The Sugar Quill
Author: Dark Princess  Story: Brothers  Chapter: Default
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Brothers

Disclaimer: Anything you recognise does not belong to me, however much I wish that it did. Instead, it all belongs to J. K. Rowling. However, anything you do not recognise does belong to me.

 

Summary: “He would never see James smile again. Sirius knew he would never again hear the voice of his best friend — his brother. Brothers look out for each other. They would never joke about anything again. They would never again have a “little too much” to drink and then have to try and explain it to Lily afterwards. Never again would he have his brother to remember the “good old days” when they both grew too old to do anything. Never again would the Marauders be together …” Sirius had the perfect plan to protect James. But what happens when a flawless idea isn’t so flawless?

 

Author’s Note: All right, well, I don’t have much to say for this beginning author’s note, but I would like to give just a conclusive “Thank You” to the MNFF students, especially those in the classes with me, and my House, Gryffindor. You have helped in many, many ways, not least of which is the improvement of my writing. So, thank you. Also, a Thank You to PirateQueen for beta-ing. Now, I present for your enjoyment, Brothers.

 

~**~


Brothers


~**~



23 October 1981


~**~



Heavy torrents of rain tumbled down from the night sky and assaulted the area of central Britain. Dark clouds had threatened just such a storm all day long, but no one who had glanced at the sky earlier could have figured the weather would be this bad. The wind whistled and howled as it forced its way through the trees’ branches, and it made the roofs and windows of houses and flats shake and rattle. Such weather had already been raging and attacking the country for several hours — it had started shortly after sunset and, as the time was approaching midnight, had yet to cease.


Located in one of the assaulted flats was a tall, dark-haired man who had decided he would rather simply crash on his sofa than make it back to his bed. He had already gotten caught in the storm once that night, and his cloak was still trying to dry by the door. (The man knew that he could have simply used a charm to dry the thing, but, being as exhausted as he was when he arrived, had not had the energy to do so.) Strands of shoulder-length, black hair — still a bit damp from the rain — covered the man’s face, a few falling into his eyes as he slept. His sleep, for the most part, seemed calm and peaceful at a first glance, but if one watched the man long enough, they could see the slight tightness of his face and the jerk of his head as a nightmare played out in his mind.


“I will NOT!” yelled a sixteen-year-old Sirius Black, his expression angry as he glared at the older woman in front of him. Pacing up and down in his room before coming down to the kitchen of Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place obviously had not calmed the eldest Black son, and he ran his hands through his hair in frustration.


The older woman, Walburga Black, simply glared back at her rebellious son, and Sirius could tell his mother’s grasp on her temper was quickly fading. He did not know if she had her wand or not, but he was now fully regretting leaving his own upstairs. And his father’s presence did not make the situation any better.
It’s not like he would raise a hand to help me; if he did anything at all, it would be to stop her for her own sake, thought Sirius. Distantly, he was aware of his mother continuing her tirade against him — how he wasn’t an obedient son, how he didn’t “live up to his name,” how he wasn’t Regulus, and why couldn’t he be more like his brother … basically, everything she had said to him since he was eleven years old. Doesn’t she realise that I don’t care?


“Make Regulus be nice to her! He’s your little puppet, after all!”


“As much trouble as you are, Sirius, you are still a son of the House of Black, and I am still your mother, though Merlin knows how that’s possible,” spat Walburga.


“I don’t WANT to be a Black!” shouted Sirius, his temper finally being fully released. “Everyone’s insane, especially you,
Mother.


The shouting immediately ceased when Sirius stopped, almost as if someone had just turned the volume control from the maximum setting to mute. Only the sound of his breathing reached Sirius's ears and it seemed to drown out everything else. Time felt like it had stopped for a brief moment, and it wasn’t until Sirius noticed his father walking towards him that it started up again … and the sixteen-year-old Black realised he had gone too far.


