The Sugar Quill
Author: Emma Dalrymple (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: A Night in Azkaban  Chapter: default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

ANIA *A/N:  The opening and closing frames of this are taken from Chapter 8 of Jedi Boadicea's "Dreams of Yesterday/Memories of Tomorrow."



"Yeah." Sirius added airily, smiling to himself as his mind drifted back, "For a while there we stopped using our real names altogether. Just a bunch of kids, proud to have a secret...." And then he fell silent, as happy memories began to dissolve. Because he couldn't think of Moony, Padfoot and Prongs without instinctively thinking of Wormtail, too.... he couldn't think of secrets.... God, why did everything come back to this? Why? He clenched his teeth tightly against the surge of anger that always came with these thoughts, felt his shoulders tensing with repressed emotion.

Again, it was Elizabeth's voice that brought him back. She spoke softly, barely more than a whisper, and when he looked up he saw that her sandwich lay forgotten in her hands on her lap, and her eyes were focused on him in an oddly vague way.

"What do I see?" she murmured, and it took him a moment to realise that she was echoing the question he'd asked earlier. "What I see.... shadows. Shadows all around you, so thick it's like I could reach out and touch them.... your memories. Anger. Hate. Guilt.... Love. Brightness. If not for that light, I think you'd drown in the darkness...."

***

Sirius, from his place on the musty cot, looked up as a shaft of moonlight fell through the archer’s window of the grey stone fortress of Azkaban.  It was rare that there was ever so clear a night as this, that allowed the moon to fight its way through the clouds and shine into his cell from those narrow slivers in the wall that had the audacity to call themselves windows.

Intrigued, he got up and made his way over to the wall, wincing as his muscles, sore from disuse, shot stabs of pain through his legs.

The moon, witness to so many episodes in his life, was silent.  There were memories enough to speak for it.  Night-time larks in the Forest and Hogsmeade during Remus' transformations, the murders of James and Lily, Harry's first moments of existence, Snape's near-fatal experience.  The moon stared down at him defiantly, daring him to remember how he had come to this, what he had left behind.



"Sirius?  Sirius, dear, you have a letter."

Serena Black looked up from thumbing through the day’s owls as her lanky eleven-year-old son came tumbling down the stairs.

"Thanks, Mum!"  He snatched the letter from the pile and tore back up the stairs from whence he came.

Serena waited, biting back a smile.

There was a loud thud from upstairs as something very heavy—and probably very expensive—was dropped onto the floor, followed by a loud whooping as Sirius pounded down the stairs again.

"I’m going to Hogwarts!  I got into Hogwarts!  Bloody hell—I’m going to meet Professor Dumbledore!  I have eighteen of his Chocolate Frog cards, you know, that’s ten more than any other wizard I have.  I can’t wait to show him my collection—"

Mrs Black laughed.  "Sweetheart, I’m sure Professor Dumbledore is already quite familiar with his own accomplishments."

Sirius waved aside her comment, his face flushed with excitement.

"When can we go to Diagon Alley?  There’s a whole list of things I have to get."  He brandished the letter, Hogwarts seal torn carelessly in half.

She turned the tap on and started scrubbing a dinner plate.  "Next week, I’d imagine.  If we go when all the other students are doing their school shopping, you might even meet a few of your classmates."

"I need a cauldron, and robes, and a pet—ooh, I’ll get one of those new barn owls at the Emporium—"

"You’ll do no such thing.  Juno will make a more than adequate pet."

Sirius’ face fell.  "Aww, Mum. . . but everyone knows cats aren’t popular anymore.  All the other kids are going to have owls."

His mother turned and gave him a repressive look, brows raised.

He pressed on.  "I don’t have a wand yet, either, I’ll need to get one of those. . . and a broom, too, certainly. . ."

A snort came from the sink.  "You know as well as I do that first-years aren’t allowed broomsticks," Mrs Black said.

Sirius put on his best puppy-dog face.  "But what if I make it onto the house Quidditch team?  I’ve been practising my beating skills all summer. . ."

Serena turned back to the sink to hide a smile.  She’d have no peace if Sirius detected a crack in his mother’s supposedly implacable armour.

"Pray stop wheedling, Sirius.  First-years make it onto the house teams about as frequently as Triwizard Tournaments are held.  If you do happen to make it onto the team, you can always use a school broom."

Her son sighed melodramatically as he trudged back up the stairs.  "Well, when we lose the Quidditch Cup because my broom was too slow, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself."

