- Character Bashing
- Death-Minor Character
- Discussion-Child Abuse
- Hate Crimes
- Alternate Universe
- Fix It
Several interminable days passed by. The only means Sirius had for telling time was the two daily meals he received. He carefully marked the time and after a week went by Sirius thought he would go mad. He knew a week wasn’t that long, but returning to the monotony and loneliness of his days hurt more than Sirius would have thought. There were no more dreams of James and Lily much to his regret.
Sirius knew getting him out of Azkaban could take time, but a big part of him didn’t really believe it was going to happen. If Dumbledore was truly working against him, then he was doomed. The old man had a great deal of power since the war, and even his grandfather would have a hard time opposing him directly.
Merlin, how had he been so gullible. They had all followed Dumbledore blindly. He had turned his back on the Black family, but he had still been raised by hem for the first thirteen years of his life.
Sirius was curled up in the blanket in his animagus form. He was sleeping a good amount of the time for lack of anything better to do. It was better than worrying himself sick. He looked up as he heard the sound of the locks being opened. When the door opened, he was standing by the bed his hands clasped behind his back.
This time the guard was carrying a light and a chair. The guard set the chair across from where Sirius was standing. Before Sirius could ask he looked up and saw his grandfather standing in the doorway.
Arcturus looked older than Sirius remembered. It had been over two years since he’d last seen him. His grandfather had summoned him and demanded Sirius accept his responsibilities as the Black Heir.
His grandfather stepped forward ignoring the chair. “Sirius,” he murmured his voice hoarse. “Look what they’ve done to you.” He stopped right in front of Sirius and reached out to touch his face, but he hesitated and let his hand drop away.
Sirius cleared his throat. “I asked that someone contact you, but I admit I really didn’t think you’d come.”
Arcturus looked away. “Of course I had to come. When that young man showed me his memories, and I realized you were innocent, I don’t think I’ve ever been so angry.”
Sirius clenched his fists. “Yet you believed me capable of murder.”
Arcturus paled even further. “I am so sorry, but surely you can see why I thought you were guilty. You were found at the scene of the crime, and you were convicted. All my life I’ve believed in our justice system. I thought if you were convicted, then there must have been irrefutable proof that you were guilty.”
It hurt, but Sirius had to admit his grandfather’s words made sense. The world had always been very black and white for him. It was an odd trait for a Black. His family generally preferred the gray areas.
Sirius nodded. “You also thought I’d taken after mother.” His mother had been evil plain and simple.
His grandfather shrugged but didn’t respond. Instead, he said. “I’m sorry I didn’t look into things more closely. I should have made sure that you were treated fairly.”
Sirius nodded. “In fairness, I didn’t do anything to help myself either.”
Arcturus looked at him intently. “No, you did not. Why didn’t you? Sirius, I don’t understand. You were innocent. I’m sure your memories prove that. You never should have been incarcerated at all.”
Sirius looked away. “I don’t want to talk about it. I thought I was doing the right thing. Let’s leave it at that.”
Arcturus frowned and looked at him for a long moment. “Alright. I won’t pry. Maybe you’ll tell me some day. His grandfather looked him right in the eye. “I am happy to say I have secured your release.” He looked around in disgust.
He took out his wand and cast a couple of spells. The cell warmed considerably. Sirius looked at the wand.
“You think anyone would dare disarm me?” His grandfather asked with s raised eyebrow. That look brought back a lot of bittersweet memories for Sirius. Then his grandfather’s words sank in, and Sirius felt his knees go weak.
Sirius could only stare. He felt as if he couldn’t breathe. Dear Merlin, it was a miracle. “Released?” Sirius asked hoarsely.
“Yes, you know I always get what I want. You’re an innocent man Sirius I wasn’t about to let you rot in here one second more than I had to. I’m sorry it took as long as it did. It took longer than I thought to gain an audience in front of the Wizagamon. We can leave this awful place right now. Is there anything you want to take with you?”
“Yes, please. There’s nothing I want here. Let’s go,” Sirius said shaking his head.
Sirius felt as if he was in a daze as his grandfather led him out of the prison and they boarded the boat that would take him off the island. He shivered as he left the influences of the dementors. He knew the instant it happened because as he felt as if a weight he hadn’t even been aware of had been lifted from his shoulders. He took a deep cleansing breath for what felt like the first time since he’d set foot on the island. The more distance he gained, the more his mind began to clear.
Sirius looked back and watched Azkaban fade away into the fog. It finally began to sink in. He was free! He felt a sudden burst of happiness, and it was wonderful. Sirius buried his face in his hands overwhelmed. He felt his grandfather put his hand on his shoulder and squeeze.
Arcturus didn’t pull away for several minutes. They didn’t speak again until his grandfather had apparated them both to Grimmauld place. Sirius had always hated the house, but right now he was thrilled to see it.
Sirius looked around. The last time he’d been here the house had been dark and filthy. Kreacher had stopped cleaning after his mother died. The house had fallen into disrepair. The house elf had loved her, and he didn’t consider Sirius to be a fit heir to the Black name.
