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: Two friends sit reminiscing
about the past and remembering better times. But the arrival of dire news
causes arguments to erupt and choices to be made. Guilt is still felt, the past
is remembered, but he won’t let it happen again. A Missing Moment from Harry Potter and the
Order of the Phoenix, and a submission for the “Spring
Challenge: A Different Viewpoint” on MNFF.
Author’s Note: A huge and
grateful “Thank You!” goes out to thegirllikeme of
MNFF for beta-ing this story. She did a fantastic job
on such short notice, helping turn this story into what it is, and for that, I
thank her. Also, a ‘Thank You’ goes to PirateQueen for
looking it over before putting on the SQ. Now, I present for your enjoyment, Not Again.
Everything was silent in the house as a heavy, orange sun began its slow
descent below the horizon. All of the portraits were quiet; one could not even
hear a rustle of robes, a sigh of breath, a scraping of chairs, or a shuffling
of feet come from any of the occupants of the numerous framed canvases that
dotted the walls of the ancient house.
But it was not just the portraits that were silent and unmoving; the occupants
of the house were as well. No one wandered through the long and dark corridors;
no one climbed or descended the stairs. Not even the common creaking of the
bottom three steps could be heard. Even the sole house-elf was silent and
still, hidden in the library on one of the ancient house’s upper floors. And
regardless of the fact that four of the five people in the house all sat
together in the home’s basement kitchen, not a one of them spoke. Why? One
could only guess.
The silence was not an awkward one, nor was it brought on by any particular
grief or sadness. No one was asleep and, fortunately, no one had died recently,
regardless of the ever-present threat that each of them faced every day. Death
always hung in the air, whether certain people would admit it or not, and these
four individuals faced it every day. Still, they had been fortunate the first
time around; all of them had survived the terrors of the 1970s — some by
fortune, some by luck, and some because they were too
young to have been put in danger the first time. But the question remained.
Would they all be as fortunate again? Was it possible to keep escaping death?
And so, they each sat in silence, lost in individual thought and staring into
their drinks. Two mugs were filled to the brim with un-drunk Firewhiskey, one was half-filled with tea, that was, by
now, cold, and another was an almost-empty glass of simple water that the
young, purple-haired witch had drunk almost all of.
“Did I miss something?” said a voice from the kitchen’s doorway. “It’s like
someone died in here.”
All of the heads turned to look at the dark-haired man entering the kitchen.
Uneasy laughter broke out as the silence slowly evaporated, and the fifth
individual took a seat at the table’s head, summoning the bottle of Firewhiskey from the figure sitting opposite him — a
scarred, older man who had a chunk missing from his nose and an electric-blue
eyeball that swirled around in its socket. The older man focussed both of his
eyes on the new arrival.
“I was drinking from that, you know, Sirius,” he grunted, and the other man
gave a smirk, before bringing the bottle’s tip to his mouth. After taking a
deep swig from the bottle, he replaced it on the table and, leaning forwards in
his seat, spoke.
“You still have an entire glass in front of you, Mad-Eye,” he said. “I believe
you could spare me the bottle.” And he took another, lengthy swig.
“How’s Buckbeak?” asked a thin, brown-haired man
sitting to Sirius’s right. This man — the one with the cold tea — ran a hand
through his brown, though severely greying, hair as he spoke. He looked up at
his friend, awaiting the answer.
Sirius glanced over and took another drink, before replying. “He’s fine, now, Remus,” he said, running a hand through his own, long black
hair to shove it out of his eyes. “It was just a cut on his left leg, easy
enough to bandage, but I’m still going to kill that elf.”
Remus sighed, evidently not wishing to get in another
‘discussion’ over the house’s very … colourful … house-elf. Kreacher really was unlike any house-elf that Remus had ever come across, but judging from certain
portraits in the house, an odd house-elf was almost to be expected. In fact,
one could consider it to be one of the milder aspects of life at Number Twelve,
Silence descended on the group again, punctuated only by the occasional sigh or
clinking of glass on wood as someone set their mug down on the table. The
quiet, like earlier, still didn’t feel too awkward, though there was an air of
moroseness about it that had not been present earlier. Or, perhaps it had, but
no one had really realised it. But the heavy silence did not last for too long
before being broken. Sirius rose abruptly from the table and,
grabbing the Firewhiskey, walked moodily from the
room, sighing and not even bothering to close the door behind him.
“What’s wrong with him?” said a large and muscular dark-skinned man once he was
sure that Sirius would not hear. His voice was low and seemed to almost rumble
when he spoke. He turned to the man on his left. “Do you know, Remus?”
An exasperated sigh escaped Remus as he continued
staring into his mug. Yes, he knew exactly what had his friend acting more
depressed than usual. Almost six months had passed since anyone outside of the
Order of the Phoenix
had been in Grimmauld
Place. Most notably and most relevant to Sirius, Harry
had been absent since then, save for a brief conversation in the fire around
two months past. Mutely, he nodded his head in response to Kingsley’s question.