She laughed.  "I’ll keep that in mind."



His mother was gone, too.  He’d been indirectly responsible for her death, as well—the Death Eaters had tracked down his home in the Cotswolds and burnt it down, his mother asleep inside.  How many other people had he inadvertently put in danger, simply by being their acquaintance?  How strong did the connection have to be for Voldemort to deem it dangerous and in need of being broken?

Suddenly finding it difficult to breathe, he looked up at the moon from his place by the window for comfort.  It was full tonight.  Remus would be transforming.  By himself.

Sirius had counted the number of full moons since his arrival at Azkaban.  Sixteen.  Sixteen transformations Remus had had to suffer through, alone.  How had he fared without his companions, alone for the first time in ten years?  How had his mild-mannered friend dealt with the further blow Sirius' apparent betrayal must have been?  There hadn't even been a chance to say goodbye.  He had been so consumed with grief-stricken rage that there hadn't been time to tell Remus what had happened.  He hadn't even left a note.

How far their lives had strayed from the paths they all thought they would take.




Sirius gazed up at the shadowed recesses where his bedcurtains met above the bedposts, arms crossed behind his head and legs kicked out from under the covers in response to the warmth created by the fire flickering merrily in the hearth.

"What’re we doing wrong, Moony?  How is it that James can land the prettiest girl in our year and Peter has a bevy—a small one, but a bevy nonetheless—of blushing girls following him around?  Has Snape jinxed us without our knowledge?"

Remus replied from his own bed, his tone dry.  "I don’t know what you’re doing wrong, Sirius, but for my part, I don’t think that girls want to put up with boyfriends who are affected at that time of the month, too."

Sirius snorted and sat up, pushing aside his bedcurtains to look at his friend.

"You think so?"

Remus nodded.

Sirius fell back onto his bed again, letting the velvet drapes flutter shut around him.

After a long silence, Remus spoke.  "What do you think of Gilderoy Lockhart?"

A very undignified noise came from Sirius’ side of the room.  Remus laughed.

"That’s what I thought you’d say.  Pompous prig.  How he thinks he has a chance with Lily is beyond me—"

"Oh, come on, Moony.  You know how Lockhart’s mind works.  The beautiful people ought to stick together.  And Gilderoy thinks himself worthier than James, since he’s obviously more of a stud."

Remus choked back a laugh.  "‘Stud’?  Is that what they’re calling them these days?  I thought it was ‘yellow-bellied, peacock-garbed, gnome-brained fop’, but that could just be me being behind the times, as usual."

Sirius laughed briefly before falling silent again.  Silence seemed to be preying on them all these days.

"Where do you think we’re all going to end up in three years, after seventh year?  I know they’re predicting a war, but so far there’s only been rumours of disappearances in eastern Europe. . ."

Remus thought for a long moment before answering.

"I don’t know.  I think there will be a war, and soon.  Dumbledore has been saying for a long time now that we must be wary and keep our guard up, make the right decisions.  I think a lot of us will become Aurors.  You, maybe, and me if the Ministry can clear it with the Werewolf Registry. Peter will do what the rest of us do."

"And James?" Sirius asked, his quiet voice echoing in the emptiness of the room.

"James?" Remus paused.  "James will be out in the field, fighting.  That’s just how he is."



James. . . James was gone.  His best friend, his partner in crime and most trusted confidant--the one he had sworn to protect with his own life--was dead.  It was still almost impossible to believe.  They were supposed to be raising their children together, with Sunday luncheons at whoever's house was the cleanest...  small children running about their feet as they sat and discussed philosophy, the neighbours, the unlikely fortunes of the next Defense Against the Dark Arts professor.  It was supposed to be a life without Voldemort, without fear of reading the newspaper.

Sirius hunched over on his cot and put his head in his hands.




"How is it that I got roped into this?"

"Because it’s the full moon tonight, so Remus is out, and Peter is studying Potions.  Meaning it’s you and me, kid."

"Heh.  I suppose so.  And I’ve never been able to pass up an opportunity to harass Snape, anyway—"

"Shhhhh," Sirius hissed, just as he tripped on the hem of the Invisibility Cloak and sprawled gracelessly on the floor.

James snickered.  "And you call yourself Padfoot?"

"Very funny," Sirius muttered darkly.  "Just a bit further, now. . . there."

They stopped at an expanse of bare, stone wall.

