We run away all the time to avoid coming face to face with ourselves. - Author Unknown

"Sirius."

"Bella."

Sirius' voice resounds, rigid and harsh and sharp, as she walks in, her demeanour as cuttings as the way his mouth twists around her name. Sirius is secretly terrified, because she only stands like that when she is the bearer of good news, and what is good news for Bellatrix bodes ill for Sirius. Her news is usually tantalising and spine-tingling, haunting and absolutely ridiculously horrid and oh shit is he turning out like his family, because they are Slytherins through and through, and bastards and he is supposed to be a Gryffindor, looming courageously above them all and …

"We have an offer for you."

"An offer," Sirius repeats suspiciously. "An offer for what?"

Bellatrix smirks mysteriously, and it enrages him, because last time she looked like this Andy was leaving and the world was spinning and he was falling into a bottomless pit from which he has still not escaped, not fully.

"An offer for free fucking lollipops or new bloody brooms, or an offer which involves cold hard bloody fucking murder?" he yells, and tiny globules of spit fly everywhere. One hits Bella in the face, and he resists the urge to laugh. Bellatrix is not above hexing her own cousin, and for a girl who lived a blissful childhood, she can inject a lot of venomous spirit into that crucio of hers.

"We want you …" Bella leans forward, hard eyes glinting maliciously and as dark as her name, and in that split second Sirius knows her motive and he wants to go, he feels like he is suffocating and drowning and Prongs would fight and you should to, and just do it, just blast the living shit out of her and fuck her over and go …

But he can't bring himself to do it.

"…to join the Dark Lord!"

"Fuck no."

He is bursting, a bomb is exploding in his mind and Bellatrix is leering and all he can think of is Andy. He wonders how she managed to leave without a second thought. Then he realises; she did mull over it and spend listless days and sleepless nights pondering freedom and escape from the deepest pits of hell, and then she went with her instincts. Instincts are natural and this fucked family and this fucked up life are not, and that's it, I'm gone …

Sirius bowls over Bella in his haste to escape the room and she only just notices as she raises her wand and he raises his, and there is an explosion, it reverberates around the room like thunder and deafens him, but neither of them has caused it.

"What the hell do you think you two imbeciles are doing?" shrieks an ear-splitting, horribly and utterly piercing voice, and he groans loudly; it's his mother, sallow and wrinkly and an anorexic old hag, and he wants to hex her but he can't seem to make the spell shoot from his wand, no matter how much he strains with unadulterated anger and frustration.

"Cavorting about like the half-breeds we seek to destroy," his mother roars, and Sirius realises it's the one thing that James has never understood. All those times he's suggested that Sirius just blow the crap, he's never realised that you can never completely and utterly escape your family. They'll always be a part of who you are, no matter who you are. Sirius wants to scream, to rage, and hiss and yell, to throw hexes and cackle victoriously when they hit the mark. But he can't, because as vile and fucked as they are, they're his family. His mother gave birth to him for God's sake, and you can't seek revenge on the person who created you, who gave you life, as sick and twisted as they are. It's the sort of thing that fucking bastard Voldemort would do.

"I hate you," Sirius screams from the doorway, "Fuck you, I'm going." And he runs, Bella is cackling malevolently, and his mother is exerting a dismissive sigh, and neither of them looks back as he slams the front door with a satisfying crash (the noise seems to fill the deathly void of the silence that is ringing in his ears), and collapses in the gutter.

He's crying, and it's big sobs like a baby, racking his body and I'm a bloody Hufflepuff, all sooky and running and crying. What would James-Prongs-the always brave and right sway, and shit it's started to rain and he wants to go.

As he clambers out of the gutter, wand clenched tightly in his fist, he understands, with a sharp pang of remorse that seems to pierce his heart harder than the sharpest knife, that no-one in his family cares; he can almost hear the clatter and clutter as his mother and brother and cousins sit down to Kreacher's half-cooked dinner (roast lamb never was his speciality). So he sticks the finger up at his house, because he's being a braving the rain and being a big, brave, courageous, Gryffindor and going to Remus' and fuck his family, they're all deluded and as dark and as hideous as their name and he hates them, even if he is merciful towards them he still hates them.

(Except, really, he doesn't hate them at all. It's just comforting to think that he does.)

It's pouring as Sirius continues to walk, and he's drenched in sweat and rain and tears. He has no idea what time it is, but it's late and he's tired and Remus better have a warm bed for me … Thunder is booming like drums, and occasionally other sounds join in, the cymbals and the triangle, stupid tinkly thing that it is, in this symphony of tremendous, horrendous, yet also awe inspiring noises.