Orion reached his son, his angular face holding a displeased (or downright livid) expression and forcefully grasped him by the back of the neck — hard. With his strong grip, Orion turned his son’s head back in the direction of Walburga. “You are not to speak to your mother like that, Sirius,” he said, his voice low and quiet, but such mannerisms did not mean there was any kindness, warmth, or sympathy in the head of the Black household.


No, Sirius knew that they revealed the exact opposite emotions in his father. He had winced slightly when Orion had grabbed him, and the action was made once again as his father grasped still tighter.


“Apologise to your mother, Sirius. Now.”



A pounding on the door to the flat caused the nightmare to be interrupted, and a twenty-two-year-old Sirius Black sat up slowly from the sofa, still trying to rub the sleep from his eyes, as well as clear the images of his not-so-pleasant past from his head. Running his fingers through his hair, he waited for his breathing to return to normal. He remembered that night, and it was one of his clearest memories of his family. It wasn’t every fight that caused him to run away on the same night, after all. But he also remembered how much worse that fight had gotten before it ended.


“SIRIUS!” Knock. Knock. Knock. “Are you home? Padfoot?”


James? Sirius thought as he swung his head around in the desperate search for a clock. He knew it was late, but he didn’t know just how late. “I’m coming,” he yelled to his visitor outside the door. He struggled up from his sitting position and headed towards his door, noticing irrelevantly the messiness of his living room. I should probably clean it, he thought.


Upon opening the door, Sirius came face to face with a soaking wet James Potter, his fist raised as if ready to pound on the door again. Grinning slightly, he lowered it.


“Oh, good, you’re home,” he said. “Nice weather, isn’t it?” James entered his best friend’s living room as Sirius opened the door wider. Walking closer to the fireplace, James started pacing back and forth, not pausing for a second until Sirius had shut the door and, heading towards his friend, spoke.


“What are you doing out in this storm, Prongs?” he said, grasping James’s shoulders to stop his friend’s movements. “Why are you over here so late?”


“I needed to talk to you,” answered James as he ran his own hand through his hair. Though it was definitely shorter than his friend’s hair, and such an action was one that he had ceased employing for the most part, James still found himself doing so when he was worried or upset. “Lily and I were just talking to Dumbledore,” he said. “He told us something, and —”


“What did he say?” interrupted Sirius, his grey eyes watching his friend closely. “Prongs, what is it? Was it about the traitor? Did someone die? What —”


“Lily, Harry, and I need to go into hiding,” James whispered. “Voldemort's after Harry, Sirius … That’s what Dumbledore said — that the most evil wizard to ever exist is after my son!”


It took a while before Sirius's mind registered the words that his best friend had spoken. His mind was either working extremely slowly or the idea was just too difficult to grasp — or both — but when he finally did understand the words, he let his arms drop from James’s shoulders, only to wrap them around his friend in an embrace.


“Is Dumbledore sure?” asked Sirius, his mind already knowing the answer before James nodded in the affirmative. But there was always reason to hope. “How are you --- What’s Dumbledore’s --- How do you hide ---” The question was nearly impossible to ask for Sirius, for the words just were not coming, no matter how hard he tried. It wasn’t a question that one usually wanted to ask.... How do you ask your friend about his death, really? he thought. Fortunately, though, James knew him well enough to understand, and he had an answer.


“Dumbledore said the Fidelius Charm was the best option,” he muttered. “He said we should probably cast it soon, and then we started talking about who to choose as a Secret-Keeper ...” James trailed off, but his meaning was clear.


“You want me to be your Secret-Keeper,” said Sirius. It wasn’t a question; he knew his friend too well for there to be any doubt in his mind, now that he’d heard James’s story, why he had needed to talk to him that night and had braved a storm to do so. There was also no question in regards to what his answer would be.


“We trust you,” James said simply. “Out of everyone, you’re the one that Lily and I trust the most, and you’re Harry's godfather as well. Padfoot, we —”


“Of course I’ll do it,” Sirius interrupted, staring at his friend all the while. “You don’t have to try and convince me, Prongs. Brothers look out for each other, after all.”


