- Death-Major Character
- Action Adventure
- Alternate Universe
Azkaban was a heavy weight crushing all thought and squeezing the breath from your lungs. Sirius fought against it with everything he had, he needed to keep his memories, he needed to be able to tell them when they came.
He understood that he deserved Azkaban – James and Lily were dead and it was his fault – but he still needed to tell them what had occurred. He ticked off his thoughts on his fingers, counting them incessantly so he could be sure he hadn’t missed one. The Order needed to know Voldemort was still alive, that Peter was still alive. That Pete was a traitor.
And how could that be? Pete with his sharp sense of humor and quick mind, who had helped Sirius search Muggle London for some essential muggle sweet while Lily was pregnant, who let his nose grow long and pointed and whiskered to make Harry giggle, who bought Harry a child’s broomstick because Sirius had sworn on his magic he wouldn’t and Lily had shrieked so loud you’d have thought somebody was being murdered.
And no, no, Sirius couldn’t think about that. Couldn’t think about Lily begging and screaming and dying, the images danced before his eyes clawing away his sanity. Think, think, think of something truthful.
Remus. The traitor wasn’t Remus, despite his mysterious disappearances, despite his refusal to allow the Marauders to spend the full moons with him, despite the fact he barely looked at Harry much less agreed to hold him. Remus who’d warned Lily against Sirius, Lily had told him laughing over the ridiculous accusation.
Yet it was Sirius who failed. He couldn’t fail now, he had to remember so he could tell them when they came.
But nobody came.
He huddled against the floor of his tiny cell, pounded by the constant crash of the sea echoing off the stone walls, dizzy and faint, the cold bit at him like a living thing, he had to remember, he had to remember.
But nobody came.
The dementors prowled along the corridors, black cloaks drifting like the scuttle of spiders and Sirius slipped into Padfoot’s skin to hide from them. He didn’t like to, Sirius himself was lost and alone, but a dog who had lost his family, a dog who had failed his family…
It was too much to be born and Padfoot howled out his misery until the dementors had gone and Sirius could slide back into himself with a gasp of relief. Frantically he counted out his thoughts on his fingers but when he reached his left heart finger that memory was gone, vanished from his grasp.
He had to remember. But nobody had come. Then realization came slow and cold.
Nobody was going to come.
The thought was a terrible one. There was the Order, there were his colleagues in the Aurors, there were old school friends and teachers, would not one of them come.
Maybe Sirius didn’t deserve to have anyone come, but Harry. Shouldn’t one of them have come for Harry. They should want to know everything Sirius did in order to protect Harry better. If they couldn’t be bothered to find out what Sirius knew, how much effort were they putting into protecting Harry. Harry wasn’t safe.
Nobody was going to come. Harry wasn’t safe. The two thoughts drummed through his head growing louder and louder until the crack was so loud
Sirius’ eyes snapped open.
The change had been no sudden flash of light but a deepening of the dark. The salt on the air thickened until it burned his eyes and encrusted his lips. The shadows around him crept and coiled. Blackness grew shades and textures until he felt it stroke against his exposed skin. The worn cloth of his robe grew rough as gorse and he tore it away for the soft touch of the dark.
Shifting up from his helpless huddle against the stone floor, he curled into himself. He panted as he tried to draw enough chill air into his lungs and pressed his aching hands against the thin skin of his neck for the trace of warmth.
There was the tick of claws against stone. A huff of white breath. The bright gleam of dark eyes. And a huge black dog grew out of the shadows and into Sirius’ cell.
The dog barked once, and Sirius reached up to touch its face with one shaking hand.
“I know you,” he whispered.
The dog barked again and Sirius could feel its satisfaction. As the world sharpened so did his mind. The misty fuzz and confusion had burned away under the illumination of the darkness as if they were dreams chased away by the brightening sun. He could see as clear and sharp as a frost-filled night.
He had failed James. He had failed Lily. He would not fail Harry.
Harry wasn’t safe.
The dog howled soft and low, a hunting call. Sirius had work to do.
Feuilly stepped outside their rented house and closed the door behind him as quietly as he could and sank down onto the front step. Just for a moment. He only needed a moment.
The Alley was no longer one mass of people jammed together but there were still gleeful groups reeling together through the litter of a week’s solid partying. Raucous singing still roared from the pub two door down. It hadn’t closed since the news broke of the Dark Lord’s defeat.
