A/N: Hello, lovely readers! I have attempted to delve into the mind of one Sirius Orion Black...so be warned. Or something. Anyway, this was partially inspired by my Marauder's playlist (lyrics from my Sirius songs are in italics), and partially by the torrent of emotions I have been flooded with after seeing the DH pt. 2 trailer yesterday...

I got my knuckles bruised by a lady in black

And I held my tongue as she told me "Son, fear is the heart of love"

So I never went back

The realization didn't come right away. I mean, a kid always sort of looks up to his parents, right? At least while they're the only people you've known to take care of you. And even when 'take care of' sometimes included long, screaming lectures when Reg and I accidentally broke Mum's favorite vase or sharp slaps across the face when Dad had too much to drink . . . well, like I said, it's all you know, for a while.

I'm not saying there weren't any good times, because there were. Like the day Dad brought home an entire mini model of the Quidditch World Cup, complete with moving players—yes, I was still too young to realize mine were the type of parents who tried to buy their children's love—or the days Mum let Reg and I eat chocolate for dinner. But those were quickly overshadowed, and now seem like merely an echo of someone else's life.

The real breaking point came the day our house elf, Fiona, died. I was eight, and Regulus was six, and while I'd never particularly taken to her, Reg had regarded the elf almost as a second mother, twisted and strange as that may seem. Anyway, he cried for hours and hours that day, and me, in a rare and soon to be last moment of brotherly affection, realized there was no way that elf's head could end up hung in the front hallway with the rest of them. But when I went to ask my father if Fiona could be spared the 'honor' of becoming part of the décor, he exploded—told me house elves were just our servants, and that I didn't have any respect for our family or its traditions . . . if he'd only known then how often he'd be repeating that second bit over the coming years.

In keeping with another Black tradition, things spiraled into insanity after the yelling was over. Dad forced me and Reg to actually watch as Fiona was beheaded . . . God, I'll never forget the look Reg gave me as we left the kitchen. You haven't seen betrayal until you've seen it in the accusing eyes of a six-year-old. He blamed me for not being able to prevent what had happened, and that was the day we stopped being brothers. Ironically, Regulus only grew closer to my parents after the incident; he still had a child's naïve belief in their authority. I, on the other hand, never trusted them again. Fortuitous timing, too, because that was the year the political radicals demanding a 'purification' of magic and accusing Muggle-borns of polluting our bloodlines began to gain notice and followers. My parents talked about them almost non-stop, praising their ideology and vision. And nearly all of the family agreed, steeped as they were in their pureblood pride and manic sense of privilege.

Memories, they came and went in light of all the time we spent

Listening to everything our parents told us not to take in

My cousin Andromeda saved my life. I know, that sounds overly dramatic, but it's true, on some level. If it wasn't for her . . . well, maybe I would have slunk back to my parent's beliefs and been a true Black after all. But Meda . . . let's just say she made for some interesting Christmases. I thought she was bloody brilliant, and, as was quickly becoming the norm for me, I seemed to be the only one who did. She had no qualms voicing her true feelings about our family, and aptly summed it up with one whispered aside to me the summer before I went to Hogwarts: "The lot of them are fucking insane, Sirius." I knew she meant it, too, because she didn't even apologize for cursing in front of me. That was the same summer Meda got blasted off our family tree for marrying a Muggle-born. "Good riddance," my mother muttered as she put her wand away, and I privately thought that was the one thing her and Meda would have agreed on.

They say teenage rebellion is a part of life, but what they don't tell you is that rebellion is shit. It's isolation, and anger, and constantly feeling like you were made wrong, because how could you possibly be expected to live with people that genuinely hate you? I boarded the Hogwarts Express with every confidence that Hogwarts would just be more of the same, stuck in Slytherin with all the Dark Arts-loving gits, shining products of their fanatical families.

Then James Potter entered my compartment, and the rest, as they say, was history.

Teenage dreams in a teenage circus

Running around like a clown on purpose

Who gives a damn about the family you come from?

