Lily hummed softly to herself
The wind blew burnt orange leaves past his window. Soon there would be no more leaves. It was the end of October after all, Halloween, once again. Sirius smiled to himself as he looked out the window, hot butterbeer in hand. Halloween had always been a favorite holiday for him. Pranks were expected on Halloween. You got into less trouble for pulling them. Halloween. Perhaps Lily had let Harry play with his new broomstick by now?
Sirius could hear the Muggles playing their wireless from the floor above him. He had decided a Muggle community would be safest for hiding. It did get slightly annoying, having to live without magic. But then, as his mother had always said before her untimely death, better safe than sorry. He listened to the faint lyrics of the song from above and shook his head. Muggles listened to the craziest things. Right now some sort of romantic mush was playing. Really, where did they come up with these things? Probably got people like the Potters to write them.
The Potters. Sirius sighed and sank down in his chair. It was hard not to worry about them. He knew they were safe, of course. No one could be a better Secret-Keeper than Peter. But still…Voldemort was after them. It was frightening.
He tried to empty his mind of thoughts like these. No good thinking of them. He glanced up at the clock. Ten thirty. He had told Peter he’d check up on him tonight. Well, he thought as he rose up out of the chair, no time like the present. Grabbing his cloak, he bustled out the door.
He was lucky his motorbike looked just like any ordinary motorbike. His Muggle neighbors had no idea that it could, and frequently did, fly. Glancing around, Sirius pushed the Invisibility Booster he had installed and, wrapping his cloak tightly about him, pushed off into the night sky. It made him smile every time, that sudden rush of exhilaration, adrenaline, and air running past his face.
Peter’s hideout was a simple three room house in the middle of a Muggle village, a mere half hour flight from Sirius’ flat. Twenty-five minutes if the winds were with him. Tonight, they weren’t. To Sirius’ mind the motorbike crept along even as he saw the lights of houses fly underneath him. This gave too much time for thought. He didn’t want to think; he wanted to know. He wanted to know that Peter was all right. He wanted to know the Potters were safe. He wanted to know that Voldemort was still far, far away.
The motorbike landed softly in the ally behind Peter’s house. Sirius had mastered landing the motorcycle. It had only taken him five years to do so…Lily used to tease him about that. She claimed she could do a better job. Sirius had said that no, she could not. He lost ten pounds on that bet. Lily had laughed and laughed…Lily. James. Sirius got off the bike and walked up to the dark house.
Dark house? Sirius realized there were no lights on. That was odd.
He knocked quietly on the back door, rapping out the rhythm he and Peter had decided on for a password. "Peter?" he hissed. "Peter, it’s me. Open up!" He tried turning the handle. It was locked.
At least he’s not being careless, Sirius thought. He pulled his wand out of his pocket and pointed it at the lock. "Alohomora," he hissed. He heard the click and pushed the door open. "Don’t worry, Peter," he said quietly, "It’s just me. Don’t hex me or anything." Peter had always been particularly good at the Jelly Legs Curse.
Sirius turned on the kitchen light. "Hello? I’m grabbing myself a butterbeer, you want one?" His hand didn’t find the butterbeers in the fridge. He turned his head and looked. Empty? Peter never had an empty fridge. There were usually a couple of butterbeers in there, along with other staples.
"What gives, Peter? Are you low on money? Why didn’t you tell me?" Sirius closed the fridge and walked out into the living area. "I can loan you some—" Sirius looked around the dark room. "Peter?" He flicked on a light. A knot began to grow in his stomach. "Peter?" He walked into the bedroom. "Very funny, Peter. You can come out now. Listen, I’ll buy you some butterbeer, ok? No big deal." He turned on the lamp in the bedroom. Nothing. He turned over the sheets on the bed. No one.
Peter wasn’t home.
Sirius realized his breath was quickening. He forced himself to control it. "Nothing to worry about. Nothing to worry about," he began muttering to himself.
He walked through all the rooms again. Definitely not in the kitchen, nor in the bathroom. Living room was still empty. Bedroom was still deserted. Sirius sat down heavily on the bed, not bothering to control his breathing anymore. They’ve found Peter.
He sat on the bed, staring straight forward, not seeing a thing. They’d taken Peter. Voldemort had found him. What were they doing to him? Was he all right? Was he alive?…Would he tell? Sirius cursed himself. He should’ve been the Secret-Keeper. Why did he convince James to pick Peter? Peter didn’t deserve this. Peter was a good guy. Merlin, they had Peter.
Sirius’ eyes suddenly came into focus. He looked closely at the closet he had been staring at for the last several minutes. Something was wrong with it.
Sirius stood up and walked to the closet. His hand reached up and touched a hanger. Peter’s clothes were gone. His mind registered the empty hangers, the bare shoe rack. As far as he knew, Death Eaters didn’t steal clothes.
He looked back at the bed. It had been made neatly before Sirius had disheveled it. He walked back out to the living room. The wireless was turned off. Peter always listened to "Witching World with Warlock Wayne" at ten o’clock. The cushions were fluffed up neatly on the sofa. He walked back in the kitchen. Chairs were tucked neatly under the table. There still was a shocking lack of food in the fridge. Whenever Peter had left the house, he hadn’t been in a hurry.
This was wrong. Terribly wrong. Sirius grasped the table to think straight. Godric Hollow. He had to get to Godric Hollow.
