Sirius Black woke up with a start and held his breath as he –supposedly- locked gazes with the Dementor that was currently holding the bars of his cell with its scabbed hands and inspecting him, every bit of warmth and hope sucked away by its mere presence. Not that Sirius had any more positive feelings left- what kept him going was the thought of his innocence, the fact that he knew he was not at fault for the reasons he had been thrown in the desperation of Azkaban.
Though there were times when he would sit (because, really, that was all he could pretty much do) and think of whether he was actually to be blamed for James and Lily’s death. He was having such a moment right now. The Dementor had ‘kindly’ woken him up from the nightmare he was having, but honestly, Sirius couldn’t say that he woke up to reality. No, it was just another nightmare, but one that didn’t make him stare continuously at the bodies of the most important people in his life. Indirectly, he had caused their deaths and this weighted heavily on his soul.
It was his fault too, but he was still innocent.
He was innocent.
He had to keep telling himself that.
No muscle on the Animagus wizard’s face so much as twitched as he stared at the void behind the hooded figure of the Dementor. He knew very well that behind that ghostly material was its horrendous mouth. There was someone’s kiss Sirius yearned for, but it wasn’t the one the Dementors seemed so keen on giving to every resident of the isolated prison. Sirius suppressed a shudder as he recalled just how many times he had been close to receiving it and the futile gasps or pleas of those who were more unfortunate. The fact that, while in Azkaban, you could still get more unfortunate was a bit ironic.
‘Go away’, he mentally urged the Dark creature. ’There is nothing for you to drain here.’
The Dementor slowly released the bars and after a few more awfully long seconds, the entity glided away. If Sirius had been in a good mood, he would have thought that the creature had almost appeared to be sulking as it left. Only that he wasn’t. He hadn’t been in a long time. His hands trembled as he fisted them in his knotted hair, bits and fragments of his recent dream resurfacing.
James’s empty gaze and overall bloody figure was deeply imbedded into his mind. He was no longer Prongs, the fearless Gryffindor who would come up with the craziest prank ideas, guide the Marauders into nocturnal adventures and follow Lily with such stubbornness that the whole school was making bets on whether he would give up or not eventually. As he laid there, his limbs cold and twisted at unnatural angles, partly crushed by whatever pieces of the house had fallen over him, James Potter was no longer a friend, a brother, a leader, a Marauder, a husband, a father…
Because he was gone. What had made him be all those things was …
Remus had always joked saying that James’s pair of glasses was a symbol of his status. It was nonetheless something the rest of the Marauders would associate their friend with. Now they were broken and nearly unrecognizable.
Sirius felt as though a part of him died upon seeing his friend, but he became sure of it when he saw Lily. He had never known why seeing the latter had been all the more difficult- maybe it was because even after having left this world, she still tried to protect the most important thing for her and James, her body angled towards it, yet eyes devoid of any spark of life.
The prisoner tensed upon hearing the ‘dinner bell’- a faint sound resembling the squeak of a dying frog, though he would often replace the word ‘frog’ with ‘rat’ in his mind. The familiar, rusty bowl of moldy bread appeared at his foot and he determinedly kicked it away, bending to take a sip from the can of stale water, unconsciously ignoring the little insects squirming in it. His eyes narrowed at the thought of rats, or more specifically, a certain rat and old hatred flared up, making his throat constrict painfully.
Azkaban taught you how to wish for less, if nothing at all, but the things you missed would just get more numerous as time passed. Sirius had come to realize that over the years. He missed the friends that were his family, the smell and taste of homemade food, the way the smell of the forest would cling to his skin after a midnight run, warm baths, a good, carefree laugh and pretty much everything related to his past life. Azbakan brought up all the things you used to have and made them parade in front of you daily, so that you would cherish them, but at the same time know that you could never get them back, because you were stuck there, amongst damp darkness with only Dementors for company- and that said it all.
He missed her. Her hair. Her snide remarks. The way she would roll her eyes exasperated, but then would laugh at something he said.
Sirius counted her as part of the little light that kept him going, along with the image that always reminded him why he had to hold on, the little light that he hid behind an obsessive way of thinking, in order for it not to be taken away. He always thought of it when he felt like sticking his dried mouth through the bars, for the Dementor to give him the kiss. As he had made his way through what used to be his friend’s home, towards the lifeless body of Lily, he saw what she and James had aimed to protect at the price of their own lives.
Sirius leaned against the cold wall behind him and closed his eyes.
31st of July 1991. A magical year for some, including the one he was a godfather for- a duty he was not to forget for the rest of his life.
‘Happy Birthday, Harry’, he mouthed the words.