The smile on James’s face was not forced this time, like it had been when Sirius had opened the door. Rather, it was true, and one of utmost relief. He looked as if a huge worry had been lifted from his shoulders, yet not all of the weight had left; there was still a tremendously heavy burden on the young man’s shoulders, and both James and Sirius knew it.


“Thanks, Padfoot,” said James as he walked over towards the sofa and sat down. “You were the first one we thought of, Sirius, and I think Dumbledore already knew we’d ask you before we even began talking about who to choose…. Our friendship is well known, mate.”


“Yeah, it is.” Sirius's voice was distant, as if his mind wasn’t on the conversation. But that view wasn’t completely correct. His mind was on the conversation ... on James’s last statements, to be specific. “‘You were the first one we thought of ... Our friendship is well known ... well known ...’”


“Sirius?”


“You can’t choose me as your Secret-Keeper, James,” said Sirius. He saw the confused expression on his best friend’s face, saw him forming the words “Why not,” though James’s mouth hadn’t even started to open. Sirius continued on. “He’ll know it’s me, James,” he said. “‘Our friendship is well known,’ you said. When he can’t find you, he’ll know exactly where to look.”


Padfoot —”


“I’d die for you, Prongs; you know that,” whispered Sirius, his words continuing as if he had not even heard James’s interruption. “I’m not concerned for me, but I couldn’t live with myself if you died, and it was my fault ... if he caught me, if I wasn’t strong enough and did break, and he was able to find you because of it. But I have a better idea.”


James leaned back into the sofa, still staring at Sirius like the latter wasn’t thinking straight. Sirius could tell that James thought him crazy, thought he was losing his mind, but he knew that he had just thought up the most brilliant idea ever to come from any one of the four Marauders. It topped all of their childhood pranks and was right up there with the Map and becoming Animagi. This idea was utter brilliance.


“Choose Peter as your Secret-Keeper,” said Sirius, who continued immediately before James could argue, as he looked ready to do. “It’s the perfect plan, don’t you see? We let it be known that it’s me; everyone can believe that. But the real truth will be that it’s Peter. No one will ever suspect him, James. That way, even if Voldemort finds me, even if I break, it won’t matter, because I won’t hold the secret; Wormtail will.”


Silence greeted the ending of Sirius's explanation, rather than an immediate argument by James. He had had an argument in the beginning, Sirius knew, but he knew his friend perfectly. They thought alike, and James could see the flawlessness of the plan as well as he could.


“Are you sure about this, Sirius?” said James. “I mean, it’s not that I don’t trust Wormtail, but we both know he’s not the strongest —”


“But that won’t matter because he’ll never have to resist Voldemort trying to break him. Voldemort’ll never know it’s him, and neither will anyone else. Only you, Lily, Peter, and I will know the whole truth.”


Sirius could see the arguments in James diminishing. He could see his friend come to realise what he himself already knew — the plan was perfect. And he doesn’t argue for Remus, either, thought Sirius. He can sense that, too. Yes, they could all sense a change in Remus; the quiet member of their group wasn’t acting like his normal self, and the rest of the Marauders could feel it. He was more distant from them ... and whenever discussion turned to the Order or traitors, he wouldn’t have his usual numerous opinions to offer. There was no evidence, exactly, that Remus was the traitor, but it had to be someone. And Moony’s the best candidate, he thought.


“I guess you’re right,” muttered James. “I can’t find anything wrong with the idea ... But don’t you think we should ask Peter about it first?” The sitting Marauder started to smile as he glanced up at the dark-haired man still standing by the fire, a small jar of green powder held in his hand.


“It’s only a little bit after midnight,” said Sirius, a matching grin on his own face and his eyes twinkling mischievously. “Why don’t we go and wake up our ratty friend?”



~**~


31 October 1981


~**~



About a week had passed since the night that James had shown up at Sirius's front door, soaking wet from a raging storm that had assaulted the country. The weather had calmed down mostly after that night, and there hadn’t been another storm like that one since then. Tonight’s sunset had taken place in a clear sky, the sun’s rays stretching across the sky, which had turned a mixture of red, orange, and yellow shades. Whereas a week ago, the world seemed like it was ending in raining and pounding glory, tonight, there was a level of peace; an end was not even in sight for Sirius Black.


