Disclaimer: Not J.K.

A/N: Hey, guys! It's been a while! So, this piece was originally only about five hundred words and really simple. After rereading it, though, I decided I really liked the idea of writing Sirius's POV, given all he's been through, and wanted to turn this into an actual story. Aside from Draco, Sirius is one of my favorite characters. This took a few long, frustrating weeks of writing and rewriting to finally get it right.

Also, the events throughout are chronologically ordered, but the amount of time passing between each section isn't directly stated. Sometimes it's one year, other times it's several. (Not super important to the flow of the story, just a fyi)

I really hope you guys like reading this as much as i liked writing it! Pretty please with magic on top review! Enjoy~

Regulus kneels in the black dirt of the garden, fist full of your mother's favorite red flowers. When he notices you standing there, he raises his panicked eyes and begs, "Sirius! Please, don't tell mum I did it, she'll go absolutely mad!"

You stare down at your younger brother, his small pale hands covered in mud and torn petals. "Why were you out here anyway? Mum always says we aren't allowed in the garden," Your tone is more curious than reprimanding, but he still bows his head in shame.

"I- I came out here to search for bugs, but I ended up ripping a few of these," he weakly holds up a mangled carnation, "I'm truly sorry, Sirius, please, can you fix it with your m-magic?"

You force your face to remain emotionless, falsely leading him to believe you're not going to help. Just when tears threaten to spring to Reg's eyes, you break your act and pat him heartily on the back. "Never fear, brother dear, just run inside and wash up, yeah?" You quickly shoo him off into the house, making sure to remind him to take the back entrance, before turning to the pile of uprooted flowers. With a quick spell, the flowers spring back to life, the dirt piles smooth themselves back into solid ground, and the fallen petals reattach to the carnations. You are admiring your work, when you feel a hand on your shoulder. ( A cold hand with ruby-painted talons; each smooth and eerily perfect.)

"What have I told you about coming into the garden, Sirius," It isn't a question, it's a dark statement as heavy and dull as granite, and you can feel each word drop heavily on your head.

"Nothing, mother, just admiring the flowers," Your eyes are respectively (reluctantly, angrily, forcefully, bitterly, unwillingly) lowered to your feet, because she can't stand the sight of your face. ("The only bloody Gryffindor in this family! And one that associates with muggles too! Don't look me in the eyes anymore Sirius, not until you've proved yourself to be a true Black")

"Do you take me for a fool, Sirius? I can sense the presence of magic here, so I know you did something," She says coldly, "I'll just get your father. Perhaps he can impress the importance of following the rules upon you." With that, she turns on her heel and strides back into the house.

When she is long gone, Regulus slowly emerges from his hiding spot, "I'm sorry, brother, I-I didn't mean to get you in trouble with father," His small voice is shaky and quiet. You force a smile and throw an arm over his shoulder, pulling his small body close to your side. "Hey, don't worry, Reg! It's fine. I'll be fine," But your grin wavers at the thought of father. (Rough, unforgiving palms, squeezing, bruising, hurting. You can already feel the pain to come, your pale arms quivering in fear and the thought of adding more chocolate-colored bruises to your collection.)

"Why don't you play a game in your room for a bit, while I talk to father? Just don't come out, okay? I'll be up later to join you," You force nonchalance and pat his head once more, before striding into the house. (quivering, shaking, fear, worried, but you need to preserve him. Keep him innocent as long as you can. Bite your tongue. Don't scream.)

"How do you feel about family, James?"

You and James are lying on the common room floor, facing the high-arching ceiling, mere hours before the last day of first year.

"My family you mean? Well, I dunno, the way you're supposed to feel about family I guess. Some days I like 'em, some days I don't, but in the end I still love 'em." He coughs, embarrassed. "I mean, that's just a guess. Er- why do you ask?"

You close your eyes and try to force away a headache with sheer willpower alone. "Because in exactly six hours and twenty-five minutes I'm going to have to face my family, and I'm just wondering how I should deal with it."

"What's to deal with, mate?" You sit up and rub the sides of your temple. "They all hate me, except for Reg, but I have a feeling even that's finite. He's going to be coming here next year, and I'm just hoping he's not going to think of his big brother as a 'disappointment and disgrace' like our mother and father do."

James frowns. "That's rough, mate." You chuckle, but it's more of a bark, and the genuine humor is completely absent.


Everything you care about is shoved into a small bag and slung over your shoulder. There are the basic necessities such as your wand and food, as well as things that are equally important, but not truly necessary. This would include the music box Lily gave you for Christmas, Lupin's old spectacles that he lent you (your eyesight is rather poor when reading), and the Quidditch gloves James tossed to you on the last day of second year. ("Why? Because I like you, Sirius. If you take them, we can be matching next year when Quidditch starts up again.") Everything else, such as school books and clothing, has been shrunk and placed neatly in your pocket.

In the beginning of 4th year, you made the mistake of not using a healing charm to cover the purple bruises peppering your neck and arms (Biggish, fingertip-sized blotches of chocolate-plum crawling up your pale throat like ants). After that, James promised that if things ever got too bad at home, you could find him and stay for a few days. You glance down at your bag that is packed for at least a few weeks, and wonder if he'll be willing to extend your stay.

