Author's Note – Happy Birthday to duck_or_rabbit! Her gift is a dialogue filled Sirius Black fic. Sirius doesn't have a birth date as of yet according to JKR's site or the Lexicon, so I got to be inventive. As it turns out, I'm not that creative. Sirius' birthday is now January 1, 1960 in my little 'verse. Title taken from Ryan Adams - .com/watch?v=WZylB5DIjTM. I do not own Harry Potter.*First Year*
"Well, there you are, Sirius. I haven't heard about you from your parents recently. How are you enjoying your first year at Hogwarts?" Sirius had never been overly fond of Mr. Lestrange; something about him had always put Sirius on edge. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but he was fairly certain that it was because the tall dark haired man didn't blink as often as other people seemed to, and having someone's eyes bore into him that way made him feel guilty of something that he hadn't yet done.
He had always enjoyed New Years Eve, though. Not only did the countdown to the New Year mean that he and Regulus could stay up to midnight with the rest of his parents guests, it also was a countdown to his birthday. His parents threw a lavish party in their majestically decorated house every year for all of their friends and family and over a hundred people filled their home up to the brim, giving it a warmer feeling then normal and driving Kreacher mad in the process, running about. At the annual celebration a year ago, a snow white owl had flown in with his Hogwarts letter had come at the stroke of midnight, met by the 'oohs' and 'ahhs' of the guests. No such excitement awaited him this year, as he was four months into his first year, but he still enjoyed the party, except for being interrogated by a relentless, unblinking man.
"I enjoy it quite a bit, Mr. Lestrange."
"And you are able to cope with your… misfortune adequately?"
Blinking rapidly, Sirius attempted to take a step back, but the crowd of people filling the room prevented it, "Misfortune, sir?"
"I'm referring to the unfortunate event of your Sorting, Sirius."
Sirius hummed non-committally and looked for an escape from Mr. Lestrange, but to no avail as the man had kept talking without waiting for a real response. His sorting into Gryffindor had caused quite a disruption in his family initially. His parents had gone and met with Professor Dumbledore at the school and he had heard them talking through the door as he sat outside the office. Their voices weren't raised, but they were filled with menace. They never came out right and said it, but it was evident that the blood running through the veins of the other Gryffindor's wasn't pure enough for Sirius to sleep under the same roof with. Dumbledore had listened to their concerns and sent them on their way. The Hat was never wrong.
Now the issue of Sirius' Sorting was a taboo subject in the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. As long as the words Gryffindor or Potter weren't mentioned, it was an inconvenience that his parents were able to ignore and try to play down to their friends; Slytherins all.
To be honest, Sirius liked living in Gryffindor. He and James Potter got along smashingly, even though their families had a long well known rift between them, though neither he nor James knew the origins of the feud. Chatting with James made him think that it was rather like having a twin – minds on the same wavelength, fitting together to create and perfect amazing ideas. Their parents didn't matter when they were within the walls of Hogwarts. They were just Sirius and James then, not a Black and Potter – unless Professor McGonagall had caught them at something; which was more often then it was not.
As he had pointed out to his parents, he was getting the same education and he didn't have to live in the basement. His parents had merely sniffed and ignored him.
The only real downside of Gryffindor was the amount of stairs he had to climb daily.
He and Mr. Lestrange had now been joined by his Aunt Druella and Mr. Flint, an associate of his father's and the three adults were speaking in hushed tones, seemingly not noticing that Sirius was still in their presence.
The harsh voice of Druella broke through Sirius' thoughts, "Bellatrix has told me that this group of first years has the largest mudblood population to date; almost all of the girls are completely useless. The stock is thinning out." Sirius didn't really see how this could be the case. Lily Evans was one of the most talented in their year, probably smarter then most of the second years too. Even on her first day, doing her first spell with her wand she was able to make a feather float in Professor Flitwick's class. He had been able to do it as well, but even Sirius realised that there was a difference between her doing it and him, as he had been practicing with wands for years. She was clearly talented; how could she be useless?
"There seems to be an abundance of half-bloods as well. A pity really. Plenty of good blood being spread to those undeserving."
Sirius stared at Mr. Flint incredulously. Not deserving of blood? Without blood, people weren't alive. Did Mr. Flint mean that half-bloods shouldn't even exist? That his good friend Remus - quiet, smart, witty Remus, shouldn't be alive? What had he ever done wrong to not warrant life? Just because his mother was a muggle?
His first couple days at Hogwarts had been a wake up call for Sirius, and without Remus he wasn't really sure he would have gotten through it. Although he had grown up inside a world of magic, there was a world outside that he had never been introduced to. Muggles and muggleborns were a complete foreign concept to him and Remus, being a half-blood, was exceptionally helpful with transitions.
He had been sitting with James, Remus and Peter in the common room on their fourth night and Lily had come in and was watching the painting above the fire closely, following the people moving until one of them scolded her and informed her that it was rude to stare. She had flushed, cheeks nearly matching her har, and had apologized profusely, explaining that she had never seen a portrait move before she had come to Hogwarts and it still took some getting used to.