No giving up when you're young and you want some

James's family was bloody perfect, at least in comparison to mine (not hard to be), yet he somehow got it, understood the bits about my mental family that I couldn't put into words. Sometimes I looked at us—James, Remus, Peter and I—and wondered how the hell it was possible that the four of us were mates. It was a funny thing, because all of us were, at various points, utterly surprised that the others would even want to speak to us, let alone sneak down to the kitchens in the middle of the night or hide dungbombs in McGonagall's desk. But then, friendship is a funny thing, too.

Being hero-worshiped by half the school is one hell of an ego trip, and we naturally got carried away with ourselves more times than I can count. Of course, we thought we were bloody geniuses, and though I know modesty is far from my defining trait, I think it's fair to say we were, to a point. I mean, becoming Animagi was no walk in the park, and we gave up on the Map in frustration three separate times before we finally finished it.

Our Hogwarts years were easily the best years of my life. Sure, I might have traded in the occasional detention, or the times I woke up after passing out drunk in the corridor or on the stairs to the boys' dormitories—I still maintain I did not snog Elena Gregory after the fifth year Quidditch final; even my inebriated self would never be that desperate. But walking in on Mum trying—and failing—to blast my Gryffindor hangings off my bedroom walls, nearly falling asleep planning the next full moon late at night in the common room, hiding behind bookshelves in the library and trying not to laugh as Madame Pince attempted to put out the fireworks we'd just set off . . . all of that far outshone the rest.

It was stupid of me to think I could hide from my heritage forever, though. All it took was one taunt too many about Reg's new 'mates' from Snivellus, and . . . I don't know what made me do it, or why it took James's face whitening faster than I'd ever seen it for me to realize the true gravity of what I'd done. I nearly got Snape killed that night, nearly got James killed, nearly exposed the darkest secret of my best mate, nearly sent him to Azkaban or worse . . . James didn't speak to me for two weeks straight. Peter, as usual, followed his lead. But Remus's reaction was the hardest to take—he didn't yell, didn't act disappointed or betrayed, just . . . sort of . . . didn't say anything. But then, he always was too good to me.

And even though there's no way in knowing where to go, promise I'm going because

I gotta get outta here

I never quite believed that Dumbledore really ensured Snape's silence on the matter, and Regulus had to have heard it from somewhere—or maybe he just worked it out himself. At any rate, he of course felt it necessary to share my choice of mates with Mum that summer . . . and she went ballistic. I tried to ignore it as usual, but when she proceeded to call Remus a half-human piece of filth, I lost it.

"I'm leaving," I announced harshly, turning away.

"You can't just leave!" Mum screamed at me, following as I pounded up the stairs and began throwing random things in a rucksack.

"And I'd like to see you try and stop me!" I ran back downstairs, cutting through the kitchen on my way to the front door.
"Sirius Orion Black, if you walk out that door, you're never entering this house again!"

I laughed bitterly. "Yeah, that's kind of the point."

"Fine, homelessness will suit you well, I suppose. You always were my biggest failure."

I hated that her disappointment could still sting me. And that only served to make me angrier. "You know what, Mum?" I yelled, "Fuck you! Fuck you, and fuck this family—I'm done!"

"I will not allow you to speak to me like that!"

"Well, I just did!"

Twisting suddenly, Mum grabbed a knife off the table and hurled it in my direction. I don't think she meant to hit me, it was probably more for a scare than anything, but I happened to step forward right at that moment, and the tip grazed along my left arm.

The knife clattered to the ground, and Mum and I froze, staring at each other. It was weird to see her realize she'd gone too far . . . but of course she was too fucking proud to admit it. Nevertheless, she didn't try to stop me as I stormed from the kitchen and into the pouring rain. Of bloody course it was raining. Completely forgetting about magic, and with absolutely no destination in mind, I just walked for nearly an hour, not caring as I got completely soaked.

Slowly, it dawned on me that, apt as it apparently may be, I didn't really fancy sleeping on the street that night. Disapparating, I felt a little thrill of nerves in my stomach as the Potters' manor house appeared before me. I knew taking me in was a lot to ask, and I suddenly didn't feel like explaining why I was there in the first place.

Luckily, it was James who answered the door. He took one look at me, grabbed my arm, and pulled me into the foyer. "Mum, Sirius is staying here for a while," he called in the direction of the kitchen, but without even waiting for an answer, he dragged me upstairs, shoved a towel into my arms, and pushed me into the bathroom.

"Mate," I started.

