Later, when he had time to look back and reflect upon what had happened, Sirius would not be able to explain why he had decided to go to Godric's Hollow that night. If the Fidelius Charm held, after all, he would not even be able to see the house. The only reason he could think of was that some way, somehow, he simply knew something wasn't right.

James Potter had been his best mate since he was eleven years old. They had become more than mates; they were brothers. James had been there for him when no one else was. And so, although he had never delved into that type of magic, Sirius believed that there was some sort of mental bond between himself and James. And that's how he knew.

Sirius had been reading the obituaries in The Daily Prophet when he had fallen asleep in his favorite (and only) armchair. He was alone in his little flat, and the only sound he could hear was the faint squeals of delight from the children on the street below. He'd given out some candy from Honeydukes, and the Muggle children had been utterly fascinated by it, of course. When it had all gone, he had settled down grimly to review that week's losses. It was early, but he was constantly exhausted by the war going on around him, and he quickly dozed off.

A few hours later he awoke with a start. He looked at his clock, wondering if its toll had roused him, but it was well past nine o'clock. Inexplicably, he was possessed of a deep feeling of dread that weighed upon him like a huge and heavy stone. Panic began to seep into his mind, and as if some floodgate had been opened, the name of his best friend ran over and over again in Sirius's head.

He rushed out of the apartment, vaguely aiming his wand at the door to lock it as he rushed down the stairs. Frustrated by his own pace, he apparated onto the street outside. A child saw him and began pulling at his mother's hand, insisting that a man had appeared out of nowhere. The woman continued talking to her friend, ignoring him. Sirius leapt onto the motorcycle, cast a quick Disillusionment charm, and was off into the night sky.

As he flew towards Godric's Hollow, desperately utilizing every speed booster the bike had, he wondered what he expected to find there. He knew it could not be good. He prayed that he would land, rush towards where the house should be, and see nothing but empty space. If James and Lily were- no. He did not dare to even think the word. And little Harry…

His heart gave an awful pang as he thought his godson's name. He realized with horrible clarity that if the Potters were… gone, he was to blame. How could he ever suggest trusting Peter? Yes, it had been Sirius who had betrayed his friends' trust with that horrible prank on Snape, but he would rather die than reveal their location to Voldemort. He should have had faith in that. Tears welled in his eyes painfully and he squeezed them shut. Sirius Black did not cry. Well-renowned ladies' man, Marauder, brilliant wizard, Sirius Black did not cry.

He would not cry now, not yet.

The bike landed roughly two streets down from the Potters' and Sirius climbed off of it hurriedly, stumbling a bit. The night was quiet, almost unnaturally so. Lights were still on in many of the houses, but it was as if the town was deserted. Had all the children out for candy already gone home? With a glance at his watch, Sirius realized it was eleven o'clock already. He resisted the urge to break into a sprint. How quickly he got there would make no difference now.

Instead of briskly, he had walked almost sluggishly. He was terrified by the possibility of what he might find. Without realizing he was nearly there, Sirius turned a corner and there it was: the Potters' house.

Or at least, there was what had been the Potters' house. The charming little resident looked like the victim of some Muggle bombing; the roof was half-missing, and there was rubble everywhere from the stones that had blown off from the house, particularly on the right side….

The side of Harry's bedroom…

The worse had been realized. No longer afraid of what he might find, but instead certain, Sirius rushed through the little gate and pushed open the front door. It was unlocked. He's been here, Sirius thought, and the unadulterated pain in his chest grew. As he stepped over the threshold, his eyes immediately fell on the figure laying a few feet before him, unmoving.

For the slightest of moments Sirius dared to hope that James might be alive, but simply unconscious. The house had been blown apart; there must have been a fight. As he kneeled, he saw that James's hazel eyes stared up at the ceiling; unmoving, unseeing.

Sirius crawled towards him, a sob escaping his throat. He pulled his best friend's head into his lap. He saw as he did so that James's hands were empty; he had not had his wand. How many times had that careless habit gotten him into tight spots with Slytherins at school? How many times had Sirius and Remus and Lily scolded him for it? As good of a Chaser as he had been, his quick reflexes had not saved him now. His black hair was still tousled. His glasses were skewed a bit on his nose. His expression was one of faint surprise and deep heartbreak. James's last thoughts were undoubtedly of the fate of his wife and son.