It is dead silent as you creep down the carpeted hallways- these extremely fine, hand-weaved rugs have been if your family for centuries, as your mother would grandly announce to house guests- your lips pressed tightly together, and your body tense. You are not wanted here, so why stay? Mother has made it apparent that you are an utter disgrace in every way (Not only are you a bloody Gryffindor, but a muggle lover as well! You disgust me. Why can you not be more like your brother, Regulus?). Whereas father simply flicks a cruel spell- or an even crueler hand- at you every now and then, disdain evident in his eyes, but apparently not enough to evoke anything other than mild acknowledgement. You can't remember the last time he actually spoke to you. (You do remember his rough, coarse palms squeezing tightly and loudly against the tender skin taut on your bones, leaving whisper-soft maroon blush where no one could see. Or perhaps where they refused to look?) It hurts the most, though, that your own brother despises you. There isn't much left in Grimmauld place for you, other than the lasting, almost obligatory attachment you feel to this house, but that is only because you've called this place "home" your whole life. Home is where the heart is, as the muggle saying goes, but this place is only blackness and drawn shades over an empty chest cavity; there is no heart here.

The last thing you see before sneaking out the back door, is the Black Family Tree, beautifully crafted and yet so ugly. You spare a few moments to pull out your wand, burning off your own name before mother has the satisfaction of doing it herself.

The first step you take outside feels absolutely liberating. Certain lightness fills your veins, making it seem as if you can take off in flight at any moment. The cold night air embraces you like an old friend, and the moon kindly sheds enough light to safely reveal the path. This feeling- it's something you've never felt before. A breath-taking, heart-filling, lightness that refuses to reveal itself in the form of a word- Merlin, what is this?- until it suddenly alights upon you as softly and brilliantly as the moon light you stand in.

You feel absolutely free.

Flying as fast as your motorcycle will allow, you await the sight of the Potter home with anxiousness, for it is a treasure you need to find, and yet a sight you wish to evade. You half know what to expect, but it doesn't seem real- can't be real. There, you find the smoldering remains of a house and three people that will prove to be the undoing of you. Break, break, break like a fragile chip of crystal, shatter like glass; this will be the catalyst that starts it all.

You're at the Potters' home before James and Lily's bodies have time to grow cold. It is like walking through some horrific nightmare, only without any personal connection to the situation. Whether it is from shock or pure, numbing grief, you feel disturbingly distant. Even your typically buzzing thoughts are but a blank, white slate.

You put out a few small flames that lick the sides of the crumbling house, kick aside chunks of plaster, and watch out for sharp metal pieces as you wander through the remains. You find James- your best mate, first friend; the raven haired boy with a snitch in his palm and a smirk on his face- crumpled at the foot of the staircase, glasses disarray, fingers curled in a loose fist. Once, at a rowdy after-game Quidditch party, James got absolutely pissed and passed out cold on the common room couch, and he looked exactly like he does now. If you reach out and shake his shoulders like you did all those years ago, and maybe call out James! Mate you're missing the fun! Then maybe he will rouse again, rub his eyes groggily, and laugh Ah, Passed out again, did I? What's in that punch, anyway? And the music will keep playing and James will keep breathing.

He could also be sleeping, perhaps too drained from studying for that Potions exam, even though you've told him time and time again that he shouldn't take school so seriously (Lupin would beg to differ). He's sleeping, passed out, pretending, waiting, anything.

Your hands are shaking so hard that you can't even steady them enough to properly adjust his glasses. "Wake up, Prongs. Enough playing around mate, this isn't funny," You're waiting for words you know will never come, no matter how long you sit here squeezing his hand. "James, please," Burning hot wetness forms in the corners of your eyes, spilling down your cheeks and dripping onto his lenses. "James-" But, your voice shatters like the vase you two broke in third year. You press your forehead against his chest, half for comfort, and half because some denying part of you is waiting for a heart beat. Needless to say, it does not come.

You already know what you will find when you push open little Harry's bedroom door, but all the mental preparation in the world could never truly ready you for the sight of Lily, slumped against Harry's crib. (because if you forget to water them, or give enough sunlight, a lily will wilt).

Harry is still in his crib, small pudgy hands grabbing at the air, wide green eyes the exact shade of his mother's. He makes soft cooing noises when you walk over to the crib and stand over him, his toothless mouth opening in a grin. You lean your elbows on the crib, cover your face with your hands, and just cry. Horrible, body-wracking, shoulder-shuddering sobs that hit wave after wave, each fresh thought of injustice and pain bringing yet another keening sob. Harry lays there, completely oblivious, grabbing for your long hair to play with.

This is your fault, all of this is your fault. If only you hadn't placed so much bloody trust in Peter Pettigrew, a boy infamous for seeking those with power and being easily swayed. You shouldn't have let the fact that you were friends blind you from his true nature. In essence, you killed them. If you had just been the damn secret keeper none of this would have happened.

When Hagrid arrives moments later, he finds you propped against the wall, staring unseeingly at Lily, little Harry firmly in your arms. You beg him to allow you custody of Harry, but he somberly states that he is on strict orders to deliver him to Lily's sister's family.

Hagrid drags a meaty arm across his face, catching stray tears in the wool material of his sleeve, "I-I'm sorry, Sirius. Dumbledore's orders."

There's nothing left to do but nod and head for the door. You pause in the door frame and turn slightly, "Hagrid, take my bike. I won't be needing it anymore." He looks at you with sad eyes, but something in your face must indicate that the huge, irrevocable change that has occurred tonight is not up for discussion, because he only says "Thanks."

