The Story Harry Heard; Part I
Almost Two Years Later
“To the Dark Lord, I know I will be dead long before you read this but I want you to know that it was I who discovered your secret. I have stolen the real Horcrux and intend to destroy it as soon as I can. I face death in the hope that when you meet your match, you will be mortal once more.”
– R.A.B, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Regulus Arcturus Black was on his feet, his wand in his hand, before truly registering that he’d heard something. It was a warm June night, and he’d fallen asleep shirtless in the living room. The tattooed snake that was curled around the black skull on his arm seemed to glisten like blood in the light from the guttering candles.
Regulus strained his ears. There was no sound upstairs; so it hadn’t been his mother. And Kreacher was still with the Dark Lord...wasn’t he? “Kreacher!” Called Regulus. The noise was repeated, and this time Regulus recognized it as the sound of someone stumbling down the dark hall. Regulus lowered his wand, slightly annoyed. “Kreacher,” he complained, “Next time you snap yourself into the house, let me know it’s you so I don’t think the spells gave out or something. Goodness knows the last thing we need is my useless brother and his Order of the Phoenix friends apparating...” Regulus’ voice trailed off as Kreacher came into view. “Kreacher?”
The House Elf had blood dripping down his arm, he was soaking wet, and his eyes had a wild and haunted look like someone who had seen horrors. “Kreacher followed orders,” the house elf croaked. Then, he fainted.
It took almost an hour and several hastily brewed potions for Regulus – pale faced and scared – to revive Kreacher. It took almost another hour for him to finally coax the poor House Elf into speaking. And when he did, Regulus almost wished that he hadn’t. Regulus, who’d been on his knees in front of Kreacher for a long time so that he’d be at his old friend’s height, let himself rock back and sit on the ground with a slight thump. Regulus buried his face in his hands, taking deep shuddering breaths as his mind spun.
“Master?” Kreacher croaked.
“I know...exactly...what that...that…that thing...is,” Regulus gasped. He’d begun to tremble. “But I can’t believe...who would make a thing like that. You’d have to be...” Regulus’ voice trailed off. “You’d have to be completely insane,” he finished in a whisper. “Oh God, oh God...what have we done?”
“Master?” Kreacher sounded concerned and confused, but most of all, scared.
There was the sound of footsteps on the stairs and Regulus hastily got to his feet.
“Regulus Arcturus Black,” his mother complained. “It must be three in the morning. What could you possibly be doing?”
“I...apologize mother,” said Regulus, standing in front of Kreacher so that his mother wouldn’t see the state of their last House Elf. “Would you like some tea to help you sleep?”
His mother looked at him with hooded eyes. “How are you like this, Regulus?” She asked. “How was your brother...” She half-spat the word. “The way he was. Neither of you were like us...”
Regulus swallowed hard. He could see his mother wearing her dress robes and a large, gold locket yelling at her oldest son as Regulus cowered under the stairs. Crying silently as his older brother took the blame for something they had planned together.
“Just remember, mother,” he said, as brightly as he could. “I was the son you wanted...I just wanted to make you proud.” She smiled and allowed him to make her tea. It was easy for Regulus to slip a sleeping draught into her cup.
“Kreacher,” Regulus said, as soon as his mother was asleep. “Do you know where she keeps her jewelry?”
“Yes,” Kreacher replied.
“Please find the heart locket, the one she made to look like the Slytherin Heirloom,” said Regulus. “And then...I need you to take me to the cave he showed you.” Kreacher began to tremble. Regulus knelt in front of him and looked into his eyes. “I won’t hurt you, Kreacher,” Regulus promised. “I won’t let anyone hurt you. But I need you to promise me to never tell anyone what happened and what will happen tonight. Understood?”
“Your word, Kreacher,” Regulus insisted.
“I promise,” Kreacher whispered.
“M-Master Regulus took from his pocket like the one the Dark Lord had…and he told Kreacher to take it and, when the basin was empty, to switch the lockets…and he ordered – Kreacher to leave – without him…but to destroy the first locket. And he drank – all the potion – and Kreacher swapped the lockets – and watched…as Master Regulus…was dragged beneath the water…”
– Kreacher, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows
As the cold, decaying hands dragged Regulus below the water, as he discovered that he was too weak to fight back and that his wand was gone, as water filled his lungs and his vision went black...Regulus Black found himself wishing with all his heart, that someone knew where he was. That someone would care that he was dying.
