A/N: Written for Round II of Fire The Canon's Fanfiction Tournaments on the HPFC Forum. Tied to Whistle and I suggest reading that first if you haven't already. This makes more sense if you do.
Much love to theMarauders1979 for beta-reading this for me.
The pathways were paved with white and the snow on the ground seemed to whistle as it danced in the light wintry breeze. Sirius' paws sunk gently into snow as he walked down the path - the cobblestoned road of Godric's Hollow.
He thought that if the air could freeze, it probably would. Almost every breath he took was a shock to his body. It pierced his throat like a bucket of ice being forced into his mouth, slowly melting in the heat of his breath, only to seep down into his stomach and sit there. Even then that he was free and far from Azkaban, the feel of the Dementors' still seemed to follow him wherever he went. They even haunted his dreams at times, and he would wake in the middle of the night thinking he was back in his lonely, dark cell when he was really in the cave he had adopted as a spot to rest.
The dog looked over its shoulder, only to spot nothing behind him, and continue on the path down the road.
They still followed him, wherever he went. They would play with his mind and senses. He couldn't stand it, and part of him really did think he was going mad.
He had made it his mission to go to Hogwarts, and he was well on his way. But he knew there was something that he wanted to do before he even set foot near the grounds.
His paws slipped several times as he walked, ice left buried under piles of fresh snow. Sirius found the feel strangely soft. The snow was wet and cold but it was melting which made it feel like he was walking on cold powder. It was gentle on his damaged skin, skin that had not yet healed from his descent from the rocks on the shore around Azkaban. The pain he felt earlier was slowly disappearing. Part of him thought that he was just getting numb, but either way it didn't really matter. His paws felt better.
The sky had grown dark by the time he made it past the church. He was now completely covered underneath the night sky and he changed from dog to man for the first time in weeks. He crept silently around the building and made it to the kissing gate behind, which held beyond it the graves of people he never knew. But he had come out here for a reason.
His hand touched the frozen gate and he could hear the scratching of rust against metal as he walked through. The snow that had settled on the gates could've easily been there for hours, never touched and remained frozen long enough to become so hard that even the sun couldn't melt it all away. Sirius didn't bother pushing it back in its place. His eyes scanned every area that he could see in the cemetery.
He shivered, but he didn't care that his bones were freezing. Echoes seemed to sound around him and the silent air made every crunch of a broken branch at his feet so loud it would make him jump. But he moved on, despite the feeling of eyes settling on the back of his head. Light shone over the many gravestones, making the snow that sat upon their tops shimmer in the dull gaze of the moon. It peeked out from behind the clouds and Sirius used this as an advantage, until it disappeared again, leaving him alone in the dark once more.
He navigated through the endless rows of graves, growing frustrated and the small, sharp sounds that seemed to spring out of nowhere weren't helping. He'd gone to the back, the front and in between, stopping to gaze at the names etched into stone every few minutes. They eventually grew into seconds.
The moon shone through the clouds, illuminating the small cemetery once more. Sirius was brushing the snow off of another headstone when it did. Their words appeared to be smudged and blurry with the vision he had. He stood, his hand in a fist when the light slowly grew brighter on the ground. He stopped and stared for a moment, before dropping to his knees.
James Potter - Lily Potter
Born 27 March 1960 - Born 30 January 1960
Died 31 October 1981- Died 31 October 1981
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
James and Lily's death seemed to had left a burning hole of shock in his heart the first time Sirius found out. The night of October thirty-first he'd flown to their cottage and gone through the house, having to step over James' dead body to make it up the stairs. He'd turned his friend over, thinking,hoping that there was some way that he was still alive. But then he looked into his eyes and bile had risen in his throat. The bright fire that once filled James' eyes had gone out.
He was lifeless.
Sirius had closed his friend's eyes and departed up the stairs. Lily, Lily, Lily, Lily. He moved up the steps as fast as possible, tears fighting the fall from his eyes. His heart began to ache and it felt like it might shatter. Lily, Lily, Lily, Lily. Was she still alive? Harry, Harry, Harry, Harry. Was Harry still alive?
It just couldn't be.
He found the door to the nursery off its hinges and spotted Lily flat on the floor, mirroring James' expression. Her bright green eyes seemed to had grown dull - they no longer shined with the light they once held. Sirius stepped back, swallowing bile and staring at her lifeless form. He stood motionless, too shocked to be shaken with any other emotion, and then a baby's cries finally made their way to his ears. He'd jumped from his spot near the wall and taken Harry in his arms, squeezing him to his chest, to his heart, and let him cry into his robes.
He had cried with him.
Sirius had sworn that he would never let Harry go, but then, even with his fight he'd given in and he gave him to Hagrid. Sirius didn't think he could care less about the bike he owned at that time and let it go with him. He then watched his godson be flown off and away from him into the night.
A thought suddenly struck him. That happened years ago. How many years ago, though, he didn't know. His hands dug into the ground as he wished with all his might to be able to hold that little baby again, to protect him, to love him. That was what he'd promised to do when James and Lily asked him to be Godfather and he'd done something else – he had given Harry away.
He had failed.
Sirius didn't how long he stayed there, finally breaking down into tears and uttering apologies to his dead friends' graves. He knew he would never be able to hear their words again, he knew he would never be forgiven - he would never even forgive himself. But he made a new promise, and that was to protect Harry with everything he had, even if it killed him.
He finally stood, the moon's light slowly dying as pink and gold blossomed along the horizon. He took one last look at the graves, before saying, "James." His voice shook, and he stared at his friend's name carved into marble, Sirius knew James couldn't hear him, but some part of him hoped he could. "I'm sorry."