Of course as saddened as I was to hear about the unfortunate circumstances behind your inevitable estrangement from The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, I was equally relieved to know you had finally taken a stand for who you truly are. I, for one, am very proud of you.
I am so glad to know you have found such a wonderful support system within your school house, and that your friends have been able to make this break as clean and thorough as it could possibly be. I could only imagine how much worse it would have been had you not had someone like James Potter to turn to.
Sirius, understand that this is not going to be easy. Regardless of how right you know your actions were, it's no simple task to cut oneself from their own blood ties. People will talk. They will say things to you or about you, but please don't let anyone make you doubt what you know is right. You made the right choice. You are a true Gryffindor, Sirius Black. You are very brave.
I hope you know that if you ever need anything, I am always here to help in any way that I can. Please stay in touch.
Sirius folded the letter back up and stuffed it into his pocket.
"She's really pregnant." Peter commented in awe, eyeing the photograph of Andromeda and Ted that had come in the envelope. "When's she due?"
"Six weeks." Said Sirius, taking the picture back and watching as the man kissed his cousin's smiling face. He had never seen anyone in his family look quite as genuinely happy as Andy looked in that picture with her husband and her swollen belly. He tucked the photo into his pocket as well. He was sitting with his back to the Slytherin table, but he could feel the eyes on him from across the hall.
It had been a week since they returned to school after the holidays, and although none of the Slytherins had come right out and said anything to him, they all made sure to whisper and laugh as he passed in the corridor or stare at him in the Great Hall until he finally spared them a glance and they quickly looked away.
They were on their way out of the dungeons after potions, Sirius keeping his eyes firmly on the floor as they walked, when he was hit with a jinx that made him trip over his feet and fall heavily to the ground. He refused the help that James, Remus and Peter offered and picked himself up, turning to face the small group of Slytherins that were cackling to amongst themselves.
"What are you going to do, Black?" Rudolphus Lestrange sneered. "Tell your mummy? Oh, that's right...she doesn't want you, does she?"
"Blasted him right off the family tree!" Bellatrix squealed with glee. "Poor little baby Siri!"
"Fuck you, Lestrange!" Spat Sirius, fists clenching at his sides. "You want to pick a fight with me? Put your fucking wand down and fight me, then!"
Lestrange smirked, stepping forward from the group and eyeing Sirius up and down. "Think I'm scared of some pathetic little queer that turns his back on his family?"
"What did you call me?" Sirius growled. James grabbed him by the arm. "Let's go mate..."
"Did you think Regulus didn't tell everyone why you ran off?" Laughed Rudolphus. "Not that anyone was surprised to learn you were a shirt lifter. No wonder Regulus is so ashamed of y-"
Before anyone could do anything, Sirius had swung and punched Lestrange square in the face. A small crowd had formed around the two boys as the fight turned into an all out brawl.
"Shouldn't you stop them?" Peter asked Remus as they watched Sirius pin the older boy down and punch him again. "You're a prefect!" Remus bit his lip. If he broke the fight up he would have to give both Lestrange and Sirius detention. Favoring his boyfriend would make matters worse in this particular case. He was about to say something when Slughorn came out from his classroom.
"What's this? Break it up, now. Let's go. Black, Lestrange, that's quite enough! Everyone off to classes, you two can come with me!"
"I can't believe he gave me detention." Sirius grumbled, throwing his bag onto his bed and climbing into Remus' where he laid with his head in the other boy's lap.
"You did throw the first punch." Remus sighed, carding his fingers through Sirius' hair. "No matter how much that git deserved it."
"How much detention?" James asked warily.
"A week." Sighed Sirius. "Scrubbing cauldrons with fucking Lestrange."
"We've got to find another outlet for your anger, mate." James said, flipping through the latest issue Quidditch Today. "Punching Slytherins is all well and good, and trust me, I'm just tickled by it myself, but it's eventually going to get you worse than a weeks worth of detention."
"Well I know one thing that helps," Sirius gave Remus a suggestive look, earning a sharp tug on his hair.
"Enough." The lighter haired boy scolded gently, but there was a smile tugging at his lips.
"Too much information, lads." Peter groaned. "Still not over what I walked into in the showers the other day..."
"Tie on the door, mate! It's a universal sign!" Sirius argued defensively.
"Don't you two have the prefect bathroom for that sort of shenanigans?" James chuckled without looking away from the article he was reading.