“I’m sorry, Sirius,” he thought, as he slipped away, “I should have told you.”
A Few Years Later
Even after all this time. Sirius still dreamed of Maya. Sometimes they were in Hogwarts, and he would be in his animagus form following that black kitten with the single white paw down, down, down a winding staircase. Sometimes, he would catch up with her and the dreams would become memories. Memories of Maya, of their youngest Marauder, their little Midnight, his Midnight. Other times, though, the staircase would never end and Sirius would begin to panic. If he were lucky, he would wake up. If he wasn’t…he woke up screaming in the dark, covered in sweat. That was why Sirius preferred to stay at Remus’ apartment or in the Potter’s house. The nightmares kept at bay if he was surrounded by his friends, his family.
So, that night in October, Sirius knew he was dreaming when he saw her. They were in the woods, their woods, the ones they had explored together with the others. Her back was to him, her bouncy black hair swaying a bit in a breeze that he could not feel.
“Maya,” Sirius said softly.
“Funny, how much we still trust the people we trusted in our past,” she said, without turning. Sirius froze, confused. This was a new pattern. He’d never held a conversation with her before – at least, not a conversation that wasn’t also a memory.
“What?” he asked.
“It’s funny, that’s all,” she continued, “How we decide that we don’t want things to change so we don’t notice when they do.”
“Maya, what are you…?” Sirius began, taking another step towards her, longing to touch her and hold her. Or at least have her turn around. He missed her large green eyes and her teasing smile.
“You should rethink who you trust, brother,” said a voice behind him. Sirius froze again. That voice – a familiar voice, but raw and full of pain. And Sirius was back in 12 Grimmauld Place, hiding with Regulus in his room while their parents shouted at each other downstairs. Regulus was pressed against his chest, trembling, while Sirius hugged him and promised that everything would be okay. ”Everything will be okay…”
“Reg,” Sirius breathed, and he turned around, heart pounding. Sirius took a step back, his eyes widening with fear, as soon as he turned. Regulus’s dark eyes were sunk into even darker circles around his eyes. His lips were a dark blue and his skin a ghastly gray that was further highlighted by the water streaming from his hair and robes. His dark hair, so similar to Sirius’, was plastered to his head – as if he’d been drowned.
“Are you sure that the people you trust are the people you think you know?” Regulus asked, his voice was tired, hollow, laced with pain.
“People change, Sirius,” Maya said. Sirius heard the dry leaves on the forest floor crunching as Maya walked toward him. She went to stand by Regulus and Sirius gasped.
Maya’s face was blackened with soot, the front of her hair and robes singed. Her lips were cracked with the dry heat of a roaring fire. Some part of Sirius’ brain thought that this didn’t make sense, Maya wasn’t at Hogwarts when she had died – she wouldn’t be in her school robes. He was dreaming, he knew that he was dreaming. But the majority of Sirius brain – and his heart – just gasped in horror as he looked at the girl he had loved with his entire heart.
“People change – and not always for the better,” Maya insisted, her voice was approaching panic. “You need to be careful!”
“You’re trusting the wrong person, Sirius,” Regulus added, his sunken eyes bored into Sirius’.
“You’ve already lost us!” Maya said, her eyes bright on her ash-covered face, “Don’t you dare lose them, too!”
And then a burning wind blew through the trees and Sirius closed his eyes…
He sat up with a start in the middle of the hotel room in London, where he was currently staying. Trembling and gasping, he half-fell out of bed and knelt their on the ground, breathing heavily. The full moon’s light leaked in between the curtains and illuminated the floor before him, like a ghost had been smeared over the floor.
“You’re trusting the wrong person…”
“Peter,” He breathed.
He grabbed his wand and ran outside, starting the ignition on his motorcycle by magic before he reached it. Cloak streaming behind him, Sirius Black rode the magic motorcycle to Godric’s Hollow – tears already streaming down his face as he prayed that he was wrong.
Once again, Albus Dumbledore was the bearer of bad news. Once again, Remus’ legs gave out and he sank into a chair. But this time, Remus was alone.
“No,” Remus said. His mouth was very dry, his heart pounding so fast that it was painful. “No...Sirius wouldn’t...James and Lily...he would never...”
“I’m sorry, Remus,” said Professor Dumbledore gravely. He sat down next to the young man. Remus had tangled his long hands into his hair and was starting to tremble.
