Sirius Black sat on the bench in his cell about two months after he was sent to Azkaban Prison. A few people were screaming in the distance. He understood why, but was glad that he hadn't reached that point. A dementor glided past, causing him to relive some of his worst memories again.
Breaking his promise to Remus just to get back at Snape, nearly getting one of his best friends expelled or worse. Seeing the pain and the fear in Moony's eyes afterwards, when they told him what happened whist he convalesced in the hospital wing. James' anger at him for what he had done.
However, he didn't lose his mind as the others in Azkaban did. At least, he hadn't yet. He knew he was innocent; what did he care if the Ministry didn't. He wondered if any of those that were left believed him. He doubted it, for he had read the headlines. He also knew what it must have looked like in retrospect. He didn't feel angry about it anymore, actually, he didn't feel anything these days.
Another dementor glided past, this time accompanying a new prisoner. Part of his mind remembered that this prisoner was a werewolf, believed to have been working under Lord Voldemort. This part of his mind might have noticed that the before mentioned werewolf flicked an envelope into his cell while passing, but the rest of his mind was once again lost in some of his worst memories.
Believing that Remus was the spy, just because the Order was a bunch of bigots that couldn't see past his lycanthropy, and all but abandoning him. Convincing James and Lily to use Peter as their secret keeper instead. James and Lily's death. Peter escaping.
Sirius wondered if anyone had ever gotten used to the effects of the dementors. He doubted it, and seemed to recall Moony telling him about them during their sixth year at Hogwarts. He should have paid more attention to Moony. He should have done a lot of things. He remembered Moony telling him some muggle quote once (the boy knew so many from all those books he read); A man is not old until his dreams are outnumbered by his regrets, or something among those lines. He supposed that he and Remus had both become prematurely old then.
Suddenly his attention was drawn to a dingy looking envelope lying on the floor in front of him. The only thing written on it was a date, some weeks after he was sent here, but Sirius instantly recognized the handwriting. It was Moony's. He glanced in the direction that the werewolf had been taken in, but he couldn't see him. How could Moony have arranged to have a letter brought into Azkaban? What risks did he take to get this to Sirius?
Sirius tried to remember that Remus had every reason to hate him, and that this letter could be his way of letting Sirius go. That thought was enough to keep his building excitement down to a nervous level that would not attract the dementors.
Sirius held his breath as he started to read.
Sirius exhaled; Moony would not have called him that name if he were only writing to tell him off and then try to forget about him. Sirius continued reading.
I don't know why I am writing this letter. I know they don't normally allow prisoners of Azkaban to receive messages, and they certainly are not going to make an exception for a poor filthy abomination such as myself. However I need to say these things somehow, and I refuse to speak to myself, I've hardly spoken at all since Halloween anyway. I don't like to hear my own voice echo off these cold walls, because that makes me have to think about things that I would rather not.
Sirius doubted that he had to worry about this letter making him too happy now. Moony's pain was already starting to bleed through his words, at least to Sirius. He hadn't thought about how awful this whole ordeal must have been for the last marauder.
Such as the fact that I am never going to have my train of thought broken by your barking laughter, or hear that ridiculous motorcycle of yours pull up the walk. I will never again listen to you recounting the previous evening, when you played with the wolf as Padfoot. James and Lily will never write to say that Harry has taken his first steps or spoken his first word. Peter will never announce that he is seeing some new bird and that he's sure he's found 'the one' again. You and James will never teach Harry how to fly a broom or throw a dung bomb. I'll never help him with his homework as I did you and James when we were in Hogwarts.
Sirius was saddened by this, but also confused. He had also failed to think about where Harry had ended up. Why didn't he think of Remus and Harry before going after Peter? They could have sorted this out; they could have remained a family; if only he hadn't been so rash.
James; Lily; Peter…they're all gone now. I've been told that I can never contact Harry while he is at his Aunt and Uncle's home and he needs to stay there. They don't particularly like your kind, and they loath monsters like me entirely. You may as well have fallen off the planet. I truly am alone now, aren't I? Are you, as well? Or are you with the ones you chose to stand beside?
A few things stuck Sirius now. The first being how completely horrible he was for leaving Moony all alone like this. It had always been the poor werewolf's fear that he would be deserted by those he cared about, and now Sirius had made that fear come to pass. The other was that Harry was at Lily's awful sister's house, and Remus and the others could not contact him. He would never learn about his parents and the marauders. It also sounded like Moony was starting to doubt Sirius, which he had every reason to, and Moony was referring to himself as a monster again, which Sirius hated.
They say that you betrayed us. They say that I have to accept that. How can they say that as if it were such a simple thing? I can't accept this…not yet anyway. I never want to. Why would you do such a thing? You loved us…at least, that is what I've always believed. We all loved you…I still love you. How could you join Lord Voldemort? You always hated the cruel things that your family believed in.
Hope began to swell inside of Sirius. Perhaps Moony hadn't given up on Sirius, as he had once given up on him. Remus didn't accept what the Order and the Ministry said, and he still loved him. Sirius had often wondered, while they were at Hogwarts, if the sorting hat had difficulties in sorting Remus. He was true and loyal enough for Hufflepuff, clever and studious enough for Ravenclaw, just as he was courageous enough for Gryffindor. It seemed that he always would be.