Remus sighed and shook his head. "I don't feel comfortable exploiting my privileges for that sort of thing. It feels wrong."
James snorted. "You sold pot during your rounds for a month to pay for your boyfriend's leather jacket, but you won't give him head in the prefects bath? You've got some fucked priorities, my friend."
Sirius laughed, looking up at Remus smugly. "See? James understands me."
"Mmm, you can date James then."
"No way, Moony." James shook his head. "I love Sirius, but that's all you. Besides, Evans is going to cave any day now."
"Ah yes," Said Peter. "Just how every love story starts 'she finally broke down and couldn't say no anymore'!" He laughed until James threw a pillow at him.
Still running his fingers through Sirius' hair, Remus looked down at him. "Really though, you've got to control your temper, Sirius. I know it's difficult and they're clearly trying to provoke you, but you can't give them that satisfaction. You're better than that."
Sirius groaned, folding his arms over his chest. "Remus, I-"
"You're going to pick a fight with the wrong person or run your mouth off about the wrong thing and you could get hurt or...I don't know, into more trouble than just having to scrub cauldrons." Remus sighed. "I just want you to be careful. Stay away from them, keep yourself busy."
Sirius nodded, not meeting Remus' eyes. "Right...you're right. I'll try."
Patrolling the dungeons this late at night made Lily more uneasy than she would have liked to admit. It seemed that the group of students bullying muggleborns was growing larger, and their tactics were getting more ruthless. Just days earlier Mary Macdonald ended up in the hospital wing after she was cornered by Mulciber and a few of his friends.
Severus had been there, that much she knew, but she didn't know just how involved he had been. She had decidedly not asked Mary when she went to see her in the infirmary.
She had never felt quite this conflicted before. On the one hand, Severus had never been anything but nice to her. He had been her closest friend for a large part of childhood.
She always knew that he had a mild fascination with the Dark Arts, but she didn't believe that he would ever take that interest and put it to actual use. These days she wasn't so sure.
The more he hung around with people like Mulciber and Avery and Nott, the less she approved of his behavior. And even though he had never treated her poorly due to her blood status, he saw the way he looked at other students who came from Muggle families, and she didn't like it.
Still, she had no proof that Severus was physically doing anything other than hanging around the wrong sort, which he had told her was a necessity to ensure his own well standing in the Slytherin house. She supposed she would have to consider him innocent until proven guilty.
Or maybe that was just wishful thinking.
Every night of Slughorn's detention made Sirius more angry. Lestrange was apparently dating Bellatrix now, and she had shared with him exactly how to press Sirius' buttons. Twice in one evening he had purposely spilled the dirty water from his own clean cauldron right into Sirius'
Sirius just kept his eyes on what he was doing, remembering the way Remus told him to breathe through the pounding in his chest and reciting the lyrics to every Bowie song he knew over and over in his head until Slughorn released them.
Being in the dungeons, alone, this late at night made Sirius more uneasy than he was willing to admit. He walked with his eyes firmly on the ground, feet moving as quickly as they could to get back to Gryffindor tower. He could promise Remus and James that he would behave until he turned blue, but they seemed to have a lot more faith in him than he had in himself. There were certain things he knew he wouldn't be able to walk away from.
He stopped short and cringed. He took a deep breath. He could just keep walking. He should just keep walking.
"Can I talk to you?" Regulus' voice was strained, holding back some sort of emotion as he had been trained to do since birth. Emotions weren't for Blacks.
Sirius slowly turned around to face his brother. "Now you want to talk?" His eyes narrowed. "What could you possibly have to say to me?"
A flicker went through Regulus' eyes. Guilt, maybe? Sirius wasn't sure, and he didn't care. He watched as Regulus threw his shoulders back and consciously made an effort stand up straighter. Good little heir....
"I wanted to tell you that what Rudolphus said wasn't true." The younger boy explained slowly. "I never said I was ashamed of you."
Sirius shrugged, still glaring at his brother coldly. "You think that means anything to me?" He took a step closer and Regulus' perfect pureblood posture faltered for a split second as he sunk under the shadow of his brother. "You stood there, Regulus." His fists clenched so hard his knuckles cracked. "You stood there and watched our father hit me." He took another step and Regulus was backed up against the stone wall. "You watched our bat shit, crazy mother use an illegal unforgivable curse on me. You saw me, on the ground in pain," Sirius' hand shot up and held his brother against the wall by his throat. "And you did nothing." The haughty, emotionless look in Regulus' eyes was gone and instead the silvery grey orbs were filled with distinct fear. Sirius felt the muscles in the younger boys throat work against his hand as he swallowed nervously.