The Auror, however, sensing that Remus
would prefer not to speak of more details, let the issue drop.
“Dumbledore should be here any —”
“Excuse me for a moment,” muttered Remus as he got up
and, leaving his drink on the table, left the kitchen without even a backward
glance at Tonks, the young witch he had interrupted.
Taking care to shut the kitchen’s door behind him, Remus
entered the next room, where he came across his best friend. Sirius, however,
did not seem to notice the other man’s arrival, or, if he did, he made no
acknowledgment of it.
Instead, Sirius continued sitting in his chair — an overstuffed grey one that
had a bit of the stuffing coming out of a tear on the armrest — with the
half-empty bottle of alcohol on a small table in front of him. His long, dark
hair fell into his face, blocking his expression from Remus,
but Remus could at least tell that his friend was
gazing intently at his hands. As the werewolf stepped closer, still not
speaking, he saw a small, square mirror and a photograph, though he was still
too far away to make out the occupants of the picture.
“Sirius?” he said hesitantly, approaching the form of his friend and taking a
seat in the chair next to him. Sirius did not look up; instead, he kept his
grey gaze on the mirror and photograph, both of which were being tossed lightly
around in his hands. Remus was just about to address
his friend again, when Sirius let out a sigh and, still not looking at Remus, spoke.
“Do you ever wonder, Remus, what it
would have been like if they hadn’t died?”
Remus did not answer right away, for the question had
taken him by surprise. The words were not quite what he was expecting, but,
sensing the need of his friend, he went with the line of conversation anyway.
“Almost every day,” he said quietly, “especially in the beginning … right after
it happened.” He saw Sirius nod, but he also did not miss the slightly haunted
look that shone in his friend’s eyes for the briefest of moments, before Sirius
stubbornly repressed it.
“It isn’t your fault, Sirius,” he muttered. “You didn’t kill them, and …”
“Would you have done what I did, Moony?” asked Sirius, finally tearing his gaze
from the mirror and glancing at his friend. “If you had known the truth back
then, would you have gone after him, too?”
The immediate answer that came to Remus's mind was
obvious. Of course, he would have chased after Peter. He would have wanted an
explanation and the chance to avenge James and Lily. What other answer was
there? But after taking one look at Sirius's eyes, he knew that his friend
wanted pure honesty from Remus; Sirius wanted the
complete and real truth from him, even if the whole answer wasn’t in agreement
with Sirius's own choices.
“I would have wanted to know why,” he whispered. “And I still do; it’s
something that I couldn’t understand then, when Dumbledore told me, and I can’t
understand it now. So … yes, Sirius, I probably would have gone after him … but
I don’t know if I would have tried to kill him.”
Silence that had held its grip over the entire house descended once again on
the two friends. And, as they sat in the quiet, rain started to fall from the
early night sky, its drops of water tinkling off of the glass window panes of
Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, and creating a sort
of peaceful and musical — yet simple — rhythm.
As Remus listened to the soothing sounds of falling
water, he noticed Sirius's discomfort. Suddenly, he remembered that Sirius had
never gotten the same sort of emotion out of the rain; in fact, his best friend
had always hated rain and storms — an aspect that had struck Remus as being odd years ago, because Sirius's natural
chaotic and havoc-wreaking personality should have made him appreciate weather
of that sort. With Sirius, however, that had never been the case, and now,
after over two decades of knowing each other, Remus
thought he finally — and fully — understood the reason
behind Sirius's hatred of rain and storms.
Sirius's whole life had been made up of many ‘storms’, and the rain never — or
very rarely — happened at a good time for him. From what Remus
remembered, a lot of the fights Sirius had had with his family happened on
stormy, summer nights. The ‘incident’ that happened with Snape,
in their sixth year, had occurred on a rainy night, if Remus
recalled correctly. James had told him that, after a particularly bad fight
with his parents, Sirius had run away from home on the night of a massive
storm, showing up at the Potters’ drenched, yet still grinning. It was raining
around the time that James and Lily were killed; the day Sirius went to
Azkaban, it had started to storm.
Remus's thoughts were suddenly interrupted when
Sirius's voice broke through the silence.