Besides, weren't they the ones who told you that I was the spy, just because I'm a werewolf? I suppose everything you ever said to convince me that I was more then just a dark creature was simply to pacify me. Why else would you have believed them? I know you did. Had you just spoken to me, we might have sorted this mess out before we lost everything.
Again, Sirius felt repentant, because he knew that Moony was right. That hope in him was also growing, as it sounded like Moony knew in his heart that Sirius wasn't guilty.
There I go again, assuming that this is all some sort of mistake and that you are actually innocent. Perhaps you hadn't spoken to me those past weeks because you didn't want me to realize that you were the spy. I don't know that I would want to survive this if I believed that what they say happened is true. They say that time will help me to accept this. Time has never been a friend of mine, and I believe it owes me a favor, so time can wait. I wish it could just stop. But then, when have wishes ever favored me either?
A ghost of a smile touched Sirius' dry lips. Moony didn't believe it; he knew it was the logical explanation, but he refused to believe it. That would rule out Ravenclaw then.
After you became 'Padfoot' I told you that you made my transformations bearable. I never explained that. You see, aside from the physical pain and such, transformations caused me to lose my mind, or rather, my sense of self. I could only remember some feelings from when I was the wolf; darkness, coldness, pain, anger, and fear. You made all of that better, but now you're gone, all of you, and I feel that way all the time, even when the moon is far from full. The wolf hasn't taken to losing its pack well either.
Any trace of a smile vanished from Sirius. How could he have left Moony alone like this? How could he have allowed their pack, as Moony so perfectly called them, to die? They had made life bearable for each other, and now they were nothing but the soon-to-be shell of a human being and a miserable, anguished lone wolf.
I wonder if that is what Azkaban is like. I hate the thought of you in there. I know what the dementors are like. I know what it means to feel yourself slipping away. I know what it is to have people look at you and assume that you are dark and vile. I never wanted you to know those feelings. I had always wanted you to remain mercurial, cocky, carefree, and…well, all those things which drove me mad and made you Padfoot. I never wanted you to change.
Sirius had never wanted to change either, but maybe he should have. Then he wouldn't have gotten them into this situation. However another feeling, which he could only classify as comfort, was growing in him as he realized that Moony truly did understand how Sirius felt in this place…and that he did not want him to feel that way. He didn't hate him for any of it.
The Order has scattered to the winds. I think I might try to disappear into the muggle world for a while. The wizarding world just isn't the same without you. It's so cold without you. There are some muggle illnesses that require treatment once a month, in case anyone notices my disappearances, or my general appearance for that matter. I don't know if I can leave this place yet, though. All the memories of us are here. How can I leave all of that behind? I hate walking into a room and remembering us there, but I can't imagine being somewhere that I cannot see us at. I suppose I shouldn't complain about that dilemma to you, as you don't even have the luxury of making such a decision. I'm sorry. There isn't anything that I can do to help. I'm so sorry, Padfoot.
Leave it to ascetic Moony to feel guilty about feeling bad for himself when he had more right then anyone. Sirius also felt some annoyance that the Order could abandon them both like that. He wondered if Moony would last. He was a half-blood and a half-breed, and never seemed to belong in any world aside from the one that they created with the other marauders.
I managed to get your bike before Hagrid tore it apart. Actually, I have all of your things. No one else wanted them. I have no idea what I am going to do with it all. I could purchase a shed to put behind the cottage and just leave it all in there. I think that is what I will do.
Sirius was actually touched. Moony hated that bike, he always was worried that Sirius would be hurt or get into trouble because of it. Not only had he inevitably argued with an angry half-giant over it, but had also kept all of Sirius' belongings, and intended to keep them indefinitely. It was almost as if he expected Sirius to come back for them one day.
What happened, Padfoot? Where did everything go wrong? Is there anything I could have done that would have made you trust me enough to confront me about this or confide in me about what was going on? Did you really betray us all, or just me? Please tell me you didn't do this. Tell me that this is all some sort of terrible misunderstanding and that you'll come back one day after it's all sorted out, please. I'll believe you.
Sirius knew he would. He felt terrible that Remus thought this was his fault somehow; that he could have prevented this. The hope inside him swelled as the guilt and the anger rose. Sirius wished there was a way to talk to Moony; to tell him that it was all Sirius' fault, that Remus had done nothing to cause the others to mistrust him, and that yes, it was all just a terrible misunderstanding and he would happily return to Moony's side if given the chance.
Love always, Moony.
As his throat tightened and his eyes stung from that last declaration of love and loyalty, Sirius realized something. He was feeling. It was a bittersweet hope, a righteous anger, a weighing guilt, and an aching love. They weren't exactly happy, so the dementors weren't taking them away, but they weren't terrible either. Sirius would not go mad, he would not succumb to the fate of the other prisoners, because these feeling reminded him of who he was and what he had to survive for. He was innocent, and he wasn't the only one who believed it.
P.S. I'll wait for an answer…forever and a day if I have to, and I will believe you.
He was innocent and he would live to see Remus and Harry again somehow. He would get out of this place…and Moony would believe him. That was enough to sustain him, and it would be enough until he could answer Remus' questions…and Harry's, if he ever learned of all this. He was innocent, he was believed, and he would remain whole for his pack…forever and a day, if he had to.