You wander into the street, dead-eyed, and think of but one thing:

I'm coming, Peter. And I'm going to kill you.

You spent tireless weeks hunting him down, and now you have him cornered like the vermin he is. He is pushed up against the brick wall of some alley in London, your hand around his fat neck, lifting him a foot above the ground, and your wand pressed painfully into the apple of his throat.

"I've been looking all over for you, Peter," You hiss, eyes steadily locked on his beady ones that dart back and forth in panic.

In a desperate, pleading voice he chokes out, "W-why are you doing this, Padf-"

With one swift motion you've struck him hard across the face. "Don't you ever call me that again, you filthy, disgusting, waste of human flesh. You know why I'm here, don't you dare pretend otherwise,"

He licks his lips nervously and looks over your shoulder. "I-I don't know what to say except…"

He pauses and in a brief moment of foolishness, you loosen your grip, wanting to hear the rest of his sentence. In that single instance, however, he wriggles out of your grasp and runs into the crowded street.

"Help! Help! He's going to hurt m-" You tackle him to the ground and practically stab your wand into his throat, completely oblivious to the gathering crowd. "I'll kill you right now, Peter. Right here,"

He looks at you with a blank expression for a moment, before beginning to scream, "How could you kill James and Lily? They were our friends, Sirius! You're mad! Absolutely mad! Working with the Dark Lord, betraying your best friends, you deserve to rot in Azkaban!"

It takes too long to realize what he is about to do, because in your brief moment of confusion, he pulls out his wand. "Bye, bye Padfoot. Say hi to the Dementors, will you?" With no hesitation, he quickly whispers Sectumsempra, effectively severing his own finger off, before casting the largest spread Avada Kedavra you've ever seen. In a brilliant flash of green, every muggle in the street drops dead, Peter's finger falls to the ground, and a small brown rat scurries away down a manhole.

There isn't time to flee, nor do you even try, for the shock of what happened roots you to your spot. A day later Daily Prophet declares you a murderer, the ministry sentences you with life in Azkaban, and Peter Pettigrew is pronounced dead, with but a finger left at the crime scene to identify him.

In Azkaban, within the smoke-grey stone walls of a cell, your worst nightmares float above your head, beneath your pillow; thick black tendrils of poison seeping into your closed eyelids and infiltrating sleep. In your cell there is nothing but opaque darkness.

The dementors come and go like curls of fog rolling forward from the horizon, only darker, colder, and surrounded by an aura of dread. You can always sense them far before they are near. The feeling is cold, but not the kind that prickles the surface of your skin, or causes your teeth to chatter. It's the kind of absolute cold that seeps into the very marrow of your bones, freezes the blood in your veins- stopping the flow, slowing the time on your internal clock- and scrapes away every bit of warmth. It's the kind of chill that stretches long fingers straight down your throat, into your eyes, your nose, the very pores of your skin, brushing chilled fingertips against the very pit of your chest cavity, freezing each precious nerve at a time, slowly engulfing your sluggishly beating heart...

It's a feeling of absolute hopelessness.

Out of the entire prison, it seems, the dementors frequent your cell the most. Perhaps it is because you are one of the few with anything left to feel good about. They feed off of Lily's smile, James' playful grin, the sound of laughter, the smell of apple blossoms, Lupin's amused chuckle, Hogwarts, and the few moments when you and Reg were brothers. (Real brothers, not ones that stood under the title strictly because of blood)

Nighttime is the worse, though. That's when ghosts crawl through the cracks in the stone walls, from beneath your pillow, their dead voices spilling from your mouth and ricocheting against the backs of your teeth. (They never leave you, even if you plug your ears and close your eyes)

The cold metal bars do nothing to stop Lily from slipping between them at night, leading James by the hand, asking "Why Sirius why". Sometimes you wake up with baby Harry in your arms, but his bright green eyes are a terrible grey, grey just like this cell and this prison and you, and though he can't speak, he asks "Why" all the same. (As in, Why did you let them die, Why couldn't you save them)

Sometimes, Regulus sits against the wall beside you, elbows propped up on his folded knees. "Mum hated you, I hated you. Especially Father. You were a terrible shame to the Black family. Why couldn't you be like us?" You reach out to touch him but your fingers only meet the cold stone surface of the wall.

When Peter Pettigrew sneaks in, rat teeth bared, you jump out to strangle him, "You did this to me, you disgusting, worthless, waste of human flesh-" But he evades your fists as if he is made of air. "You killed them! YOU killed them, not me, never me"

You grab his throat and squeeze until you feel the windpipe crush through the skin of his neck, but even then you don't stop. You kick out every disgusting, yellowed tooth, break every limb; you scream into his dead ears and ask "WHY-"

But when you open your eyes, his body is a shredded, mangled mattress and the blood coating the cell floor is your own.

The dementor glides through the cell bars, moving toward you as fluidly as black ink in water. It hovers feet from you, hood hanging down to its chin- If it even posses such a human feature- and waits. Once the hopelessness and cold become too much (winter-chill was never your strong suit, you always needed to borrow Lupin's jacket) you fall to your knees, nose pressed into the dirty floor, eggshell-pale eyelids loosely fluttered shut, darkly anticipating as it moves over you, mouth wide open. It is on strict orders not to kiss, only to steal. (The worst kind of thief, because pretty memories cannot be covered with insurance or replaced)

You can feel the emptiness growing heavy in the pit of your heart, you can feel ice cold nails scraping the inside of your chest, grabbing any love and light that remains. You clench your jaw briefly, but give up everything with no fight and no resistance.