The motorcycle had never seemed to fly so slowly before. Sirius fought to catch his breath as the night air whipped past him. He had to tell James something was wrong. He had to tell James he couldn’t find Peter, that the house was deserted and that—something was wrong.
Thank Merlin, there it was. Sirius recognized the village that was adjacent to the Potter’s cottage. Sirius sped across the town, slowly descending as he did so. The cottage was just a small walk away from the heart of town, hidden by a copse of pine trees. Cozy, really.
He was nearing the edge of town now. His nose suddenly wrinkled up in disgust. What was that smell? Something was burning. He spared a quick glance around at the houses but saw nothing. Probably some Muggle home. He mentally shrugged it off.
The motorbike passed the last town house and flew above the road leading to the cottage. Sirius quickened his descent. The burning smell was getting worse. He sent a mental good luck to the Muggle house and turned the corner around the first of the pine trees surrounding the Potter’s home.
His motorcycle, only several feet from the road now, crashed to the ground. Sirius didn’t notice. He was on the ground, half on and half under the fallen motorcycle, staring at the horrific sight in front of him.
The cottage was…gone. Destroyed. The smoldering ruins of it lay in an illuminated heap, radiating heat into the night air. Sirius’ nose involuntarily wrinkled. The burning smell…probably some Muggle home…
He shoved the motorcycle off and clumsily got to his feet. What had happened? What had happened? His stomach told him the answer before he knew it. Voldemort happened.
James. Harry, Lily. They were all right. They were fine. Probably in the copse, seeking refuge from the ruins. Voldemort hadn’t gotten them. James was too resourceful for that. And Lily, she had put all sorts of complicated charms on the house. They were fine. They were just beyond the trees now, hugging Harry between them.
Sirius’ feet began walking forward. He was standing among the wood, the shards of glass, the shreds of fabric. Of course they escaped. Of course they did. He felt a crunch under his left foot and heard glass braking. Lifting up his foot, he found a broken photo frame. He picked it up. It was a picture of them at graduation. All four of them…and there came Lily, trying to get them in order. Sirius dropped the frame. Something tried to escape from his throat. His head jerked up and his eyes frantically searched the area. They were here. They were alive. They were fine.
Something got his attention from the corner of his eye. He turned to look at it directly. It was hard to see with all this smoke. His eyes were playing tricks on him. But it had looked like…no. No, it wasn’t. James was fine.
He walked forward, picking a path through the rubble. There was something red ahead of him and to his right. It looked familiar and…hair. It was red hair. It was…
"No," he whispered. "No. No. No." Tears threatened his eyes. This wasn’t right. They were fine. How had this happened. The plan had been perfect. The charm was perfect, Peter was perfect, the cottage was perfect—
A large hand gripped his shoulder, turning him roughly around. He was suddenly facing Hagrid.
"Sirius? What’re yeh doin’?"
"Hagrid!" Sirius felt himself snap out of a daze. "What—how long have you been here?"
"’Bout five minutes, lad. I saw yeh land and wanderin’ ‘round and…" He swallowed uncomfortably. "Oh, Sirius…I’m sorry. James and Lily—I…"
Sirius was silent. He was staring at the bundle in the crook of Hagrid’s arm. "Hagrid—that’s not…that’s—"
Hagrid wiped his eyes. "Harry. Bless ‘im. He survived somehow. And You-Know-Who’s gone, Sirius. Harry bea’ ‘im."
Sirius felt a flame rekindled in him. "Harry’s alive. And Voldemort’s…gone?" Hagrid cringed at the name but nodded. Sirius reached forward and pulled back the cloth. There was Harry, quietly staring at his godfather with Lily’s green eye. There was a bloody gash on his forehead in the shape of a lightening bolt and dirty tear stains on his cheeks.
"Harry," breathed Sirius, "you’re alive." That flame inside him…it was hope. He looked up at Hagrid, finger still on Harry’s cheek. "Give Harry to me, Hagrid, I’m his godfather, I’ll look after him…please, Hagrid, you know I will."
Hagrid straightened up slightly and shook his head. "I’m sorry, Sirius, I can’t. Got orders from Dumbledore. He tol’ me to get Harry an’ take him ter his aunt an’ uncle’s. And tha’s what I inten’ ter do."
"His aunt and uncle’s?" Sirius’ stomach lurched. "The Dursleys! Hagrid, you can’t, they’re awful, they’re the worst kind of people imaginable! I’m his godfather, Hagrid, I—"
But Hagrid was sadly shaking his head. "I’m sorry, lad. Dumbledore’s orders."
The flame was extinguished. Sirius felt himself falling. He looked down at Harry. After a moment he spoke calmly. "All right then, Hagrid. Take Harry on my motorbike. It’ll be faster. I won’t need it anymore."
Hagrid looked puzzled. "Thank yeh, Sirius, but are yeh sure—"
Sirius nodded. "Right." He stood looking at Harry for a moment before leaning in towards him. "Good bye, Harry. I love you." He gave his godson a soft kiss on the cheek. He straightened back up. "Good bye, Hagrid."
He turned away from the wreckage and from the memories of his friends. He walked, quickening his pace with each step. He was out of the rubble…at the edge of the copse…on the trail, back in the village. His mind was teeming with thoughts and emotions, yet he felt blank. He only had one goal left. And he wasn’t going to fail.
He had to kill Peter.