He looked around in shock. The house looked nothing like the last time he’d seen it. The house had undergone a total transformation. It was clean, the floors and surfaces were spotless, and the curtains were pulled back, the windows sparkled in the sunshine.
“What happened to this place?” Sirius asked.
His grandfather grinned. “I told Kreacher he had to get his act together or I’d make him retire. He was horrified as you can imagine. The house was spotless in hours.”
Sirius grinned. It felt like ages since he’d had any reason to smile.
Arcturus reached out and clasped Sirius’ shoulder. “Let’s get you something to eat, and then you can get some sleep.”
That sounded absolutely wonderful. “I’d like that, thank you. “
His grandfather led him to the kitchen and Kreacher popped in. He stared at Sirius for a long moment before he grimaced. “Hello, Master Sirius. It’s good to have you home.” It took a moment before he realized Kreacher was attempting to smile.
“Thank you, Kreacher. I never thought I’d say this, but it’s good to be here.”
Sirius sat down at the old wooden table. His mother had preferred the formal dining room, but Sirius had always liked eating in the kitchen. It was a lot more comfortable. Before she died Kreacher’s wife, Minnie always had all of Sirius and Regulus favorite foods waiting for them. Kreacher had never been the same after her death.
Kreacher got to work, and in a few minutes, the table was piled high with his favorite food. Sirius was tempted, but he forced himself to stick to simple foods.
Over soup and sandwiches, Arcturus and Sirius caught up a bit on current events. After a few minutes of idle chatter, Sirius asked the question he most wanted an answer too.
“Have you seen Harry? Do you know how he is?” he asked
Arcturus shook his head. “No, I haven’t. I know he’s safe and in France, but that’s all. I asked because I knew you’d be concerned. I’m ashamed to say I never gave any thought to the fate of the child. I assumed his family would take care of him.”
Sirius shrugged. “That’s hardly surprising. You didn’t know James and Lily hardly at all.” And what you did know you didn’t like he added silently.
His grandfather sighed. “True enough. It used to be our community made sure our children were taken care of though. Orphans were fostered out to other families. That boy I better of living with his own kind.”
Sirius sighed and took a sip of his tea. His grandfather wasn’t a terrible person especially for a Black, but some of his views were hard to take. “Well, he’s being raised by a muggle now. Someone Lily trusted. I’m sure he’s doing a good job. I need to go to France. I need to help him. Dumbledore has been controlling Harry long enough.” He realized he was clenching his fist and forced his fingers to relax. He still had half a sandwich left, but he pushed it away, no longer hungry.
“Yes, he has.” His grandfather stared at him for a long moment. “Albus Dumbledore has a lot of power,” he said quietly.
Sirius nodded. “Yes, he does. He had me completely snowed. I don’t know how I could have been so naïve. I never questioned his intentions. I believed he had our best interest at heart. After all, he killed Grindelwald. Who better to lead us in the fight against the dark lord?”
His grandfather took a sip of his own tea and leaned forward to look at Sirius intently. “Tell me, does Dumbledore know you’re innocent.”
Kreacher brought over a fresh plate of scones with a little bow. Arcturus thanked him, and he popped away.
Sirius stared surprised by the question. “Yes he does, he answered without hesitation. How did you guess? I told him everything. He convinced me there was nothing to be done. Looking back it’s ridiculous, but I wasn’t thinking clearly. Besides it never occurred to me to question Albus. I’m not sure why now. I just know I was certain he was right.”
The memory was a little foggy know but after having spent months surrounded by dementors that was understandable.
His grandfather crossed his arms across his chest. “That sounds a bit strange don’t you think. Did you ever question Dumbledore’s orders? Think hard now.”
Sirius thought about it and realized that while he had argued on occasion, Albus had always gotten his way in the end. Even when Sirius had been dead set against a course of action. “No,” he said slowly “I can’t. He could be persuasive.”
His grandfather nodded. “Yes, He can be, but I think it might be more than that. The day after I verified Mr. Langdon’s memories I went straight to the Minister and demanded he released you. He refused said it wasn’t in his power so then I demanded he call an emergency session of the Wizagamon. Faced with irrefutable proof he had no choice, but to do what I asked.”
Sirius chuckled surprising them both. “I’d love to see your memory of that.”
His grandfather nodded. “I’ll show you if you later if you like.”
There was a pause as they looked at one another and smiled. “What happened next?” Sirius asked.
“The members of the Wizagamon were furious at first and then suitably chastened. Only Dumbledore tried to argue against releasing you. It was quite odd. He claimed a more thorough investigation was needed. I agreed, but I pointed out that you didn’t deserve to remain here. I won f course, but Dumbledore’s behavior was suspicious. He tried to claim that you were tried and convicted during a war tribunal. He said a trial wasn’t necessary. That there was sufficient evidence to convict you.”
Sirius crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back in his chair. “Yes. He said something similar to me. It made perfect sense at the time.”
