The Noble House of Black
The ancient and most noble house of Black was bathed in a sea of brilliant lights. Sirius tried to strengthen his resolve as he and Remus stood silently observing the house. His father was supposed to have met him in Hogsmeade. The change in location did not sit well with either Sirius or Remus but there was little that could be done. Even Remus, who, in fearing for Sirius’ safety, had wanted to go back for the other Marauders, finally admitted that their only option was to continue on to Grimmauld. Both knew that if Sirius didn’t appear in a reasonable amount of time, his father would undoubtedly send someone to search for him. That, of course, would have led Voldemort straight to James and Lily. Sirius tried to shake off the feeling that James and Lily were in danger due to his absence.
“How long has it been since you’ve been here?” Remus asked quietly.
“Almost three years, I think.”
Sirius watched the house closely, as if staring at it long enough might make his father suddenly appear so that he wouldn’t have to enter the house again. His mind shifted to the last time he had been at Grimmauld. A fight with his father; slamming of doors; crashing of priceless family artifacts as his father’s temper soared; screaming from Regulus as he tried to stop the two; his mother begging him not to go….the images haunted Sirius like no other. He could still smell the scent of his mother’s perfume as she tried to pull him into her arms and convince him not to go. He had been foolhardy…had Sirius known that was the last time she would hold him in her arms, he would have relished each tender plea she whispered to him. But he had been too egotistical, too set in his own ways to ever understand how much his leaving would change the entire course of the Black family.
“Sirius?” Remus’ voice sounded far away, and Sirius fought to return to the present, the sting of his memories making his heart ache.
“Sorry.” Sirius murmured quietly, forcing all emotion out of his own voice. “Welcome to Grimmauld, Remus.”
“Nice place.” Remus muttered gloomily and Sirius grinned at his dry sense of humor. Leave it to Remus to bring his thoughts back to the matter at hand.
“It looks like they started the party without us.”
“I wonder who the guest of honor is.”
Sirius watched Remus out of the corner of his eye, wondering what Remus saw when he looked at Grimmauld. Perhaps he saw a friendly mansion, its lights beckoning to visitors through the darkness? Sirius shuddered. Maybe Remus was trying to imagine the treasures inside the house. Remus wasn’t from a wealthy background and it only made sense that he would be curious. Sirius, however, knew all to well the darkness and anger that drifted through each room of the house. A knot rose in Sirius’ stomach as he suddenly realized what was taking place in the Black household.
“Actually, Remus, you probably don’t want to know,” Sirius mumbled, sincerely hoping that dinner was already over. The last thing he wanted was for Remus to run back to Hogwarts and tell everyone who sat at the head of the table at a Black family gathering. One look at his childhood friend made Sirius chastise himself for thinking Remus would do such a thing, knowing that only the Marauders would ever know the true story of what happened tonight.
It’s the memories, Sirius thought silently, they are playing with me. They are preventing me from remembering who I am. Sirius tried to reassure himself. I am no longer a weak child. No one, especially no Black, has any control over me anymore. This house is not my home. Sirius repeated the thoughts until his breath became normal again.
“Shall we get this over with, then?” Sirius straightened his cloak and watched as Remus checked his wand.
“You won’t need that. They are family.” Sirius spat the word. “If that makes you feel any better.”
“It doesn’t.” Remus pulled out a towel, glanced at it for a brief second, and then shoved it back in his cloak.
Sirius looked at him quizzically. He’d never know Remus to be superstitious. “Good luck charm?”
“It’s a portkey,” Remus replied tightly. “Lily did it before we left. If there’s any problems it will take us back to just outside the Hogwarts grounds.” Remus looked at him as if waiting for a response.
Sirius opened his mouth to speak but quickly realized nothing he had planned to say about Lily would have been appropriate. “Thinking ahead that one,” he said finally. “You ready?”
They stepped to the door together and Sirius immediately hesitated. It had been so long since he’d been here, he felt like he was intruding into someone else’s home.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to knock at you own home, Black,” the deep voice of Lucius Malfoy filtered through the night as the door swung open. “And look, you’ve brought a friend.”
Sirius could feel Remus bristle beside him, but Sirius was calm. He had expected his father to attempt something like this… to send someone he knew Sirius hated to answer the door in hopes of intimidating him. Lucius was under orders to come to the door and that, in itself, make Sirius amused.
“Malfoy, I didn’t realize we had hired you as our new door keep.” Sirius said lightly. “Imagine my surprise. Will you take our cloaks as well?”
Remus tried to stifle a laugh but Lucius heard it. Lucius’ eyes turned to Remus, his voice a low growl, “You’d do well to hold your tongue.”