"Do you know what the cruciatus curse feels like, Reggie?" Sirius asked, his voice low and growling and almost unrecognizable to his own ears. But he couldn't stop.
"Fuck you, Regulus." Sirius spat, tightening his hand. "You have no fucking idea what I've been through. You've never known even an ounce of pain. No one's ever hit your pretty little face. The Precious Prince of the House of Black..."
Finally Regulus pushed him away with a force that actually would have impressed Sirius if his angry adrenaline rush wasn't controlling every part of his conscious mind.
"What was I suppose to do, Sirius!" Regulus yelled, still up against the wall even without Sirius holding him there.
Sirius barked with laughter. "What were you suppose to do! Anything! You could have said something! Done something! It may not have made a difference but at least you would have tried!"
"They're our parents! I couldn't just disrespect-"
"YOU'RE A FUCKING COWARD!" Shouted Sirius, getting back in his brother's face. "Give me one good reason not to fucking hurt you right now."
"I'm your brother!"
Sirius shook his head. "Not anymore." He raised his fist.
"Hey! You're both out of bounds, it's well past curfew and- oh!" Sirius froze at the sound of Lily Evans' voice. With one last venomous look at his brother he stepped away. Lily cleared her throat. "Um...Regulus, back to your dorm please, or I'll take points from Slytherin." Her voice shook slightly as she addressed them. Regulus hesitated, his eyes darting to his brother almost longingly. He sighed and nodded wordlessly before turning on his heel and heading back to the Slytherin dorm.
"Sirius..." Evans called to him softly. He didn't look at her, he just ran a hand through his hair and leaned his forehead against the cold stone wall.
"What, Evans? Let's go, just go on and give me that detention you've been itching to give me since you got that pretty little badge, eh?"
Lily stayed quiet for a moment. She let out a shaky breath. "I...I'm not going to do that, Sirius."
Sirius frowned and turned to face her finally. "Why? You've caught me, haven't you? Out of bounds and fighting? Don't tell me your first thought when you found out you were named a prefect wasn't that you could finally dish out what James and I deserve..."
The shadow of a smile drifted across Lily's face and she bowed her head. "True as that may be...I'm not going to do that to you for this."
Sirius sneered at her. "I don't need your bloody pity either, Evans."
She shook her head, coming to lean against the wall beside him. "...I've got a sister you know." She said quietly, eyes on the strand of deep red hair she was twirling around her finger.
Sirius didn't respond. He had known that. He remembered Lily mentioning a sister once or twice in passing. Her name was Posey? Polly?
"Petunia is her name," Lily continued, her voice thick. "She hasn't said a single word to me the last two times I went home."
His brow furrowed, interest mixed with confusion prompting him to ask "Why? What'd you do to her?" Sure, he personally thought Lily was an annoying buzzkill, but she was a nice enough bird to her friends and nearly everyone that wasn't James and himself.
Lily smiled sadly and shrugged. "Same as you. We were born different." She sighed. "When we were little we were really close. We did everything together, I looked up to her...you know, typical sibling things...until we realized I could do things she couldn't do. I could make flowers grow by touching them...I could make things move by thinking hard enough..."
"Early signs of magic." Sirius muttered.
"Exactly." Lily said softly. "No matter what she did she couldn't do the things I could do and it made her angry. She told me it was bad, what I could do...she called me a freak, said I was weird...Then I got my Hogwarts letter and she didn't..." She wrapped her arms around herself. "Things were just never the same after that. And now we just sort of coexist in the same house whenever I'm home. She barely looks at me." She closed her eyes and Sirius saw two tears fall from her lashes. "It's horrible, isn't it?" She asked tearfully. "Knowing that no matter what we do, or how badly we want to love them, they'll never accept you for who you are?"
Without a second thought, Sirius grabbed the girl and pulled her into a tight hug. "I'm so sorry Lily."
"I'm sorry too, Sirius."
They stayed like that, clinging to each other in the dark dungeon corridor for a long time. So long that Lily's rounds ended, and Sirius escorted her back to Gryffindor tower.