Albus Dumbledore was feeling very thoughtful. So, Sirius Black was out of Azkaban, and he was crusading to prove his supposed innocence. Black had had an interesting track record at his school: he coupled intellectual genius with a complete lack of consideration for common sense, and showed mocking good humor or malicious spitefulness, dependent almost entirely on what house was supported. Dumbledore had seen the boy in every mood from blind rage to frightened solicitousness to mad joy, but he had never, ever, seen him to be thoughtful. Loyalty was not something he displayed in great quantities, despite his close friendships with boys like Lupin and Potter, but impetuousness was. (There was the werewolf incident, to name a stressful one. Thank God James Potter had gotten there in time, or it could have meant the end of three of his most promising students of the year)
Albus was a believer in second chances, but not infinite ones. In addition to his preoccupation with 10-pin bowling, he had occasionally followed the American sport of baseball. Three strikes. Sirius Black had been out, beyond the radar, and not worth the time of a very busy man.
Until now. With not one but three letters that he knew of, each thoughtful, each eloquent, each claiming ties, calling favors, begging not for a pass, but for a trial. The plea for a trial is not the usual hallmark of a guilty man.
Remus Lupin seemed to believe it. Albus looked over his glasses at the distraught man pacing in front of his desk. He had corroborated the story of illegal animagi, and seemed now too anxious to clear Sirius's name here and now. Albus allowed a fanciful thought to flutter across his mind. Perhaps the two had switched places. But that was ridiculous. The humor in it allowed him to look up from the letter and his thoughts and face Lupin.
Remus Lupin was feeling ridiculously hopeful. He had thought he had nothing left worth having, if his friends were gone forever. He had scolded himself for being melodramatic, but believed it nonetheless. Now he thought he had been too hasty. If Sirius was innocent, but of course Sirius was innocent! How could he have ever believed anything else? (Because it was Sirius who betrayed you to Snape, and Sirius who loved to laugh, even at others pain, even at your pain, and Sirius who never thought but only acted on the whims of a moment, and Sirius who thought nothing of breaking a promise, and Sirius who came from one of the darkest wizarding families, a family that had lost power steadily as times changed, but who still clung to illusions of power and grandeur. A family that he had betrayed at 11 involuntarily, and at 16 on purpose, but who knew what it took to change Sirius's mind, who ever knew what happened in Sirius's mind)
James. That was the only answer Remus could think of to his last question. James had known Sirius from the moment they met, when he sat down next to him at the Gryffindor table the second week of term and asked him if it was really that bad here. Sirius had grinned and said that yes, yes it was, Potter. Say, isn't that a peasant name? Vassals to the house of Earle or some such? James had laughed at that, Remus could only guess it was because Sirius at least wasn't glaring and had finally put his wand away, and replied that yes, that was true, but a little behind the times. His family had married up under Cromwell, and gained a good deal of standing during the Glorious Revolution, and he didn't think anyone had brought up the vassal thing for about a hundred years. That hadn't been all it had taken to make them all friends, but it had been the first step, and it had let them finally all feel safe sleeping in the same dorm as Sirius. Which was good because they were all tired of keeping watch.
Sirius had found refuge in the home of a dog lady. It was quite the nasty little squalid place, and the dogs ran wild, but he had food (that he had to fight for) and water (whenever she remembered to flush the toilet) and a place to sleep (as long as he kept one eye open) He spent every day with his eyes on the horizon, watching and hoping for an owl he hadn't a hope of seeing yet. When he was brutally honest with himself, he didn't believe he had a chance at all.
Thus he was gladdened and surprised when an owl showed up one day with a brief, to-the-point letter from Dumbledore, describing the neutral point where they would meet to discuss terms. He set out at once, full of hope and joy.
Halfway there he received a letter from Remus.
Sirius, it read,
I hope this finds you well. I believe you that you did not betray Lily and James. I'm not sure I believe you didn't kill Peter. I can't say I'd put it past you, honestly. Blowing up all those muggles could easily be your style if they were in the way. You always said yourself that you like bigger better.
If one part of your story is true, and the other is possible, if unlikely, then might they both be true? I hope so. Be honest with Dumbledore, Sirius, as you value your life. I believe he has lost patience with you. I think he may be thinking of bringing Snape along, just to throw something from your past back into your face. Act like a mature adult if you hope to be treated like one. With any luck, I will see you after your acquittal. If not, we'll see if you last the 99 years to life in Azkaban before we meet again.
Best of luck,
So… next time I feel all motivated and bored at the same time, we'll see how the meeting with Dumbledore goes. Actually, you will, because I already know exactly what's going to happen. After this, I predict about 2 more chapters to close out the story. So stay tuned, and review for pleases. Feedback is very motivating.