Trying to start a conversation with the girl and make her feel more comfortable, Sirius had blurted out, "Oh, so you're a mudblood then!" and just as quickly he found himself laying flat out on his back and his eye socket throbbing in pain.
James had clocked him in the face.
Both Sirius and Lily were deeply confused by James until Remus' soft voice broke the stunned silence to fill them both in on what had happened, what was so wrong with what Sirius had said. Before that moment, Sirius didn't even know that mudblood was derogatory or even that there was another word for it. He added the word muggleborn to his vocabulary immediately, and apologized to Lily, who actually laughed it off. Ignorance from both ends of the spectrum, she called it.
He knew that his family was hell bent on preservation of the old ways, but he had not realised how extreme it was or that other wizards felts differently then they. He had heard stories floating through the school about how he should have been in Slytherin with the rest of the Blacks, but had ignored it for the most part. Until now. How could his family think that two of his fellow Gryffindors, his friends, weren't even worth being alive? Were they really that cruel?
"TEN… NINE… EIGHT…"
While the people around him were watching the conjured numbers countdown to the New Year, Sirius looked around at them. How could he want to spend another second with these monsters?
"SEVEN… SIX… FIVE…"
What type of people thought others didn't deserve to live just because of who their parents were? Lily and Remus couldn't control who their parents were any more then he could. Why was he more deserving of magic then them?
"FOUR… THREE… TWO…"
People can't choose their family, but they can choose what to walk away from, and Sirius knew he didn't want anything more to do with this gathering of people.
"ONE… HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!"
The adults surrounding him drank and kissed each other, wishing each other the best for the New Year and Sirius was disgusted by it all. These people were horrible and they deserved each other.
A gentle tap on the shoulder made him wheel round and the anger on his face vanished when he saw Regulus, with a cupcake and lit candle filled in his upturned hands, eagerness shining through his eyes. For years, Regulus, with the help of Kreacher, had been making him a giant cupcake on his birthday, chocolate with chocolate chips, his favourite. He plopped the cupcake into Sirius' own hands and smiled as their mother approached to escort his off to bed. Regulus looked over his shoulder at him and called, "Happy Birthday, Sirius!" Sirius watched his brother walk up the stairs and couldn't help but think that Regulus was the only Black around worth talking to. Like him, Regulus wasn't poisoned by their hate.
The wax was slowing dripping down the candle as the fire burned brightly. He had always made wishes on his birthday cakes before, but this year would be different. This year he made himself a promise as he blew out the candle.
I'm never coming back here for my birthday ever again.
"Happy Birthday, Sirius."
Remus' voice broke the silence as they watched the fireworks explode over Hogsmeade from their spot on the roof of the Astronomy Tower, while the clocks booming toll indicating midnight and New Year's faded. In the beginning, Sirius had wondered if he had made the right decision not to return home for the holidays, but he had enjoyed himself immensely. Hogwarts' magically quality seemed to grow over the holidays, and the feelings of good cheer were unavoidable and Sirius found himself to be enjoying himself more at school then he ever had at home during the holidays.
Bundled up in layers of clothing to keep away the chill, Sirius and Remus had been sitting for hours watching the festivities below. Most of the other students who had remained at Hogwarts over the holidays had made their way inside after a rather large snowball fight had taken place on the grounds, being watched by McGonagall and Sprout whom, unaware of their eagle eyed rooftop observers, had been sneaking long draughts from a flask being passed between them.
Normally this would have been a perfect opportunity for mayhem, but Sirius was preoccupied. He had never been one to be at a loss for words, but this was a sort of forbidden topic that he didn't know how to broach. How do you tell your mate that you know he's a werewolf when it's quite obvious that said mate doesn't want you to know?
Sirius, James and Peter knew that they were living, eating and sleeping beside a werewolf every day and had been aware of it for quite some time. Once they had recognized a pattern and read up on the topic in the library, Sirius was actually a little embarrassed that they didn't realize it earlier. Missing from their room on the full moons, unexplainable scars and injuries and even more unbelievable excuses were just the beginning. It was rather obvious once you already knew the answer.
If Remus didn't want to tell them that he was a werewolf, that was all well and fine, but Sirius wasn't going to pretend that he didn't know. Sirius was a lot of things, but he wasn't a liar. He'd bite the bullet and simply start the conversation as if Remus had already said the words.
"Where's your bite mark, Remus?"
"I don't know what yo.." Sirius put his hand on Remus' shoulder to stop his automatic lie and squeezed it softly. Remus' eyes closed and his head fell back against the tower slowly. Under the hold of his fingers, Sirius could feel the tension rolling through Remus' body, and for several minutes no one said anything. He could hear his friend breathing erratically, though he was doing a rather admirable job of trying to cover it up. Sirius was wondering whether or not he had done the right thing by being so blunt about it when he saw one of Remus' eyes open again just enough so he could peek out at Sirius and his reaction, "My calf." Remus' hand reached down and rubbed the back of his right leg, knowing his cover was blown.