Remus eyed Lucius calmly without responding, but Sirius could sense his agitation. Lucius, more than anyone, had the ability to break Remus’ normally static emotions. The realization that his father somehow knew Remus would be with him, made Sirius’ anger flare.
“Get out of my way.” Sirius shoved Lucius out of their way. “Where is my father? I have places to be.”
Lucius straightened himself and looked down at Sirius. “In the library.” Lucius began to step away but then turned, a menacing smile on his face. “With Voldemort,” Lucius hissed, his cape swishing behind him as he disappeared down the hallway.
“Voldemort?” Remus grabbed Sirius’ arm before he could walk away. “Here?”
“I told you you didn’t want to know,” Sirius mumbled as he led Remus through the crowded hallways. “Stay downstairs. You’ll be safer.”
“I’m not leaving you.”
“Give me half an hour and if I’m not back then come looking for me, alright?” Sirius said lightly, his eyes scanning the crowd. Without intention, his eyes began to roam to the furnishings of the house. Little had changed since he’d left and, for a brief moment, Sirius could see the house as it used to be…quiet and warm, a place where he found refuge. In his mind, the night’s guests all disappeared as he drifted off to a summer day when his mother had opened the windows and rays of sunlight had cheered the whole room. He could envision him and Regulus playing wizarding chess on the mahogany floors, both more interested in seeing the pieces battle than actually winning the game.
Sirius’ eyes were drawn back to the party as a familiar face greeted him. “Besides, it will give you and Snape a chance to catch up.”
“Snape?” As Remus searched the room for his classmate, Sirius slipped away.
Sirius made his way through the hallway quietly, each step bringing back memories from his childhood that he’d hoped to forget. He fought to subdue the fear that was growing within him. They could do nothing to him unless he let them, Sirius reminded himself.
He took a deep steadying breath before entering the library, his nerves returning to normal.
“You needed something?” Sirius asked smoothly, making the men turn to face him.
“Welcome home, son,” his father returned as if Sirius’ appearance in his library after a three year absence was insignificant. He moved aside to allow Sirius to view his brother, who was sitting in a chair, an almost regal glow emanating from him. Regulus was smiling, something Sirius only remembered from his earliest childhood. Regulus’ cloak drew Sirius’ attention first. Emerald velvet highlighted with strands of spun gold made the cloak shimmer under the soft lights. Even to the Black family, who had long prided themselves on owning the finest and most elegant things, the cloak’s majestic and fluid design signified the coming of an extraordinary event. Sirius’ heart sunk.
“Is this a special occasion?” he asked for confirmation, his eyes looking from his father to Regulus while refusing to acknowledge Voldemort’s presence.
“It is at that. Regulus was initiated into Voldemort’s ranks tonight.” The pride is his father’s words made Sirius’ stomach lurch. “We had hoped you’d be able to join on the same night. I’m afraid I got a little carried away in the excitement. I assume you recovered from the summons?”
“Would I be here otherwise?” Sirius asked easily. He began to wander around the room, his fingers skimming lightly over objects he could vaguely remember holding in childhood. He had not counted on Voldemort’s presence when he announced his decision to his father. The complication unnerved him and he struggled to find a way to quell the anxiety growing within him.
“Is there a reason he’s here?” Sirius nodded Voldemort’s direction, meeting his gaze only briefly.
“He…” Regulus began but Voldemort cut him off.
“How thoughtless of me. Of course, Sirius, you have some catching up to do with your family. You’ve been gone much too long.” The challenge in Voldemort’s voice made Sirius meet his gaze but Sirius refused to be reckless tonight. Too many things depended on him staying in control so Sirius stifled the urge to lunge at Voldemort.
“Your consideration is noted.” Sirius nodded. “Would you mind…?”
“No, of course not. You are a very remarkable young man. I hope we will have the opportunity to talk again soon.” Voldemort stepped forward and extended his hand to Sirius.
Sirius debated ignoring Voldemort’s gesture for the briefest moment, but the challenge was too enticing and his foolish rebel nature made him succumb. The mistake was one he’d never forget.
Sirius shook his hand firmly, determined to stand strong, but an intense vulnerability enveloped him as Voldemort’s power surged through him. Sirius tried to block out his thoughts. He tried in desperation to hide the decision he had made, but Sirius was not prepared for the depth and magnitude of Voldemort’s power.
Voldemort jerked his hand away, his eyes flashing dangerously. “Or perhaps we shall meet in another manner.”
“Perhaps you are correct.” Sirius stood steady, unwilling to allow Voldemort to glimpse any further weaknesses from him tonight. Sirius watched as Voldemort left, knowing his time was running short. Remus was downstairs and Voldemort would quickly seek him out. How could he have been so arrogant to bring Remus? He should have come alone. The jumbled thoughts made Sirius’ stomach churn and he whirled to face his father.