It had been a week, and James and Lily were still perfectly safe. No one had come after Sirius, either, which struck the dark-haired man as slightly odd, in a way. He had been sure that Voldemort would have at least attempted to look for him by now, but nothing at all had happened. Perhaps he’s focussing elsewhere, thought Sirius as he stopped his motorbike outside the gate to a somewhat rundown cottage in a small Muggle village. But that’s probably just wishful thinking. He knew that Voldemort wouldn’t give up his pursuit of the Potters easily, and Sirius was determined to keep him from achieving his goal. Brothers look out for each other, after all.


Sirius made his way up the walk to the front door of the house — Peter's safe house — and knocked twice. He waited for a moment, but there was no reply. “Peter?” he said, knocking a few more times on the door. Again, there wasn’t an answer. “Damn it,” hissed Sirius as he withdrew his wand from his back pocket, taking a few glances over his shoulder to make sure he wasn’t being watched by anyone. Once he was sure he was alone, he begin the removal of the numerous wards and enchantments that he, James, and Lily had put on the house. No Death Eaters would have been able to get inside if they had tried to break in, but unfortunately, such security also worked the other way; no Order members could get inside without either having Peter let them in or removing the wards themselves.


Finally, the last ward was taken down, and Sirius breathed relief as he opened the door. While he shut and locked the door, he spoke. “Did you not hear the knocks, Wormtail?” he said. “I said I was coming, and you were supposed to —” Sirius had turned around and as he did so, the sight that greeted his eyes made the words die in his mouth.


The main living room was empty. Oh, all the furniture and stuff was still there, but there wasn’t a person present other than Sirius. No sounds of movement came from the other rooms of the small house, either. “Peter?” he said as he headed down towards the single bedroom and bathroom in search of his friend. He felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise, and a cold shiver raced down his spine as he pushed open first the bathroom door and then the one to the bedroom, neither of which revealed anyone. “Wormtail, are you here?”


Something’s not right, he thought. It’s all wrong. He should be here; he wasn’t ever to leave this house. … And they couldn’t have come; the wards were up and the place is spotless. Sirius checked the final room of the house — the kitchen — before he allowed his mind to fully accept the truth of what he had realised.


“The traitor ... is Peter,” he muttered, his head spinning, and Sirius struggled to contain his dinner as it threatened to show itself again. “It isn’t Remus ... It’s Peter ... It was always Peter.” Once his mind had managed to wrap itself around such a revelation, however, the entire truth of what the revelation meant came upon him, and he felt his heart stop and his body grow cold.


“James ...” whispered Sirius. The uttered word had barely left his mouth before he was out the door and racing down the walk towards his motorbike. He had not even paused to shut the door on his way out, but such a minor detail did not have a place in his mind. All that mattered to Sirius was that he arrived before it was too late.


It can’t be too late, he thought. It can’t be.


-------


When he finally arrived at Godric’s Hollow, however, the column of smoke rising towards the night sky, blotting out the stars at it did so, and the sound of crackling flames that were dying out after burning for some time, told Sirius that he was too late.


He barely registered where he landed his bike upon arriving, nor did he think when his motorbike almost fell over on its side. There was only one thought that kept circling through his mind. It’s my fault, he thought. All of this is my fault. “James,” he sobbed as he collapsed to his knees on the ash-covered grass. Not even the sound and blast of the fire was able to tear the dark-haired man’s attention from his grief. That is, until, his tear-filled grey gaze happened to fall upon another dark-haired man lying several feet in front of him, the fiery flames reflecting off his broken glasses.