Sirius nodded slightly. Now that he had Remus talking, the trick was to keep him that way, not to close himself off like the boy he had met a year and a half previously their first night at Hogwarts, locked down. Like a safe. With security trolls looming about. "You must have been pretty little then, right?" He kept his hand on Remus, not out of fear that he would run away, but because he needed to be able to let him know that he wasn't afraid to be close to him. The admission of being a werewolf didn't change anything other then that the lying could stop.
"Huh." For over two thirds of his life, Remus had been a werewolf. Almost eight years of transforming once a month… that was about 90 times Remus had been running around on four legs as a werewolf. It was almost as if he had never not been one. "Do you even remember beforehand?" Sirius could vaguely remember Regulus being brought home after he was born, but other then that, most of his memories weren't solid until he was about five. Would Remus know what not being a werewolf was like?
Shaking his head slowly, Remus sighed. "Not properly. I can remember it happening pretty vividly, if that counts." Merlin. Sirius immediately started to chastise himself for his lack of tact. Of course Remus would remember getting bitten. What a stupid thing to have asked.
Wanting to divert the topic to somewhat safer ground, Sirius asked what they had all been debating since they first talked about Remus' condition. "Where do you go? Dumbledore must have a place for you to be safe." It was quite obvious that he wasn't in the dorm, and they had all learned enough about werewolves that they knew that it wouldn't be safe for anyone if he was somewhere remotely near other people. James thought that they simply sent him home by portkey once a month and Peter had joked once that Professor Merrythought had a pen set up in the Forbidden Forest for him to run about in, but Sirius knew that neither of these could be true. Sending Remus home to transform was silly if they were just going to send him back in the morning so that Madame Pomfrey could look after him, and the chances that a werewolf would escape and ravage the school were too high for Peter to be right. There had to be another alternative. Where would no one find a great, hulking werewolf?
That was the last thing Sirius had expected to hear, and his jaw dropped and he struggled to get the words out, "They put you in a haunted house? That's mad!" Did the ghosts leave werewolves alone? Sirius couldn't be sure, but what about when Remus was there in human form? Was he surrounded by angry spirits? Sirius would have found that worse then the actual werewolfishness itself. Not even the Hogwarts ghosts would talk about those who haunted the Shack.
Dumbledore had honestly lost his marbles, just like his parents said, if he was sending Remus there on a monthly basis.
"It's not haunted, Sirius. Dumbledore bought the shack specifically for my use. I'm the noise terrorizing Hogsmeade every month. No ghosts. Just me." His voice dropped so low that Sirius had to lean in to hear him, "The monster." He could hear the grimace on Remus' face without even looking at him.
His hand on Remus' shoulder gripped tighter, not to hold him down or to reassure him. This time it was to shake some sense into him. "Listen to me, Remus Lupin. My friend is not a monster. Just because you are a wer…Can I use the 'W' word yet? This vagueness is annoying." Remus nodded slightly, "Just because you are a werewolf once a month doesn't mean you are a monster. Sure, I don't have the aching desire to wrestle while you are all fuzzy, but that doesn't mean anything." Sirius smiled at him, "You're just Remus."
"I am though. A monster, that is."
"Fine. You are a monster, but that's not all you are. You are smart and funny and nice. A little bookish, maybe, but a fun bloke." Sirius shook Remus again, slightly more than he had intended, but he was urgent to get his point across, to prove that it didn't matter to them. "You are a monster for about ten hours a month. You are more human then most people the rest of the time."
"No one else will see it that way."
Sirius sighed as he ran his hand over his head, brushing the snow from his hat. "Maybe, but you can't control what other people think." There was nothing that Sirius had thought about more over the past year. Both his family and most of everyone at the school expected him to act, for better or for worse, like the proper heir of the Black family should: picking on muggleborns, brushing up on the Dark Arts, and only associate with other purebloods.
Remus was watching him closely and caught the double meaning of his words. "You are more then just a Black, you know."
"I know." He said, staring off into the darkness. The grounds had grown quiet beneath them and the night was growing darker as lights in Hogsmeade got put out. The stars above them seemed to be growing brighter by the moment, speckling across the sky, universe expanding on top of them. "Doesn't mean that anyone will ever see me as anything other then that." echoing Remus' previous musings. It was strange that something so bizarre as being a werewolf could relate to something as mundane as being different from the rest of a family. Naturally the Black sheep would be friends with a Dark Creature.
"We'll just have to show them otherwise."
It was the soft repetitive tapping noise that woke Sirius up initially. Xerxes was rapping his beak against the frosted window, trying to get Sirius attention relentlessly. Damn persistent owl.
James was still sound asleep, but Remus and Peter's beds were both empty, probably headed down to for breakfast. He was going to have to leave the comfort of his warm bed in order to get the incessant tapping to stop.