“I will not be joining Voldemort.” Sirius tried to remain calm but thoughts of Remus made his voice rushed.
“I do not agree with his ideals. Or yours.”
“He’s trying to protect all of wizarding kind!” The defensive tone in Regulus’ voice shook Sirius.
“You’re a fool!” Sirius waved Regulus off. “You’ve no idea what methods…”
“Enough!” His father broke in and sudden realization dawned on Sirius.
“But you do.” Sirius said quietly. “And you refuse to tell Regulus.”
“Regulus has made a choice for the future.”
Sirius felt a stab of pain from his father’s words. Perhaps if he had stayed, Regulus would not have chosen this path. A path that would lead to death for his own brother.
Sensing his weakness, Regulus stepped forward. “Join me Sirius. It can be the Black brothers once again.”
Sirius’ eyes darkened, knowing the voice was not that of his brother. He stepped closer to Regulus, his voice solemn. “Command whoever you wish, Voldemort, but you will not seduce me.”
“Then you shall stand alone,” the throaty voice of Voldemort echoed from Regulus’ mouth and Sirius could feel himself being thrown across the room.
“Boys!” His father’s screams resonated through the house as objects from shelves pounded Sirius from every direction.
Sirius fell to the floor with each blow, always refusing to stay down. He refused to hit his brother.
Even if Voldemort is controlling you, I will not hurt you, my brother, Sirius repeated over and over to himself as the abuse continued.
“Finite!” a harsh voice from the doorway made everything stop still. Sirius watched as objects in mid-air fell to the floor and landed softly on the floor without breaking. “What’s come over you, Regulus? This isn’t how you treat your brother.” Voldemort moved to help Sirius up while Regulus stared blankly at the scene, unaware that the disaster in front of him had been his own doing.
“Fighting won’t convince Sirius to join us, Regulus.” Voldemort lifted Sirius to his feet. “He’s much too loyal for that. See how he wouldn’t strike you?” He gazed at Sirius intently. “No. His loyalty must be earned.” Voldemort’s eyes flashed as he searched Sirius for some emotion. “How fascinating.”
The intrigued tone in Voldemort’s voice made Sirius pull away from his touch. Sirius leaned against the wall trying to recover from the attack.
“Honorable wizards are such a rare find these days.”
“You should know,” Sirius returned, wiping away a trickle of blood as it slipped down his cheek.
“Indeed I do.” Voldemort gazed at Sirius questioningly, as if he expected Sirius to say more. “I believe your friend is ready to leave. He’s waiting downstairs.”
“I can get there myself,” Sirius said fiercely as Voldemort took his arm.
Voldemort smiled. “No. You see, I insist. We wouldn’t want you to get injured in your own home, how would we? I’d never forgive myself and it would be so hard to explain to your father.”
Sirius tried to break free but the day’s events had finally taken their toll. Sirius had no strength to fight him and was forced to let Voldemort lead him downstairs.
The shock in Remus’ eyes was obvious and even in his weakened state, Sirius knew how the situation must look. He was being aided by Voldemort; the arm of the Dark Lord himself was wrapped securely around Sirius’ body as they descended the stairs. The thought was more than Sirius could take and he dropped to his knees and vomited at Remus’ feet.
“Sirius and his brother had a disagreement. I assume you can help him return to Hogwarts safely?”
Remus pulled Sirius up without comment and steered him outside. Sirius leaned heavily on Remus as they walked. When they had gotten a safe distance away, Remus stopped to let Sirius rest.
“You’re having one hell of a day, my friend.” Remus checked over Sirius’ wounds. “You look as bad as I do when the full moon rises.”
“Oh, geez.” Sirius dropped to the ground as dizziness overcame him. He tried to feign a smile but didn’t have the energy. He grabbed his jaw as pain coursed through it. “Please don’t tell me that’s tonight.”
“No,” Remus chuckled. “I take it things went as you expected?”
Sirius’ mind flew to his brother. His only brother was under the control of Voldemort. Voldemort’s voice had been rising out of the mirror image of himself. Sirius grabbed his stomach, hoping to keep from vomiting again.
Sirius looked to Remus whose concern brought him back to the present. Regulus had already made his choice. And, no matter how much he hated it, Sirius knew there was no way for him to turn back. “No. Not exactly.”
Remus knelt down beside him, the strong grip on Sirius’ shoulder helping to calm Sirius. His somber voice was lulling Sirius into a world of safety and belonging. “Are you alright?”
“You wouldn’t happen to have that portkey handy, would you?” Sirius asked, ignoring Remus’ question.
“Good thing.” Sirius murmured as he felt the soft fuzzy towel being shoved into his hand. A familiar jerk at his navel made the feelings of hopelessness and despair momentarily disappear and Sirius smiled.
Hogwarts…just where he needed to be.
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