1. Murphy's Law
The Black Sheep
Chapter 1. Murphy's Law
Repost from FanFiction.net
Everybody who saw Sirius Black thought the same thing: he was just a typical, spoilt pureblood wizard. He had the aristocratic good looks, the natural talent and of course, the money. Yet to Sirius’ friends he was an enigma. They knew he was anything but the child everyone thought him to be yet they struggled to see past the façade that Sirius wore every time he was in public.
Admittedly, Sirius did have a typical pureblood upbringing. Before starting school at eleven he was tutored daily by the best tutors money could buy. He was given lessons in how to dance and how to treat his elders and inferiors (for the heir to the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black would never have any superiors who were not his relatives). And, despite being the family let down, once he’d started school he was tutored still further: he was taught the more intricate details of the family, politics and manipulation, things he would need when he inherited the fortunes of the Black family.
Part of this style of upbringing was the ability to hide your emotions from the world, the ability to make them think everything’s okay when it is far from it.
What Sirius’ friends didn’t know was the great deal of pressure he was under. When another dark lord rose to power, the Black family instantly took his side with some becoming outward supporters and others cheering from the side-lines. As such, Sirius was pressured into joining him too; to become his right-hand man and lead the pureblood families back to their ‘rightful position’ in the world. Not only was Sirius aware that this pressure existed, he was also frequently hounded by the Dark Lord’s faithful supporters with more and more offers from their master.
Sirius was floundering under the pressure. He wasn’t a stranger to the weight upon his shoulders but what with his OWLs and trying to maintain his mask for his friends and admirers, it was all becoming incredibly tiring. Hence, at the age of sixteen, Sirius had turned to drink and cigarettes for comfort and solitude.
Sirius was in the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. He’d just finished his lessons for the day and was exhausted. He’d received yet another letter from his father that morning stating the benefits of becoming a Death Eater for the family and the power he’d receive if he did so. In accompaniment his mother had also sent him a letter, a howler. Though this was a fairly common occurrence and the student population of Hogwarts were now used to such an event, Sirius couldn’t help but feel his mother’s words cut deeper into his self-esteem with every degrading and demoralising message. Despite evidence to the contrary, Sirius had always secretly believed his mother when she had labelled him a disgrace and unworthy of recognition. Naturally Sirius only ever laughed at the letters when they screamed out across the Great Hall but, of course, appearances had to be maintained.
After finishing his sixth Firewhiskey and snubbing out his cigarette, Sirius lurched up from his seat in order to return to the castle before meeting with his friends for the full moon. He paid his tab and was just turning to go to the basement when a voice called after him.
“Master Black, could I have a word?” It was Rabastan Lestrange and Thorfinne Rowle, two of Voldemort’s lackeys.
“You can have two: fuck off.” Sirius had half turned to see who had spoken but now attempted to continue on his way. Rowle blocked him off.
“Outside if you please Master Black.” Both Death Eaters spoke to Sirius with the formalities thrust upon them by the pureblood hierarchy.
With no other choice, Sirius turned from his intended destination and followed Lestrange from the dingy pub, closely followed by Rowle.
“What do you want this time?” Sirius spoke harshly, addressing them both as his right hand twitched towards his wand.
“The Dark Lord wishes to make you one final offer.” Lestrange, the taller of the two spoke politely but his facial expression was one of utmost disgust. “He says if you join us now he will still offer you the position of his right-hand, in the inner circle, though there will be no longer be any great riches.”
“I don’t give a rat’s arse about Voldemort’s offers.” Sirius spat though as he said it he could feel the weight of his father’s letter in his pocket.
“Do not speak the name of our lord!” The Death Eaters barked in unison.
“Your lord.” Sirius said. “I don’t believe in your ideology, it disgusts me.”
“The Dark Lord gave us another message to pass on should you turn down his offer, Master Black.” Lestrange said, regaining his calm composure though his tone had a bite to it. “He said: should you choose to disobey him once more we should talk to your brother. Moreover, he said you would become a target of the Dark Lord and all his followers, you and everyone you care about would not be safe again.”
“You leave Regulus alone!” Sirius barked colour draining from his face as his infamous rage began to fill him. He felt his muscles tense and his hand jump involuntarily into the pocket that housed his wand.
“Ah, now we can’t do that if you defy the Dark Lord again.” Rowle grinned dirtily from underneath his hood.
“It’s me you’ve got dealings with not him. Just leave him be.”
“It appears, Master Black, that you do not understand the nature of the Dark Lord; we cannot defy our Lord and he does not like defiance. If you refuse his offer it falls to your brother to pick up the pieces when he comes of age.”