"You're welcome, you prat."

After I'd cleaned up, I found James in his bedroom, lounging on his bed reading a Quidditch magazine. He dropped it on the floor and stood up as I entered, his eyes flicking immediately to the thin red line now visible below the sleeve of my t-shirt.

"Er, Mum threw a knife at me," I said bluntly.

James didn't say anything for nearly a minute. Then, "Fancy a game of exploding snap?" And that was the last we spoke of it.

The rest of that summer was devoted to the delicate art of making motorbikes fly. One of our more genius ideas, if I do say so myself. Which I did. Several times. Honestly, when she was finished, I swore that bike was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I told James I never needed the love of a woman again, not with that pretty lady by my side. He laughed, of course, but I knew he'd never agree—not while Lily was still strutting around Hogwarts. Well, all right, James did most of the strutting.

Peter nearly wet his pants the first time I took him for a ride. Remus spent the entirety of his visit swearing we'd never get him to go on the thing and predicting how quickly the bike—and us—would end up smashed to pieces. We proved him wrong on both counts, of course.

I feel like I was born

To devastation and reform

Destroying everything I loved

After school ended, things began to change quickly. James and Lily got married. The five of us, along with several of our classmates, joined the Order. Death Eater attacks became routine, as did stories of increasing corruption at the Ministry. People started to die. We still retained our teenage sense of invincibility, however, and that persisted for a while . . . right up until we learned Voldemort was after James, Lily, and Harry. Then everything became immediately and painfully real.

When I suggested James and Lily use Peter for secret keeper, I told James it was because the choice would be the perfect ruse. But in reality—and I hated admitting it, even to myself—it was because I was scared. On the surface, I knew I would never betray them. But deep down, I couldn't help thinking . . . what if my ancestry won out after all? I'd thought I could never betray Remus's secret, yet the way I'd given it up so carelessly . . . I couldn't take that risk. Not this time.

And I find it kind of funny, I find it kind of sad

The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had

The irony wasn't lost on me that night. As I stared up at the shattered roof and half-collapsing floorboards, I was overcome with a strange urge to laugh. In trying to save Lily and James from myself, I'd ended up being the death of them anyway. And to think I'd suspected Remus of being the spy . . . God, what had happened to me? It was fitting that Remus would now think I'd betrayed everyone; he might never forgive me, but then, I didn't deserve to be forgiven.

That first night in Azkaban was like something out of a strange dream. I tried not to listen to the screams and moans around me, but the alternative was listening to my own thoughts, thoughts that didn't need a dementor's influence to be unbearable.

When I discovered that becoming Padfoot was a blessed relief, I spent nearly all of my time as a dog.

But most often, as I fell into a fitful sleep, I hoped that I would never wake up.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night

Take these broken wings and learn to fly

All your life

You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Blackbird singing in the dead of night

Take these sunken eyes and learn to see

All your life

You were only waiting for this moment to be free

In that first minute, I swore I could smell the sky. It was like I'd never noticed it had a distinct scent until I'd been shut out from it for twelve years. I didn't have much time to ponder the phenomenon, though, as I was not out of the proverbial woods yet. I honestly have no fucking clue how I made the swim from the island of Azkaban. My second priority was to eat, and after I accomplished that, I started south, knowing exactly where I was going and yet debating the decision for the entire journey. But I knew I had to see him, had to convince myself that I still had someone to fight for.

Glimpsing Harry for the first time, I felt a thrill of joy and a twisting pain in my chest all at once. And in that instant, I knew. I knew I'd do anything to protect the one piece I had left of my former life. Some undeserved twist of fate had granted me the chance to be good again, and nothing could stop me from taking it.

Just when your body is out of fight

I will be there

I will be the smallest piece in everything

And I would give my life before I break this promise to you

A/N: Bah. So depressing. I know. Why were all their lives so tragic? It hurts my heart :(

Song titles, in order of appearance, for those who care:

I Will Follow You Into the Dark - Death Cab For Cutie (more of an L/J song, personally, but the lyrics worked for that first bit)

Vegas - All Time Low

We Are Golden - Mika

Be My Escape - Relient K

Devastation and Reform - Relient K

Mad World - Gary Jules

Blackbird - The Beatles

Sword and Shield - Sister Hazel