Groaning as his feet hit the cold floor and wishing he had thought to put on a pair of socks, he crossed the room quickly to open the window, Xerxes flying in quickly and dropping a small parcel on to Sirius' bed. The obsidian owl hooted softly at Sirius and flew right back out the window. Sitting back down onto his four poster, Sirius opened the box and pulled out what was inside. There was a chocolate frosted cupcake, with the number 14 iced onto the top, a pin for the Kenmare Kestrels Quidditch team and a note that had his name on the front in very familiar handwriting.
I remember a time when the only thing in the world that I wanted to be when I grew up was to be just like my big brother. My brother was strong. My brother was smart. My brother protected me and taught me about the world.
I remember him smiling and laughing with me. Going to Quidditch matches. Playing Exploding Snap. Hiding things from Kreacher. Staying up until midnight on New Year's Eve. I remember him leaving for school and then eagerly waiting for him to return home.
I remember when it all fell apart.
I remember the look in his eyes the second that the Sorting Hat spoke the word Slytherin. In his eyes, a line had been drawn. In that second, I was one of them. I stopped being his brother. I was just another pureblood, a Black in Slytherin for him to escape from. I lost my brother that day.
I remember him telling me that we could always choose to be different from the what was expected, but what if being different would cause us to not be who we are? Sometimes we have to accept people for who they are, not for who we think they should be.
I wish my brother would remember that.
Happy Birthday, Sirius.
Leaning his head back onto his pillow, Sirius laid the parchment down onto the bed beside him and squeezed his eyes tight. Regulus. He hadn't really acknowledged, let alone spoken to, his brother in months, not since he had joined the ranks of Slytherin house. He wasn't different from the rest of the Black's like Sirius had thought he was. He had shown himself as one of them.
Regulus had always been a nice kid. Pleasant to everyone and generally fun to hang out with and Sirius had genuinely liked his brother a lot, being not only brothers, but friends too. Just because he had been sorted into Slytherin, didn't mean that he was bad; and Sirius had been punishing him for it like he was.
He got dressed quickly and walked down into the Great Hall and scanned the almost empty room. Remus and Peter were playing chess with some of the second year Gryffindors looking on, placing bets on the outcome, while the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs were sitting together at one table and were having a large game of Exploding Snap, smoke and laughter curling upwards from the middle of the group. The Slytherin table was nearly deserted, with just one lone figure eating toast with one hand while practicing wand movements from a Charms textbook with the other. Sirius watched his brother from a distance for several minutes. Reading while eating, and then setting his toast down between bites, he was practicing the wand movements and incantations, salt and pepper shakers in front of him dancing through this commands, until he got stuck on the same one each time. The swishing and jabbing motions that he was going through weren't having any effect of the shakers.
"If you are trying to make those burst into flames, you are on the right track."
Regulus spun around quickly, surprised by Sirius' sudden appearance behind him. "I have no problem setting things on fire."
Sitting down beside his brother, Sirius helped himself to some toast from the table, stuffing it instantly into his mouth. "Need some help?" he mumbled through his food.
"No. I'll sort it out on my own." Sirius looked down at him sceptically, and Regulus gave a small smile and cast his eyes back towards his book. "It's embarrassing."
"I've seen you do loads of embarrassing things. Why be secretive now?" As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Sirius wished that he could take them back. Of course, he'd be secretive. After months of treating him like he was invisible, Regulus was beginning to see Sirius as one of them. A Gryffindor. The enemy.
Whatever was coursing through Regulus' mind was shaken off. "I can't do wingardium leviosa." He spat out with disgust. "It's stupid, really. I can do other spells that no one else in my year can do yet. I can summon things, and we supposedly don't learn that until fourth year, but I can't make things float. Why on earth do things really need to float anyway?"
Even as children Sirius had been aware that Regulus was extremely talented, if the amount of accidental underage magic was any sort of sign, but to hear that his brother was actually capable of doing magic three years above his age bracket was impressive; spells that Sirius himself couldn't do yet.
"I'll help you with the floating if you can teach me to summon. I'd love to know how to do that."
There was a brief hesitation then suddenly both brothers pulled out their wands. Sirius saw quickly that Regulus' problem was his grip on his wand – holding it too tightly, and his ending flick was turning into too much of a jab because of it. Upon relaxing his hold, Regulus was able to make the salt shaker fly instantly, controlling it to tip into Sirius' hair, roaring with laughter. The roles quickly reversed and Sirius became the student, and found himself having much more difficulty then his brother had. An hour later, Sirius could summon the pepper shaker, but lacked direction – the shaker boomeranging across the hall. Still, it was better then it had been before walking in for breakfast.
Regulus' laughter broke off suddenly and he stared up at the ceiling, shoulders dropping. "This isn't going to last, is it?" Sirius raised an eyebrow questioningly, unaware of where the conversation was headed. "You being my brother again?"