“And if I agree?” He snarled in return.
“Young Regulus Black will not be approached by the Dark Lord, if he wishes to join our righteous cause then it is his decision alone.”
“Let me think on it.” Sirius suddenly felt sick but the rage didn’t leave him.
“Of course, Master Black. The Dark Lord has graciously given you a month to decide and your induction will be in three months’ time, on your seventeenth birthday.” With that, both Death Eaters turned on their respective heels and left.
How dare they threaten him? This was blackmail, using Regulus to get to him, how dare they? But Sirius couldn’t let his baby brother take the fall for him, he’d spent a large proportion of his childhood protecting him from their parents’ world and he wasn’t going to change that now. But he didn’t want to join the dark side. He felt more strongly against this than he’d ever felt against something before.
Sirius re-entered the pub with a dark look on his face, muscles still tense.
“Are you alright Sirius?” The barmaid, Rosmerta called.
Sirius just grunted in reply before heading down the steps and into the pub’s cellar to get to the tunnel back to the fourth floor.
Upon exiting the tunnel by the mirror on the fourth floor, Sirius came face to face with an irate Transfiguration professor.
“Black! I have been looking all over for you, if you have been sneaking out of school again I will have no other choice but to have you suspended.”
“Er. I was just coming back from the library.” Sirius became aware of the smell of tobacco and whiskey on his breath at the same time McGonagall did.
“Last I heard, Mr Black, the library does not serve alcohol and cigarettes. My office, now!”
She stepped to the side to allow Sirius passage to the staircase to get to the first floor. Once inside she beckoned him to stand in front of her desk while she sat behind it.
“Where were you really?” Her curt tone never disappeared throughout her questioning.
Sirius was still left with no choice but to lie. Thankfully it was something he was rather good at given his upbringing. “On the fourth floor balcony. Having a few drinks before going up to the tower.” Sirius knew to add a few pauses in his speech in order to give the air that he was telling the truth.
“I do not wish to have to add the use of prohibited items to your rather excessive record Mr Black, but you leave me no choice. I had been looking for you as you had missed a detention with me this evening and the headmaster had wanted a word with you.”
Sirius couldn’t help the involuntary shudder that went through him at those words. They had never been a good omen. Sirius didn’t get on with Professor Dumbledore and never had. Initially he thought it was because he was always being sent to see him with the other Marauders. However, as time passed Sirius noticed that Dumbledore looked at James far more favourably that he did Sirius despite them both having records of equal length and severity. Therefore, Sirius came to the conclusion that the headmaster couldn’t see past his surname and attributed all his misdemeanours to his family’s reputation.
“Due to your recent behaviour in the last week the headmaster has decided to take action.” McGonagall’s curt voice cut through his internal monologue.
“What recent behaviour?” Sirius replied innocently.
“Your level of misbehaviour has increased dramatically in the last two weeks. This week alone you have hexed four students, been in a duel with two others, been caught sneaking off school grounds, Professor Jewkes informed me that you have not attended a single Herbology lesson all week and Mr Filch caught yourself and Miss Lawrence rather engaged in a fifth floor broom cupboard last night.”
“Oh that.” Sirius hadn’t realised it had been such a short time span. But in truth, he’d been more stressed in the past few weeks and had hence begun acting out more than usual as it was the only way he’d found to cope with all the pressure.
“As such, the headmaster has seen fit to invite your mother to the castle for a meeting between myself, the headmaster and yourself.”
“He did what!” Was he trying to get him killed? There was only a month left of term before the summer holidays, anything his mother heard of him now would surely be held again him when he returned home.
McGonagall was internally rather impressed that she had finally made the boy in front of her seem panicky about his punishment. However she soon quashed that emotion. She knew Sirius far better than any other professor at Hogwarts and knew that nothing would elicit such a response unless it was serious.
“I would appreciate it, Mr Black, if you did not raise your voice in my office. Now, we must leave for the Headmaster’s office for your meeting.”
Upon entering the Headmaster’s spacious office, the first thing Sirius saw was his mother’s face. Her small, beady eyes were glaring across the room and felt as though they were piercing into his soul. Her face was tinged with red from her anger. Sirius knew where he got his temper from and this offered him no comfort in the current situation.
Sirius couldn’t help but flinch at the sight of her as the door swung shut behind him.
“If you’d take a seat Mr Black.” Dumbledore said from the other side of his desk.
“What has the insolent brat done now?” Walburga Black sneered from Sirius’ right.
