Sirius Black, the Prisoner of Azkaban
Sirius Black slowly swirled the contents of his wine glass round and round. He seemed almost mesmerised by it, but took in what was happening around him. He conceded that moping around like a wall flower wasn't exactly the best thing to do at his friend's wedding, deciding to set his glass down. Stretching as he stood up, the best man tried to find James Potter among the guests. His lip twisted when he saw Lily's sister over in the corner, the vague impression that she had something nasty under her nose planted on her face.
Scowling, Sirius began making his way over to give her a piece of his mind when Peter blocked his way, a nervous twitching on his face. Sirius halted suddenly. "You seen James anywhere?"
"Y-yes." Peter's eyes darted over the reception gardens, pointing behind him.
Shrugging off anything unusual, Black strode over to where James and Lily were dancing together underneath the shimmering fairies immobolised around the garden. For a second, Sirius hesitated, thrown off track by the light flickering off them. It made a haunting sight in the dusk, almost foreboding. The breaking of glass off to his side snapped him back to reality.
Laughing off his momentary lapse, Sirius walked over to his friends, determined to stay out of the shadows. James turned as soon as his friend reached them and gave him a thump on the back. "Nice to see you, stranger. Got tired of being with your invisible friends?"
"How's the champagne...and the husband?" Sirius asked Lily, ignoring Mr. Potter.
"Both extremely tasteful," Lily Potter replied with a smirk. "Though I'd say the vintage of one is a little old."
James stole back his wife with an elegant looping of his arm around her waist. "What she has neglected to mention is that a certain black, hairy dog is on the loose. Say, Padfoot, why don't you chat up the other dogs?"
"Watch it, Prongs."
"Ooh, I'm scared."
Offering nothing more than a glare, Sirius turned on his heel with intentions of blending in with the shadows once more. So intent was he in doing this, he bowled over Bellina Figg who was carrying two glasses of champagne. Sopping wet, she battered his help away with a hand and moped herself up with a handkerchief. She looked up at him, amused. "Good grief, Sirius! Where do you think you're running off to?"
"Anywhere but here," he told her shortly.
Bellina whiped out her wand, pointed it at herself and muttered a few words. Completely dry, she set the broken glass down on a nearby table, not refusing the extra hands to carry it.
"There." She rubbed her hands together. "Now you have to dance with me, seeings as it was your fault I broke the glass."
Sirius cleared his throat. "I'd better not - I have to go and..."
"Go and what? Didn't quite catch that, Siri. Nice try, but I'm not that ugly."
Grudgingly, Sirius let Bellina drag him out under the fairies, scowling heavily around the place. Arabella Figg's younger sister (undergoing her NEWTS that year) tutted, "You really shouldn't frown. A smile is much more appreciated."
But how could he? One cannot just smile to make You-Know-Who go away. Despite disagreeing inside, Sirius waltzed her but kept his mind elsewhere. Where was the Dark Lord now? Plotting, scheming, probably knew everything about the Potters. And why shouldn't he? He had a spy, according to Dumbledore, somewhere around them. With a jolt, Sirius realised he hadn't seen Remus Lupin at all. Biting his lip, Black tried to tell himself it just couldn't be Remus, it couldn't be! But even so, the Dark Side can make people not care anymore.
"Sirius? Hello, anyone home?"
He blinked and looked down at Bellina who was smirking mischieviously. Absently, Sirius let a smile play onto his face and tried to still it once he realised it was there. The slight Bellina shook her head. "No, no, that isn't right. I want you to smile, takes away the brooding."
"Who needs a smile, anyway?" Sirius asked her. "I certainly don't."
"But I certainly do. Perhaps you are right, though...everyone needs more than a smile." She frowned thoughtfully for a moment.
More than a little uncomfortable with her twisting of his words, Padfoot began looking for escape. Thankfully, the song ended, allowing him the freedom to leave. Bellina watched him go, an irratated expression dawning on her face. She turned away, just as Remus went Sirius' shoulder only to be shrugged off. Standing there watching Black go, Lupin shook his head sadly before finding the drinks.