"Now, to wait," Sirius whispered, rubbing his hands together gleefully.

They didn’t have to wait for long.

Snape rounded a corner, deep in discussion with a darkly beautiful girl with long black hair and patrician features.

"Cesara Viridian," James whispered gleefully.  "This just gets better and better."

The pair walked right past them.  Snape looked angry even beyond his usual scowl.

"Runespoor," he snarled at the wall, before turning back to his companion.  "You’ll forgive me if I am doubtful of the veracity of your suspicions, Viridian," he said coldly.

A slab in the wall shifted, and they stepped through.  Sirius and James slipped in after them.

"It’s been six years and you still can’t call me Cesara, Severus?" the girl said, obviously trying to keep the impatience from her voice.

Snape held his place as Cesara paced the length of the Slytherin common room.

"It’s true, whether you believe me or not; Narcissa told me, Lucius told her, and Lucius got it from Him himself."

Sirius and James walked forward in unison so that they were standing next to Snape.  The greasy-haired sixteen-year-old was too lost in thought to notice that someone was rubbing a balm on the wand sticking out of his robe pocket.

They backed away not a moment too soon.  Snape reached for his wand and absently waved it at the fireplace behind Cesara.

Instead of shooting out flames from its tip, however, it began to warble an old Muggle song completely off-key.

"Let me call you sweetheart, I’m in love with you. . ."

Cesara looked up sharply from her musings, her face slightly red.  "What are you playing at, Severus?"  she asked, her voice strained.  "This is hardly the time for romantic gestures. . . or childish pranks."

Snape narrowed his eyes.  "Don’t," he growled, waving his wand angrily.  It warbled another syrupy lyric.  "Give me that," he said, snatching Cesara’s wand from her hand.  "Finite Incantatem."  He thrust the wand back at her.  "Potter and his cronies must be afoot.  They’re probably just outside, under that damned cloak—"

He made a lunge for the door, but Cesara grabbed his sleeve and restrained him.

"You can attend to them later," she hissed.  "This is important.  We must find out who the new recruit is—"

The door slid open as a few Slytherins began to make their way inside.

"Fermus!"  Snape said instinctively.

The door continued to open and the wand chirruped, "Let me hear you whisper that you love me too. . ."

"Finite Incantatem!  Finite Incantatem!  Stop!  Stop singing, you addled, rampallion wretch of a wand!"

"Well, being rude is no way to treat your most valued magical possession, is it, you great oaf?  Say ‘please’ and try again," the wand said cheekily.

Snape reminded Sirius very much of a fish at that moment, with his mouth hanging open and his eyes bulging.

"I thought it was just supposed to sing?" Sirius whispered, struggling against his laughter.

James grinned at him under the cloak.  "Special gift from Remus, since he couldn’t be here.  He’s thinking about using the idea on the Map and suggested we test the spell on this."

"Lethifold’s blood!  Why won’t Finite Incantatem work?" Snape scowled.  Guffaws erupted from the doorway.

Lucius Malfoy smiled maliciously and said, "Is this a bad time, Severus?  Should we leave you alone to make your declarations of love to Cesara?"

James and Sirius made their way as quickly as they could out the closing door and down the corridor until they turned a corner.  Sirius ripped the cloak off as James sagged against the wall, laughing.

"I wonder how long it’ll take little Snapeykins to figure out that Singing Solutions aren’t spells and therefore aren’t affected by Finite Incantatem?"



If only they had known that Snape wasn't the one they needed to worry about. . . Sirius had failed James and Lily doubly.  Not only had his fatal decision robbed his friends of their lives, but it had stolen Harry’s parents away from him, and in a cruel twist of fate, his godfather as well.  Harry, who was almost as much his son as James’, was now probably living with Lily’s sister’s family.  Sirius had met the Dursleys once; he knew what they were like, knew how they had made Lily cry.

Harry should have been able to grow up in the loving, protective arms of his godfather if his parents had to be snatched away from him, but he couldn’t even have that.  Who knew how long Sirius would rot there in Azkaban?  He had already missed Harry’s first steps.  Would he miss Harry’s first day of school, his first joke, his first crush as well?




"I don’t know if we should go after all, James," Lily said anxiously as her husband helped her into her coat.

