He's at Hogwarts.
Sirius leaned against the brick wall, panting miserably with what little strength his lungs had.
The soaking wet man stood for several more minutes, still desperately trying to catch his breath. After a good while and many wipes of his face with his calloused hands, he looked around and tried to determine where he was.
He's at Hogwarts.
The streets were roughly paved and any lampposts unlit, so the question went unanswered and Sirius quickly transformed back into his dog form.
As Padfoot, things seem to light up as his senses keened, and looking left to right he saw he was on a dirty port on the shores of this unknown country.
Fine, he could walk.
For many miles he did just that, beating his weary paws on the gravel for hours on end. When daylight broke he took more to the alleys to avoid the people bustling out their front doors in a frenzy. The people that did see him would either hastily say 'good boy' and give him a pat or they would skirt around him nervously muttering about 'lack of animal control'.
The first evening of freedom found Sirius at a large train station, where he sat outside the platform staring up at the sign as he wagged his tail.
He was only a few days' travel from London.
And He's at Hogwarts.
Wiping the thought that had driven him so far already, Sirius trotted happily down the road, only to receive many disproving glares from subway travelers with their roasted coffee and cinnamon bagels.
Sirius's stomach growled uncomfortably.
Halfway through his second day, he wished desperately that he might apparate, but he knew what a danger that was. During his strolls through suburbs as an innocent and loveable stray, television reporters were listing all the dangers of a man named Sirius Black whose picture was posted on those strange screens.
Yes, to spontaneously appear somewhere would be both inadvisable and dangerous, and while he normally would not be bothered by the thought, another one tortured him and forced him to remain cautious and alert.
He's at Hogwarts.
Those words, that knowledge, had been with him since that fateful day in Azkaban where he decided to mess with the Minister and get a bit of a laugh before the Dementors' next round. Little did he know it would inspire him to do what he had fantasized about for so long.
"Minister, are you finished with that?" Sirius had asked politely, pointing to the folded issue of the Daily Prophet in the Fudge's hand.
"This," the man bumbled foolishly, still quite unnerved at talking to a psychotic mass murderer.
"Yes, I always enjoyed the crosswords."
The nervous man let off a string of words, some distinguishable and some not as he handed over the paper with a 'can't see the point'.
"Might I borrow a quill?" Sirius had required, watching color creep onto the other man's round cheeks.
"And I suppose you'll be wanting ink with that quill," the Minister assumed as he reached into his cloak pockets hurriedly.
"If you give a murderer a newspaper…" Sirius chided himself, remembering the old muggle book Andy used to read him.
"What was that?"
Sirius did not answer, for the front page had caught his attention. Across the top it read, Ministry of Magic Employee Scoops Grand Prize. The matter of the article wasn't all that important, but the picture.
"Is this true," Sirius asked his words slurring slightly as he rushed to get them out.
"Is what true?" the Minister replied harshly.
"This article, do these-these," he glanced down at the article, "do these Weasleys have children at Hogwarts?"
Fudge seemed rather mystified as to why a man imprisoned to a life in jail might want to know such a trivial fact about perfectly good strangers.
"Yes, rather large family," he said, holding out the requested quill and ink.
"No, no," Sirius waved away the offering as he tucked his long, matted hair away from his face with his other hand.
Cornelius Fudge left with a discontent 'hmph' and decorated flourish of his cloak.
Sirius continued to sit, staring at the picture…in particular the boy with a rat sitting on his shoulder, a rat with one toe missing.
He's at Hogwarts.
The thought scared the living daylights out of Sirius, it removed his hollow emotions and replaced them with a hunger and drive to rival anything he had ever felt before.
He's at Hogwarts.
Sirius couldn't let that bastard finish his job, and he knew he was probably the only one who could stop him. Merlin knows what happened to Remus since Sirius was locked up, probably same thing Peter did to Lily and James.
And now he's at Hogwarts.
Before Sirius fulfilled his duties as a godfather, which was his full intention, he felt compelled to do something else. It was something he had to do before taking any further action, before seeing Harry or killing Peter.
It was something he had to do, not only for himself but for his best friends.