Bye Evans, Bye Marauders, Goodbye Reg. No more happy thoughts today…

You are sagging against the wall once its gaping mouth has sucked you dry, sitting there as empty as a husk until it leaves...
And then you lift your weak hands and push the heels of your palms into your eyes, focus harder than ever, until the hazy image of Harry and Peter materialize alongside the fireworks popping behind your eyelids. Because the difference between you and the rest of the prisoners is that you have something to live and fight for.

One is love. You need to see Harry, you need to pull him to heart in an endless hug, you need to say hello to James and Lily because they both reside inside of your godson.

The other is revenge. When you find Wormtail he will not only die, he will suffer. You will cut off every finger on each hand, that way his currently missing one will match. You want to feel his disgusting brittle bones snap like toothpicks, you want his horrid mouth to open in an endless scream- you won't stop until he begs for death, and even then maybe you'll keep going.

You drag yourself off the floor and curl up on your dirty mattress. It has been exactly six hundred days and no hope of escaping has touched upon you, so for now you practice hiding memories from the dementors. They can have your first kiss, every Quidditch win, your best friends (they are always here anyway) and even your sanity.

But, they will not take Harry, because perhaps Dumbledore was correct when he said that love conquers all, and not Wormtail, because the need to kill him is what keeps you alive.

For now it is enough to daydream, though.

One night, Harry wanders into your cell and sits at the small crooked chair beside your bed. He is no longer a small baby, with plump cheeks and small hands; rather, he has grown into a young boy, greatly resembling James. "Harry, is that you?"
Instead of crumbling to dust, or dissolving into the darkness like most of your visitors, Harry smiles. He doesn't say "why did you let them die" or "why couldn't you save us" even though such accusations are ready on your own tongue. He has James's smirk and mischievous sparkle, but Lily is ever-present in his eyes. His eyes are bright emerald-green jewels among this velvet-black darkness. You want to reach out and touch him, but if he dissolves into smoke like everything else, you won't be able to stand it. He is silent, but the smile he wears doesn't fade. Something like contentment stirs inside of you, and for the first time in half a decade you feel sleep pleasantly curling at the edges of consciousness. For once, you even dare to welcome it, because somehow you know that because Harry is here, the nightmares will be kept at bay. For now anyway. "Goodnight, Harry"

When you wake up, you hide your pleasant dreams behind forced memories of pain and heartbreak, so the dementors glide right past you.

You spend the rest of the morning staring at the empty space where Harry was.

Human guards are a rarity, mainly because the ministry doesn't see sense in placing them here when the dementors do well enough alone. However, every now and again, a wizard will be appointed to stand watch outside of a particularly dangerous prisoner's cell. When your guard appears, he is surprisingly young and slightly timid looking. Fresh out of training. He sets up a chair in front of your cell and unfolds a paper, his back facing you.

Regulus rolls his eyes and scoffs at the young man, "He is obviously new at this, because only a fool would sit that close to a madman when all that separates them are bars" Recently, Reg has stopped saying cruel-poison-cold-hurt words (Disgrace to us. Stupid, muggle-loving Sirius), so you allow him to stay. Now, he's more like the way he was as a young boy; charming, clever, and intelligent. (You wish you could bookmark those times and relive them, because that was when he was your brother and didn't know how to hate you yet)

What Reg says is correct, and you agree, but the guard's ignorance may prove to be useful. You haven't seen a newspaper in more than a decade, and his is just close enough to snatch.
"Time this carefully, brother. You always were far too impulsive for your own good"
So, you wait for a handful of undetermined time, before creeping toward his turned back with the stealth of an animal. "A bloody dog to be more specific" Reg says with a chuckle.

Before he has time to register anything, your impossibly thin hand has shot out through the bars and grabbed the paper in a fist. You tug it back into your cell and frantically flip through page after page of The Daily Prophet, searching for something-anything- about either Wormtail or Harry. You are not disappointed. As the guard frantically contacts backup, Regulus glances over your shoulder at the paper, and reads along with you. "Will you please stop shaking it so much? It's rather difficult to read like this," he snaps impatiently. You can't help the fact that your hands shake in utter rage upon seeing the very large photograph embossed onto the front page. It's some very large family -the weasels? - laughing and grinning and whatnot, but it's the pet rat perched on the boy's shoulder that catches your eye instantly.
Peter bloody Pettigrew.
You squint at one of the older boy's shirts, where a badge is pinned. It will take far more than 11 years to force Hogwarts' crest to fade from memory.

You feel absolute clarity for the first time in a decade; you need to get out of here. Soon, very soon. You'll have to tell Reg all of this later, because he is no longer around. Lily might disapprove of your impulsive plan, but she'll come around if you can get James to agree (which he will). When the dementors inevitably float through the bars of your cell, mouths gaping, you submit easily, throwing them off by dredging up every negative thought you can muster. They manage to steal the color of Reg's eyes and your best birthday party, but it's okay, because you two have the same eyes anyway, so as soon as you find a mirror you can check. Plus, birthday parties are overrated.