He was right, of course. Most of the students were returning to the school that evening and classes started up again the next morning. They would be Gryffindor and Slytherin once more. Even if they weren't rivals as a general rule, they lived in completely different ends of the large castle, didn't have any of the same classes and none of their friends acknowledged the others existence.
Sirius put his arm around Regulus' small shoulders and gave him a quick squeeze. "Reg, no matter what happens, what we say or do, you are always my brother."
Sirius knew he shouldn't lie to him, but he couldn't tell him that chances were that it was probably just going to get worse, and might never get better.
"That's complete bollocks, James, and you know it. I've only had eight shots of that Firewhiskey. There is no way that I can be pissed." Sirius pointed accusingly at James, but as he looked at his outstretched hand he was surprised that it looked a little blurry around the edges, and he was fairly certain that it wasn't a common state for his hand to be in. Maybe he was drunk after all. He wouldn't really know, this being his first actual attempt at drunkenness. With nothing to gage it against, he didn't have anything to compare it to.
That wasn't exactly true though. He did know that he wasn't nearly as drunk as Remus, who had actually passed out after a mere six shots and was now snoring from behind his bed curtains. That werewolf really couldn't hold his liquor.
And he didn't think he was as drunk as James, who was now beginning to have problems speaking – all his words were tumbling into each other, becoming indiscernible from the next and with extra syllables thrown in. He didn't think he was that bad, but if he really was that drunk maybe he did sound like James and was too drunk to realise it.
"You know what we should play? Knuts." When Peter had first said that he had drank plenty of times before, Sirius had thought that he had been making it up, trying to sound more mannish then he actually was. However, Sirius had seen Peter take at least the same amount of liquor as him and wasn't showing any signs of weakness. Or failure. Or whatever one was supposed to feel after drinking more then their fair share. Sirius was damn impressed, he knew that much.
Peter continued on as if James hadn't interrupted, "Knuts is when you try and bounce a knut off the floor and into someone else's drink. If you get it in, they have to drink but if you miss, you have to drink."
"Forget dirty, that sounds bloody stupid." There were very few things that Sirius knew he wasn't good at. Muggle cleaning was one. Hand-eye coordination was another. Unless there was a possibility that drinking improved his reflexes, he saw this game going downhill for him very quickly. "How on earth can anyone bounce a knut into a glass? That's just pure luck."
Peter shrugged and set his glass out in front of him on the floor, motioning for James and Sirius to do the same. He pulled a handful of knuts out of his pocket and weighed one in his palm. "Like this." Picking up the knut with his right hand, he lined it up carefully with the drink in front of James and flicked it towards the floor.
It bounced quickly and splashed neatly into the glass with a distinct ploinking noise.
"How the hell did you do that?" Sirius' jaw dropped to the floor in awe.
Smiling smugly, Peter waved his hand nonchalantly and reemphasized the rules, "So I got it in, which means, James, you have to drink."
Downing his drink in one swallow, James poured himself another and then reached to the pile of knuts, unsteady even while sitting, and pulled one up to his eyes to examine it closely. "S'not so hard." With even more patience then Peter, James took several minutes to line up his shot at Sirius' glass. He let the knut go, and once again, it bounced and ploinked.
Right back into James' own glass.
Everything fell silent and stopped, all three boys looking down into James' glass, bronze knut staring back up at them. Lucky smug looking knut. With more clarity then he had spoken with for hours, James broke the silence, rolling over onto the floor shaking with laughter. "How the fucking hell did that happen?"
"Does that mean that he has to drink twice?" Sirius was gobsmacked; only James Potter had that type of luck. Peter's eyes grew wide and a sly grin crawled onto his faced, nodded and swiftly passed his own drink towards James, who was downing his first. He picked up the glass that Peter had presented, but as he brought it up to his lips, Sirius saw an odd look pass over his face.
James eyes grew larger, giving him a look of surprise and he swayed slightly where he sat, not getting any closer to swallowing his drink. He stood up abruptly and stumbled quickly to the bathroom, smacking into the doorframe as he walked in, the door just shutting before a retching sound started.
Peter looked at the closed door, sniggering. "Do you think he made it to the toilet?"
Raising an eyebrow at him, Peter continued on, "How about you? Did I manage to get you thoroughly smashed for your birthday?"
Sirius considered for a moment, taking in the room and the empty bottles tossed aside. "Depends. If I were drunk, would the room be a little fuzzy and spinny at the same time?"
"Oh." Standing up slowly, Sirius took a few wobbly steps and collapsed upon his bed as he vaguely wondered when he stopped having control of his limbs. The spinning didn't stop, though some of the fuzziness vanished when he closed his eyes. "In that case, yes. You did a magnificently epic job. I'm drunk."
At least he could stop worrying that someone had cast a Jelly Legs jinx on him when he wasn't paying attention and that all would be well in the morning. Except for perhaps a headache.
Sirius hurled the parchment into the fire and watched as the flames flickers and began to eat away at the edges, curling them up and blackening them with the heat.