Arcturus nodded. “I’m not surprised by that as Dumbledore spoke I could see many of the members were swayed by his words. Despite the fact that I had presented them with proof not only of your innocence but that you’ve been denied a fair trial.”
“What are you saying? Do you think Dumbledore is using some sort of spell? That he’s controlling people somehow?”
“I’m not sure. It isn’t mind control, but he is able to influence people to a surprising degree. But I’m going to find out. They Grindelwald had a similar effect on people. He and Dumbledore were friends once upon a time. Did you know that?
Sirius shook his head mutely. “If he is exerting some sort of magical influence, it’s subtle. Otherwise, those closest to him would have noticed by now. Minerva for example. She was a very powerful witch in her own right. It can’t be.
Suddenly this was too much. His head was spinning so many things had changed in such a short time. However, there was something he needed to know before he could rest.
“I’m not sure of anything yet, but I’m going to look into it.” His grandfather took another scone off a plate and carefully spread clotted cream and raspberry jam on it. “Would you like one?” he indicated the scone before taking a bite.
Sirius couldn’t eat anything else. He shook his head. “I’ll leave investigating to you. Please let me know what you find.”
His grandfather nodded. “I will keep you informed. I may have some questions for you in the future, but for the moment, your job is to rest and heal.”
He couldn’t help but offer his grandfather a small smile. “I do have a question about my trial. What exactly is my status now? Will I have another trial?”
His grandfather huffed. “Not if I have anything to say about it. You’ll be interviewed under veritaserum again, and perhaps your memories will be examined, but I’ve already put in a petition for you to be completely exonerated and to have your record expunged.”
Sirius leaned forward in surprise “That would be incredible. I didn’t dare hope to be exonerated so quickly. I’m willing to do whatever it takes. The sooner I can get to Harry the better.”
“Yes, well for the moment you can’t leave Wizarding England pending the investigation into your case. Nor can you have a wand until you are officially exonerated. But I promise I’ll get you to Harry as soon as I can.”
Sirius nodded and stood up. He’d guessed as much about the wand. His old one had been destroyed anyway. It was a good thing he could do some wandless magic. “The sooner, the better. I’m exhausted, Grandfather. I’m going to try to get some sleep.”
His grandfather stood as well. “You’re old room is ready unless you want a different one. I had Kreacher clean some of your old things. They’re still in good condition. We’ll get you some new things soon.”
“Thank you. My old room is fine.”
His grandfather nodded. “I’ll take you up.”
Sirius wanted to say he’d be fine on his own, but his grandfather was already leading the way out of the kitchen. Sirius followed him up the stairs to the third floor where he and his brother had their rooms. As they passed Regulus’ door, Sirius couldn’t help, but glance at it. His brother had been a Death Eater, but Sirius still missed him. He wished he could have kept Regulus from following in their father’s footsteps.
“I miss him too.” His grandfather said quietly. He stopped and turned to look at Sirius “You can go in if you like. I unsealed it. I never understood why your mother locked all his things away.”
Sirius turned and looked at the door again. “I can’t not quite yet. Mother was a horrible person, but she loved Regulus. I think she couldn’t stand the sight of his things.”
His grandfather sighed, and suddenly he looked years older. “That I can understand. A parent should never outlive a child.” There was so much sadness in his expression. Then he turned away moving past Sirius toward the last bedroom at the end of the hall.
His grandfather opened the door to his room and stepped aside motioning for Sirius to enter. He looked around. Everything was as he’d left it. All his books were on the bookshelf, and the trunk his father had given him as a gift was sitting at the end of the large four-poster bed.
His grandfather suddenly looked uncertain. “I’ll leave you to get some rest. I’m glad you’re home, and I hope we can get to know each other again.
Sirius sighed. “I’m grateful for everything you’re doing on my behalf, but I need some time. I’ve been alone for months, so I’m not sure I’m going to be very social at least at first.”
His grandfather nodded. “I understand, but I’ll be here when you’re ready, and I hope you’ll give me a chance.”
His grandfather hesitated, but then he stepped forward and pulled Sirius into a fierce hug. Sirius hadn’t been touched in months, and he froze for a moment, but then he relaxed into the hug. Despite all the years that had passed and the bad blood between them the hug still felt familiar and comforting. Sirius never would have expected it, but it was surprisingly nice.
His grandfather let go and stepped back. “I’ll try,” Sirius said “But it isn’t going to be easy for me. I still think you’re a bit of an arse, to be frank.”
His grandfather laughed. “Your grandmother used to say the same thing. I know we don’t always agree, but we’re family. We’ll figure it out.”
Sirius nodded and after they said goodnight Sirius closed the door to his old room. Sirius took a hot shower. It was incredible. He had to soap up several times before he was finally clean. Then he slipped on an old pair of pajamas that he found on his bed. They hung off his frame. He slipped into the bed. The crisp, clean sheets felt terrific. He’d almost forgotten what it was like to feel comfortable and warm. Sirius was asleep in minutes.