Dumbledore swallowed hard and said softly, “And that’s not all...”
Remus looked at Dumbledore with wide, fearful eyes and waited silently.
“Peter tried to confront Sirius,” Dumbledore said. “But Sirius...Peter is dead, too. Along with fifteen muggles that happened to be in the way.”
It was silent for several long, painful minutes while Remus just looked at Dumbledore. In his eyes, Dumbledore saw memories of Hogwarts, of better days, flit past and get consumed by darkness.
“No,” Remus whispered. “No...I don’t believe it.”
“No, damn it!” Remus leapt to his feet, tears flowing freely. “Damn it! Out of all the nights...a night when I was useless and couldn’t do anything to help...no...I’m alone now, damn it. They were all I had.” Remus backed against the wall and buried his face in his hands. “They were my entire family.”
“Harry is alive,” Dumbledore reminded the distraught man, trying to keep his own tears in check. “If you like...”
“I can’t keep him, Professor,” said Remus harshly. “You know that. It’s too dangerous. I could...” Remus couldn’t even bring himself to say it. “Please...” Remus whispered. “Get out...I...”
Dumbledore nodded. “We’ll talk later, Remus,” he said softly as he stood. “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry won’t bring them back,” said Remus harshly. But the anger was directed at himself, at Sirius who he couldn’t believe would do this to them, at the Dark Lord who had killed the only people he loved – because Sirius was dead to him, too. The boy he had known at Hogwarts, Padfoot – his best friend – was gone too.
In retrospect, Sirius thought hazily as his world went dark. I shouldn’t have laughed.
But Peter had blasted the street and disappeared down the sewer with the rest of the rats and then Sirius – consumed with grief and anger – could only laugh at the damn irony of it. Sirius and James had taught Peter how to be an animagus! Had made the potion and helped him practice the spells! They had unwittingly written their own doom with the ink of the Marauder’s Map!
Laughing…laughing because his world had collapsed. And the aurors had come to take him away and he had come to himself later and then realized that he wasn’t going to get a trial – because he, Sirius Black, had been the Potter’s Secret Keeper. No one knew that he had switched with little, weak, traitorous Peter Pettigrew.
Wormtail, how could you, damn it?
“I need to talk to Albus Dumbledore or Remus Lupin,” Sirius began to insist to his angry, silent captors.
“You won’t speak to anyone,” the auror snapped at him. “You lost that right.”
“I need to speak to Dumbledore or Remus Lupin!” Sirius insisted, catching sight of the Dementors approaching, he began to pull at his bonds. But his wand was gone. It was useless. And he still didn’t want to reveal that he was an animagus…it was their last secret…
“I need to speak to Remus!” Sirius shouted as the Dementors approached. No…he can’t think that I killed them…he can’t! It will kill him…
“Let me speak to him!”
Then they hit Sirius around the back of the head and the Dementor’s closed in and everything went dark.
“I think that the only reason that I never lost my mind is that I knew that I was innocent. That wasn’t a happy thought, so the dementors couldn’t suck it out of me…but it kept me sane, kept me knowing who I am…helped me keep my powers…But then I saw Peter in that picture…I realized that he was at Hogwarts with Harry…perfectly positioned to act…”
- Sirius Black, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry’s 5th Year of Hogwarts
“Except…” Sirius told Remus many years later, as the two of them lay on Sirius’ old bed, in the house that he hated – the house that had belonged to the Black’s for generation.
“Except, what, Padfoot?” Remus asked. It had been nearly two years, and he could still feel the elation of finally have at least one of his brothers back after so many years.
“Except that…I didn’t lose my mind…but for the longest time…I lost all of my happy memories,” Sirius said quietly. “So…I didn’t lose Peter, or his treachery, or the war…but I lost Hogwarts, and you and James and Lily…and…and…”
Remus swallowed hard, his eyes filling with tears. “You lost Maya, didn’t you?”
Sirius tightened his eyes, nodding slowly. “I haven’t even told Harry about her...he has no idea that she even existed, does he?”
“You can fix that, Sirius,” said Remus confidently. “You can tell him when the summer starts – they’re halfway through their O.W.L.’s now, I think…”
Less than four hours later, the Order of the Phoenix fought a group of Death Eaters in the Department of Ministry. Sirius Black’s body was never recovered after it fell through the veil…