Disclaimer: Everything associated with Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling. None of this is being done for profit and no copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: I don't really know what gave me this idea-- probably the whole St. Patrick's Day thing. I kind of just thought of one sentence that was alcohol-related, and it morphed into this. I wanted to take a stab at stream of consciousness in this, but I'm not really sure how well I did. It's all from Sirius' point of view. Anyway, Happy St. Patrick's Day (even though I'm not even slightly Irish)!!
Warning: Excessive alcohol use, but I hope you were able to tell this from the title.
Amber liquid in a crystal glass. It sloshed, back and forth, back and forth, as he tipped the glass at an angle and set it back down again. It had always looked like liquid sunshine or something poetic like that, to him, especially when the light hit the crystal glass just so.
Alcohol was something he knew a lot about.
He gazed blearily around the room. So now it was 'blearily' was it? Blearily. He'd never actually found out what that word meant. It had its own distinct meaning in his mind. 'Blearily' was just the way your eyes felt—kind of half closed and puffy—after you've had too many drinks to be properly sober, but not enough to be drunk. Right when the room seemed to move ever so slightly when you try to stand. Blearily. Yes, that was exactly how he gazed, even if he didn't even know what the word meant in the first place. He supposed Remus would know; he'd always been good with that word business.
He took a sip and closed his eyes.
Tattooed on the inside of his eyelids was five year old Reggie—back when Reggie had still been 'Reggie' to him and not 'Regulus' or 'annoying little berk'. Alcohol had equaled adulthood and sophistication back then, secretly stolen from his parents and poured carefully into this same set of crystal glasses. He, Sirius, had taken a gulp for himself—had forced it down. Burning. It smelled good on his breath. Reggie had sipped and dry retched. He had let the glass slip from his small and clumsy fingers, leaving it to shatter into millions of pieces on the floor. A dark stain on his mother's favorite rug. Reggie had cried and run to mother and Sirius had been mad and from then on the liquor cabinet was locked at all times.
Well, it sure as hell wasn't locked now. It wasn't very full, either. It was a pain having to bribe Mundungus to bring in bottles of cheap liquor. Seeing Molly's raised eyebrow wasn't a laugh either—she looked a lot more like his mother then.
He stood and walked to the grimy window and the room tipped and spun under his sure and even footing. The half full glass was clutched in his hand, fully in danger of losing its contents to the carpet, and he stared dully out to the street.
Well, it seemed he had moved on from 'blearily'. He was at another stage entirely now. 'Dully' was another one of those words that had cemented its own connotation within some obscure crevice of his brain. 'Dully' was the word you used when you forgot how many drinks you've had and old memories start to creep up on you like ivy up a brick wall and you're powerless to stop them. They constricted him and tightened around his throat and he knew the only way to throw them off was to keep drinking until everything was numb and he didn't feel them cutting into his skin anymore. They didn't even bother him anymore. This was routine.
He closed his eyes again and pressed his forehead against the cool, cool windowpane, but instead of seeing Reggie, he saw four young boys, faces flushed with rebellion and anticipation, grinning wildly.
James had nicked some firewhisky from Rosmerta's storeroom while he and Remus had distracted her. Peter had stood in the corner, gibbering, too nervous to watch. They had divvied it up equally that night in the privacy of their dormitory. He had been excited, and so had James. Remus was nervous, but eager, and Peter was, well, Peter. And they had drank and gulped and sipped and Peter had been the one who dry retched this time, but they had all laughed and laughed and gotten gloriously sick the next morning, reveling in this newfound freedom. Because it wasn't about adulthood anymore. He hadn't wanted to grow old.
He still didn't want to grow old. He'd been robbed of youth and of time. But there wasn't any way to be compensated for this. He had to accept it and move on.
He'd had to accept a lot in life. But it didn't really matter anymore. He tried not to think about it. Most days it worked, but it was this in-between stage, when he was caught in limbo between sobriety and whatever the last stage was, that troubled him the most because his thoughts seemed to flow incessantly.
But he had even found out how to stop those. To stem the tide. It was simple really. A trick that he had learned through many years of careful, intensive study. A trick that anyone, really, could learn.
A bottle or two or twelve (for who really knows how many) later, he lay on the floor, gazing unseeingly at the ceiling.
He had arrived at that last level. The paramount. 'Unseeingly' was when you couldn't even stand for the pressure on your head: when it feels like a hand or a great weight is keeping you down. It is a great trial to even pull air into your deflated lungs.
He couldn't have righted himself if he had tried and by now not one whole thought wound its way through his head and these are facts that he knows and loves and respects and holds deep in his chest for the wonderful blissful blank feeling he feels. It's all worth the sickness and the pounding headache in the morning. But it is easy enough to get rid of that, too.
All he has to do is pour another drink. He knew he would, too, even as he lay here sick and dizzy and vowing to never have another drink again. He knows he will: that he'll pitch himself back into his beautifully vicious cycle which is only broken when he has to come into contact with the outside world. It only seems to last a second—a flash in the darkness because all the sober days feel like seconds when he spends the majority of his time drinking and sick and passed out cold underneath the tapestry of the Black Family Tree. The days slipped like water through his closed fist. But his cycle, his system, his levels—they work. They are the only things that work.
Lodged within him, as he lies on the floor, he knows that if he fights the cycle, he will undoubtedly lose. No, it is better to submit gracefully to it. He chooses his battles.
Remus tries to guilt him out of it, finds reasons to stay at the house to keep him grounded and here. Laughing, joking, even swearing, he dodges Remus' pointed questions and even more directed stares.
We all have our vices he supposes. And Remus will sigh painfully and look the other way.
By the last stage, alcohol doesn't reek of maturity or autonomy. In fact it doesn't taste like very much at all by now.
Just one more minute of lying on the floor will surely enable him to stand. If he doesn't drink anymore today and just lies here for maybe five minutes, he'll feel much better. He doesn't want to be sick today, God no, please don't make him feel sicker. He closes his eyes and the floor pitches and spins horribly beneath him and he can't move. Not for anything in the world. Perhaps half an hour will do it. Then he'll be able to at least manage to crawl to the toilet—crawl like the sad and sorry thing he has become.
He regrets drinking so much as his stomach churns and his insides clench and his head feels ready to implode under the constant steady pressure.
He's straddling the blurry, fast graying line between cognizance and unconsciousness now. He's never known how to turn back from this. He feels he must surely be sick to get better, but he seems to have lost the ability to open and shut his mouth.
And he submits to this demon. He cannot fight this fight. No, he will surely lose.
He finds that the crystal glass is still clenched in his fist. He opens his mouth and pitches its contents in, even as every fiber and particle of his body screams in protest. It hits his mouth and burns. It eats away at his throat, his stomach, his intestines, at his very skin, and even at his mind, like potent, undiluted hydrochloric acid.
He lets the glass drop onto the wooden floor.
Shards of broken glass.
His mother's favorite glass.
Yes, we all have our vices.