“Do you remember this day, Moony?” he muttered, his voice low and barely able
to be heard, but Remus caught every word. Remus glanced up at his friend, tearing his own gaze from
the rain-covered window, and saw Sirius extending the photograph he had held to
him. Leaning forwards in his chair, Remus took the
picture and, looking at it, could not keep the reminiscing smile from his tired
The picture was almost two decades old, but Remus
remembered the day clearly. In the photograph were three boys, all around
eighteen years of age, grinning largely at the camera. They all had their arms
draped over the shoulders of the others. One of the boys — the one in the
centre — had messy black hair, and his mischievous hazel eyes were behind a
pair of round glasses. He kept glaring at the figure to his right — a tall boy
with black hair that fell to his shoulders — who would shrug innocently, an
expression made pointless by the joyful and mischief-filled gleam in his grey
eyes. Finally, there was the other boy. He had light brown hair, and his blue
eyes were looking at his two friends in exasperation, though he, too, couldn’t
keep from smiling and laughing.
“Yes, I remember,” said Remus, grinning at his
photographic image. “It was the day James said that he planned to propose to
“He had called us all up, saying to meet him at the Leaky Cauldron, because
there was something he needed to tell us,” said Sirius.
“You joked that it probably had to do with Lily, and that she finally wised up
and dumped James. Which is why he’s glaring at you in the picture.”
“And one of the witches working there loved the expression on his face so much
she decided to take a photo.”
The two of them laughed as memories came back — good memories of times that
should have continued forever between four friends. But now, only two are
where four should be, Remus thought bitterly.
However, he kept the bitterness from his voice, knowing that the carefree
enjoyment that Sirius now felt had been missing for too long. And perhaps Remus was being selfish, but he wanted his friend the way
he was sixteen years ago … the way he was before Azkaban. And while Remus wanted that change for Sirius, he also wanted it for
“It’s good to see you laugh again, Sirius,” he said, grasping his best friend’s
shoulder as Remus stood up.
Sirius gave a returning grin and nodded. Still holding the mirror in his hands,
he watched Remus leave and rejoin the others in the
kitchen. Sirius probably would have continued sitting in the chair, had it not
been for the words he heard come from the kitchen when Remus
opened the door.
“–Potter believes it.”
The words alone were enough to make Sirius jump from the chair and rush back over
towards the kitchen, haphazardly tossing the mirror he had held into his
abandoned chair. He caught the door before it managed to fully close behind Remus, and he wrenched it back open.
“Is Black at head — Oh, there you are.” The sneering voice of Severus Snape echoed around the basement kitchen of Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, and Sirius did not even have to look at
the greasy git’s face to feel the loathing directed at him. It was a good thing
that the feeling was absolutely mutual.
“What do you want, Snape?” he hissed venomously,
though the words were barely out of his mouth before Kingsley spoke.
“Yes, Sirius is here, but —” said Kingsley, but his answer was interrupted by Remus.
“What did Harry see?” the werewolf asked, focussing his gaze on Snape.
Harry had another vision? Sirius thought to himself. He was so caught up
in his own thoughts that he almost missed Snape's
“–the Dark Lord has Black in the Department of Mysteries,” said the Potions
professor. “He and Granger went into the forest with Umbridge,
but none of them have returned yet, which implies —”
“That Harry still thinks You-Know-Who has Sirius,” interrupted Kingsley, who
had risen from his chair and was already in the process of putting on his
“You really think he’s going to the Hall of Prophecy?” muttered Tonks, looking at her former professor.
Snape shot the witch a look that seemed to say ‘Are
you completely stupid?’ but, fortunately, they all knew — and were used to — Snape's personality. “It is exactly the sort of idiotic and
foolish thing the boy would do; he doesn’t have the sense —”
“Snape —” started Sirius, but he was interrupted by
“Sirius, Severus, now is not the time,” said Remus
calmly, his voice still portraying the feeling of exhaustion that he felt
towards the two men, neither of which would ever be able to have a civil
conversation with the other. “We will go to the Ministry, find Harry, and bring
him back. Voldemort wouldn’t risk coming himself, so
there will just be Death Eaters.”
Alastor Moody and Nymphadora
Tonks stood up from the table, joining Kingsley
against the wall. They all started to leave the kitchen, with Remus and Sirius at the end, when Snape's
voice caused them to halt.
“Where’s Dumbledore?” he asked.
“He’s due any moment,” said Tonks. “Someone should
tell him what’s happened —”
“Black can stay,” said Snape, jumping onto the end of
“What?” asked Sirius, staring at Snape. The professor glared at him, a condescending look on his
“Are you deaf as well as stupid, Black?” he spat. “You, of all people, can’t go
to the Ministry, though I have no idea why you would even risk it.”
“What are you on about, Snape?” Sirius hissed, paying
no attention to Remus's words to calm down. All he
could think of was Harry and the obnoxious Snape.
“It’s Harry we’re talking about, and —”
“And you, Black, haven’t left this house in almost a year. You also haven’t
fought any duels in almost fifteen years, and in that last one, you didn’t
quite come out too well, did you?”
Remus's words of “Severus, that wasn’t called for”
were completely overridden and drowned out by Sirius's own voice as he spat at Snape.