One year and a few months later
Sirius, under usual circumstances, would have enjoyed sitting in Dumbledore's office with a stiff drink. But the sombre expressions James and Lily wore quietened any cheerful thoughts he wished to express. He knew it was his decision to change to Peter as Secret Keeper. James was still on edge, even though there was no one else in the room (Dumbledore was waiting downstairs).
"Look." Sirius broke the silence. "You-Know-Who will come after me instead of Peter. I mean to say, who'd use some one like him as a Secret Keeper?"
But Lily did not look entirely convinced. Her eyes narrowed just slightly. "Perhaps I could offer a better decision..."
"No, Lily." Sirius cut her off with a wave of the hand. "I'd feel safer knowing Peter was the Secret Keeper."
Even so, the red-head persisted, his usual demeanor more imposing than usual. "Would you also feel safer if it was Dumbledore instead?"
She had struck gold, but Sirius was not to be put aside so easily. He got to his feet abruptly and strode out of the room, pausing only to shoot James a pleading look. Respecting the wishes of his friend, Prongs pursuaded the change to take place. And all the while, Sirius was standing outside, his forehead pressed against the cold wall as he wondered if he'd spoken too hastily.
A few hours after that, the Potters would be changing their choice without the knowledge of Albus Dumbledore.
Just over a week later
Sitting astride his flying motorcycle, Sirius Black watched the stars watch him. Kind of. The nippy air off the harbour had driven him inside a parker long ago, his unease driving him here. It was Halloween, he realised with a jolt. Straggly lines of children dressed up as witches, gouls and the like were walking on the other side of the stretch of water, gloating over their midnight haul. Tapping his wand against his thigh, Sirius checked his watch (a muggle contraption, surprisingly easy to use) and warily cast the sky one more glance. The moon was winking at him in arrogance, mocking his every move and word.
"Damn it," he said at last, convinced by the moon's teasing.
Kicking the bike into an abrupt turn, Sirius sped off down the road a few hundred yards before seamlessly sliding into flight. The darkness made the change even difficult for the rider to register, perhaps another omen of the night's events.
Somewhere along the way, he clipped a chimney and went spinning out of control. Gritting his teeth, Black closed his eyes and hit the thrust switch, taking him off at the speed of a bullet in a direction he hoped was not the ground. Fortunately, it was the right direction. He suffered no more mishaps, jumping at every thing he saw, and feeling the great chill of foreboding.
Peter's small, run down cottage with its thatched roof (the place he chose to hide in) sat innocently on a grassed hill, a vague flickering light peeking out the windows. In his haste, Sirus almost skidded straight into the white picket fence upon landing. It would have certainly looked to anyone watching like he had been hurled off the bike into the front garden and rolled forcibly to the door.
"Peter!" Sirius banged sharply on the door, ignoring the pain in his wrists. "Peter, open up!"
A lazy creak announced the door suddenly opening of its own accord. He stared at it, before stepping inside cautiously. A merrily burning fire in the hearth illuminated a neat and very empty room. Each of the pieces of basic furniture had its own place, own job. But there was no one around to make use of this. There was no sign of trouble, no sign of distress. Frowning slightly, Sirius crept about the place before dousing the fire. Left in the uncertain dark, he pondered for a moment why Peter was gone. He discarded his first thought.
Peter Pettigrew was not the spy.
But then, the niggling thought floated back. What if he was? He had been a little eager when Sirius had asked him to be the Secret Keeper...hadn't he been the first to lodge the idea in Black's mind? Wasn't he the only one the Potters' boy refused to be held by? Wasn't he...hadn't he...
A strangled yell escaped his throat and soon enough, the flying motorcycle had once again graced the chilly air with its sickly sweet fumes. The urgency at which it sped across the sky was nothing even close to the urgency Sirius felt at heart. No matter how he stamped the accelerator, now matter how hard he willed the bike, it would not go faster.
Before he knew it, Godric's Hollow had appeared beneath him. Wheeling it around in a perfect mid air u-turn, he raced it to the house, not daring to look above it. Jumping off his motorcycle before turning it off, Sirius looked unseeingly at the door. The wide open door, banging menacingly on the frame in the wind. He looked up, almost afraid to. Sure enough, sailing high about the house with a wicked grin, was the colossal skull, signalling the deathly mark.