So for days he traveled, the scenery becoming more familiar as did street signs and buildings until he finally arrived.
It was four days since he had first escaped, four long days without rest, his unconditional love and probably a bit of his denial driving him to this point. He stood as a man for the second time since his flight and for the first time, he felt like it.
It was a hot and sticky evening, it felt like even the moisture in the air had additional weight as it hung there. His breaths started to come in laughter, as he remembered the last time he had been here…because his last visit to this place he had been laughing also, but that manic laughing that had tortured his mind and rang in his ears for twelve years without relent.
He continued to chuckle, still with the touch of insanity though now it rasped in his throat from misuse. He weaved his way between the tombstones, recognizing last names here and there. But toward the back of the cemetery, a white marble stone glared at him through the bleak darkness of settling night. The names flashed up at him, and with a miracle, silenced his unexplainable laughing.
Their names, engraved on the stone, the date…that damned day, it was irreversibly carved. To see it here seemed to make it real, and a lot more painful.
He noticed something else inscribed in their tombstone, the words:
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
Sirius wondered who had picked the quotation, probably Dumbledore for who else was left to decide?
His forgotten laughs returned, but in the form of sobs as he fell to his knees, holding himself up against the tombstone, his knuckles white with fury.
He would've cried there for hours, days, months and maybe years. He would've spent the remainder of his life there if he hadn't heard it.
He's at Hogwarts.
The thought snapped him out of it; the obsessive voice inside his head is what allowed him to stand once more. Ashamed of his weakness he began to speak, his practiced words forgotten as soon as the first word left his mouth.
"Hey Prongs, Lil, it's me," he said lamely, "I don't have anything to give you, I'm sorry, I would've brought you a lily Lily, because I was always one for puns, with a name like 'Sirius' who wouldn't be? Prongs, I wish I could've brought you a box of those Sugar Quills you used to live off of. I'm sorry that I couldn't. See, after you died I was sent to Azkaban."
He smiled a bit, because he could see Lily's smug expression and Prongs shaking his head in disbelief as he laughed, for they all knew he would end up there someday.
"Nah, not for what you're thinking. No I got sent there for things I didn't do. Wormtail fucked us over," he told them, "he killed you then framed me, before he ran off like the rat he is. He ran off James, just like when we were almost caught after a prank, because he was always running off. Why didn't you see it Lily, you were always so much smarter than us?"
It was harder than he thought, to say what he had been thinking for all these years.
"But you have to know did it for you James," his voice cracked, "and I tried really hard to finish him, I really did. But I failed you, and Lily, and your son."
"So I'm going after him again," he said, not going into detail because he didn't want them to worry, "yeah, and I'll get him okay? Did you hear me Lily, I'll get him. I'll murder him for what he did to both of you and Remus too," his knees threatened to collapse on him again.
"I can't believe what he did."
Who was he kidding?
It was his fault.
"I can't believe what I've done to all of you," he whispered, "I can't believe I did this."
He had nothing more to say, so he turned to walk away.
He paused for just a moment more, "I love you," he said quietly, the words sounding odd to a man who never heard them and definitely never had reason to say them.
He made his way past those other names, numb with pain as the cool night surrounded him, his frayed robes pulled around his emaciated frame more for comfort than warmth. He exited the village hastily, returned to his dog form so that he may run faster, sad tears staining the fur around his wet eyes.
And so he moved, quickly and quietly from Godric's Hollow to Hogsmaede over the next few weeks, living off the locals' generosity and table scraps as the stray 'Snuffles', always with the ear turned up at the mention of 'The-boy-who-lived'.
And as he sat atop a lone hill overlooking the calming vision of the twisting silhouette of Hogwarts, he thought he might like to catch a game of Quidditch and see how well Harry really flew.
A/N: Oh my, I really do love this man. Because EVERY time I am plagued by writer's block, I can turn to my homie over there and he rescues me every time. So yeah, another Sirius fic (again, I was stuck)…I hope there aren't too many of these out there…the after Azkaban-visiting James and Lily fics. I haven't read many.
Anyway, if you have any suggestions, comments, flames to leave, please do so by clicking on that review button down there.