Feuilly fiercely resented all that oblivious cheer. It felt like the whole world was celebrating except for them, in spite of them. At least the fireworks had stopped. Combeferre had flinched and shuddered every time the bright lights flashed across the sky like spellfire, and Feuilly had been nearly overwhelmed by the desire to slam outside and rattle heads.
His more reasonable self knew he wasn’t being fair, but Courfeyrac hadn’t slept a night through without screaming these past two months and Feuilly didn’t care about being fair anymore. He even, in some sick way, resented the end of the fighting because at least that hadn’t allowed any time for thinking or what-ifs, they just had to keep powering forwards.
Now all the losses were settling around them and everything was turning to ashes in his hands. Feuilly needed a moment, just a moment of peace.
Inside the house Combeferre and Courfeyrac were both asleep having been mutually guilted into taking sleeping potions. Jehan, although he remained lost in his fantasies of early-nineteenth century France, was able to watch over them, still concerned for his friends even if he called them all by the wrong names.
Grantaire was downstairs. Feuilly could hear him through the open window chattering to Enjolras about Greek mythology and how best to break into the British Ministry of Magic. There were actual pauses in Grantaire’s conversation – a miracle for sure – to allow Enjolras to reply but Enjolras didn’t say anything.
This was because Enjolras was dead.
They’d buried his shattered body next to Bahorel and what was left of Joly, Bossuet and Musichetta. Grantaire’s mind, however, simply refused to accept the fact. To him Enjolras was as present as he always had been and it was wearing on Feuilly’s last nerve. It was terrible enough that Enjolras was dead – it was impossible to list his friends in some sort of perverted order of importance but Enjolras had been more than a friend, he was the spirit of their enterprise and it shattered with his loss – but to constantly have it rubbed in their faces was more than Feuilly could bear.
Just one moment of peace.
Feeling guilty, Feuilly aimed his wand at the window and warded it, muting Grantaire’s bright voice. And how was it Grantaire was the happiest of all of them. Some days Feuilly was jealous of his friend’s delusions.
One moment to himself and then he would go back.
He was attracting curious looks from revelers passing by so he tugged his sleeves down over his too dark hands and pulled up the hood of his sweatshirt so it hid his Algerian face. Tucking himself in beside the step, he became a slouched heap of disreputable muggle-ness it was easy for people’s eyes to skip over.
Feuilly sat there for a long time. Even with the noise and jollity the street was still more peaceful than the claustrophobia inside. It was nice here, cold and open, without the congested swirl of emotions that tormented their tiny house.
He was reluctantly deciding he probably had to move before he froze in place like a peculiar statue, when he saw the dog.
It was a big dog, a shaggy monster of black fur trotting along by itself on its gigantic paws, huge head turning from side to side as if it was searching. Feuilly shifted, wincing as his stiff body protested, and whistled softly. The head turned and the dog’s deep dark eyes were focused on him.
“Hey, you lost?” He held out one hand for sniffing. “You looking for your owner?”
The dog huffed but came closer, snuffling at his hand. Feuilly turned his wrist so he could scuff his fingers through the fur under the dog’s chin. The dog sat down, panting happily, and butted its head against Feuilly’s shoulder.
Feuilly stroked across its eyebrows and itched around the base of its ears. The dog whuffled back, pressing closer until Feuilly wrapped his arms around the solid body and that was nice. It had been so long since he had held somebody. Even he and his friends were all twitchy with each other, people were dangerous you couldn’t allow them too close, but a dog was different. He slumped more heavily against the animal and hugged it tighter. The dog whuffed and rested its head on Feuilly’s shoulder.
Face hidden in dark fur, Feuilly breathed properly for the first time in what felt like months even as throat clogged and he shuddered for air. Finally he pulled back, swiping at his eyes.
“Thank you,” he said ridiculously but the dog watched him with dark eyes and barked once. “I’m okay now,” Feuilly promised. The dog nodded its shaggy head seriously, then was up and busily scurrying away. He thought he saw it join its owner before they both disappeared in the crowded street.
Feuilly stood up and stretched out his stiff legs and spine. The little house still reverberated with the pain of his friends, he could almost pick them out individually, but now he felt able to handle it.
Feuilly pushed up his sleeves and opened the door.