Sirius tries to think of things other than how he's saturated and how he might as well be fucked and dead for how much his family gives a shit about him. He thinks of the peals of thunders and the bangs! and the crashes! have a name in writing and poetry and it starts with the letter 'o' or something like that, Remus told him because Remus actually cares about knowledge and learning and that sort of shit. And suddenly he doesn't want to go to Remus' house. Remus overanalyses everything, he has a bloody dictionary shoved up his arse and he's anal retentive because of it. He's your friend, Sirius, a voice inside his head says, but he pushes the idea away because while Sirius thrives on confrontation with others he can't handle inside himself, he's feels as though his thoughts are poisonous and murderous. Remus thinks too much, he sucks all the magic and the joy and emotion out of things and replaces it with cold, hard unadulterated, boring reason and fact. To him, rainbows are only refractions of light and trees only grow because of phol-photo-some retarded word that no-one cares about. Sirius thinks that Remus would try to explain away magic itself if he could; he's practical and sensible and he would send Sirius straight home after he'd had a good night's sleep and a decent breakfast, complete with exactly the right amount of fibre and vitamins and minerals. And Sirius doesn't want to be sent home, he has to find home eventually, but he has to find it his way, not because of Remus, pushing and shoving and nagging and trying so god-damn hard to be sensible. And Sirius knows that no matter what others think and believe his home is not the Ancient and Most Noble House of Lies and Bigotry and Inbred Cockheads.

He sits in the stream of water that floods the gutter, ignoring the fact that he can feel it seeping into the seat of his pants and cries.

He's acting like a fucking Hufflepuff again, hopeless and unwanted and there's a bloody storm raging around him and he can hear everything, wind and leaves rustling and thunder and cars and there's one of the Muggle felly things crackling in a house nearby. Sirius is sick of pondering his options, because pondering is for pansies, or for idiots like Peter who don't know what side of the war they're on. He's going to go to where he should have gone in the beginning – Prongs'. Fuck the fact that it's miles and hours in the other direction and that it's late.

He wants to lay here first though, submerged in the constant flow of water that flows through the concrete gutter. Maybe it's because it's the closest to freedom he's ever been and Andy told me that the grass was greener on the other side an it turns out that the other side is really all dreary and wet and bloody lonely and a fucking gutter for crying out loud.

"Shit"

He's cut his arm on something and blood is pouring out like wed wine from the bottle, and he gets a sudden, vicious urge to rip the wound open and release his inner beast and teach himself to take pain like a real man. But he won't, because he's a big massive scaredy-cat and, considering his Animagus form, that's not something to be proud of. He'll kill himself if he thinks such thoughts again, though whether from physical or emotional pain it's hard to tell, so he starts thinking about the word for noise again, even though the rain is slowly grinding to a halt and the thunder and lighting are dissipating. He knows that he word starts with an 'o' but he can't bloody remember the rest, and he groans, because Remus and the stupid idiots who invented the word are too damn smart for their own good.

Sirius stands up, and yanks his shirt over his head, revelling in the feeling as the sopping wet material unsticks itself from his body. And he laughs, because if only all those retarded girls at Hogwarts who moon over his supposed sex god status could see him now … they love him, and he's a fucking bastard, because he betrays his family and his friends (images of Snape cowering from a werewolf flitter through his mind). Sirius has never experienced love, not even from his own family, and yet he knows that it's never pure. It's dirty, and marred by secrets and lies and aggression and even innocence. Love is fucked, and yet all those girls think they have it with him.

He wonders if they'd love him if they knew the whole truth, that he's a retarded, fucked up, good for nothing coward, who's finally taking control of his life for the first time tonight, even if it's in the most screwed up way possible.

He starts to walk again.

The rain has stopped now, and it pisses Sirius off. Now he's got nothing to blame for the tears, pouring down his face as thick and fast and furious as though they're rushing down a waterfall. As much as he wishes he wasn't such a fucking-crying-poof-pansy, the tears are gratifying, they're releasing him, and he's finally walking in the right direction, and the wind is cool and refreshing on his bare skin, and maybe, maybe, he's going to be alright and fuck that, nothing's ever alright, you're born and you're treated like shit, and something finally goes right in your life and you die. Life's a bitch, a fucking, awful bitch …

Sirius has no idea how long he's been walking for, but it has to be hours and hours and hours, because he can see the faintest tinges of pale pink on the horizon. He has no idea where he is, but he knows that James lives somewhere near London (shouldn't best friends know exactly where their friend's house is, he thinks, but he has more pressing questions to answer, such as who will answer the door and what will he say and will James want him and what is that god damn word for noises in a poem?). He stumbles and stumbles through the streets, laughing maniacally about how stupid he is and how fucked his decision was and how free he feels and that's got to be it, only James would be naïve and stupid enough to hang a Quidditch flag (for the Cannons of all things) from a window of his house in an area full of stupid idiotic Muggles

He rings the doorbell, ignoring the fact that it's got to be at least two o'clock in the morning and everyone's probably sound asleep, dreaming of way more important things than a stupid boy who ran away from home just because his evil cousin gave him some opportunity of life or death importance and whose mother is probably blasting him off the family tree this very minute.

