October 31st 1981
In my eyes, he was so much more than a traitor. So much more than the person that he has lived to become. As I stood there in the dead of the night, staring at the remains of what was once a happy family, I couldn't shake off that unnerving feeling, that this was entirely my fault.
I drove my motorcycle here as soon as I heard the news, hoping and praying that it wasn't true. Seeing the debris of the broken down house had confirmed my fears, the truth that I didn't want to believe until now. It was as if time had simply stood still, as if the world had stopped spinning. I could only shudder to think about what had happened here only hours ago, how sudden and cruel the deaths of my beloved friends were. It was hard to believe that one man, one sick, tainted and evil mind could be the cause of such misery and terrors. My anger mounted up as I felt the impact he had created in our world. The innocent lives that he had claimed and the number of people who had suffered for his joy. He was insane that man, torturing Muggleborns and destroying everything within his reach. People that I loved, people that I truly cared for had their lives snatched away from them. Just like that. I didn’t want to admit it, but deep down I cared about Regulus. I felt for him. There were times like these when I thought about what life would be like if he wasn’t forced to join Voldemort and his army. Perhaps my brother wouldn’t have to live in vain, perhaps our world would be what we always dreamed for it to become. And I knew. I knew that someday someone would make him pay. Someday he would pay for everything that he had done.
But what haunted me most was not the death of my friends, but how Peter could do this to us. Did our seven years of friendship truly mean nothing to him? Or was it just fear and devastation that made him walk this path? A part of me still couldn’t accept that throughout all this, throughout everything we’ve been through, he would have the heart to betray them. Betray us. Betray his three best friends, the Marauders. Betray the life that he once had.
I remembered those days at Hogwarts, when we were so carefree and happy. Our lives were so normal, all the gossip, the homework, the flirting, the pranks. Just like any teenage life. At the time, the war seemed far away, like nothing but a game. A mystery yet to be solved. A story yet to be told. Little did we know, the war was brewing right before our very eyes. It was that carelessness and neglect that allowed us to make mistakes. A mistake that would ultimately change our lives forever.
My eyes flashed as a memory played before me.
"You need to go into hiding. Before it's too late. Voldemort is still hunting and once the Fidileus charm is complete, you two will be safe. Harry will be safe." Dumbledore urged.
James nodded and Lily looked nervous, her large emerald eyes betraying the unmistakable fear that she felt inside.
"So I trust you have decided who your secret keeper will be?" Dumbledore asked apprehensively as he peered over at them through his half moon spectacles.
"Yes Professor." James looked over at me with a small smile.
I smiled back.
"So are you sure you don't want me to be your secret keeper just in case?" Dumbledore asked tentatively as he looked over at the small family with concern.
He and Lily exchanged glances. "Yes, we're sure. We are very grateful for your offer but Sirius is my best mate and I would trust him with my life." he declared sincerely. "You won't let us down right Paddy?” he grinned at me.
I knew that James and I were best mates but trusting me with his life, it was something beyond comprehension. Then something inside me clicked. I understood that this would be dangerous. I was James' best friend, an obvious choice for his Secret Keeper. The Death Eaters wanted Lily, James and Harry. And they would do almost anything to kill them. They would obviously come after me first. I would gladly die to protect James and his family from harm...but something was stopping me. What if the Death Eaters tortured me and I let slip of the location? Voldemort would kill them all. I couldn't live knowing that I had let my best friend die.
"Actually Prongs, I think Peter should do it."
"Why?” James asked me in confusion. “Are you saying that you’re afraid Voldemort would come after you?” he looked back at me and narrowed his eyes in slight anger. The hurt was evident in his hazel eyes as he stared at me, almost as though daring me to speak the truth.
“No, no, no. Of course not. Think about it. If you were to have a secret keeper, who would be the most obvious choice?” I asked James.
“You.” James answered straight away.
“But Peter…” I continued.
“Nobody would suspect him…” James began to catch on.
“Exactly…” I replied and grinned at him.
"Alright...if you think so." James muttered with a hint of hesitation.
Then he smiled again, eyes blazing with a look of confidence and trust.
And it was that single sentence that changed everything. "Oh James, if only I had known..." I whispered.
I regretted those words ever slipping from my mouth. Maybe it was the fear or perhaps my selfishness that lured me into pushing the great responsibility out of my own hands. It was like a spur of moment decision, a quick impulse of thoughts. Something I regretted, yet I could never change.
I stared down once again at the loose debris, the fragile walls that were threatening to collapse. My heart wrenched as I looked upon the crumbling mess of a house. The windows were shattered; bits of furniture, destroyed parchment and broken glass were strewn all across the floor. A powerful surge of anger overtook me as I took in the wreckage. It was his entire fault, I thought bitterly. But yet again, it was my fault as much as it was his. I was the selfish one; the choice that I made had affected us all. The floorboards creaked as I stepped upon them. It was ever so frightening knowing that this had once been the house of Lily and James. They were the only people I considered as family. The people I truly cared for. Now I was all alone. With no purpose, nothing left to fight for.
Amidst the rubble, I noticed a picture that had fallen on the floor. The frame was cracked and the photo was slipping out slightly. I picked it up. It was a photo of James and Lily. James wore a huge grin as he side hugged Lily. She had a rosy blush on her cheeks and she too was wearing a shy smile.
I closed my eyes as another memory played before my very eyes...
Gryffindor Common Room
“Evans, will you go out with me?” James asked as he sat next to her, putting his around her shoulder.
“Potter! Get off me! And no, I will not go out with you, you insensible jerk!” Lily shrieked as she pushed James arm away from her.