"No," the defeated man muttered quietly, as if it were a bad dream, but the Dark Mark refused to vanish.
Falling to his knees, Sirius let out a howl like a wounded animal, his eyes wild. The lights were still on in the living room and an upstairs bedroom. With a sickening lurch, he realised it was baby Harry's room. Torn between a desire to flee and a burning desire to enter, he just stared hopelessly up at the open window where the ripped curtains blew in a frenzy.
Almost in a daze, Padfoot walked haltingly through the oak door, eyes sliding past the charred lock. To his left, the vague voices of a TV (yet another strange Muggle device which was easy to use) mocked and jeered him. Colour draining from his face, he realised that the figure at his face was James, his empty face turned upwards with grim determination written on every line. The shakes began, ripping through Sirius' body, sending him back to the ground. Forgetting himself for a moment, Sirius called out, "He's dead, Lily, James is dead!"
Oh god, what had happened to Lily and Harry? He stumbled to his feet and began sprinting up the stairs with new found strength. Harry's door was blown off its hinges, resting some five metres away on the floor, charring evident. Stopping to examine it in a kind of horrified trance, he decided he didn't want to see what lay beyond the door frame.
A wail split the silent air, desperate and frightened. Eyes wide, Sirius crawled over and peered in to see Lily thrown across the ground, her arms reaching out for a baby sitting against his cot, green eyes full of tears. Slashed cruelly across Harry's forehead was a vivid red scar, although it was fading. Quietly assessing Sirius, the young Potter did not protest as he was picked up into a gentle embrace.
When Sirius arrived back downstairs he found Rubeus Hagrid standing by the motorcycle, waiting patiently. Wordlessly handing Harry over to him, Black leant against his vehicle in a deep reverie.
"Tha' bad?" Hargid asked gently, casting the ever present Dark Mark a wary eye.
Sirius looked up at him, finding his voice. "I-I don't know how Harry survived...when he's parents didn't...Why Lily and James, Hagrid, why them? They're the nicest people and You-Know-Who murdered them like they..."
Hagrid shifted uncomfortably, drawing Harry into his cloak. "'Spect I be'er be off then."
"W-What?" Black sounded as though someone had swung a heavy weight into his head. "You're taking Harry?"
The looming figure of the Hogwarts Game Keeper seemed ill at ease when he replied, "Dumbledore wants ter take care o' where he goes."
Sirius bit his lip to keep his outburst from escaping. Wasn't he Harry's next in line guardian? Shouldn't he have the right to look after Harry? Regaining his composure, he argued weakly, "Give Harry to me, Hagrid, I'm his godfather, I'll look after him."
Hagrid didn't quite meet Padfoot's eyes. "Harry's ter go to his aunt an' uncle's. Dumbledore wants him to."
"But Hagrid! James and Lily said that if anything happened to Harry I'd be his guardian!"
It was no use arguing, though. The Game Keeper had his orders from the Headmaster and wasn't about to abandon them. Sirius was having trouble deciding what to do. Perhaps he should force Hagrid to give his godson over! But even as he thought this, Black discarded it. Dumbledore always knew best, went it not so? A nasty thought occured to him suddenly - no one else knew they'd changed Secret Keeper, no one else except Peter but the git was with his master now...
"Take my bike." Sirius was surprised at how wooden his voice sounded, "I won't need it anymore."
Barely twenty strides apart, Muggles between them, stood Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew. The former's arms were at his sides, fists the clenched - the latter was smiling deftly, almost innocently. There was something not right about the way Wormtail held himself...almost arrogantly, an uncharaistic thing to do for him.
He thew back his head and shouted, "Lily and James, Sirius! How could you!"
Black went for his wand, snarling, but before he could raise it - the street had blown apart, blood and destruction before him. A gasp emerged his throat, but he could not move. Soon the Wizard Hit Squad and their Aurors would be their, ready to imprison him for something he had not done. Still, he thought, it was worth finding out the real truth.
He slid his wand into a pocket, a smile curving on a face. And suddenly, he laughed.