You lean against the wall; head lolled back, an insane grin plastered on your face. "He's at Hogwarts" you whisper at first, testing the phrase.
Then, louder you cry "He's at Hogwarts!" And before long you're screaming it at the stone ceiling, letting the words scratch out of your throat like broken glass, until you are too hoarse to speak any longer.
He's at Hogwarts" Then, you roll over in your small, broken bed and let fatigue consume you.

Lily doesn't visit you as often as the rest, but when she does come- seldom as that may be- she always has something important to say.
You are leaning against a wall, scratching lines into the softer pieces of brick, when she appears.

"Hello, Sirius. Surely you have more to productive things to do than carve tally marks into the wall? Such as come up with an escape plan, perhaps?"

You smirk and continue carving just to bug her. "Don't worry, Evans. I'm currently developing a plan as we speak. Should be ready soon,"

She raises an eyebrow and primly seats herself on your mattress. With a quick glance at the horrible disarray of sheets and blankets, she says, "I know it has been a mighty long time since Hogwarts, but I'm certain you haven't forgotten how to make a bed" With her hands on her hips, brow raised and chin lifted, she looks exactly like how you remember her.

"Guess I got used to Lupin doing it for me," You grin and stop scratching at the wall. "Both of you were such neat-freaks." She stops smiling suddenly, brow furrowed in thought. "Were?"

"Because you're-" You stop and quickly examine the half-moons of concrete hiding beneath your nails. "Never mind."

Her dark green eyes narrow and she crouches down to the floor, so that you two are only inches apart. "Say it, Sirius," she whispers, eyes shining with tears. "I know you think that you need us but…you don't. You know that I'm not really here, so just say it out loud. Make it real."

You swallow hard and refuse to look at her. "What if I don't want to make it real," the black spots of an ensuing panic attack border your vision and your heart beat quickens, "What if I like pretending?"

She smiles sadly. "Sirius, we all like to pretend, but for you it has been far too long. It's time to wake up,"

Drawing your knees to your chest, you begin to breathe in quick, frenzied pants. "Stop it, Lily, y-you don't mean that. You should know how hard this is- you're here too," her soft voice is becoming fainter and less distinguishable, and when you stare at her too hard certain features get fuzzy.

"But, Sirius, I'm not here" she leans even closer, "Close your eyes and count to three. It's time to let me go."

In a shaky voice you begin, "One…" One for Lily's only son, one for the decade that you've been here, "Two…" Two for the Potters you lost that night, and two for Harry's eyes, "Three."

When you open your eyes, Lily is gone and you now know she won't be coming back.

You sit stock-still in the center of your mattress. trying to gather whatever scraps of sanity you have left to develop a decent plan. You can come up with nothing, because you are terribly distracted.

James excitedly paces the small cell, eyes sparkling with the notion of planning an escape. "So you found out where Peter has been this whole time?" He doesn't sound angry, even though it's Peter that killed him; instead his voice has a distracted interest to it. Not unlike the tones of one discussing the weather. "Time to make an escape plan, now that you have incentive and whatnot. And you get to go back to Hogwarts too! Lucky duck. Make sure you say hello to the old bird, Mcgonagall," He chuckles, "Such a strict witch, but a good head of house nonetheless." He pauses briefly to reminisce about your days at Hogwarts.

"But anyway, back to the plan. To do this you're going to have to time it just right" James mumbles, still pacing. "Remember the time we snuck into the girls shower room?" He snickers in glee at the memory, "See, that took very precise timing and patience to be executed correctly, and look what happened! Success!" You sit stiffly on the mattress and force your eyes anywhere but at James. He pauses in his speech, suddenly noticing your lack of response and acknowledgement. "Mate, why so stony?" He walks towards you, mild concern and hurt marring his features.

"You are not real" You choke out, gaze locked on a moldy corner of the mattress. "You are just a figment of my imagination, and the sooner I realize it, the saner I'll be"

James appears to be hurt, brow crinkling, smile dropping. "Why don't you want me here, Padfoot?" You close your eyes and try to swallow the lump in your throat. "I already said it. You are not real. Y-you're dead. You and Lily and Regulus. Dead". He glares at you, the same closed off, humorless scowl he'd get whenever he heard something he didn't like.

"Fine then, Sirius, if you don't want me here, I'll go. But just remember; without us, you're all alone. An empty cell for an empty husk. Seems fitting."

Wetness forms at the corners of your eyes. "If I touch you you'll disappear. If I think too hard, you become hazy. You aren't real. I can't 'become' alone, because I already am. Always been."
You drag a grimy wrist across your eyes, glance up, and realize you've been talking to the air.

Letting go of Reg is the easiest, because all it takes is the question, "Brother, are you really here?"

Regulus smiles and pats your knee. "Of course not, dear brother. I've always been logical, and even in the confines of your imagination, such a characteristic has maintained intact. As I'm sure the red-haired witch mentioned, you no longer need us. Or me. Your escape is in the near future, yes?" You nod. "Well, then I suggest you stop talking to yourself and get working on it then!" He chuckles and rises from his spot next to you on the mattress. "You are a good man, Sirius. Take care, brother,"

You feel something sharp pierce your heart, pain so tangible it nearly feels physical. "A-are you sure you won't stay?" You already know the answer.