“By insolent brat I assume you mean your son, Mrs Black?” McGonagall said cuttingly, she had severely dislike Sirius’ parents since the first howler he’d received on his second day in first year. She could not understand how any parent could treat their child in such a malignant manner.
In response Walburga just glared haughtily back which Minerva was happy to return with her own patented glare.
“Mr Black’s behaviour of late has gone from bad to worse despite receiving numerous punishments from the school.” Dumbledore seemed gleefully ignorant of the exchange between the two women. “In the last month alone he has accumulated more detentions than most students get in their entire school career.”
Sirius was eyeing his mother carefully. He could see colour gradually rising up her neck and her hands clenched in her lap, both warning signs of an imminent explosion. Sirius just hoped that she wouldn’t do anything in public. He tried to remember to breathe.
“And what exactly are these misdemeanours?” Walburga snarled through clenched teeth.
“Mr Black has hexed six students, been caught duelling three times, been caught out of his dormitory after curfew, been outside of school grounds without permission, been absent from various lessons, caused general disruption and last night was caught in a compromising situation in a broom cupboard with a fellow student by our caretaker.”
With the last point, Walburga turned in her chair to scowl more pointedly at her eldest and least loved son. “I imagine this ‘fellow student’ was a mudblood was she, boy?”
Sirius knew he had to reply but at his mother’s words he could feel the familiar anger rising within him though it had never truly gone from his earlier encounter with the Death Eaters.
“I would appreciate that you watch your language within my office, thank you Mrs Black. I don’t see how a student’s parentage affects the severity of this situation.”
“Not to you, perhaps.” She snarled back, only just biting back the comment of Dumbledore being a muggle-loving fool.
Sirius clenched the arms of his chair tightly to stop himself rising. He glanced out the window to see how much time he had before he was supposed to meet his friends. Another hour at the very most.
“We believe that at this stage Sirius cannot receive a suspension as he is close to taking his O.W.Ls and a suspension would be detrimental to his future. However, if this behaviour continues Mr Black, you will find all your privileges removed.”
“I wish for a word with my son, Professor if you please.” Walburga demanded spitting out the words in disgust.
“Of course. Professor McGonagall and I shall wait in the antechamber.” Sirius’ eyes widened which was missed by two of the three adults. Minerva looked at the boy with a look of surprise colouring her usual stern demeanour.
The minute the large oak door shut, Walburga Black was out of her seat before Sirius even had a chance to flinch. As it was, his eyes were still staring at the now closed door longingly.
“How dare you besmirch the House of Black in this way?” She screeched so loudly that both Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall could hear her from the other side of the thee-inch-thick wooden door.
“Your father and I have been incredibly lenient with you over the years but we have now decided to make you feel the full weight of the consequences. You shall feel the extent of our anger upon your return home.”
Sirius stared wide-eyed at her, still aching with the anger that had been coursing through his veins since his impromptu meeting in Hogsmeade.
“You are a despicable child, happy to simply leech off your kind and loving family-”
Sirius couldn’t help himself. He laughed a laughter unheard within the walls of Hogwarts but familiar to Grimmauld Place. A dark laugh full of utter derision.
“You’ve never been kind to me. Never shown me an ounce of love. If it wasn’t for Reg I’d have left that detestable house years ago.” Sirius said in his low growl that the students and staff had quickly come to recognise. He steadily rose from his chair, breathing heavily.
“You ungrateful brat! Your father and I have suffered such shame because of you. If only you had been more like Regulus. He does not have any trouble understanding our beliefs.”
“That’s only because you brainwashed him before he knew the truth.” The tension in the room was palpable, the conversation was steadily rising to their usual argument level, a level which could make walls shake.
“How dare you-” Walburga was reaching for her wand and Sirius was bracing himself for what was surely to follow when the door opened, admitting Dumbledore and McGonagall once more.
Walburga Black hastily pocketed her wand again.
“While I wish I could have let you continue your discussion for longer, there is only ten minutes until curfew. Mr Black, you should return to Gryffindor tower. Make sure you get there.” Dumbledore said, oblivious to the tension between the two Blacks in his vicinity.
Sirius glanced out the window again. Dark was now falling rapidly.
“Yes Sir.” He replied with only a little sarcasm before leaving the room and beginning to run down to the Entrance Hall.
It was while hurtling down the second floor corridor that Sirius’ evening went from bad to worse. He ran headlong into Severus Snape.
“Watch where you’re going Black!” Snape snarled.
“Oh just fuck off will you?” Sirius replied as he regained his balance, his hackles rising.
“Not so fast. You’re heading off to meet up with that beast Lupin aren’t you? Careful he doesn’t bite.”