“What?” he exclaimed, and then his voice became lower. “Are you
inferring something? Are you calling me a coward, Snape?”
he hissed venomously, his voice deathly quiet, despite the temper and anger
that Remus could see bubbling just below the surface.
His friend had never had a great grasp on his temper; Sirius's own rash personality
usually resulted in actions occurring without complete thought behind them.
Snape looked ready to respond, and the smirk on his
pale face told everyone in the kitchen exactly what the response would have
been. The former Death Eater, however, did not get the chance to have his
“Perhaps Snape is right, Sirius,” grunted Moody,
turning both his regular and magical eye in the direction of Sirius. “Not about
what you think,” he continued, raising a scarred hand to forestall the inevitable
arguments that seemed ready to come from the black-haired man in the doorway.
“There aren’t any ‘cowards’ here, but if you’re caught —”
“I don’t have time for this,” Sirius interrupted the retired Auror, not really caring about what was going to be said,
and strode out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
Did they really think that they had to keep reminding him about his situation?
Did they honestly believe he was incapable of understanding what would happen
to him if he was caught? Not even Dumbledore would be able to save him, and just the thought of seeing — of feeling —
those creatures again caused a shiver to run through Sirius. But this was Harry
they were talking about. It was his godson who needed help, and Sirius would be
damned if he wasn’t there. He had already failed once — with James — but there
was no way he would break another promise.
That was how Remus found his friend when he entered
the upstairs drawing room. Sirius was pacing along the worn floor, running his
hands through his long hair as he did so, and his chest still rising and
falling rapidly with the heavy breathing that the discussion downstairs had
caused. However, as Remus stepped into the room,
Sirius immediately ceased his movements and stared at his friend.
“It’s Harry, Remus,” he said, before Remus could open his mouth to speak. “James’s son, and you of all people should know that I have to
“I know, Sirius, but …” Remus paused for the briefest
of moments and debated internally whether or not he should continue. He knew
the words needed to be said, but, at the same time, he knew his friend, his
brother. In the end, he decided to speak. “But they are right, you know,” he
whispered. “You would be safer here, and if you were caught —”
“Goddamn it, Remus, I know!” exclaimed Sirius as he
glared at his friend, the frustration and anger he had felt inside finally
being unleashed. “How could I possibly forget about it, especially with people
reminding me of Dementors and Azkaban at every chance
they get? I mean, does everyone in the whole bloody Order think I’m too
ignorant to know that if they catch me, my soul is gone? Do you think I could
forget twelve years of that?”
When Sirius had finished, Remus found himself unable to respond. He ran his hand slowly through
his own hair in an effort to think, to try and discover something to say, but
nothing came. He had known that Sirius still felt haunted by his time in
Azkaban, but if he was perfectly honest with himself, Remus
had almost believed it to be almost trivial, in a way; sort of like it was just
a small, distant thought deep in the back of his friend’s mind — always there,
but not precisely in the forefront. And it was not until today that Remus really understood how wrong he was.
“Padfoot, I …” But Remus
trailed off into silence, no words coming. What do I say to that? he thought. ‘I understand’ wouldn’t be right, because
there isn’t a way I could understand his pain. So how does one comfort a
brother if they cannot relate to him? An answer to such a question,
however, seemed impossible. Fortunately, though, Remus
was spared having to find one right away.
“I already failed once, Remus,” muttered Sirius. “I won’t fail again … not Harry.” Sirius looked at his
friend, almost like he was daring him to argue with him, daring Remus to tell him he wasn’t coming to save Harry. They both
knew that there were plenty of reasons that existed why he shouldn’t go. But
all of them had been spoken before, and Sirius refused to listen to them. As
far as he was concerned, they paled in comparison to the one reason why he should
go — Harry.
Remus knew he should say something to try and
convince his friend to stay, but after meeting Sirius's intense gaze, he
realised it wouldn’t do any good. Sirius's eyes burned with determination, and
his face held the same expression it always had when he had made a decision;
and Remus knew from personal experience that it
wouldn’t be possible to talk his friend out of going. Therefore, he didn’t give
any objections, and Sirius stalked towards the door, brushing past his friend
as he did so.
He made it to the end of the corridor before the words of his friend caused him
“You didn’t fail James either, Padfoot,” whispered Remus.
Sirius, his back still facing his friend, turned around slowly so that he was
seeing Remus out of the corner of his eye. He did not
face Remus fully. Instead, still staring at the
ground and sighing, he spoke, his voice so quiet that Remus
had to strain to hear the words.
“Yes, Moony, I did.”
And with that, Sirius headed off in search of Kreacher.
The elf could stay to tell Dumbledore what had happened. Sirius was going after
Author’s Note: Thank you so much for reading, and I
hope you enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun writing this fic,
(though coming up with the title and summary gave me a headache), and I’d love
to know what you think.