Sirius scrambled over towards the fallen body of his best friend, not caring at all as he tripped over the piles of debris and rubble, his hands gaining splinters and burns from the still-burning bits of wood. The pain on his flesh could not compare to the anguish his soul felt. “James,” he said, falling again to his knees, this time at the side of his friend. He lifted the pieces of wood and other rubble from James’s chest and tossed them away. “Prongs, come on, wake up ... Come on, Prongs ... James,” he said, his voice low and catching in his throat. Sirius grasped James’s shoulders, his arms, his head — whatever he could shake to try and make his friend move. But there wasn’t any movement, and Sirius had known there wouldn’t be; it had just been wishful thinking.


“I’m sorry,” he whispered, wrapping his arms around his friend’s body as he held him close. “I’m sorry, James; I was wrong. … It wasn’t Remus; it was Peter, and I was wrong. … And it’s my fault … I’m sorry, Prongs.” Those two words — “I’m sorry” — were spoken more times than Sirius remembered. They seemed so pointless, really, but it was all he could think of to say. Pleading for his friend to wake up wouldn’t do any good; it was impossible, Sirius knew. Laughing and joking no longer held any sort of purpose for him, either. All he could do was apologise for what he believed to be his failure.


“I promised that he wouldn’t find you,” he muttered. “He was supposed to come after me … You were supposed to be safe, Prongs … I’m sorry … It’s my fault … I’m sorry …” Sobs racked his body as Sirius let his grief run free; there was no reason to hide it here. Tears fell from his eyes, making rivers run down his cheeks, and dripped to the ground. His breathing was ragged and harsh, but he did not seek to either wipe the tears away or control his breath. His stomach rolled over, though he fought the nauseous feeling for a time. Eventually, however, he lost that battle, and vomited his late dinner on top of a piece of wood that Sirius recognised as being a piece of the Potters’ front door. Such a memory made the young man vomit again.


As he turned away from the doorway, running his hands through his hair while the tears continued to fall, his eyes caught sight of some glass next to James’s head that he had not noticed before. Reaching out a shaking hand, Sirius pulled out what turned out to be a broken picture frame, the picture itself only slightly crinkled, but otherwise, it was undamaged; James’s falling on it had saved the photograph from any fire damage. Sirius stared unblinkingly at the picture, his fingers tracing over the three people waving up at him.


On the left side of the photograph was James, his face split in a huge smile and laughter shining in his hazel eyes. His attention, when not looking straight ahead, was on the two figures next to him — though mainly on the small figure held within the arms of the other. Standing on the right side of the photograph was Sirius himself, his black hair just slightly shorter than he had it now, and in his arms was a grinning Harry, barely over a year old. He was waving around his arms in joy, expressions of laughter and glee on his face as the Sirius in the photo — a mischievous gleam in his eyes — reached out and tickled his godson.


Sirius just stared at the photograph in his hands, his mind remembering that day clearly. It had been only a couple of weeks ago, after all. And as he watched the grinning James of the past reach out and tickle his son shortly after the Sirius in the photo had, his sight spun and it became difficult to breathe. He would never see James smile again. Sirius knew he would never again hear the voice of his best friend — his brother. Brothers look out for each other. They would never joke about anything again. They would never again have a “little too much” to drink and then have to try and explain it to Lily afterwards. Never again would he have his brother to remember the “good old days” when they both grew too old to do anything. Never again would the Marauders be together …


“Peter,” he hissed, his voice almost being drowned out by the crackling fire. Peter was the cause of this … Peter was the traitor, and Peter had killed his brother. The rat, Sirius knew, would have to die. There was no other way … Brothers who betray those who would have died for them do not deserve to live.


With that thought, Sirius ripped the photograph from its frame and stuffed it into his pocket. He would remember his brother … and he would avenge his brother.



~**~

 

 

Author’s Note: Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’ve been a little Sirius-obsessed lately (‘a little’, yeah right), and thought that maybe writing him would make that compulsion lessen … It didn’t. I now have several pages filled with ideas and such for some Sirius writing, and this story specifically is looking at a sequel, with maybe a prequel/companion piece to it. Anyway, thank you for reading, and don’t hesitate to let me know what you think.

 

~Megan

 

 

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