"Listen here, you overstuffed, greasy git. I will curse you into a personal hell if you don't stand aside."

It isn't often that one is confronted with a savage man holding a wand to one's head. From personal experience, I can assure you that it isn't a pleasant experience. Especially if said man is not only an unwashed savage, but a certifiable maniac. Who probably stole that wand.

"Snivellus, I swear to you that I will make you suffer if you delay me one more second. And I will enjoy seeing you writhe on the ground like the poisonous worm you are. Once more I will tell you to MOVE!"

One might wonder how an educated and refined person would find himself in such a degrading and potentially life-threatening position. Not that the idiot could take me in a fair duel.

"Sirius, if I could be certain that your rash nature was finally carrying you towards your inevitable downfall, I can assure you I would be the first to hasten you towards it. But I have...orders. Among them was the expectation that I would stop you from behaving like a idiotic schoolboy."

I can assure you, no one is more shocked by my present circumstances than I. Once on the fast track to success and glory, I allowed my - conscience, I suppose - to sidetrack me.

Though I long for the day when such vulgar arrogance is struck down, when those with cool logic rule over the hot-headed heroes, I cannot stand... Well, mass genocide, to be blunt. I am not willing to do anything to bring about my vision of the future. Which is why I found myself at the mercy of a man I loathe.

I loathed.

"You sniveling bastard," Sirius growled at me. His hair was unkempt and wild and his hand clutched compulsively at his wand. "Harry is in danger."

"I am aware of Potter's situation. If you recall, I was the one who informed you," I crossed my arms and glowered down at him. It had been a long, muddy trek down the winding road to get outside of Hogwarts grounds so I could apparate to Grimmauld Place. The bottom of my best robe was wet, my feet were cold, and my shoes were covered in muck - all so I could stop this imbecile from going on a suicide mission.

Remus Lupin was lurking about, trying to calm Sirius down. The spineless idiot couldn't even control his so-called friend. Worthless. Sirius was choking in rage, his face turning obscene shades of purple in an effort to keep from killing me.

I sighed heavily. "Black, Dumbledore was very clear on one thing - under no circumstances are you to go trotting about, waving your wand and attacking people. As much as I would enjoy seeing the Dark Lord use you for target practice..." I trailed off with a smirk.

The mangy cur's tentative hold on sanity snapped and he lunged at me. I whirled gracefully to the side, avoiding Sirius' pinwheeling limbs and watching with disgust as he panted on the ground.

"You foul beast," he barked. "You greasy, disgusting, bloated bat! This is Harry we're talking about! And if I have to kill you to get to him, then I will do so - with pleasure."

With unexpected speed and grace, Sirius lept to his feet and shoved me against a wall. I stumbled, crying out in shock. Suddenly there was a wand pressed against my neck.

"I am going to save Harry now, Snivellus," Black said slowly and deliberately. "You are going to stand on the sidelines and watch. Like always." Our eyes locked. His were mad and bloodshot, his breath was coming in ragged bursts.

There are times in every man's life when one is confronted with a choice. A devil's decision between the easy path - the road that seems to be your destiny - and the way that only fools tread. Sometimes, however unlikely, the fools' path is the correct choice.

Do not make the error of mistaking me for a philosopher or a man with tender sentiments towards human kind. I embrace logic and planning, not heroic last stands with trumpets blaring and flags waving. And yet - yet I have, in my past, chosen the path lined with such prosaic things.

In that moment, with Sirius Black facing me down, I could have drawn my wand at any time. I could have stopped him.

I chose not to. With a bitter smile, I stepped graciously aside. He rushed out the door, followed by Lupin.

On the threshold he paused, watching me. He was framed in the dying sun and seemed - translucent. As if he had already started to leave this world for the next. Our eyes met again, his thanking, mine denying.

Then he was...


Disclaimer: All characters and situations belong to J.K. Rowling. Sometimes I just like to play in her sandbox.

A/N: Just a little thought I had. Let me know what you think.