The door opens.

"What the fu-Padfoot?"

James' voice starts off harsh, but slowly becomes softer, more elegant, natural, and refined as he says his friend's name, disbelievingly.

"What the … why are you here?"

I should make up something heroic, say I've just been battling Death Eaters, and that I escaped that duckweed Malfoy and five comrades and … least then I won't look like the whinging whining retarded idiot that I am …

But he can't, because that's the sort of thing his family would do, lie to make themselves look more important.

"I ran away from home and …"

Suddenly, he's bursting to tell the whole story, to rant and rave and scream and have someone listen to his idiotic and irrational complaints, but James cuts him off.

"Never mind about that," he says, grabbing Sirius' hand and dragging him inside and he's tugging and dragging Sirius up the stairs and Sirius doesn't have a chance to take anything in, the grandeur of the house or the new smells before James pushes him into a bedroom and shoves him on the bed and scurries back out the door.

Sirius just lays there, conscious of the fact that he's leaving pools of sweat and water all over James' bed (this has to be James' room, because no-one else would be idiotic enough to have Cannon's posters everywhere) when James is being so nice to him and man, this is unfair, I get the fucked up family where everyone is a bastard to everyone else and we're all supposed to love people who hunt and kill people like James and Remus, and yet James gets what looks like the perfect life and the perfect family and he's just as horrible and retarded and mean to Slytherins and retards like that as I am …

James comes hurrying back in, holding a towel and waving his arm in the direction of the hallway.

"Shower's down there, feel free to do whatever you need, sleep in this bed, and I'll talk to you in the morning."

James leaves again.

Sirius thinks about how different James seems tonight as he stands under the water, amazed at the fact that it's exactly the same stuff as the rain, yet it seems so different and so much more pure. James is acting different, more subdued and sensible and Sirius wonders if it's for his sake, if he's attempting to make Sirius feel better about what's happened, even if he doesn't know the whole story yet. Normally James couldn't point Sirius in the direction of a shower without telling him to have fun jerking off and making other inappropriate comments for which Remus and James' parents would cringe.

He's struck with a sudden, unadulterated urge to be free, so he climbs out of the shower, and grabs his towel off the shower, forgetting that James' mother and father are most probably asleep because he hasn't seen hind nor hair (another of Remus' fucked up sayings) of them yet, and dances, water droplets flying everywhere.

"I will survive …"

It's a liberating experience, and he can't help but grin, despite the harrowing grin. He grabs the clothes James left out for him, crinkling his nose as he steps into the horrible hideous corny pair of love heart boxers that James has left out for him, and tiptoes down the hallway, feeling slightly better, but also slightly more pissed off because now he's got to prepare to face the music and that scares him because he really doesn't want to think about the consequences of what he's done, just admit it, you're chicken shit, and scared to death of what they'll do to you when they find you … aren't you? You are, aren't you?

He still can't handle the confrontation, so he climbs into bed, hoping to lose himself in the land of dreams, where everything is sweeter than the harsh and cold reality he lives in. His last thought (he's still bamboozled as to why it matters, though maybe it's just a reason to stop him thinking about his family and all) before he falls asleep is what that stupid darn elusive word is.

Sirius wakes the next morning, disoriented, and but reasonably happy, mainly because, for the first time in twenty-seven days, he hasn't woken to his mother's horrible, scratchy, screechy voice. And then he realises that this isn't his room, Peter isn't leering at him from that stupid photo that Remus insisted on taking, and, in a flash, the previous night comes back to him in a flood of images, most of which are as dark and grey and hazy as the weather had been and suddenly all he wants to do is crawl back into bed and cry like a baby and for someone to give him a hug and go out there and face the world like a real man, James won't care …

For once, his thoughts actually seem to be telling him something that won't take him straight from the frying pan and into the fire, or into the arms of death or destruction or despair, so he follows them, pausing only slightly in the doorway before marching resolutely into the kitchen.

"Stupid damn Ministry, what have they got against werewolves?"

"I know, it's not like they can help it, they're just normal people with a … furry little problem …"

"Can you please pass the bacon?"

"How about I buy you some new dress robes next week?"

Sirius grins - trust James to use his favourite saying about Moony in a conversation with his father. He pushes open the door, and eight eyes, all that striking shade of hazel that looks like mud pools, stare at him for a minute and then the Potter family goes straight back to their conversation. As Sirius stares at them, all chatting and giggling, and James is slurping like a pig, he remembers. He remembers it.

The word for words written as noises in poetry is onomatopoeia.

By Cuba

A/N: This is the first installment of what will hopefully be a long-going project between Cuban Sombrero Gal and myself. Cuba, being much more efficient and much less lazy than me, has written the first piece. Some of these will be written by her, me, or by the both of us together. We hope sincerely that you enjoy our portrayal of Sirius Black.

You can also view this collection on Cuba's profile if you wish.

Review please!