He smiles once more, "See you in another life, brother," before disappearing behind the backs of your eyelids.

There are no windows here, for what is the use of light to murderers and psychopaths? To make up for this, you lie on your back, facing the ceiling, and imagine a window.

And outside that window, there is clean crisp air that doesn't stink of recycled oxygen, rotting flesh, and madness. There are shiny, crimson apples hanging ripe from tree branches, warm sunlight and green grass. Color, there is always color in your little window, and now that you have the means to escape, it's easier to fill in what should go where in your version of the outside world. Trees, a small clear lake here, puffy white clouds, strawberry plants or something equally sweet and fragrant, and, most importantly, you.

You are the newest addition to the window scene. Since your escape is only a matter of carefully measured time, it's becoming easier and easier for you to see yourself out there. Free.

You spend hours staring at your window, counting from ten thousand and back again, because it calms you enough to plan the escape with a clear mind.
9,999, 10,000, 1, 2, 3, 4...

No one looks twice as a black dog runs past-
They don't question it, because they are too preoccupied with putting Azkaban in lock down, so they can locate the missing prisoner. (The one that killed all those Muggles twelve years ago)

You are running, fast and breathless, and the cold night air tastes like freedom. Trees, dementors, prisoners, gates, fences- it all flashes by in a black blur as you run away- far, far away where the dementor's mouths have nothing to kiss- your head tipped to the moon. This is what freedom tastes like after all these years, so much adrenaline and cold air, the taste of the moon and stars as they dissolve onto your tongue. The sounds of crickets and owls fill your ears like a symphony- the conductor is the moon and the black canvas of sky is the audience.

Encore! Encore!

You don't stop running until you feel as if it has been twelve more years. You don't stop until Azkaban is a million lifetimes behind you along with the ghosts and the misery and your impossibly thin wrists cuffed with blood and scabs. Gone, gone, gone. So many thoughts and words and feelings rush through your mind like a flash.

I'm coming Harry
I'm coming Wormtail

You almost want to tell James of your success, say I told you so to Lily, divulge your genius with Reg, but they are back in the grey cell with the grey stone walls and the grey stone floor, and you can never go back there.
After what feels like another lifetime, you lift your head to the moon and howl.

Sirius is back

The very first time your godson lays eyes on you is in the shrieking shack where Lupin used to transform. Harry's eyes are hard and full of hatred and spite. His mouth forms accusations and hate and his hands grip a wand aimed firmly at your heart. "You killed them." He whispers, his two friends behind him, wands also drawn. "How could you kill them! They trusted you!" Each word is like a sharp shock of pain sent directly to your heart. (Because you didn't kill them, you could never, you would never, he doesn't understand, but still this hurts so very much)

"Harry, please, let me explain-"

"No!" He screams, pain clear and sharp in his voice, "There's nothing to explain! You killed them, and you came here to kill me too, you twisted, sick, monster!"

This, this right here, is a torture even Azkaban's worst would fail to compare to. He looks so much like James, so much like Lily, and yet he stands here thinking you killed them. He thinks you to be the deranged maniac splashed across the front pages of The Daily Prophet, the horrific mass murderer and lunatic. He hates you.

"I didn't kill them, Harry," You whisper, voice trembling with suppressed emotion. "He did." You slowly raise your pointed finger at the twitching rat locked firmly in the red-haired boy's fist.

"Scabbers?" The boy asks incredulously. "Harry, he's bloody mad! Thinking a rat killed your parents? Rubbish!" He turns to you, 'Scabbers has been in my family for nearly twelve years-"

You barely have the time to register his answer, when Lupin appears, wand drawn. At first he doesn't recognize you, but once he does, his eyes grow wide. "S-sirius?" He asks quietly, wand slowly dipping downwards. "Is that really-"

Before he can finish the sentence, you've tackled him in a hug. "Moony, it's so good to see you. I can't believe it's really you," Somewhere in the back of your head, you are beyond relieved that he doesn't vanish into smoke or disappear when you touch him. His bright eyes are shining with tears. "It's been far too long, Padfoot." He grips your shoulders and smiles once more, before turning to Harry with a grave expression. "Now, Harry, there's something you need to know about the man that killed your parents,"

Harry's face is marred with confusion, and his wand tip wavers with doubt. "H-he killed them, Sirius Black, along with all those Muggles-"

"No, actually, Harry, he did not. Up until now I thought the same. The man that betrayed James and Lily is in this room, however, and his name is Peter Pettigrew."

Harry's wand drops to his side completely. "But, Peter Pettigrew has been dead for twelve years. I know I told you the Map showed him, but maps can be wrong-"

You shake your head vehemently, stepping forward. "No, Harry, the Marauders Map is never wrong. Allow me to show you," You rip the rat from the red-headed boy's hands, and cast a quick revealing charm before he can squirm away. In seconds, the twitchy fat man responsible for your best friends' deaths and twelve years of nightmares appears at your feet, already groveling.