His parent's letter – ultimatum, really – was disintegrating slowly into the flames, turning from written word into ash. Six pages spouting the same propaganda that he had been spoon fed as far back as he could remember. They were writing to remind him that he had a certain role to play and a status to maintain within the prestigious community. He was the first born son of the oldest remaining pureblooded wizarding family, disregarding a few pruned back branches of the family tree. It was time to stop fraternizing with mudbloods and half-bloods and begin to align himself with others who shared the reputation of purity of blood flowing through their veins. If not for marriage, then simply to establish connections for the future, and to repair damage that had been associated with him because of his 'friends'. Return to their side, where he truly belonged. Straighten up and fly right.
Hadn't his mother realised four and a half years ago that he had already chosen his side?
Too angry to stay still, Sirius began pacing the common room, a worn maroon chair and a large ink stained desk bordering his progress. Until he had came to Hogwarts he had been blissfully unaware of his family's pureblooded insanity, but everything had become painfully clear. His family were terrible individuals, and even worse on masse. Bellatrix was being praised for marrying Rodolphus Lestrange, who she didn't even like, as it was a proper pureblooded marriage, whereas her sister Andomeda had been disowned for marrying for love, blasted off the family tree to be with Ted Tonks. Three year old Nymphadora had never met her mother's family, and Sirius couldn't be happier for that. No child should be raised like that.
Except he and Regulus had been; brainwashed without their knowing, their minds being filled with the indoctrinated prejudice that was their world, and despite his promise to his brother, everyday Sirius could see him getting deeper into the quicksand that was their family. He reached the chair once again and this time, picked it up and threw it across the common room. A leg broke off on impact, and the pieces clattered to the floor. Sirius tried to breathe deeply, to calm himself before continuing his demolishment of school property, but it didn't seem to be working and a black haze was beginning to cloud his vision.
"I agree that the chair is a rather offensive colour, but did it really deserve that?" Lily Evans was standing at the foot of the dormitory stairs, staring at Sirius with wide eyes. There she was: the entire embodiment of what his parents were saying that he needed to get away from, to get rid of. This gifted, talented witch, who should be exterminated at the nearest opportunity, to protect the sanctity of the magical world.
Sirius exploded. Everything that he had ever hated and thought about his family spilled out of his mouth: The growing resentment towards his entire family and their narrow minded and prejudiced ways. The disgust he felt in himself when he thought about how he had once been unknowingly just like the rest of them. Or perhaps he wasn't as different from them then he really thought; that everything that he hated about them was inside him, festering and waiting to erupt. It was all just too much to take. For what felt like hours, but couldn't have been more then a few minutes, he ranted incoherently, forgetting that Lily was there. He didn't want to be a bad person, but everything that his family tried to drag him back into meant that he was going to have to be. If he planned on being a part of his family, he would have to fall in line with their ideals. Pacing stopped; he leaned against the wall, feeling the cold brick behind him, doing nothing to cool off his mind. Closing his eyes he slid down the wall, and sat on the floor. "I don't think I'm going to last much longer there."
Opening his eyes he was surprised to see Lily sitting beside him, cross legged with her hands resting in her lap. "You don't need them, Black." She turned her head to the side to look at him, strands of long red hair falling across her face. "And obviously, you don't particularly want them either, for some strange reason." She smiled at him, perhaps attempting to lighten his mood, but he was wanting none of it. It was a dark situation, with no positive outcome readily available, only a deeper pit.
"It's getting worse out there, Evans," he growled, "You know it is. No matter what I do, I'm always going to be one of them. I'm part of a family of muggle haters. There is no getting rid of that." His head fell back against the cool brick, not doing anything to relieve the throbbing headache that was building at his temples.
"True, but any family you create has the potential to be stronger then anything you come from." She reached out and rubbed his shoulder softly, "And I think that the gang that you've got around is proof enough of that." Smiling, she added, "They may be daft but they've got their hearts in the right places."
Sirius opened his mouth to retort, but Lily help up her hand to stop him. "It will work out somehow in the end, Black. It always does."
Sitting in one of the back booths at the Three Broomsticks, Sirius was nursing a glass of mulled cider, staring at the letter on the table in front of him. However many times he read the words on the page, they still weren't arranging themselves in his brain in a way that made any type of sense.
What he was seeing was madness.
When he had left his parents house for good in June, they had made it quite clear that he was cut off from any sort of money or support from the family he was deserting. Everything that would have been his was being passed onto Regulus, the good son, the proper heir of the Black family. Real Blacks didn't behave in a manner such as Sirius had; fraternizing with mudbloods, fouling the ancient name of their fathers. Everyone else had followed suit with his mother and Sirius had welcomed being blasted off of that rotted family tree.
Which was what made the letter in front of him more confusing.
Alphard Black had the number of a Gringotts vault, a bank statement, and a change of ownership notification filled out in his name sent to him in accordance with his will.
If all those numbers were real, it looked as though Sirius was now a very rich man.
