The Sugar Quill
Author: JK Ashavah (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: That, Indeed, is Black's Story  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.

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Disclaimer: I don't own the Harry Potter universe, J. K. Rowling does. I am in no way affiliated with her, Bloomsbury Publishing, Scholastic Books or Warner Bros. Nor am I affliated with any of teh otehr owners of Harry Potter. I don't own the line I quote in the story and in the title, J. K. Rowling does, it's from "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," published by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc in 1999, pg. 286 (Australian version). I am making no money from this. I'm only playing!

Author's Note: I was rereading "Prisoner of Azkaban" and one line struck me and inspired my Muse. More Sirius angst.

This is a fic I wrote a while ago. I have only now decided that it may be Quill worthy. I sincerely hope it truly is.

 

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"I have just been talking to Sirius Black-"
"I suppose he's told you the same fairy tale he's planted in Potter's mind?" spat Snape. "Something about a rat, and Pettigrew being alive-"
"That, indeed, is Black's story," said Dumbledore, surveying Snape closely through his half-moon spectacles.
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, pg. 286 (Australian version).

 

"There! That's that done with! I'll be glad when this is all over! You can't imagine what the Ministry has been through since he escaped..."

"If I may be allowed to speak with him, Cornelius?"

"W-Well, I suppose so!"

"Thank you, Cornelius. I assure you, it will not take long."

Sirius Black forced himself to open his eyes. He stared around. Where was he? He vaguely recognised the room. Of course. It was the Charms teacher's office at Hogwarts. But why was he inside the school? The last thing he could remember was Remus transforming...

"Macnair, if you would fetch the Dementors?" Fudge's voice said.

The Dementors! Pure terror flooded Sirius as the memories came back to him. If Macnair was getting them, that meant the Kiss. They couldn't! He'd survived this long, justice had to be served. They couldn't. But he knew they could, and would.

He stood up and ran across the room to where the voices could be heard outside.

"IT WASN'T ME!" he hollered, hammering on the door.

Fudge's voice spluttered.

"Stand away from the door." Dumbledore spoke quietly. Sirius obeyed, and the headmaster entered the office.

"Professor!" Sirius cried desperately, his eyes wide and pleading, his voice frantic. "Please, don't let them do it! I'm innocent! It wasn't me! It was Peter, he's alive, he's a Death Eater..."

"Sirius," Dumbledore said quietly but firmly, raising a hand to cut off his urgent babble. "I would like to know what happened tonight. We do not have much time. Sit down, please, and explain rationally." Dumbledore sat down at Flitwick's desk.

"You believe me, don't you?" Sirius said miserably, sinking into a chair. His panic was slowly changing into a deep despair, which was not pierced even by the thought that Dumbledore might believe him. As powerful a wizard as the headmaster of Hogwarts was, Sirius knew he could not overrule the Minister for Magic. That had caused problems before, when Voldemort was still at large.

How many times had the members of the Order of the Phoenix told the Ministry that Evan Rosier was a Death Eater? It had taken the Ministry years to track him down, yet the Phoenixes had had proof that he was a Death Eater the year Sirius had left Hogwarts. The Ministry hadn't listened, and who knew how many innocent people Rosier had killed by the time he was finally tracked down? If Dumbledore's word had meant nothing to the Ministry then, why should it mean anything now?

Dumbledore scrutinised Sirius through his half-moon glasses.

"I simply wish to know how best to serve justice," he said, frowning. "I must admit that I wondered where we had gone wrong with you, Sirius," he sighed. "You never seemed the sort to go over to the Dark Side. It made no sense." He abruptly changed his approach. "Were you working for Lord Voldemort?"

"NO!" Sirius said emphatically. "I am innocent!"

Dumbledore looked into his eyes for a moment, then nodded.

"I had wondered how you managed to escape Azkaban. If you could escape, then it meant you could still use magic. Yet wizards exposed to Dementors lose their powers. How had you managed to perform whatever magic was required to escape?" Dumbledore studied Sirius keenly, his eyes solemn. "Unless, as you say, you were innocent."

