Innocence was blood-filled thoughts of so-called friends that abandoned you at the first sign of trouble and refused to believe that you didn't do it, when they had sworn they'd stand by you forever. Innocence was the woman you loved leaving sobbing in the arms of your ex-best friend, the traitor, and seeing him smirk as he comforted her. Innocence was knowing you'd lost all you loved for eternity. Innocence was knowing you were damned.

No one would come for him. No one cared. At his trial (the farce, the mockery of justice) there had only been anger, pain, and hate. He had pleaded with Adelaide to believe him, but she chose Richard instead… the Richard that his parents had taken in as their own son when the elder Blacks died, the Richard that he himself had loved as a third brother, until the day when everything changed.

Adelaide had told him once that speaking was a horrible way to express emotion, because there was so much you couldn't say in words. The words, he knew, would forever haunt him, as words had a terrible tendency to do. He had loved her with his very soul, would have given anything to protect her… but he could not protect him from herself. She had made her choice, and he must live with it, if this was life.

His name was Alexander Zabini, and the year was, to his nearest approximation, 1734. He was dying. The Dementors chilled him, mind, body, and soul. He would not last much longer. It was not unlikely that he would die that very night, he knew. He could feel his death approaching, like a scent on the wind. He wondered idly if he would be able to see Adelaide again, once he was gone.

Seven days later, Alexander Zabini died. A fellow prisoner had managed to break through his cell and in to the one next door- Alexander's. He stabbed him to death with a broken pipe. Alexander could not help but feel relieved it was over. No more Dementors for him. There was no funeral; just a few guards throwing the body into the sea.

There was a sort of whooshing feeling, as lights and colours swirled around him. He felt the blackness surround him. The next thing he knew, he was lying in the Hogwarts dungeons. It was a very easy place for him to recognize; it was not only where Jonathon's Common Room had been, but also where he had been found by the body of said brother with his wand beside him, the tip still glowing faintly green.

Richard had killed Jonathon, he knew. Taken Alexander's wand and killed his brother. He still remembered the look on Jonathon's face… and he did not want to forget it. In his mind, it was his penance for not seeing what Richard was sooner, and saving his brother.

That day had been the most horrible day of his life, even worse than the so-called trial. He had gone to see Jonathon, just to talk to him about an interesting book he had found in the library… and had stumbled upon his brother's dead body, with Alexander's own wand by his side, the same wand he had loaned to Richard just and hour earlier since his friend had "left his own in the dorm."

Richard had always been jealous of he and Jonathon, he knew—Jonathon for getting into the House Richard himself had so desired and Alexander for having Adelaide. Nonetheless, he had never thought that Richard would resort to something like this. He had been terribly wrong.

And so it was that when he came to after his death the first thing he discovered was that he was at a well-known place. The next thing he discovered was than not only was he quite dead, he seemed to be fairly incorporeal. He looked down at himself in mild surprise. He was covered in silvery blood, and was still in the prison garb he had been wearing when he'd been stabbed.

He absentmindedly floated down the hallways and into the Great Hall, where the Headmaster, Phineaus Nigellus Black, glared at him, called him slime, and told him to get lost. Mainly to spite the man (Black had always rather despised his family for taking in his nephew Richard, the biggest mistake they had ever made), he instead chose to remain, and began to haunt the school.

He did not speak. This unnerved many, but the way he saw it, he had no reason to speak to them. The only thing they wanted to know was why the Headmaster despised him so and how he came to be covered with blood—not questions he was likely to answer. The only times he would speak were to convince Peeves, a young poltergeist, to leave the students and teachers alone. He remembered Peeves, who had always annoyed him when he was alive, and had no desire to put up with now that he was dead.

Years passed. Eventually, as he mainly haunted the dungeons, berating himself for Jonathon's death, he became known as the Slytherin House ghost. He did not care, nor did it matter that he had never been in Slytherin. Jonathon had been, and he owed it to him to do something to honor his House.

Every so often, he would pop in on Richard and Adelaide. It was painful, but it was another thing he owed to Jonathon. He had not seen Richard's betrayal coming, and now he must deal with the consequences. He watched as they grew older, had their children. And he watched, to his amazement, on the day when Richard told her The Truth.

She slapped him, and despite himself he found that he admired her strength. She began to cry. She told Richard that he was a bastard, and if he thought that she would stay with him after that he was a fool. She packed her bags and left… to Hogwarts, actually, though he didn't know it at the time. All he knew was that Richard finally had something go wrong in his plans, and it was with mild happiness that he returned to the dungeons.

He did not, by any means, expect to meet Adelaide there. He stopped, floating in midair, and she skidded to a halt, staring at him. "Alexander?" she breathed in shock. He saw her eyes drift down to the silvery bloodstains, and widen in horror. "Oh Alexander, I was a fool, I should have believed you…"

And as much as he wanted to forgive her, he cannot. He found that it is far too late. He is dead having been killed in a hell on earth that she refused to try and save him from. She wed his brother's murderer and did not believe him of the truth, when he, Alexander Zabini, had sworn to love her for all eternity. He would love her for all eternity. He never went back on a promise. But that did not mean he would ever forgive her.

"Yes," he said, his voice slightly gravelly from disuse. "You should have." And he floated through a wall rather than have to talk to her again. She stayed at Hogwarts as the Transfiguration teacher, and died of old age in her sleep. Perhaps she was haunted by dreams, as he had been when he was alive.

The years continued by. Fall turned into winter, winter into spring, spring into summer. Soon enough, Headmaster Black passed away, and an obnoxious man took the post of Headmaster, while a man named Albus Dumbledore became the Transfiguration professor in Adelaide's place.

Twenty years or so after that, the Chamber of Secrets was opened. A second year by the name of Hagrid was expelled, despite Dumbledore's protests that he could have had nothing to do with it. Someone had to go, after the girl's death. Her name was Myrtle, and she began to haunt the castle as well.

A Dark Lord named Grindlewald rose in 1933. He was killed by Dumbledore. Voldemort rose in 1971. He was defeated by a boy named Harry Potter, and Lily and James died. Alexander remembered Lily and James. They had been Head Boy and Girl in their time. They had seemed kind. She would have believed James, if told he had murdered his brother.

Potter came to school, eventually. He was tormented by a boy named Draco Malfoy. It was intriguing to watch their fights. Eventually, Potter too left the school. He married the redhead, Ginny Weasley. He never even noticed that the one with the beautiful brown hair, Hermione, who looked like his Adelaide, was in love with him. He never noticed he was in love with her. He did what was expected of him. He looked like his father, and he married the girl who looked like his mother, his best friend's sister, and perhaps he was happy.

Hermione wasn't. It was only a few years after Myrtle left when she committed suicide and drifted to Hogwarts. He knew by the scars on her wrists. They talked, sometimes. They had both died for love and betrayal, in a way. Voldemort was dead now, she said, but that did not make the world completely better. He knew that very well.

When the little Potter with her mother's red hair came to Hogwarts, she would avoid her. She couldn't talk to her, or face her. It was a physical reminder of Harry and that didn't love her the way she loved him. He understood. It was why he had had to avoid Adelaide's children, when they had come to Hogwarts.

Years passed. The words forever haunted him, as words had a terrible tendency to do. And when he found that he was falling in love with the ghost of Hermione Granger, he wondered if he might have one shot at happiness after all.

-- "I don't believe in God."

-- "It doesn't matter. He believes in you."

FIN