He hadn't even known Alphard had passed away.
The bell above the door tinkled merrily and Sirius raised his head to see Dumbledore walk into the pub, dark cloak pulled tight, intent on keeping out the cold wind. On any other day Sirius would have thought it strange to see the headmaster in a situation outside of the school, especially as his entrance into the pub sounded a bit like a segway into a joke, but after the day he was having, anything was entirely possible. Someone at the bar handed him a smoking goblet and clinked their glasses together, toasting something that made them both burst into laughter. Dumbledore proceeded to greet everyone at the bar by name, making his way through the patrons, inquiring about their families and how their holiday festivities had been.
Slowly he made his way towards Sirius, completely taking him by surprise as he sat himself down across the table instead of sending him back up to the castle where he was supposed to be. "All alone on New Year's Eve, Sirius? Where are your comrades this evening?"
"Back at the castle, sir. I needed time alone to think about something." He also needed to get away from them. The tension between him and the others was too much to handle on top of everything else that had happened that day. It had been months since the monstrous mistake of sending Snape to Moony under the Willow, and Remus was now talking to him again, but the awkwardness hung between the four of them thick enough to cut with a spoon; no knife required. He had let them down and almost destroyed them. More time was still needed.
Dumbledore hummed and nodded slightly, "Ah. That being the case, I best leave you to your thoughts and your drink, which coincidently is a very fine choice in this establishment. Rosemerta makes it herself." Behind the bar, the woman lifted her golden head slightly at the sound of her name and her dark eyes found them through the crowd and gave a small wave to Dumbledore. Dumbledore turned away from him to make his leave when Sirius blurted out, "My uncle left me a fortune."
He kept his face staring dead at the table, but could feel Dumbledore's eyes watching him closely. "I just got the notification from Gringotts. I don't think I've spoken to him in over a year and I've been ostracized from my family for months. Why would he do this?" Sirius picked up the letter and handed it to Dumbledore, who scanned over the document.
"Some family interactions can be rocky at best, Sirius. In a family full of strong minded individuals, nothing ever gets decided to everyone's complete satisfaction. Perhaps you aren't as different from all of your family as you think. Simply because someone appears to follow the rules, doesn't mean that there aren't ways of bending them now and again. After all, there could be someone that you and your cousin, the young Mrs. Tonks, inherited your unconventional Black thinking from. Someone slightly more discreet about it. People aren't always who they appear to be." He waved his hand slightly and the corners of his lips curled up. "Or perhaps Alphard and Walburga simply had a falling out and he was trying to agitate her further from the beyond. Siblings often have the reputation of doing so. Good night, Mr. Black." Dumbledore stood and swept away from his seat back towards the celebrating crowd, leaving Sirius alone with his thoughts once more.
A small glass of what smelled like Firewhisky was placed beside him on the table and Sirius looked up to see Rosemerta standing next to him. "Professor Dumbledore ordered this for you on his way out the door. He assures me that you are of age for the hard stuff now." She winked, which couldn't help but bring a small grin to Sirius' face, despite his mood, "Happy Birthday, Sirius Black."
Sirius looked at the clock behind the bar to see that he had been sitting in the pub for quite some time and it was now three minutes past midnight. He was now officially an adult. His own man.
He was one of those Blacks' no longer.
Becoming an animagus was truly one of the most brilliant things he had ever done. Sirius never felt as free as he did transformed into Padfoot, chasing through the trees of the Forbidden Forest. Not many people could claim that some of the best times of his life had been on nights gallivanting with a werewolf, but he had always gone against the norm.
Moony had been calm that night, as calm as a werewolf could be at least, running through the forest and he and James had been able to coerce him back under the Whomping Willow without hassle, which was usually the hardest part of the whole evening. The fireworks from the village seemed to make him less interested in human prey. They had successfully worn the wolf out, with no incident except James having a rather amusing run in with a shrubbery.
Human again, Remus was dead asleep on the worn bed, covered in heaps of blankets, as was Peter who was curled up in a chair across the room. Like most full moons, Sirius found himself sitting on the chaise with James, playing cards, listening to the wind howl against the side of the building, trying to slip between the boards.
James had realised early on that he wasn't able to sleep after their full moon nights. He was exhausted, but if he did manage to fall asleep he awoke too groggy to function in their morning classes and was a complete zombie by the afternoon. It was easier for him to stay awake and pump himself full of coffee to make it until the end of their school day, and then head to bed.
Sirius did not have this problem himself. After a night of chasing a werewolf, playing canine games and no rest, he could fall asleep as soon as his eyes closed, even if he was still standing up. He never did though. Time and time again he stayed up with James, playing cards quietly until it was time to make a brief appearance at breakfast before heading to classes. He always looked like more of a werewolf then Remus did in class the next morning, and usually ended up falling asleep in class after lunch.
He had never been so glad that he had chosen to keep taking History of Magic. He really needed that hour of uninterrupted naptime.