Sirius, feeling his eyes widen as the realisation swept across his mind, examined Dumbledore's face to try and interpret what he was saying. The older wizard's expression was unfathomable to him.

"I am innocent," he repeated firmly.

"People said that you escaped using Dark Arts you had learned from Voldemort, but you were not the only one in Azkaban who would know such Dark magic, and no other wizard has escaped. How did you do it, Sirius?"

Sirius gulped, staring at his hands. Telling Dumbledore meant admitting that he had broken almost every school rule, and the law as well. It had been their secret, the Marauders had sworn never to tell anyone, but that promise had been broken already, as had so many others they had made in the foolishness and innocence of youth.

How would Dumbledore react if Sirius told him? Surely it wouldn't convince him that he was innocent, it would sound like a fabrication, a frantic lie...

Sirius, get a grip, he told himself. Whatever Dumbledore does, it can't be any worse than what's going to happen if you don't tell him.

"I'm an Animagus," Sirius said slowly. "We all are. Me, and Peter and ... James. Well, he was."

He looked up. Dumbledore's expression was still unreadable. The headmaster raised an eyebrow.

"Indeed? And how long have you been Animagi?"

"Since fifth year," Sirius admitted sheepishly, staring at the floor with a shameful, fixed expression. Finally, the guilt that he had been carrying around since the age of fifteen overwhelmed him. "We did it for Remus," he said frantically, trying to explain himself. "We wanted to help him, and it was all we could think of. I'm a dog, James was a stag and Peter's a rat. That's where we got our nicknames from. We kept him company on the full moon. And we - we left the Shrieking Shack. I know it was stupid, but we did it! He never bit anyone, we were able to control him! We calmed him!

"We broke the law and the school rules, I admit it! But I am not a murderer!"

"Sirius," Dumbledore said sternly. "There is rather a large difference between breaking school rules and becoming an Animagus illegally and murdering thirteen people. I am not going to accuse you of anything until I have heard the whole story," he said calmly. "Please continue."

Sirius took a deep breath before launching into his explanation of how Peter had become Secret-Keeper and so many lives had been destroyed. Memories that had tormented him for twelve years came sweeping back, released for the second time that night, vivid even after so long with the Dementors. He spoke slowly, haltingly at first, but with increasing urgency as he pleaded with the headmaster to understand him and see his perspective.

"I was afraid, scared that Voldemort would torture the information out of me. I thought it was perfect. Voldemort would never dream that Lily and James would use someone as talentless as Peter. They didn't like it, but I argued my point, and eventually they agreed with me." He sighed, and looked at Dumbledore. The older man was watching him with a keen interest, a glint in his eyes.

When he reached the story of how he had finally escaped form Azbakan, Sirius handed Dumbledore the newspaper clipping. He could feel the tears that had sprung to his eyes as he recounted the final days of Lily and James' lives. He blinked, forcing them to remain unshed.

"I see," Dumbledore said, looking over the top of his glasses at him. "And you escaped to kill Pettigrew?"

Sirius nodded, then began to explain quickly. He didn't want Dumbledore to get the wrong idea about him, especially not since he seemed to believe his story so far. Sirius couldn't stop what was going to happen, but at least someone would know the truth about him, other than Harry, his friends and Remus, who would be considered able to be persuaded easily. If Dumbledore knew the truth...

At least in his last moments Sirius would know that someone believed him.

With a now frantic urgency, not wanting his actions to be misinterpreted, Sirius began to explain.
As he spoke, he was fiddling with his robes, deliberately avoiding meeting Dumbledore's eyes for fear of what he might see there. After he told of his escape and the long swim the Britain, he sat, staring at his hands as his fingers traced the shadows on his robe.

The two men sat in silence. Finally Dumbledore cleared his throat and pushed back his chair.