"Don’t be silly, Lily," Sirius said, juggling Harry in his arms.  The infant gurgled happily.  "You two need a break from all this stress.  One night off isn’t going to hurt anyone.  I’ve got things under control.  After seven years at school with your husband, you think I can’t handle a one-year-old?"  He held his godson up to his face and rubbed noses with him.  "James even agreed to wear Muggle clothes and go to a Muggle opera with you.  Don’t tempt his ire by backing out on him now."

James opened his eyes wide and nodded at his wife.  She laughed and swept Sirius into a hug before ruffling his hair affectionately and kissing Harry on the forehead.

She looked gratefully at her friend holding her son in his arms, and her expression softened even more.  "I love you, Sirius," she said quietly.  "Thank you for all you’ve done, for all of us."  She looked up at her husband, who wrapped his arms around her possessively.

"There you go seducing my wife again, Black," James said, scowling with feigned resentment.  "I’d thank you kindly to keep your irresistible charm and wandering hands to yourself."  He grimaced as Lily slugged him in the stomach.  "Anyway, we’re off now.  Thanks again, Padfoot."

He grinned at his best friend one last time before the door closed behind them, Lily’s girlish laughter echoing behind her as James whispered something in her ear.

"Looks like it’s just you and me, kid," Sirius said, tossing his godson up in the air.  "What does ickle Harry want to do tonight?"

He set Harry down on the ground but the baby just sat there sucking on his fist, gazing expectantly up at Sirius.

"It’s up to me then, hmm?"  Sirius sat down on the floor and placed his elbows on his knees, leaning towards Harry.

"Me Padfoot.  You Harry," Sirius said, pointing first at himself and then at his godson.  Harry grabbed Sirius’ finger and drew shapes with it in the air, causing the older man to laugh.

"No, no, no.  Padfoot.  Pad-foot. Can you say that, Harry?  Padfoot?"

Harry blinked up at Sirius.  "Pahhhh," he said obediently, blowing a bubble through his lips.

"Very good!  Can you say that again?"

"Pahhhhh."  Harry blew another bubble.

"How about Padfoot?  Say Padfoot, love.  Pad-foot."

"Pafdoot!" Harry squealed, bouncing up and down and clapping his hands happily.

Sirius chuckled.  "Almost, but not quite.  PAD-foot," he repeated.

"Padfoot?" Harry looked up at him hopefully.

Sirius whooped and clapped.  Harry imitated him.  "Excellent job, little Prongs!  Your mummy will be so pleased.  You mustn’t tell Daddy who taught you how to say that though, all right?  Daddy said he’d take away Sirius’ godfathership if he taught you to say the d-word, so you mustn’t say a thing."

Harry looked up at him, wide-eyed.

"Padfoot will come and play if Harry promises. . ."

Harry bounced up and down.

"That’s good enough for me.  Up here, now."

Sirius kneeled down on all fours and hoisted Harry onto his back before transforming into Padfoot.  Harry grabbed onto the fur at the dog’s neck and squealed happily as Sirius loped slowly around the living room, careful not to make any sudden moves.

Padfoot let Harry play fetch with him for a quarter of an hour before the baby began to drift off.  He then picked Harry up by his shirtback and jumped onto the couch, curling into protective ball around his charge.  Harry sleepily nestled closer, drooling on Padfoot’s flank.  The dog drifted off as well as the flickering flames in the fireplace lulled him to sleep.

It was thus that James and Lily found them when they returned from the opera several hours later.

They simply stood in the doorway for a moment, taking in the dimly-lit scene and watching as the fire cast shadows on the pair and made crimson ribbons dance in Padfoot’s fur and Harry’s hair, which were indistinguishable from each other.

Lily eventually padded over to the couch and lifted her son into her arms.  His eyelids fluttered open and he wrapped his arms around her neck.  "Padfoot," he murmured sleepily.

James snorted from the doorway.

"I thought I told you I would revoke your guardianship if you taught him the d-word, Black."

Padfoot transformed into a man lying languorously on his back, arms crossed behind his head.  He yawned sleepily.  "Who says I taught him that?  He’s a bright kid, after all.  Probably picked it up from Peter or Remus."

James’ expression was dubious at best.  "For some reason I tend to doubt that.  It figures that my best friend would be determined to have my firstborn son’s first word be his Marauder alias."

"His first word, eh?  Your kid’s got good taste."  He rolled over on the couch in an indication that the conversation was over and he was going back to sleep.  And, as James well knew, to hide a damning smile.

James threw a pillow at him.



A rat scuttled across the floor, waking Sirius from his reverie.  It disappeared into a hole in the cold gray cement of the far wall before the stone Sirius had savagely thrown could hit its target.

