They say you can never go back home.
How I wish that they had been right.
I swore I'd never come back here. It's a filthy place. The echoes of angry voices and ugly ideas seeped
into the walls long ago, lingering to smother anyone who walks these
halls. I can feel it working on me
already, as it did so long ago. There
isn't a square inch of this house - it was never a home - that doesn't tear at
I had thought that I was free.
In that, as in so many other things, I was wrong.
Walking in the front door for the first time in twenty
years, I nearly turned back around and walked out. As soon as I opened the door, memories flew
at me like a winter wind, turning my bones to ice. But for Harry, and for Dumbledore, I would
have braved the gates of hell.
In fact, in returning to this house, I did just that.
I am in hell. And,
until Voldemort is destroyed, in hell I will remain.
It might not have been so bad. I might have been able to adjust, at least to
some degree. But the moment the door
clicked shut behind me the old Witch in the portrait began screaming, just as
she had for the first sixteen years of my life.
Of course, she hadn't been confined to her portrait then. "Blood
traitor! Ungrateful bringer of betrayal!
You foul the noble name of the House of Black!" In an instant I was
twelve again, rooted to the spot, skewered by her voice as I once had been by
her eyes and the threat of her wand.
After a moment, I managed to shake it off and pull closed the curtains
hanging by her portrait. I tried to laugh
it off. I haven't been twelve for a long
Every time I hear her scream, it's the same.
Every time she shrieks, I'm twelve and frozen to the floor
In the kitchen, I remember countless meals at which silent
tension presided. I remember rarely
feeling able to eat at all, and the punishments that came for plates not
emptied. I remember sitting beside my
brother, neither of us able to eat; he because he tried so hard to live up to
their standards, I because I did not. He
was punished for his failures. I was
punished for my unwillingness to try at all.
Neither of us was ever happy in this house. Neither of us had a happier day in our lives
than the day we left it.
The parlor holds different memories. This was my mother's room. This was where she held court. When I was small, there was no space in the
house that frightened me quite as much as this room. Punishments were administered here. Rants on the greatness of the House of Black
were delivered to a captive audience of two.
Speeches on the value of pure blood were forced down our throats until I
thought I'd gag from the filthy taste they left in my mouth. And, of course, family members who were found
wanting in some way—any way—were burned off the family tree with an angry wave
of my mother's wand. The tapestry is
still on the wall, a family tree that is now a pathetic combination of names
and burn-marks. A testament to madness
and intolerance. The names that are left
are nothing I would be proud of. My name
was burned off it twenty long years ago; I left the house when I was sixteen,
never to return.
Twenty years ago I thought I was free.
How wrong I was.
The day I last left this house was the greatest day of my
life, or very nearly so. There aren't
many that can even hold a candle to it.
The day I got my Hogwarts letter and knew I would someday be able to
escape her. The day I met James, Remus,
and Peter on the Hogwarts Express. The
day of James and Lily's wedding. The
first time I held Harry in my arms, the day he was born, the day James and Lily
asked me to be his godfather. And the
day Remus and I became friends again, the same day Harry and his friends stole
Buckbeak and helped me escape from the Dementors.
Six days that were truly great out of thirty-six years.
Until I came back to this house, I never questioned whether
they were enough.
That's how I know the house is working on me already. Yesterday, I gloried in each one of those
days. They were enough for me. Yesterday, though I was on the run, and often
lonely, and missed my godson and my friend Remus, those six days were enough to
get me through. Yesterday, my goal was
staying out of the Ministry's clutches and staying alive for Harry. Yesterday, I could have spent the rest of my
life on the run if it meant that Harry was safe and I could help to protect
him, even from a distance.
Today, my goal is survival.
How many great days do you need stored inside you to survive
in a place that eats at you even while you sleep?
Upstairs, I go to my old room automatically. It was a refuge, of sorts. My mother rarely ventured into it, cluttered
and messy as it was. She had other
places to corner me, and to vent her displeasure. My room was my own. I spent hours here, during the summer
holidays, reliving the school year, sending owls to my friends, wishing to
Merlin the term hadn't ended. I doubt my
owl got an entire evening's rest during any summer before my sixteenth year. I doubt my friends' owls did either. They never knew for sure exactly what my
house was like—not even James, my closest friend. But they knew enough to guess. And they sent me so many owls that it's a
wonder the Muggles never noticed them coming so steadily back and forth at all
hours of the day and night.
I doubt there was ever a boy who looked forward to the start
of term with more enthusiasm as I did.
During the summer, unless I was visiting with James or Remus for a few
days, I spent the vast majority of my days in my room, lying on my bed,
avoiding the moment when I couldn't put it off any longer and had to go
downstairs. At home, there was nothing I
could do to avoid being her target, especially not after I'd been sorted into
Gryffindor House. At home, I was a
At school, I was free of her and of this house, and I did my
best to make sure that nothing locked me in.
There wasn't a rule I wouldn't break in order to convince myself I was
free. There wasn't a boundary I wouldn't
cross to prove she couldn't reach me there.
And for my friends, who went along with me willingly, who seemed to
understand that I needed freedom the way plants need water to grow, there
wasn't anything I wouldn't have done to prove my loyalty.
Loyalty. I'm still
trying to prove it. I've come back here,
Loyalty has never been free of cost. I know that only too well.
I've been in Azkaban.
I know what it's like to be imprisoned.
Azkaban was different. In
Azkaban, I knew I was innocent, and it kept me sane despite everything. Here, innocent and guilty are blurred in my
mind. They always have been, inside this
house; they whirl around and around like a Muggle carnival ride, until you're
so dizzy you don't know which end is up.
It is the price you pay, in the noble House of Black, for having any
The fact that I'm imprisoning myself, as it were, won't help
me. As things stand, I am now
trapped. I can't leave this house. Not with the Ministry looking for me and not
with Voldemort back. Merlin, I can
hardly believe it's come to this.
Voldemort is back, the fight is approaching, and Sirius Black is trapped
like a helpless child inside a house alive with hatred. Ensnared in a trap formed by centuries of
twisted, fractured bigotry. Sirius
Black, who never backed down from a fight.
Sirius Black, who would have faced down Voldemort himself to save his
friends. Who would have died many times
over to save James, and Lily, and Harry.
Especially Harry. Sirius Black,
who laughed at danger, who thrilled at every risk, who flouted every rule, is
trapped here, helpless. Impotent. Powerless.
Sirius Black, one of the remaining Marauders, trapped inside
I wonder how long I can remain Sirius Black here in this
They say you can never go home again.
How I wish they had been right.
Author's note: Original
content ©2004 by DarkWitch; story based on content and situations created by
J.K. Rowling, and no infringement of any and all copyrights held by her is