"Oh! Padfoot! Moony! So good to see you, my friends-"

White-hot rage abruptly shoots through your veins and you immediately pull out your wand. "I've waited so long for this, Peter! And now I'm going to kill you!" Madness and near hysterics edge your voice. "Sirius, let us kill him together," Lupin says quietly, eyes steadily trained on the disgusting creature on the floor. You two raise your wands, seconds from shouting the spell that would snuff the undeserving scum's life like a weak candle-

"No! Don't kill him," Harry shouts. You turn in surprise. "Harry, this is the man that betrayed Lily and James, he killed them!" He nods solemnly and tucks his wand away. "I know, but we can let the Dementors deal with him. He doesn't deserve something as easy as death." The boy's hauntingly empty words echo in your head for a moment, before you lower your wand.

Within hours of meeting Harry, you already have to leave him. You are a fugitive, after all. As you soar through the sky on Buckbeak's back, over Hogwarts and Lupin and your godson, you somehow still feel trapped. As if the cuffs and weights and restrictions from Azkaban still hang from your wrists and ankles. Perhaps it is because of all the loose ends and unfinished business that seems to bind you to Hogwarts, such as Peter's, once again, unknown whereabouts. Not to mention your godson that only just met you. And now you have to hide out somewhere for who knows how long, trapped in a different sense.

(How long ago was it that you felt free? Where did the days of lightness go?)

Grimmauld place is your new cell, with your friends and fellow order members as your guards. There are no dementors to suck your soul, nor are you underfed, but these kind-hearted people have yet found a new way to torture you.

You are trapped.

Stuck in a small confinement with nothing to do but scratch time into a wall, relive your childhood, bite your nails to bloody stubs, and go mad. Sometimes you walk down the worn carpeted hallways, running your palm along the wall as you move, just like you did as a child. Everything is in horrible condition here, the once lush decor and elegant furniture are but molded wood covered by dust. The disgusting house elf, Kreacher, spends his free time hording all former possessions of the family and storing them in some kind of nest, completely sabotaging your attempt at clearing out the house. All you want is for everything even remotely resembling your childhood to disappear.

So, while you sit in this time capsule of unwanted memories, the outside world prepares for death eater attacks, missions, helping others, and all other important things. You can't even ensure your godson's safety, as your greatest assistance to him is merely writing a letter or speaking through the common room fire place.
You, Sirius Black, have no use to anyone. You are a burden and a fugitive, taking up space and providing no help. You try so, so, hard to do something, anything, for anyone but they're too afraid of putting you in danger, given that the entire country is after your head. (Let them have it)

One thing that keeps you from breaking free and living on the run forever (Regulus would point out that you always did like running and moving and just going) is Harry. When you saw him in Azkaban he was like a hazy, half remembered dream with fuzzy edges and no distinct features. He was but a mere guess as to what James and Lily's son would look like. Now, however, when ever you see him up close, you realize you were correct, in that he does look like James. In fact, he could easily be James if it weren't for Lily's eyes. (Lily would carefully remind you that he isn't James, though, because sometimes you need reminders)
Whenever you see your godson, you pull him to heart and picture that he is not only Harry, but James and Lily as well. Combine that with Lupin, who is alive and well, and it almost feels like the old days.

(Almost, never completely one way or another, because they are still dead, and he is Harry not James, Lupin looks lined and weary, and you have years of madness dancing behind your irises.)

You love him with every piece of your shadowed heart, but even then, the outside world calls to you. Freedom. You haven't tasted it in so long.

Whenever someone visits, they find you staring out the window, counting under your breath.
9,999, 10,000, 1, 2, 3, 4...

You sit against the wall, slowly shredding a letter you considered sending Harry. You don't want to suffocate him with owls, but at the same time, you miss him. A lot.

It's at lonely, quiet times like this, that your quill just happens to favor the phrase "Dear Harry," at the top corner of every parchment.

The pile of shredded "How are you?"'s, "Miss you"'s, and "Are you okay?"'s sit in the center of your palm, yet another mound of confetti to add to the collection. It's hard to speak certain things, such as I love you or I miss you, so sometimes they're better off written. Such things have to be snuck between the threads of conversation, quietly weaved into a letter; loosely strung along in a greeting or goodbye. But even then, so many unsent letters reside at the bottom of a trash bin, shredded, torn, rethought, and always signed with a crossed- out "Love, Sirius,", and "Sincerely, Sirius," written boldly over it.

The Order is almost never here, other than a few times to hold brief meetings or humor you with company. It's like being an animal on display at a shelter. You can see the shadows of pity that flicker across Lupin's eyes when he tries to talk with you and the disdain in Severus's eyes when he glances down his nose at you. You, a grown man sitting uncomfortably in the corner, looking far too small in this even smaller house. The only prominent emotion other than loneliness and suppressed anger that live inside of you is shame. Shame that you are as useless as a mere child. Shame that Harry nearly died last year, and there was nothing you could have done to help him. The now-typical feeling of restlessness stirs inside of you, and almost without thinking, you reach for a quill.

"Dear Harry,"

You're absently dragging your spoon through a bowl of porridge, when Moody apparates onto the center of the dining room table, scattering your untouched breakfast that Molly kindly (And forcefully) prepared and encouraged you to eat. He rises from the splintered wood and broken plates, magic eye swinging and turning madly in its socket, "They've got 'im, Sirius," He rasps, bent over trying to catch his breath. "They got 'im!"

"Who has who? Speak, Moody, speak!" You grip the man's shoulders and try to get the words out of him. His face is flushed deep maroon and his expression is panicked and urgent.