It had seemed natural at the time for Peter's Animagus form to be small and rodent-like.  There were so many rats around the school, between student pets and the inhabitants of the Forbidden Forest, that an additional one would hardly be noticed.  Rats were also small enough to avoid the violent lashings of the Whomping Willow.  Little had the other Marauders known at the time how apt--and ironic--Peter's choice would be.

What had happened to Peter to make him hate his friends so?  Or did he even hate them?  They had been friends for so long, they had never even suspected… He had always been somewhat in awe of the other Marauders, in awe of their Quidditch prowess or popularity or intelligence.  And James had Lily, of course.  Peter had always seemed so innocent, even when they all knew information was being leaked somehow to Voldemort.  Who would have guessed that after all their night-time larks and long nights spent talking in their room in Gryffindor Tower that Peter would turn traitor?




"All done," Madam Malkin said, standing up and brushing off her robes.  She rolled up her tape measure.  "I’m working on another first-year’s robes at the moment as well, so it’ll be a bit of a wait."

"I’ll wait outside," Sirius said quickly.

Mrs Black’s eyebrows drew together.  "It’s a tad nippy out there, dear.  Are you sure you wouldn’t rather wait in here?"

"Girls," replied Sirius contemptuously, as if that explained everything.  He nodded at the few standing in a corner of the shop.

"Don’t you want something prettier, Sybil?" Mrs Black heard one of them ask.

"Don’t be ridiculous, Lakshmi.  How is one supposed to cultivate an aura of mystery in fuschia?" the one called Sybil sniffed.

"Indeed," Serena said, suppressing a smile as she turned back to her son.  "Go on, then—I’ll wait here for your robes."

Sighing with relief, Sirius made his way outside.

Another boy, slightly chubby and brown-haired, was leaning against the display window of Madam Malkin’s shop.  He grinned at Sirius as he made his way over.

"Girls?" he asked.

"Yeah," Sirius replied, rolling his eyes.

The other boy’s grin widened.  "Peter Pettigrew," he said, offering his hand.

Sirius shook it enthusiastically.  "Sirius Black."

"Are you a first-year too?"

"Yep."  There was a slight pause, and then, "Bloody shame about the Falcons and the League Cup."

"I know!"  Peter’s eyes flashed.  "They haven’t been the same since the Broadmoors retired.  My favourite team is the Bats, but there’s just something about a team whose Beaters won seven Dangerous Dai Commemorative Medals between them in eleven years."

"Yeah.  Say. . . which house d’you reckon you’ll get Sorted into?  I’m hoping for Gryffindor.  Sounds like the most fun—you know, daring and adventure and all that."

"Mum thinks I’ll get Sorted into Hufflepuff, but I wouldn’t mind being in Gryffindor.  They’ve won the Quidditch Cup the last six years running."

At this, Sirius looked around surreptitiously and leaned in close to Peter.  "I heard the Head of Gryffindor House is an Animagus."

The chubby boy’s eyes widened.  "You don’t say. . . do you know what kind of Animagus?  That could be bloody annoying if you’re marauding about in search of mischief at night. . ."

Sirius grinned wickedly in recognition of a kindred spirit.  "I can think of a few ways to get around even that.  I’ve heard several things about—"

He stopped abruptly as a few loud voices caught their attention.

"I mean to speak to Adelaide Malkin myself this time.  Last year’s robes didn’t accentuate those lovely blue eyes of yours nearly enough, darling."

"I thought quite the same thing, Mother."

A very attractive witch with masses of golden hair cascading down her back rounded a corner and came into view, followed closely by a boy of around fourteen who could only be her son.

The door to the seamstress’ shop opened just as the golden pair reached it.  Madam Malkin stuck her head out.

"Peter, your robes—oh, hello, Priscilla—Peter, your robes are almost ready."

"Wait out here, dear.  I want to talk to Adelaide about your birthday present first."  The blonde woman swept inside after Madam Malkin, leaving her son outside.

The boy gave a passing girl a roguish wink before turning to Sirius and Peter.

"Gilderoy Lockhart," he said, flashing a brilliant, toothy smile.  Peter and Sirius rolled their eyes as the girl, who had joined her friends across the street, erupted into giggles.

"Peter Pettigrew," Peter said, extending his hand with a dubious expression on his face.

"And I," Sirius said jauntily, sweeping into a low, elaborate bow, "am Sirius Black."