Sirius didn’t like where this conversation was heading. Snivellus had been trailing the Marauders all over Hogwarts for the last couple of months trying to find out where they’d been sneaking out to all the time.
“How is Lupine now? He looked awfully pale at dinner.”
“What do you care, you slime balled freak?” Sirius moved to shove violently past the other boy but Severus had other ideas as he pulled his wand from his robes.
“I saw you come back from the headmaster’s office Black. Heard your mother screeching her disappointment. How does it feel to be so worthless even your own mother doesn’t want you.”
Something in Sirius snapped. He spun on his heel, wand in hand, a particularly nasty hex on his lips.
But Snape had anticipated it. Before Sirius could utter even a syllable Snape had flicked his wand and Sirius was blasted into the wall directly behind him with a sickening crack.
Unfortunately for Severus, Sirius was used to pain and so stumbled back to his feet, fire burning in his stormy grey eyes.
He raised his wand, pointing it at Snape before muttering the hex. Snape flew into the opposite wall – though considerably smoother than Sirius had been thrown – and was held there by an invisible hand around his neck. Sirius stalked up to the dangling boy and punched him square in the jaw, knocking his head against the stonework behind him.
“You couldn’t help yourself could you Snivellus, had to keep nosing around in other people’s private lives because you don’t have one of your own.” Sirius seethed. “It’s not as if you’re bright enough to get past the Willow on your own. You probably wouldn’t even see the knot if it danced in front of you naked.”
Then, for good measure, Sirius punched Snape once more. His head cracked against the stone wall and his body slumped to the ground as the spell wore off.
Sirius knew he desperately needed to calm down. He knew from previous experience what it was like to encounter a werewolf while he was angry. In fact, he still had the scar to remind him.
Pulling aside a tapestry a little down from the unconscious fifth year. Sirius slumped to the floor, his head in his hands and his muscles twitching. His life had finally gotten too much for him to handle. He didn’t know what to do with himself.
Around half an hour later, Sirius managed to pull his head out from the bottomless pit of self-hate and fury it had fallen into. He checked his watch before cursing inwardly, the moon had risen and his friends would be waiting for him.
Staggering to his feet, he shoved aside the tapestry and cautiously entered the corridor beyond. Thirty minutes after curfew and a serious warning under his belt, Sirius didn’t want to be caught tonight.
Sparing a glance up the corridor to where the motionless Slytherin once lay, Sirius found the corridor empty and he inwardly smiled with mental images of Snape bouncing off the walls on the way back to the Slytherin common room.
Opening the Great Oak doors just enough to squeeze out into the mild June air, Sirius took a deep breath. Beginning the steady walk down to the Whomping Willow, James jogged up to him.
“Where’ve you been? Moony changed ten minutes ago.” James said, falling into step next to his best friend.
“Just had to clear my head Prongs, you know how I get.”
When the Whomping Willow came into view, Peter ran up to them clearly flustered.
“James, Sirius. I don’t know what to do! Snivellus just turned up; he found the knot on the tree and everything! He’s going to find Moony!” Peter was shaking uncontrollably.
Sirius felt his stomach go cold as dread filled him. He stopped in his tracks. James on the other hand, sprinted towards the tree, transforming into Prongs midstride so he could run quicker.
Peter, hoping for comfort from his friends and receiving none, looked at Sirius imploringly as one look at his face told him everything about the events in the last forty minutes.
“Sirius what have you done!?” Peter exclaimed, “You don’t just go telling our enemies your best friend’s secrets!”
Sirius couldn’t move. He wanted to do something, he really did but his mind was busy replaying the events from his confrontation with Snape earlier to allow him movement. He became vaguely aware of Peter scurrying off back to the castle, evidently to get a teacher in case James didn’t get there in time. Sirius was currently re-watching himself telling Snape how to get past the tree. At the time he hadn’t given it much thought, too caught up in anger and thinking Snape too dazed to understand what was going on. Clearly he had been wrong. He had never felt worse in his life.
While Sirius was still stood motionless in sight of both the Willow and the castle, he saw the silhouette of James stagger out of the gap in the roots, supporting what appeared to be an unconscious Snape. As he made his way towards the castle, Professor McGonagall appeared behind Sirius, glaring daggers every which way.
“What in the name of Merlin is going on here?!” She spat, “You were told to return to your common room immediately.”
At this point she became aware of James staggering up to them. Prongs looked at his best friend and saw only guilt etched all over his face.
“What the fuck have you done?!” James snarled, cottoning on quickly.