The bonus of this month's full moon being over the holidays was that even though they still had to make a breakfast appearance, they could all head back to bed and sleep the rest of the day away. Sirius was longing for the comfort of his bed.
The first of the morning light began to appear through the window, giving notice that they didn't have a lot of time left before they had to wake up Remus and Peter to head back to the school.
"Happy birthday, Padfoot. You aren't even of age anymore. You are over age. Do you feel all mature and responsible now?" James spoke in a hushed tone as to give the other two a few more blissful minutes of sleep. Lucky jerks.
"Never. Speak for yourself, Mr. Head Boy." chuckled Sirius, sticking out his tongue for effect.
"Do you realise that this time next year, we'll already be out there in the real world? We'll be grownups with responsibilities. And jobs." James shuddered at the words, and Sirius echoed the sentiment. Hogwarts was his home, and the outside world was positively frightening.
"Scary thought, seeing how it's like out there. Bloody Death Eaters lurking about, trying to off us at every turn. I hear they don't fancy the likes of us for some reason." Over the past couple months, the threats towards pure blooded muggle sympathisers, blood traitors they were being called, were growing and being reported in the Daily Prophet everyday. The attacks and disappearances weren't linked to the Death Eaters by name, but it was clear who was behind it all.
"They like us better then some other people we know," murmured James, casting his eyes over to the mound of blankets that was Remus. "I don't even want to think about what he's going to be up against outside the school. A half-blood and a werewolf; not a good combination."
Sirius agreed with James fully. Since the beginning of term he had become ever aware that their lives were going to change drastically as they walked out of the doors in June, and had been watching his classmates, wondering what was going to be in store for them. "It could be worse. He's been hiding the werewolf thing for years. It isn't as if he going to suddenly walk out the front gates waving his arms yelling 'I'm a werewolf' on graduation day, is he? He could be muggleborn, like Evans."
James looked down at the cards in front of him. Plucking a card from his hand and changing the suit in play, he sighed. "I'm hoping that I can help her out with that."
The words tumbled from James lips so quietly, Sirius wasn't sure if he was truly meant to hear them. "Having her change her last name to Potter might help."
The implication of James' words floated around in Sirius' sluggish early morning mind before they made any sort of sense. Lily Evans. Lily Potter. Lily Evans-Potter. "You are going to ask Evans to marry you?" Marriage? That's what proper adults did, not Marauders who run around foolishly with werewolves. "Rather soon, isn't it? You just started dating. Hell, she just starting talking to you at start of term."
"I'm not going to propose tomorrow or anything. We are still in school and it isn't as if I have bought a ring. I just… It seems right in my gut. I can't see myself not marrying her. I love her. More then anything. I can't think of anything else. I want to keep her safe, wrapped in my arms." Shaking his head, he continued, slightly embarrassed. "I've turned into the guy who wants a white picket fence in the country with little red headed kids running around in the backyard."
Sirius' eyes grew wide, staring back at James. "I don't even know who you are anymore."
"You are going to have to remember. Who else is going to babysit my fictional kids?"
"Remus and Pete, obviously." snorted Sirius.
"Don't tell them yet, alright?" James said at once, casting his eyes back towards their sleeping roommates. "I'm not sure that I'm ready for them to know that I've turned into a right mushy sap. I don't think I can handle all the ribbing."
"And you expect me to behave and not take the piss?"
"Of course not, but you are my brother. Who else am I supposed to talk about this with?" he looked back at Sirius, suddenly looking anxious, "When it finally happens, you'll be my best man, right?"
"The better one, you mean. Not much of a man, are you? Dreaming about rug rats and country homes and other such girly things?" James swiftly reached out and punched Sirius in the shoulder, causing him to wince in pain. "Of course I will, Prongs. I'd be honoured. What else could a brother say?" A smile broke out on James face, and Sirius suddenly found himself half wrapped in a hug as James had launched himself across their makeshift card table.
Sun was now pouring into the room, and looking at his watch it was getting close to eight o'clock. "We've got to get these two up. Want to take on the rat or the werewolf?"
Looking at the two of them, James contemplated for several seconds before deciding, "I'll take the rat. Pete's generally got better post-moon breath."
Sirius walked over and prodded Remus gently on the shoulder, "Moony, time to go get some food in you and then you can sleep in a real bed and have house elves bring you chocolate." Remus mumbled sleepily and curled deeper into his cocoon of blankets. In a well practiced move, Sirius grinned cheekily as he pulled off the blankets and simultaneously pulled Remus to his feet, swinging one of his arms around Sirius' own shoulders, regaining his balance while he watched Peter fumble around his chair looking for his shoes, laughing as Remus grumbled how he could have at least waited to wake him up until Peter was shoed and ready to go.
The four of them slipped through the trap door in the floor and headed through the cavernous tunnel back to the grounds, popping out from underneath the Willow and into the crisp winter morning, snow crunching beneath their feet as they made their way towards the school, ready to face the new year and build a new world before them.