Peter’s brows knitted together as he looked at Sirius, who merely gave a slight nod in Lockhart’s direction, obviously telling him to just play along.

Lockhart’s eyes were twinkling even more now as he thought he had come across another wizard of a similar mindframe.

"Are you first-years?"  They both nodded.  "As a fourth year, I can tell you everything you need to know:  which professors appreciate a charming smile, which girls have discriminating taste."  He made a show of blowing on the nails of his left hand and buffing them on his mint green robes, winking at Peter and Sirius knowingly as the girls across the street giggled again.

"Wow," Sirius breathed, envy and awe colouring his tone.  "Which house are you in?  You would be a valuable friend, I can tell."

Lockhart puffed out his chest slightly.  "Now, now, remember that I’m a good three years older than you and that I’ve already made quite the impression on the ladies.  You’ll have to work extra hard if you want to be any sort of competition."  He looked smug.  "And I’m in Ravenclaw, of course; their house colours best suit my complexion."

"I think I make a very dashing figure if I do say so myself," Sirius replied, puffing out his chest in a similar manner.

Lockhart surveyed him critically.  "I suppose your looks aren’t all bad; your hair could be a bit longer, though; it’s more fashionable to have a coiffure. . ." Peter and Sirius exchanged smirking glances over Lockhart’s head as he bent down to examine Sirius’ robes.  "But these robes. . ."  He tisked.  "Not only are they cut in last year’s style, but they have no flow, no bounce."

"This is one of my oldest robes," Sirius said apologetically.  "My mother is inside buying me new ones right now."

"Ah."  Lockhart turned to look at Peter, and shook his head sadly as he took in the dishevelled hair, the less-than-elegant figure, the robe hem covered with dirt.  "You, I’m afraid—"

The door to the clothing shop opened and three women came out.

"All right, darling, you can come in now."  Priscilla Lockhart motioned her son towards her, and he turned to Sirius and Peter.

"I must leave you, my friends.  I look forward to furthering our acquaintance at Hogwarts.  Until we meet again."  He left them with a flourish, passing Mrs Black as she walked towards the boys, bag slung over her arm, chatting companionably with another woman.

"Well, it was lovely meeting you, Violet," she said upon reaching her son.

"And you, Serena."  The woman named Violet ruffled Peter’s hair affectionately.  He ducked away from her hand, but he was grinning.

"Have you made a few new friends, dear?" she asked, smiling down at Peter.

Peter rolled his eyes and exchanged laughing glances with Sirius.  "One, Mother."

"Just one?  I could have sworn you were getting on smashingly with Priscilla Lockhart’s boy," Serena said innocently.

Sirius and Peter groaned, causing their mothers to laugh.

"See you on the train, then," Sirius said.

"Yeah.  And watch out for that Lockhart bloke in the meantime—he probably thinks you’re his best friend now!" Peter called after Sirius, as he and his mother rounded a corner.



Peter.  The traitor.  Why had Sirius not seen his duplicity before?  Why had he persuaded Lily and James to make Peter their Secret Keeper?  Why had he not planned his attack better so that Peter was the one in Azkaban now, and Sirius raising his orphaned godson?  "Bitter" didn't even begin to describe how he felt.  "Murderous," "ruthless," and "unforgiving" were much closer.

Sirius felt a brief flicker of rage surge up inside him before it was doused by heavy waves of exhaustion and depression.  He would wreak his vengeance, he vowed, as he finally drifted off to sleep.  Wormtail would be tracked down, accused, and shown no mercy.  Perhaps then the gaping wound left by the events of October 31, 1981 would begin to heal.


***

Sirius found he couldn't breathe. Her words crawled under his skin, striking far too close to home for his own comfort. Here.... here she was, this woman he barely knew, peeling him apart like nothing, exposing all that darkness, all the shadows he didn't want to share. Not with a relative stranger. God, he wished Remus were here. It was hard not to get up and walk away, not to turn his back on her words... her far too perceptive words....

"I'm sorry," she said quickly, snapping her gaze away from him, fingers curling tightly in her lap. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything. Not so soon. I do understand your reservations. It was thoughtless of me."

Sirius frowned, looking away as well. "It was the truth."



*A/N:  A big box of chocolate truffles to Jedi for letting me play in her sandbox, and many thanks to Juliane, Yo, Axelle, Catherine, and the lovely people at Weird Sisters for all their helpful input and advice.

//
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