“Why won’t you go out with me, Lily? What’s there not to like about me?” James asked pleadingly with a tone of frustration in his voice.
“I would rather go out with the Giant Squid than with you, Potter.” Lily said, her voice dripping with spite.
“BUT WHY LILY? WHY?! Why aren’t I good enough for you?” he practically demanded, his eyebrows furrowing up in frustration.
Lily stood up with her arms crossed, looking as belligerent as ever.
“You are an arrogant, bullying, two timing, pig headed toerag that’s why! And don’t think you’re oh so perfect, because the truth is, you aren’t!” Lily screamed.
“Okay. Fine. I’m done with you. Have a nice life.” James said shortly. I could tell that he was heartbroken.
“No wait I haven’t finished!
“What do you want now, Evans? Want to yell at me some more? Is Lily Evans’ day not complete until she completely crushes James Potter?” he glared at her with a menacing tone.
“I…” she didn’t know what to say.
“James, I’m sorry…” she mumbled.
“I’m sorry? What was that?” he asked in disbelief.
“James, I’m sorry. For everything. For shouting at you. For being mean to you for the past 6 years of my life. For rejecting you carelessly every time as though you didn’t have feelings. I thought I was just another girl; you only wanted me because I was the only one you couldn’t get. I was convinced that it was just a game to you and as soon as I agreed you would just ditch me for some other girl.” she said this all in one breath and stood breathing heavily, waiting for his answer.
“Never Lily, never. Lily, I love you.”
“James, I, I love you too…” she whispered.
And when I looked at them, I knew that she really meant it. The fierce love was blazing in her eyes, as bright as a shining star.
I could see it in their eyes, every time they looked at each other. The love they had for one another, it was so pure, so true. My eyes started to water. I couldn’t understand how such bravery, such courage; such powerful love could be so easily destroyed by hatred so evil.
A soft cry from upstairs broke me from my thoughts. You’re just imagining things, I told myself firmly. They’re dead, they’re all dead. Yet there it was again. A whimpering cry of a baby. “Harry! Harry! I’m coming!” I sprinted up the stairs two steps at a time and launched myself in the room.
Everything was a complete mess. It looked as though the place had been turned upside down. There was just rubbish, pieces of furniture, everywhere. But what drew my attention was the little figure, sitting in the cot. Harry. The only thing left unscathed in the entire house. I rushed over to the cot, not caring that I was stepping on broken and shattered objects. I picked Harry up and held him in my arms. He looked so much like James; too much that it almost hurt looking. But his eyes, he had Lily’s emerald eyes, which were shimmering as he stared at me with a curious look in his eyes. I pulled his hair away from his forehead. There was a scar in the middle of his forehead, shaped like a lightning bolt.
I rushed down the stairs, suddenly eager to bring Harry away from the place where his parents had been murdered. I would run away, I decided. And I would bring Harry with me. I was his godfather after all and I would care for him like my own son. I would do everything I could to love him and protect him.
As I was about to walk out from the door that was hanging dangerously down from the doorframe, I bumped into a giant figure.
"Who's there?" the voice called out.
I recognized it at once.
"Oh it's only yeh Sirius, thought it might'n been some death eaters lurkin’ about, yer know?"
I nodded numbly.
"I'm really sorry, Sirius. I know how close you were to Lily an' James."
"I can't believe that it actually happened..." My voice was sinking with emotions.
"Yeh, me neither," he sighed sympathetically. "Anyway I've come ter take Harry away to his Aunt and Uncle's."
"I can take care of him. I'm Harry's Godfather," I protested.
"Sorry Sirius. Nothing I can do 'bout it. Dumbledore's orders."
"Alright." I murmured as I gently placed the baby in his enormous arms. "Here you can take this,” I said pointing at motorcycle. "I won't be needing it anymore."
"Thanks Sirius." With that, he drove up his motorcycle and drove off into the distance, and into the dark night.
"Goodbye Harry..." I whispered.
I took a quick glance at the house. "Goodbye." I murmured once again. This time I wasn't only saying goodbye to what was still left of run down house. I was saying goodbye to everything else as well. I was saying goodbye to everything I ever had, everything I had ever lived for.
It took everything I had to not be tempted to just punch a wall.
It was a goodbye to James, the best friend I could ever ask for. It was a goodbye to Lily, someone I cared for as a sister. It was a goodbye to Remus, my best pal, one that would believe I was the traitor. It was a goodbye to the Peter I thought I knew.
But most of all, it was a goodbye to the old Sirius. The one who had an easy life, the one that could, laugh, prank and joke around. It was my last goodbye.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out my two-way mirror. It was an object full of wonder, full of mystery. James and I both had one; we could see and talk to each other through that mirror. It was our secret, our only means of escape.
“PRONGS!” I bellowed. “JAMES! Answer your mirror now!” “Lily wants to talk to you!” I added desperately, knowing that James would jump up at that… But there was no reply. The shiny edge of the mirror merely glinted in the dark, as if taunting me, willing me to lose control. I couldn’t see why not. Everything that had been true to me had just been taken away from me just like that. And before I knew it, the mirror was shattered in my burning hands.
The mirror was not only shattered but so were my memories. The moments that were etched into my memory like a piercing knife, haunting me always.
Suddenly I just couldn’t stand to be here anymore. Casting one last glance at the house, I let my eyes linger on my final memory and blinking back my tears; I turned around and walked away. A feeling of sadness and remorse washed over me as I stepped into the night, embracing it as I fell, into deep eternal darkness.
“I’m sorry James, for not being there when you most needed me.”
A/N: Quotes used from J.K Rowling's 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' US paperback pages 20-21.
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