Sirius held the shell of James Potter in his arms, sobbing in earnest. "I'm so, so sorry, James," he choked out. He wished more than anything he had ever wished for that James would leap up, laughing at him, chiding him for falling for such a stupid prank. But Sirius's oldest friend did not move, or take his hand, or breathe a word. He continued to lie there in Sirius's arms, slumped and stiff; gone.

Gently, Sirius closed James's eyes and straightened his glasses. He crossed his arms over his chest and continued up the stairs. He hated to leave Prongs there like that, but he was still desperately cleaving to the tiny hope that Lily might be alive. She would be traumatized and sobbing and utterly destroyed by the loss of James, but perhaps she would be in Harry's room, holding her baby in her arms, Voldemort's defeated body lying across from her.

Sirius pushed open the door to the nursery. Boxes had been cast aside; he realized with a deep ache that Lily had futilely attempted to barricade herself in. The room was cold; the night air whooshed in from the missing wall. The stars were mockingly bright. Tears leaked from Sirius's eyes.

Lily Potter lay in front of the crib on her stomach, her arms stretched out before her. Half of her lovely face was pressed against the train-patterned carpet; the other, glazed with dried tears, was still visible. Sirius could see one of her striking green eyes gazing out at him beneath a curtain of dark red hair, as unseeing as James's had been.

He kneeled before her, tucking her hair behind her ear. He stroked her pale skin with one hand. It was as cold as the room. He felt that he should right her as he had James- roll her over, cross her arms over her chest. But he could not. He could not bring himself to accept that they were both dead, the pair of them, by posing her as a dead woman.

He continued to look at her, remembering her as the grinning schoolgirl he had known so well. Lily Evans, what a firecracker she had been. Never afraid to stand up to him and James when they were (so often) out of line. He remembered when she had finally agreed to that first date with James in the Seventh Year. He remembered them kissing by the lake, and their wedding, and the day Harry was born. They had been so in love. They must still be, wherever they were now.

Sirius was broken out of his reverie by the thought of Harry. He nearly did not look in the crib. How could he bear to see his chubby little godson as lifeless as his beloved parents? How could he force himself to take in this final, crushing loss?

Yet Sirius did. Because he needed to say goodbye, at the very least. He rose and went to the crib. He looked in, reaching out, intending to embrace Harry for the last time.

A fat fist reached up and grabbed Sirius's thumb. The movement was earth-shattering. Lily's green eyes stared up at him. Harry's face was red and wet. He was still emitting faint cries. Consumed by disbelief, half-expecting the child before him to be a hallucination, Sirius took the baby into his arms.

He held him for what seemed like hours, but what must have been a mere ten minutes. He wondered again and again how Harry had survived, but the question seemed infinitely less important than the mere fact that he was stillhere, a living, breathing part of Lily and James, his best friends.

At last the door to the nursery creaked open once more. Holding Harry with one arm, Sirius whipped out his wand with the other, close to hoping that it was a Death Eater he could curse into oblivion.

The looming figure of Rubeus Hagrid stood before him, his great face splotchy and red with tears. "Oh, Sirius, it's yeh," he mumbled. He looked at the baby in Sirius's arms. "Harry- he's alive!" he exclaimed, as shocked has Sirius had been. "Dumbledore said- but I thought it was impossible, yeh know." There was a pause. "Lily an' James- I jus' can't believe theh're really-" He broke into more sobs.

Sirius wanted more than anything to cry with him, perhaps even to hug the half-giant, but he could not continue to mourn them. Not now. He knew that they would be looking for him soon- the Aurors. Not a soul alive knew about the change in Secret Keepers, except himself and-

He did not dare to think the traitor's name. If he did, he was quite sure he might explode with fury. "Hagrid," Sirius began. "Take my motorcycle, it will get you back faster. I've got to go."

He made for the door, handing Harry tenderly to Hagrid. "Goodbye," he whispered. "It might be a while. I'll miss you, Harry."

He walked down the stairs, and said his final goodbyes to James. He clasped him to him one last time, tears beginning to fall once more. "Don't worry, Prongs," Sirius whispered. "I'll get him. For you and for Lily."

When he was outside the gate he Disapparated. He was in a different Muggle town now. Sirius had to try to get him, even if the truth died with him. Sirius would use the most painful spell he knew, and the traitor would die. Striding purposefully now, Sirius made for his place and waited for morning.

Peter Pettigrew would suffer a fate far worse than death.