With a deep, rattling breath, he straightens and clearly says, "The Death eaters have Harry and his fri-"

Without a second thought, you grab his arm and shout, "Then what are we waiting for? Let's go!" Your heart pounds like a drum in your chest as the two of you apparate to the Ministry to join the rest of the order, and save your godson.

I'm coming, Harry.

It's exhilarating to fight again, spells flying so dangerously close that you can hear them sizzle through the air, the constant bursts of adrenalin and the feeling of knowing your best mate- godson, you mean- has your back. You and Harry are back to back, firing off spells with deadly accuracy, throwing up shield charms to protect yourselves and each other, all while maintaining constant banter.

"Great shot, Sirius!"

"Aha! Excellent choice of hex, Harry!"

You can't fight the grin that spreads across your face, nor can you control the gay laughter occasionally spilling from your lips, because this has brought that feeling again. This is liberation, the chains are falling away, your wrists aren't too heavy to lift nor are your feet buckled to the ground; this is being free. Harry is here, fighting with more than impressive skill and accuracy, and your chest is practically bursting with pride. James, he used to fight this well too, slightly better perhaps, but none of that even matters because the only things that are important are your best m- no, godson, and this exhilarating feeling. There is no Grimmauld place here and the Dementors have slunk away from your cell and it's like running past the prison with no cuffs around your wrists, embracing Lupin, and seeing Harry after too many years.

Harry deftly fires Reducto at a death eater, knocking him backwards into a wall. You shoot off a few spells of your own and bark out a laugh, "Nice one, James!"

Harry turns slightly to respond, when you suddenly, and oddly, become acutely aware of Bella across the room. Time slows to the speed of dripping syrup, and you find yourself inexplicably focused on the black irises of her eyes that shine like black ink and foreboding midnight. You can see her lips slowly form the words, her wand tip raising; the slight quirk of her mouth that nearly resembles a smirk. The green stream of light bursts forth from the tip of the wand (green like Lily's eyes and Harry's eyes and the fresh green grass outside of your imaginary window) and travels across the room, ripping through the thick excitement in the air like a knife through tissue paper. The laughter is frozen on your tongue, your eyes still crinkled in a smile when the spell finally hits its target.

Don't worry, it doesn't hurt.

The last thing you see is Harry. Green eyes like grass and emeralds. Green like his mother's eyes and priceless gems; identical to the green shade of Avada Kedavra. There is only grey as you tumble through the veil, so you try to hold onto whatever colors haven't already slipped through your fingers. There is Harry's wide open pink-red-white mouth frozen in a scream- though you've already forgotten what he sounds like- and his parchment colored skin with its flushes of cherry-scarlet, the color blooming across his pale face like red carnations. (Even carnations wilt)

-You and Reg knelt in a garden ten thousand decisions ago, hands full of black dirt and Mum's favorite red flowers-

Harry's dark hair is the color of charcoal and the dementors' cloaks

-Cold, billowing cloaks brushing against your face as they glide past-

His large hands are reaching out to you, desperation written in the very whorls on the pads of each finger, diamonds blooming in the corners of his Lily- green eyes. He shouts No no no until you can no longer hear him, because the veil has fluttered shut and the curtain has closed (the scene is over, Sirius. Performance done. Now go backstage and take off your costume).

- In a melted puddle of adolescence, James talked about family, the two of you facing the ageless red-and-yellow ceiling of the common room-

Everything unfurls like yarn. Memories and pictures and faces all break apart and melt together like a sandcastle swallowed by lapping waves. But there is a certain feeling here- a vague feeling, faded like an old photograph left in the sun- that is akin to relief.

-You ran through the woods, past the guards and trees and dementors, and relished the taste of freedom for the first time in twelve years-

It's the same delicious, adrenaline-pumping, puzzle-pieces-in-the-right-place-finally feeling that filled you veins and lungs upon running away from home, meeting Harry, and escaping Azkaban. This is right; it was meant to be. So, with no more resistance, you simply let go. As easy as falling asleep.

Goodnight everyone.

There's brightness for a long moment, and you feel like you're walking on the sun. Delicate, whisper-soft hands reach out and guide you along a path you didn't even notice you were walking on.

Lily pulls you close to heart and whispers "We missed you so much, Sirius." Her soft smile is just as bright and uplifting as you remember.

James keeps a warm, solid hand on your shoulder, eyes twinkling with unshed tears of happiness. "Thanks for looking out for him, Padfoot." Harry looks so much like his father, right down to the perpetually messy hair.

You stroll over to the corner where Reg is reading. He glances up from his book and smiles crookedly "Good to see you, brother," You smile back and join him on the floor. He bookmarks his page with a slip of parchment "So how do you feel about this?"

The answer rolls off your tongue before any thought is required: "This is right. It just feels right. I feel something I have no words for."

Your brother smiles and pats your knee. "Free?"

You grin and look off into the distance. "Yes."

You are free, truly free at last.

A/N: I hope you liked it! My inspiration for writing this came to me when I began thinking of what drives Sirius. Or in other words, what matters to him and what is important. In my opinion, it would be his close friends, estranged but once close brother, Harry, and most importantly freedom. I felt really sad when he died, but it also felt right to me. The ultimate freedom, I suppose. Also, I really enjoyed writing the azkaban scenes, and always felt that the dead people he cared about would always haunt him in a way. Anyway thanks a million times for reading, and please review! Criticisms and compliments alike welcomed! 3