Written for cestfest at LJ. Written pre-HBP. No one can break Sirius Black. Sirius/Narcissa.

Hell is Other People

Sirius doesn't mind punishment so much. In fact, praise has come to make him uneasy, now that he's aware of what exactly he has to do to get that praise from his mother and father, so punishment is a welcome respite from that sort of burden. It's not hard to garner a punishment, either, now that he's established himself as a rebel – basically, all Sirius has to do is everything that Regulus tells him he wants to do, but doesn't. Slytherins are full of great ideas, some that haven't even occurred to the great Sirius Black himself.

The best opportunity arises in the summer after his fifth year when their cousins come over to stay for a whole week. Prank after prank, daily and sometimes even twice daily, to the point where Narcissa's cheeks flush bright red and she very nearly says something rude, but never does, and Bellatrix's threats grow nastier and more inventive each time.

"You're an idiot," Regulus hisses at him one night over the space between their beds, during the one spare moment between the completion of a prank (garden snakes in each of the sisters' beds) and the discovery. "You're a bloody idiot and one of these days - "

"Shut up, Reg," Sirius says, gleeful smirk unfolding the moment the screams sound.

Regulus pulls the duvet over his head, hiding before the door even opens. Sirius just smiles and lounges, ready and waiting.

Their mother is there, shrieking the usual bit, grabbing a happy Sirius and locking him into a spare room of storage, no bed, no bedding. "You'll come out when I say you come out." She spits the vow, and shuts the door.

Sirius manages to find a comfortable spot in the carpeting and curls up, listening to his mother's lectures to his cousins and brother wane off, glad to be causing the perfect children some hell. Sleeping on the floor is worth it. She thinks she can break him? No one can break Sirius Black.

One day passes. Sirius de-pills the carpeting and sleeps a lot, deciding that it's summer hols and sleeping is the point of summer hols and weekends.

Two days pass. He's bloody hungry but he knows that leaving would be tantamount to admitting that what he did was wrong, and his pride is larger than his stomach, always. Besides, now he's discovered the few books and magazines.

Three days pass. Now he's read the magazines in detail at least twice. He has more and more trouble sleeping. He tries to speak to the few portraits on the walls, but they're content to just stare or ignore, or sleep.

Four days pass. His resolve nearly breaks, but holds when he imagines himself as another one of those Black family portraits, sleepy and dull and inarticulate. He doesn't want to be another follower, just another Black.

By the fifth day, he's trying the door. It opens. No one has bothered to open it.

It's not even negative attention anymore. It's no attention at all. There is a definite difference.

He tries to sleep and cries halfway through the fifth day, attempting to muffle his tears into the carpet, not wanting to show his need to give in, his knowledge that this whole thing is smaller than he's making it out to be.

He looks up, and imagines his mother's face. She won't let him die. That would be a victory on his part. He's going to win this. He can't do anything but win this.

The door opens. The breath is knocked out of him.

Narcissa's cheeks are flushed dark red, her hair curled and pinned back, her robes pristine and white. "Here," she says shortly, setting a tray of food on the floor primly.

"Didn't know you cared," Sirius says, eyes on the food. He scrambles and picks up a roll, eating it hastily. "Thanks." His voice is muffled by bread.

"I don't care." Her voice hasn't changed from childhood, not like his – he sounds like a man, and she doesn't sound like a woman, at least not like his mother or hers. "You're stupid. Just leave the room."

Sirius looks up at her. "I'm not leaving," he says. "Especially not now that I've got a nurse."

He's pleased to see hatred stoking up in her eyes. "I'm not your nurse. Your mum knew that Bella would kill you."

"And you won't kill me?" Now he hungrily eats the soup that's there, it's mostly water but there's food there and it's more than he's had for what feels like ages.

"If you die," she says in what is the coldest pleasant tone he's ever heard, even from Mum, "you win."

He looks up at her from that, spoon halfway to his mouth. "...Yeah," he says. "You get it."

"You are the stupidest person I've ever met," she exclaims, and covers her mouth immediately, her head whipping back towards the door.

He sneaks a last spoon of soup. "She can't hear," he says, his voice low, his smirk growing as his full stomach strengthens his resolve. "Don't worry."

In a rush, she leans over and slaps him. "I wish I wasn't related to you," she hisses, "I wish you were gone, I wish I never had to see you again."

He hates her. She's everything they want her to be, perfect and pristine and pure, face and hair and clothing white and pressed. He reaches up and pulls her down towards him, her knee and robes going into what remains of the soup, her body pressing up against him, the abandoned glass of orange juice spilling and her hand clenching into it. Before he realizes what he's doing, one hand is fisting into her perfectly pinned curls and another is wrapping around her waist, and his lips are pressing against hers.

She gives a muffled sound, but after a long moment, she softens, and presses closer into him. He opens his mouth and she moves closer, the bowl slipping and clinking away, his hand seeking into her robes, when -

She pulls away. "No. No. No." She's starting to cry, pushing at his hands. "No." She scrambles to get up.

"Wait - "

"I hate you," she says, completely undone, her hair, her face, her robes, her purity all soiled.

When she reaches for the doorknob, the door is locked. She sinks to the ground, and doesn't look at him.

He just smiles.