"I see," he said, standing. "This changes everything. Excuse me please, Sirius, I need to speak with Harry."

"Is he all right?" Sirius asked, feeling guilty for forgetting that Harry and his friend, the bushy haired girl, had been there with the Dementors. And what about the boy? The one Peter had betrayed? Peter had paid him back for his years of loving care in a traitor's way: by cursing him. "And the others?"

"Harry is fine, as is Hermione," Dumbledore replied calmly. "I do not know how Ron is. I assume that it was Peter who attacked him?"

"I accidentally broke his leg," Sirius admitted, feeling a slight flush of guilt rising within him, "but it was Peter who cursed him."

Dumbledore walked to the door. When his hand was on the knob he turned and spoke.

"Thank you Sirius," he said. "I am glad I finally know the truth. Everything fits now."

With those words, he unlocked the door and left.

The true horror of Sirius' situation began to set in. He was alone and a prisoner. What hope did an Azkaban escapee have against the Minister for Magic and the Dementors? He knew what was coming, he had stolen discarded newspapers from Hogsmeade and had read that Fudge had authorised the Dementor's Kiss...

All of the members of the Order of the Phoenix learned quickly that there were things worse than death.  They had to fight them constantly if they were to have any hope of defeating the Death Eaters. Sirius knew that what he was facing now was the worst of them all.  A life without a soul...
He shuddered involuntarily and turned towards the window, his eyes moistening. Never had he been in a worse situation than this. Whatever way he looked at it, there was surely no way out.

Sirius blinked the tears away. He never cried, certainly not because of fear. But was it fear that had brought the unaccustomed moisture to his eyes? Or was there something more to it? Perhaps it was the feeling that had come over him earlier that night, when being with Moony and Wormtail again had made him feel the loss of James more acutely than ever.
 
He had failed. His best friend had come to him for help, and he had turned him away, told him to find someone else to use, just because of his stupid fear. He had been so afraid of his own weakness, so sure of his own cleverness, that he had turned James away. He had killed his best friend with his stupidity. That sheer idiocy had left poor Harry without parents, alone and stranded in the cruel Muggle world with the Dursleys. Sirius regretted that almost more than anything. Not only had his mistake killed James and Lily, but it had destroyed the life Harry should have had.

And now here he was, waiting calmly for the final punishment for his mistakes. For he was calm now. His fear and misery had gone past even the deep despair, into a sort of depressing certainty that chilled him to the bone and sat like ice in the pit of his stomach. He wasn't going to escape the Dementors this time, they would claim him as their own, and all that was and had been Sirius Black would be destroyed, leaving only an empty shell.

He stared out of the window. The light of the full moon glittered on the calm surface of the lake, and the dark shadow of the Forbidden Forest loomed over the far edge of the water. The Marauders had had such fun in there in their school days. But that was changed now.
Remus was in there, somewhere. So, Sirius realised with a jolt, was Peter. How fitting, then, that maybe the forest would be the last thing he would see before the Dementors took him and claimed his soul. Fitting that Peter was there, the man who had caused all this. But Sirius knew it was really his own fault, even if he hadn't committed the crime. He was innocent, but foolish, and the only thing that could clear his name and save his memory now was Peter being captured.

Hopelessness threatened to overwhelm Sirius. They'd never capture Peter. The truth would never be known. What hope was there of ever finding a single rat in the whole of Britain, especially when no-one knew to look for him?

He would be destroyed, and no-one would ever really know what had happened. Sirius Black would die a murderer. There was no proof of his innocence except the word of a werewolf, three thirteen year old wizards and an Azkaban escapee. That would never stand against eyewitness accounts by Muggles, who had actually been at the scene. And Sirius himself would be in no state to testify, should Peter be captured. There would be no hope, even after he was gone.

A silent tear rolled down Sirius' cheek, but he neither knew nor cared. He crossed to the chair by the desk and sat, silently, to await his fate.

 

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